I want to understand how economic stagnation is really shifting the American narrative, and how someone like this friend who had solidly invested in the Horatio Alger myth, someone who had been solidly middle class, could be broadsided and find herself on the verge of being homeless.
That led me on a journey to Reading, Pennsylvania, which at the time was the poorest city of its size in America. My assumption is that I was going to go down to this city, interview people for one week, and it ended up being a two-year journey in which I went almost every single week to talk to people and interview people, from the first African American mayor of this city to folks who were living in shantytowns in the village.
When I arrived in Reading, I had no assumption of what I was going to hear. I had no expectation that I was ever going to leave with a play. It also happened to coincide with a commission that I had received from Oregon Shakespeare Festival to write a play about an American revolution. And while I was in Reading, I decided I wanted to write about the “de-industrial revolution” because I think that this is perhaps the biggest revolution that has happened in America since the Civil Rights Movement.