Home Is Where Your Heart is

The idea for my play “In the Valley of the Sun” came from a combination of two different influences.

The first was a reading of “Nine Nations of North America,” a 1981 book by Joel Garreau which divides our continent into nine areas, plus a few aberrations, with distinct economic and cultural differences. In it Mr. Garreau contends that these nine areas better define society than national and state boarders which are artificial and irrelevant. My take-away was that a person’s home town may or may not be where that person feels most at home – where one’s heart is. Having moved from the shores of Massachusetts to the sands of Arizona’s Sonoran desert, it was something I understood very well. My heart relates to both, but in very different ways.

The second was a situation I was sadly made aware of. It was a tragic situation where a single mom contracted a fatal disease which forced her to search for someone to care for her young daughter.

In my play, Maria abandons Arizona and her cowboy lover Steel to follow her dream of dancing in “Cats” on Broadway. Years later she returns to beg Steel to adopt her five-year-old daughter Sasha. Far too late, Maria realizes she was never at home in New York, never really belonged. She also realizes the Arizona she once thought “boring” and devoid of “lights, camera, action,” provides the unique culture she needed, and now wants for her daughter. Maria returns to Arizona one last time, and as she leaves Steel says, “You followed your dream. Nothing wrong with the darlin’. It’s more than most.” Is it?

Goldfish Publisher’s reviewer Mark S.P. Turvin said this play contains “…a very strange message. Where most scripts champion dreams of inertia, “In the Valley of the Sun” gives an interesting spin on the idea of moving out, moving up, and moving on… it does what it aims to do, which is to put into question the idea that you need to leave to succeed.”

This play was most recently presented at Theater Works’ 2016 Dan Schay New Works Festival at the Peoria Center for the Arts, Peoria, Arizona. It never fails to raise significant questions and arouse basic emotional concerns. Give it a read at Indie Theater Now.

-Richard Warren, playwright