In 1970, my father boarded a plane to Sierra Leone for a two-year Peace Corps adventure that would change his life forever. He moved into a remote village, became fluent in Mende and made some of his deepest friendships. He returned to the United States intent on going back to Africa for good. Instead, he met my mother, started a family and the Sierra Leonean civil war broke out.
From the time my father returned from Africa he worked on a manuscript that chronicled his adventures. Every Thursday we knew not to bother him in his office, where he’d go through his old journals trying to detail his experience. At bedtime he would tell me stories of his adventures and life in Sierra Leone, and I would slip into my dreams and imagine myself walking barefoot along a red dirt road, carrying bowls on my head and speaking the native language.
Thirty years after my father’s Peace Corps experience, I took some time from school and traveled to West Africa. I went with the notion of reliving my father’s experience. But that didn’t happen. No matter how hard I tried to find the moments I was looking for, they always felt just out of reach. I called my father and begged him to join me in Africa to help me capture something meaningful. After he arrived, he quickly taught me that there is nothing too small to be part of an adventure. I had kept waiting for something incredible to happen, and he helped me realize that incredible moments were happening the whole time. Sitting next to him in the African savannah, I began to understand his point, but my time in Africa was coming to an end, and so was my time with my father.
While traveling from Northern Ghana to Accra, our plane crashed. I survived with more injuries than I could count, the most debilitating of which was the temporary paralysis in my left leg. My father, who was sitting next to me, was killed.
Since my father’s death, I’ve been trying to finish his book. I realized I could only tell his story through my own and that it must be told through theatre. The first staging of the play at the New York International Fringe Festival was a huge success, but when the run ended, the journey felt incomplete; there was more writing to do, more characters to explore, more story to reveal.
This incarnation of From the Same Cloth is my search for an ending, my attempt to find closure, my way of honoring the story closest to my heart through the language of theatre.
— Megan Auster-Rosen