The Journey of the Play

Megan Auster-Rosen, writer and star of From The Same Cloth, shares some words about the origins and inspirations for her powerful show opening this evening:

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

Marvelous Megan Auster-Rosen

Writer of, and Actor in, From The Same Cloth

Megan Auster-Rosen  is a busy woman. She is currently pursuing her PhD in clinical psychology, seeing several patients a week as part of that program, volunteering for an after school program, and oh yes, writing and acting in Fault Line Theatre’s latest project, From the Same Cloth.

I’m marveled by her ability to deftly juggle all of her outside responsibilities and pour herself completely into From the Same Cloth. The photo below shows her portraying the Shaman, one of the many characters she plays in this show.

There are very specific vocal and physical techniques required to play multiple characters effectively.  It’s necessary for each character to possess a distinct voice and physicality and that the change from one to another happen swiftly as an actor breathes in to speak the next line. Shifting focal points is also important because it allows the audience to understand who is speaking to whom. Megan is executing these techniques wonderfully. It has been a pleasure to watch her performance grow and change throughout the course of the rehearsal process. I’m excited for you to see it on opening weekend.

Click here for tickets.

Exploring Sierra Leone

The Respective Journeys of Ken and Megan Through "From The Same Cloth"

Tonight’s blog will examine the respective African journey’s of Ken and Megan through Fault Line’s latest project, From the Same Cloth. When Ken received his Peace Corps posting he was stationed in Segbwema, a major agricultural and trading center in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. As you can see from the map below, Segbwema is located northeast of the Provincial capital of Kenema in the southeastern portion of the country. The Mendes are the dominant ethnic group in this region, but Ken found that due to the commercial nature of Segbwema, its inhabitants primarily spoke English and Creole, the common market language between the surrounding tribes. Ken wanted to completely immerse himself in the Mende language and culture, so he moved to the tiny village of Pendembu Djegbla, where they spoke only Mende. Unfortunately, Pendembu Djegbla is so small that it doesn’t appear on our map, and according to Megan, is so small that it mostly likely never appeared on any map. Although a few modern towns in Sierra Leone bear the name Pendembu, we assume that Ken’s village was located somewhere in the outskirts of Segbwema.

Megan’s journey began in Teshie, a town just east of the Ghanian capital of Accra. This region is inhabited by the Ga people. A fascinating Ga custom is the construction of “fantasy coffins” when a loved one passes away. These untraditional coffins are constructed to reflect the personality of the deceased and serve as a vehicle to mourn their death and celebrate their journey to the afterlife. Some examples of these coffins can be found here.

Megan felt the need to escape the anglican lifestyle she was living in Teshie and headed northwest to the village of Ekumfi Atakwa in search of a more immersive African experience. As we learn from the play, she met similar dissatisfaction in her new destination.

Once Ken joined Megan, they first traveled to Ada, a small city in southeastern Ghana at the mouth of the Volta River. Ada was once a major trading hub when the Volta was used to transport goods, but now it is primarily a popular tourist destination known for its beaches and water sports. Ken and Megan then flew to Tamale in northern Ghana and spent time in Mole National Park. Although not directly indicated on the map, Mole National Park is the region west of Tamale that surrounds the Mole River. Western Africa isn’t famous for its wildlife like the southern portion of the continent, but Mole National Park is a rare exception. It is Ghana’s largest wildlife reserve and home to a resident population of 800 elephants.

It is imperative to note that the landscape of Western Africa changed dramatically in the years between Ken’s Peace Corps assignment in the 1970s and Megan’s trip in the early 2000s. Sierra Leone was ravaged by a civil war that tore families apart, left over 50,000 dead, and wiped out many villages, including Pendembu Djegbla. Many charitable organizations throughout the world have dedicated themselves to providing aid to Sierra Leone, and the links below offer some insight to the type of work being done:

OneVillage Partners

Street Child of Sierra Leone

Megan is also involved with the Theatre Arts Against Political Violence program, which is part of the International Trauma Studies Program at Columbia University. Theatre Arts Against Political Violence is “a community arts project using theatrical performance to provide a public space for testimony, witnessing, and conversation.” More information about the program can be found here.

From The Same Cloth, The Movie?

I love the movies. Many of my first memories are of going to see movies with my Dad on the weekends. It’s a tradition that we maintained throughout the time I lived at home and was the reason I first fell in love with acting. I was reminded at rehearsal this weekend of one of my favorite differences between theatre and film. There’s a moment in From the Same Cloth when Ken and Megan endure a long and arduous trek to a beautiful waterfall. I pictured in my head that the film version of the scene might look like something out of Congo or The Mission. At that moment, however, I realized what was happening in the room was far more compelling than the stock footage running through my brain. Jacques and Megan were bounding throughout the rehearsal space, jumping over furniture and one another to create the journey right in front of me. Creating the space in this way invites the audience to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks and invites them to participate in the theatrical event. I don’t need to see a treacherous trail or a gorgeous waterfall on stage because there are two very talented actors making me believe that they are there. I know they will make you believe the same.

