As the Anderson World Turns
(premiere December 2000)

Act I Scene 1 (Geneva, Switzerland, February)

Our play opens with Terry in Geneva where he spends two weeks at an International Telecommunications Union standards meeting representing Lucent Technologies. He spends days and evenings in meetings and writing position papers on his laptop in his hotel room, but gets a chance to visit museums and the medieval parts of the city during the weekend. This trip foreshadows the increasing frequency of travel that will be seen later in the play. Jan is portrayed off stage sharing the trip by email with digital picture.

Scene 2 (Walla Walla, WA, April)

In this scene, as April blossoms appear in Washington DC Jan and Terry fly to Washington State (Walla Walla) to attend a retirement reception of their friend, Claude Barnett. Terry taught with Claude at Walla Walla College. It was a wonderful reunion of many old friends that had returned for the event. We also see their friend, Carolyn Rittenhouse providing them a bed and cohosting a potluck with another friend, Carmella Phillips to gather more friends.

Scene 3 (Dartmouth College in New Hampshire)

From Walla Walla, they fly back to NJ and drive directly from the airport to where Katherine is completing her first year, because Parents Weekend is unfortunately the same weekend.

Scene 4 (Osaka, Japan, May)

A week and a half goes by with no travel and then Terry is off to Osaka Japan for another ITU standards meeting. This time he is able to go three days early and visit a few temples in Kyoto while adjusting to the 13 time zone difference. After a week of meetings, work on the laptop and sushi he returns to NJ and his neglected wife who had to spend Mother’s Day with only an expensive floral assortment.

Scene 5 (Cahttanooga, TN, early in June)

Three weeks later, Terry, Jan and Katherine fly to the wedding of Jan’s niece, Christy Tate. Can you see the frequent flyer miles growing in the background? Soon after return Jan is seen on her last day of teaching for another year.

Scene 6 (Home, June)

Katherine returns home (briefly) from Dartmouth only to announce that she can get a better summer job near campus at Dartmouth and there is this wonderful little house she can share (with all her friends that will be staying around). And so she cancels out of the planned backpack trip with Dad. Jan is seen a couple of days a week at a wheel in a local pottery studio perfecting her throwing skills.

Scene 7 (White Mountains of NH, early July & Home)

Over Fourth of July weekend, Terry goes on the planned trip anyway, five days of hiking with a group, nearly the same as last year, along a different part of the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It is a "hut-to-hut" hike where they stay each night in a cabins build high in the mountains along the trail and operated by students, who backpack in all the food, cook and serve it. Each cabin provides bunks and blankets. So all the hikers must carry is clothes, water and 5 days of lunches. This year they pass over most of the high peaks of the Presidential Range including going over the top of Mt Washington twice and descend the last day in 50 mph winds with wind chill in the 20s. On the half of the stage, Jan is seen caring for an aging and ailing dog, Ashley.

Intermission (three weeks)

Act II Scene 1 (San Juan Islands, WA, early in August)

As Act II beings, we find the family converging on the SeaTac airport near Seattle, WA. Jan and Terry are flying in from NJ and Katherine’s plane is an hour late from Boston. They rent a car to drive to the San Juan Islands (off the Washington Coast) where Terry and Katherine will be sea kayaking for four days. On the way the spend a night with Audrey and Leal Dickson at their home on Widbey Island, where Jan stays on to drool over real estate (there is a subplot here: one of the characters believes that retirement should occur in the near future at this location). Terry and Katherine meet the group they will kayak with and have a wonderful time kayaking, observing seals, whales, bald eagles and other wildlife and camping on islands near San Juan Island. Katherine then returns to her jobs at Dartmouth, renting out canoes at the Dartmouth’s Ledyard Canoe Club and other jobs, while Terry and Jan spend another week with friends.

Scene 2 (a resort on the slopes of Mt Hood, near Portland, OR, late August)

Terry drives to yet another week of ITU meetings, and Jan flies home to prepare for the start of another year of teaching at Governor Livingston High School. After the meeting Terry is able to stop by St Helena, CA and spend a week with his parents.

Scene 3 (Maine, September)

Katherine returns home briefly, before returning to New Hampshire to lead a group of ‘shmen’ (Dart-speak for freshmen) on a backpack trip, part of Dartmouth’s new student orientation. Then drives up to Maine to visit her boyfriend and join other friends climbing Mt Katahdin (highest point in Maine and end of the Appalachian Trail). Though this is mid-Sep, the top is in a blizzard and they are the last group allowed up for the day. Katherine returns to begin her second year at Dartmouth.

Scene 4 (Manhattan, September)

Terry is heard leading a new series on Ethics at the Adventist Forum chapter they attend weekly in Manhattan, at Columbia University. In once-a-month sessions, they are studying moral theory and its application to common life situations. Jan is also heard reading one of her weekly specially-selected, extra-biblical readings for Forum. Later, at home, Jan and Terry are shown sadly remembering their dog, Ashley, who became so ill she had to be put down.

Scene 5 (Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October)

Terry and Jan are seen visiting Katherine at Dartmouth, sharing time in local restaurants and visiting an Ansel Adams exhibit. It is a beautiful fall scene, with the stage decorated with maple trees in reds and gold.

Scene 6 (Geneva, Switzerland, early November)

Terry flies to Geneva for another week and a half of ITU meetings. The scene is gray with a drizzle falling on the stage, but on the free weekend, one day is bright and cloudless. Terry rents a car with two friends and drives to Chamonix in the French Alps and takes a cable car high onto a ridge, 12000’ up on Mt Blanc for a spectacular view. Rather than being left home alone, Jan uses a 4-day weekend to visit her family in Tennessee.

Scene 7 (Home, November)

Jan is seen at one of her monthly book club meetings and then later in the studio she is setting up in the basement with her new pottery wheel. Later the family is seen spending a quiet Thanksgiving at home together (after sharing dinner at a neighbor’s).

Scene 8 (a few weeks later, Home)

The players are seen decorating the stage for Christmas: a Christmas tree, icicle lights around the porch, garland on the front fence, wreaths on the porch and door. After another trip to Maine (for reasons similar to the previous but minus the Mt climb) and a few delays due to icy weather, Katherine enters stage right and the family gathers around a roaring fire, roasting chestnuts and reflecting on family and friends that are dear. (plays of course are fiction, since the Anderson’s real house has no fireplace although Jan occasionally tries to simulate one with massed candles on the living room table).

Playwright’s notes:

  1. Bet you didn’t think I could write a play with no dialog!
  2. Pictures of several of the trips are available on the playwright’s website:
  3. Merry Christmas from Terry, Jan & Katherine.