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SPIDERLILY is a monodrama composed, performed, and written by Rachel Epperly. The monodrama follows Sheya, a woman who was born in the forest with no known origin. When humans in a nearby city discover her, they are intrigued by her mysterious origins and force her into a restrictive life as the empress in a palace on the shore. As the empress, Sheya loses connection with nature, her body, and creativity; the human world expects her to be a beacon of purity, beauty, and gentleness. One night, in her dream, Sheya is called by a giant spiderlily on the island across from her palace. The spiderlily tells Sheya that it can liberate her from her restrictive life. Sheya sails to the island, only to discover that the spiderlily is dying.
Sheya is infuriated at this deception, but the spiderlily explains: Sheya is in fact part of the flower. She and the spiderlily are two fragments of a spirit that make up Spiderlily, a flower of reincarnation that has existed for millennia on the island. Between each bloom, Spiderlily lives a life as different species–fish, butterfly, bird–before blooming again. However, this time, Spiderlily reincarnated as a human, and the human world restricted and repressed it, causing it to become fragmented; only part of its spirit remembered to return to the island. In order for the Spiderlily to survive, Sheya–the fragment that forgot to return back to the island–must reincarnate back into the flower. Sheya realizes that the ultimate liberation is to know the wisdom, senses, and powers of thousands of lives, to bloom as a flower--so she reincarnates back into the Spiderlily.
Premiered in 2023 at California Institute of the Arts. View full program and credits here.
photos by: Camila Vidal Elespuru (portrait), Alejandro Caminos (live photos)