About Ken Rosen: The Inspiration Behind From The Same Cloth

Ken Rosen (1948-2000) joined the Peace Corps in 1971, hoping he would end up somewhere completely different from his home country of the United States.  He was freshly out of college and frustrated with American materialism, and sought to immerse himself in a completely foreign culture.  His first choice on the Peace Corps’s checklist of locations was Africa.  When he received his acceptance letter and learned he was to be placed in Sierra Leone he was disappointed, as he thought that Sierra Leone was in South America.  He was thrilled when he looked at the globe and discovered that the tiny and then little-known West African country would be his home for the next two years.

When he returned to the U.S., disoriented and confident that he would return to Africa, he applied to medical school with the intention of providing aid to third world countries.  He went on to specialize in psychiatry and, as a psychiatric resident, he was awarded a Community Psychiatry Fellowship for his dedication to working with the underprivileged, inner-city population in New York.  It wasn’t until thirty years later, on his trip to Ghana, that he finally returned to West Africa.

He practiced family therapy for thirty years. He was accredited both through the Ackerman Institute and the Minuchen Center for Family Therapy.  In the 1990s, once Sierra Leone had fallen into civil war, he volunteered at a New York facility for granting refugees asylum. He assessed refugees with post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), speaking with them in a mixture of English, Krio, and Mende.  In 2001, one year after his death, an article was published in the New York Times Magazine about his work with Sierra Leonean refugees.

From the time he lived in Sierra Leone (1972-74) until his death in 2000, he worked on a memoir detailing his adventures in Sierra Leone, but was never able to bring it to completion.  Additionally, he was a singer/songwriter, travel enthusiast, loving husband, and father of three.

On Our Feet, From The Same Cloth

Hello, this is Matt Clevy, Fault Line Theatre’s Director of Communications. Starting today I’m going to be taking the Rehearsal Blog in a new direction: I’ll be posting my personal experiences of the rehearsal hall, bringing you, our audience, behind the scenes and sharing with you what it is like to create a story with Fault Line Theatre.

When I’m performing, I find the process of moving from table work to staging both exciting and daunting. Once I reach the final table read I’ve developed a level of comfort and camaraderie with the text, but getting up and beginning to stage the play threatens to dismantle that. I have learned many lessons working with Aaron Rossini, and one that is essential is to embrace the move away from the table. It is the moment when a play transforms from words on the page and ideas in our heads into a living, breathing piece of theatre. Leaving the table is terrifying because I can no longer hide behind the words, I have to create a physical life for the character. I have to make choices that involve my entire body. That’s a scary proposition, but it is also freeing and exhilarating. Last night Megan and Jacques got on the feet for the first time, and one moment in particular caught my attention. There is a point early on in the play where Ken relates a story to Megan about a friend that visited him in Africa. The friend was attacked by fire ants, and Ken describes how his friend was jumping around in the middle of the street in a panic, but the moment did not really come to life until Jacques physicalized what was on the page. I was struck by Jacques’ energy and commitment to his fire ant ‘dance’, but more so by the effect in had on the relationship between Jacques and Megan. It was a major step in making the story their own, and I felt as though I caught a glimpse of what Megan and Ken were really like together. Aaron excels in creating a rehearsal room where actors feel free to fail. That freedom makes for fearless actors, and fearless actors make the bold choices that create great theatre. I felt very lucky to be there when Jacques and Megan took their first brave steps toward creating the physical life of this play.

Two Rehearsals in the Books

Folks, we are underway! We’ve only had two rehearsals but it’s already clear that From the Same Cloth is going to be awesome, and we are thrilled to have so many fantastic artists working with us. We’re especially pleased to welcome Jacques Roy, Megan Auster-Rosen, and Sarita Fellows to the Fault Line family. They’re working hard on stage and behind the scenes to make this play great and we love them for it.

This production marks many firsts for Fault Line Theatre. From the Same Cloth is our first new play, our first contemporary play, and Artistic Director Aaron Rossini’s first time at the helm of a play that wasn’t written at least 400 years ago. We’re excited to rise to all of the wonderful challenges that this show will present, and even more excited to see you in the house on opening night.

We're Back, People!

Get Ready and Get Set for From The Same Cloth

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, theatre fans everywhere, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Fresh off the heels of the one year anniversary of our first production, the FAULT LINE THEATRE REHEARSAL BLOG RETURNS!! That means photos, insider info, and fun facts about our latest project, Megan Auster-Rosen’s From the Same Cloth will be coming your way beginning March 1st. Also, hopefully more pictures of Scott Raker sleeping. He’s not involved in this production, but we love him and pictures of a sleeping Raker are so adorable that they’re proven to reduce stress and lower cholesterol levels.*

As always check back here for information on all things Fault Line Theatre. Just in case you missed it on Facebook, here’s the breakdown for From the Same Cloth to whet your whistle:

Fault Line Theatre Presents


By Megan Auster-Rosen
Directed by Aaron Rossini
April 4-15th at The Shell Theatre
(300 W 43rd Street b/t 8th and 9th Avenue)


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration