The play at the History Theatre, “Watermelon Hill,” was inspired by my adoption-related books. How tremendous it is for an author to have her work honored like this. I was recently asked to reflect on my experiences for the theater’s board meeting. Since I couldn’t attend in person, I wrote this little “report” and Lily Baber Coyle, the playwright, read it to the group:
This run of “Watermelon Hill” was no less than amazing. I attended every performance and spoke to hundreds of people. In addition to autographing and selling out my complete supply of books, I had the opportunity to hear so many stories. This play has generated healing for many whose lives have been touched by adoption.
Birthmothers confided in me, and some have never talked about their painful experiences until now. Adopted children said that they better understand why their mothers gave them up. Adoptive parents talked about having deeper understanding of these complex relationships. Members of the adoption triad shared about their efforts to contact birth parents, children, siblings, cousins and other lost family members.
Birth parents came to the play with their reunited children. Parents brought their teenagers. Friends, relatives, neighbors, spouses… everyone had a story to tell and “Watermelon Hill” opened the door and gave them permission.
Long-buried feelings surfaced. There was outright weeping and many hugs. People shared with each other — some total strangers. Almost everyone wanted to talk. I also noticed several who were too moved to talk, and wiped away tears while they seemed lost in thought. It all was both humbling and gratifying for David and me.
If you were there and I wasn’t able to spend enough time with you, feel free to contact me by email at email@example.com. And thank you for your support.
As I said at our closing gathering, I congratulate Lily, Ron, Anya, the actors and everyone who had even the smallest part in this production. You have brought much-needed comfort to a huge number of people.
In 1966, when I was at Watermelon Hill, we were ordered to never tell. Thank you for telling and helping us tell, History Theatre.
I believe that a successful play is similar to a successful poem in that they both contain layers of meaning and emotion.
In our world today, it’s important that the many layers of messages within “Watermelon Hill” continue to be heard.