Section: Arts

Collaboration takes center stage in Would You Trust Me?

Collaboration takes center stage in Would You Trust Me?

StageFemmes collaborated with playwright Abigail Pinnow. | COURTESY OF SVEA ANDERSON

This article contains spoilers for Would You Trust Me?.

Would You Trust Me? While the play’s characters may have struggled to answer this titular question, the audience certainly didn’t. On the evenings of March 22 and 23 in the Community Foundation Theater, the audience put its trust in StageFemmes and was not disappointed. Under the deft guidance of director Juniper Gibbs ’25, the cast delivered a seamless and gripping performance.

The plot of Would You Trust Me? is a topsy-turvy one. When four sisters discover human bones buried in their mother’s rose garden, their world is turned upside down. Who do the bones belong to? How did they get there? And what, pray tell, are the sisters supposed to do next? Over the course of a tight one-hour runtime, family secrets come to light as the characters struggle to answer these questions. Spoiler alert: they don’t succeed. Everything remains unknown. The play ends on an uncertain note, with the youngest sister dialing 911. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

The production was staged as part of StageFemmes’ annual New Work Development project, where Kenyon students collaborate with up-and-coming playwrights to workshop their plays. Gibbs explained why StageFemmes chose Would You Trust Me? this year and what it was like to work with the playwright, Abigail Pinnow, who is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College and is currently based in Pittsburgh. “I enjoyed the way the play dealt with serious issues that face women without losing its absurd, comedic tone,” Gibbs wrote in an email to the Collegian.

She then elaborated on the workshop process: “We had weekly workshops over Zoom, during which we would focus on reshaping scenes, streamlining the plot and accentuating its climax and further developing the characters. As a writer, it was exciting to hear Abigail’s thought-process as she developed her script and see the changes she made.” To ensure that the frequent changes wouldn’t hinder the cast’s ability to learn their lines, Gibbs chose to structure the performance as a staged reading. Even so, it was clear that the cast knew almost all their lines by heart. They rarely glanced at the scripts in front of them, instead speaking to each other and the audience with effortless confidence.

After the play’s dramatic conclusion, the lights came back on for a talkback with Pinnow, who visited Kenyon to see her work performed. The audience asked her a series of questions about her writing and revising process, the unique experience of the New Work Development project and whether or not she knew who the hell is really buried in the garden.

First, Gibbs asked Pinnow about her decision to structure the play as one long, continuous conversation. “One of the reasons is purely practical,” Pinnow replied. “I think it’s a lot easier to just kind of have a pure flow of motion.” She also added that she also considered her own preferences as an audience member. “I personally am very drawn to plays with the unity of time,” she explained.

A student in the audience asked how many drafts Would You Trust Me? went through and whether Pinnow plans to keep revising. She replied that, while she thinks the play took five drafts, it’s a hard metric for her to quantify. “I am very guilty of the sin of writing and editing, writing and editing,” she quipped. And while she’s open to making further changes in the future, she said that “As of now, yes, this will be the final draft.”

Of course, the burning question on everyone’s mind was whether Pinnow herself knew the truth about the bones. “This is going to sound like so much of a cop-out,” she warned. “I really don’t have a great answer for that. There’s no one for me specifically that I think did it. I don’t really think the answer to the mystery is what’s interesting about the play. I know it’s a little bit frustrating as an audience, but I personally like stories that are a little bit unanswered.”

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