Maple and Vine — Jordan Harrison


First pro­duced at the Humana Fes­ti­val of New Amer­i­can Plays in March 2011; and had its New York pre­miere at Play­wrights Hori­zons in Decem­ber 2011.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Katha  (mid to late 30s)                                                                  Kate Turn­bull
Ryu (mid to late 30s)                                                                       Peter Kim
Dean (late 30s)                                                                               Paul Niebanck
Ellen/Jenna (late 30s.  Also plays Jenna)                                     Jea­nine Ser­ralles
Roger/Omar (mid to late 30s.  Also plays Omar)                         Jesse Pennington

Direc­tor:  Anne Kauff­man
Scenic Design:
  Brian Sid­ney Bem­bridge
Cos­tume Design:  Con­nie Furr Solo­man
Light­ing Design:  Jeff Nel­lis
Sound Design:  Ben­jamin Mar­cum
Prop­er­ties Design:  Alice Bald­win
Stage Man­ager:  Melissa Rae Miller
Dra­maturg:  Amy Wegener

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Har­ri­son, Jor­dan. Maple and Vine. Samuel French. 2012.  Drama Library, PS3608. A78348 M37 2012

Set­ting:  There are many loca­tions, both in the present and past

Lan­guage:  Contemporary


I think…people aren’t happy. Peo­ple have never been happy. The whole idea is a tyranny. Slaves build­ing the pyra­minds…Serfs. They didn’t have enough time to ask “Am I happy?” This is not even a hundred-year-old idea: “Am I happy.”

Genre/Style:  Darkly comedic drama.

Plot:  A con­tem­po­rary, pro­fes­sional cou­ple decides to aban­don their Man­hat­tan lifestyle for a sim­pler exis­tence right out the 1950s, 1955 to be exact, with a group of peo­ple who have recre­ated Eisen­hower Amer­ica some­where in the Mid­west, the SDO, the Soci­ety of Dynamic Obso­les­cence.  The play’s premise holds a lot of promise, how­ever, it doesn’t sat­is­fac­to­rily deal with the var­i­ous issues it raises.  Par­tic­u­larly inter­est­ing is a sub-plot involv­ing two sec­ondary char­ac­ters who are far more inter­est­ing than the two lead characters.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.14:  Dean speaks about the dif­fer­ence between the mod­ern world and the world of 1955. 


It wasn’t that the mod­ern world was too fast, or too noisy. In a way, it was too quiet. Let me explain.  IN the 21st cen­tury, everything’s pretty easy, right? You have your thrive-thru espresso. Your drive-thru phar­macy. Or why go to the store when you can get it online? You hardly have to inter­act with anyone—except for all those peo­ple you’ve never en met who enter your life through our com­puter, pulling you every which way.

 [Lines cut]

In the mod­ern world, I used to make it through half the day with­out talk­ing to a sin­gle soul. I used to have it so easy. And now, look­ing back—I real­ize how lonely I was.

p.39:  Ellen explains her work on the Authen­tic­ity Committee.


We take our job very seri­ously on the Authen­tic­ity Com­mit­tee.  It’s not just clothes and mimeo­graph machines—it’s about everyone’s emo­tional expe­ri­ence.  And the ques­tion we have to answer again and again is how far do you take it.

We have peo­ple from all walks of life in the SDO. And the ques­tion some­times is how do we respond authen­ti­cally to these peo­ple. [Lines cut] It can be com­pli­cated to nav­i­gate, but authen­tic­ity is very impor­tant to us.

p.74:  Roger responds after Ryu tries to black­mail him into putting him up for a raise by insin­u­at­ing that he saw Roger and Dean kiss­ing out­side of his house.


Let me tell you about a heap of trou­ble, Ryu. See, I know you’re really a nice guy. And I know you wouldn’t want to do some­thing to mess up your prospects here. Because I’ve been giv­ing you the good word. I’ve seen lots of peo­ple come through here and nobody does well with­out the good word from the floor man­ager. Espe­cially the non-whites. [Lines cut] So why don’t you keep your head down and do your work and eat your fuck­ing bologna. See you later.


Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:

p.43–44:  Ryu and Katha are dis­cussing what to do if they decide they need to talk about the 21st cen­tury while liv­ing in the past. Starts with


What if we had a Safe Word.

and ends with


I like Ike!

I like Ike!

I like Ike!

I like Ike!

p.95–96:  Ryu and Kathy are now the lead­ing cou­ple in town.  Starts with

(RYU speaks out.  KATHY stands far­ther off, enor­mously preg­nant now.)


First of all, wel­come.  Wel­come to the SDO.

and ends with


(hand to her belly) The present.


Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Carter, A. T. (2012, Oct 22). ‘Maple and vine’s’ sen­ti­men­tal jour­ney doesn’t lead where expected. Tri­bune — Review / Pitts­burgh Tri­bune — Review. (Review of Pitts­burgh production)

Cox, G. (2011). Trio of shows shines at Humana fest. Vari­ety, 422(10), 23. (Review of pro­duc­tion at the Humana Festival)

D’Souza, K. (2012, Apr 12). Unplug at ‘maple and vine’. Con­tra Costa Times, p. T.20.  (Review of San Fran­cisco pro­duc­tion at ACT)

Ish­er­wood, C. (2011, Dec 08). Exchang­ing lattes for an ‘ozzie and har­riet’ world. New York Times, p. C.1. (Review of NY pro­duc­tion at Play­wrights Horizons)

Kennedy, L. (2013, Jan 11). Curi­ous the­atre wres­tles with nos­tal­gia at “maple and vine”. Den­ver Post, p. C6. (Review of Den­ver production)

Kennedy, L. (2013, Jan 18). Darkly fun “maple and vine” sends mod­ern pair to 1955. Den­ver Post, p. C12. (Review of Den­ver production)

Maple and Vine. (2011). Daily Vari­ety, 313(47), 3. (Review of NY pro­duc­tion at Play­wrights Horizons)

SHEWARD, D. (2011). Less Is More at Louisville. Back Stage, 52(15), 12–13. (Review of pro­duc­tion at the Humana Festival)

SHEWARD, D. (2011). Maple and Vine at Play­wrights Hori­zons. Back Stage, 52(50), 40–41. (Review of NY pro­duc­tion at Play­wrights Horizons)

Soloski, A. (2011, Sep 07). Fall arts: Play­wright jor­dan harrison’s sim­ple plan: “maple and vine”. The Vil­lage Voice. [open access] (Review of NY pro­duc­tion at Play­wrights Horizons)

Vin­cen­telli, E. (2011, Dec 08). An era-neous take on 1950s. New York Post,p. 61. (Review of NY pro­duc­tion at Play­wrights Horizons)

Weinert-Kendt, R. (2011, Nov 27). Back to the ‘50s, try­ing to escape freedom’s pit­falls. New York Times, p. AR.4. (Review of NY pro­duc­tion at Play­wrights Horizons)

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