If there's a bit of clowning in the show, you can attribute that to the people involved. Ferguson met Tarker last fall at a clowning workshop he was teaching. They had both previously studied the art with the same teacher, Christopher Bayes. The production has lots of classic timing and text that is both raunchy and poetic. "It's great to see a show that's full of funny women," he says.
The piece came together in part because Ferguson wanted to work with Tarker after he saw a reading of a play she had written at the Playwrights' Center. He was also interested in working on something with a female perspective. "I wanted to make a lady play," he says. "A feminine play."
Seeking to collaborate with mostly women in the process, he brought in Lauren Rae Anderson as assistant director. "To be honest, I felt nervous exploring women," he says. As the creation process has unfolded, Ferguson has been tweaking the story. However, he has often sat back and allowed his collaborators to make a lot of the decisions. "They really have followed their own path," Ferguson says. "They feel quite strongly about things that happen in the play, and it was a good process for me to let go."
The story involves a group of women who have just come out of a "hellish shootout where trackers ambush them," Ferguson says. "Their horse leads them through the night, and drops them off at an old hotel." The hotel happens to be the gathering place for a women's divinity retreat, which "transforms them to the next level of who they are," he says.
Ferguson compares the story to the journey of Thelma and Louise, where the characters are being chased and heading toward the inevitable.
Tarker was interested in exploring the idea of freedom in the piece. Early on in development, all the women involved with the show had talked about how it was important to them. "That became a guiding principle: saying what we want and doing what we want and being allowed to follow all our impulses," she says.
Tarker refers to the play as bit amoral and subversive, but it's not a feminist treatise by any means. "Any play where women are allowed to be totally funny is a victory for feminism," she says.