In part two of LWT Literary Manager Christine Scarfuto’s interview with Lewiston playwright Samuel D. Hunter, she inquires about how the playwright’s characters are effected by the false mythology of Lewis and Clark and a lost sense of discovery in American lives today.
Q: In Lewiston, the central character tries to imagine what it felt like to set foot on this land in the far west of America for the very first time, and it gives her a real sense of wonder. How have we as a country lost that sense of discovery? Does that loss have anything to do the false mythology surrounding Lewis and Clark’s discovery to begin with, as the land was occupied well before they “discovered it”?
A: Yeah that’s the thing, it’s a false mythology. And a lot of what the characters in both Lewiston and Clarkston are experiencing is the loss of that mythology. They come into the play with almost romantic ideas of who Lewis and Clark were and what they accomplished, but they’re constantly being confronted with the true modern-day legacy of Lewis and Clark. In Clarkston it’s the Costco, in Lewiston it’s this fireworks stand on a patch of land that’s about to be paved over and turned into a condo. But the project of the characters in both plays is to make meaning out of that reality, to find a way to put one foot in front of the other and maintain a sense of forward movement and discovery during a time in which it seems like there’s nothing left to discover.