Four years ago Bishop writer and teacher Eva Poole-Gilson set out to write something different than her usual repertoire of poetry and journalism. Her play “Who’s Lying Down In Your Heart?” was recently given a grant to tour funded by the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
When she began writing, Poole-Gilson had recently joined Playhouse 395, taking a plunge back into the world of theatre by acting in several productions and even writing a one-woman show.
Inspired by the drama, and her own experiences with family dynamics, Poole-Gilson wrote a play about two sisters on opposite coasts, connecting in adulthood through phone conversations regarding their shared childhood full of secrets.
“Who’s Lying Down In Your Heart?” is a drama that explores life, death, and its meaning through the sisters’ telephone calls to each other.
Poole-Gilson said her current play explores, “how interesting [it is] to grow up together but almost be from different planets.” Anyone with siblings will likely relate to growing up experiencing the same events as his brother or sister, yet each having different memories of events.
Traci Mettler-Bradbury for Poetic Justice Project directs the current production, with Allan Hancock College’s Film & Video Department as a producing partner.
Originally written as a live theatre piece with a cast of 12 actors, the current production uses film to portray the women’s shared childhood memories on a screen, keeping the live cast down to only three actors.
Poole-Gilson was able to have the script sent to Poetic Justice Project (PJP) Artistic Director Deborah Tabola, who immediately fell in love with it. The PJP theatre company is the only one of its kind in California.
It produces stories of crime, punishment, and redemption that feature formerly incarcerated actors. Poole-Gilson’s play grabbed their attention, as it’s a story about the search for liberation and redemption from one’s past.
The company is a part of the nonprofit William James Association, whose mission is to promote meaningful work service in the arts, environment, education, and community development.
In addition to being an award-winning organization, in 2009 the Dalai Lama recognized WJA’s Artist Facilitator as an “Unsung Hero of Compassion” for his lifelong work in creating significant arts experiences in California correctional facilities.
“Who’s Lying Down In Your Heart?” began its tour in Shell Beach before coming to The Edison Theatre on May 17 for two shows.
After this one-time engagement, the show stops in Ridgecrest before a possible performance at a California women’s correctional facility.
The cast features real-life sisters Rosemary and Tina Grace playing the fictional pair. Guillermo Willie will be playing their Grandpa.
The filmed childhood memories in the production feature Bull Chaney, Toni De La Guerra, Leonard Flippen, Jorge Manly Gil, Janet Guess, Alex Lopez, Renee Lopez, Barbara Reeger, Topanga Saldana, Chris Sanchez, and Maux Samuel.
In addition to her flare for drama, Poole-Gilson has also published a book of poetry, “Love Letter from a Poet to the High Sierra,” in 1985, which was republished in 2007.
In 2012, the Inyo Council for the Arts Theatre produced her one-woman show “Barefoot in the Sanctuary.” She currently teaches at Cerro Coso College in Bishop, as well as poetry to Inyo County fourth graders.
“Who’s Lying Down In Your Heart?” will be performed on Saturday, May 17, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Edison Theater, 100 College Parkway., Mammoth Lakes. Tickets can be reserved by calling (760) 934-6592 or the Writers Actors Guild at (760) 872-2446.
The play will also be presented on Sunday, May 18, at 3 p.m. in the USO Building, 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd., Ridgecrest. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006. “Who’s Lying Down In Your Heart?” is intended for mature audiences.
For more information on PJP visit poeticjusticeproject.org or find them on Facebook.