“Land is the thread that binds all of the stories together,” reads Mary Swander’s description of her play Map of My Kingdom.
From her website:
Who’s going to get the farm? And what are they going to do with it? Will your future plans for your land create harmony or strife for your family? Or have you even started to think that far ahead? Map of My Kingdom, a play commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and written by Iowa’s Poet Laureate Mary Swander, tackles the critical issue of land transition. In the drama, Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator in land transition disputes, shares stories of how farmers and landowners she has worked with over the years approached their land successions. “Some people literally killed each other over this issue,” Martin says. Others almost came to blows, struggling to resolve the sale or transfer of their land, dissolving relationships. Others found peacefully rational solutions that focused not only on the viability of the family, but also of the land.
Land is the thread that binds all of the stories together. “For most farmers I know, owning land means everything,” Angela Martin says. Map of My Kingdom will resonate with those who have been through or are working through challenging land transfer issues that include division of the land among siblings, to selling out to a neighbor, to attempts to preserve the land’s integrity against urban sprawl. The drama will inspire the hesitant and the fearful to start the conversation that cannot wait.
Today, a vast amount of land in the United States is owned by those over 65 years old. Some have made their wishes clear for the future of their property. Others are courting family upheaval by not planning in concrete ways. An age old problem, evident in literature from the Bible to King Lear to Willa Cather, land transition asks hard questions: Who really owns the land? And what is the role of the steward of a property? Can “fair” become “unfair” to one’s children?
Map of My Kingdom is directed by Matt Foss, Acting and Theatre history professor the University of Idaho, and performed by professional actor Madeleine Russell or Elizabeth Thommpson.
Showing in Dubuque, IA., Thursday, March 26, 6:30 P.M., Shalom Retreat Center.
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