You don’t need a time machine to visit the past . . . you just need to open your eyes and read . . . and imagine. Funny, provocative, and intelligent, the play “The Oregon Trail” by Bekah Brunstetter follows 90’s kid Jane from Middle School, where she takes solace in her favorite 8-bit video game, to adulthood, where the game seems to follow her with its all-knowing gaze, helping her navigate her growing pains. As she grapples with what it is she truly wants, Jane meets someone entirely unexpected: her own great-great-grandmother, on the Oregon Trail . . . in 1848.
My grandmother shared a story of her family moving from Texas to Oklahoma (in the 1890s) and then on into New Mexico . . . she was six years old.
Here Mama had always dressed me in white dresses, which was the style in those days. But there was so much red clay in Oklahoma that the water made them dingy, so Mama said, “We can’t have that!” She made me colored dresses after that. It broke my heart, but I got used to colored clothes. Grandmother used to say, “You should have left Vinnie with us.” Of course they couldn’t do that. When I was about six years old, my dad took a notion he wanted to file on some land in New Mexico. So, he bought some mules and a covered wagon. After he had the wagon complete with a cover built-in as one big bed for all of us and took what things we needed for the trip and shipped the rest of our belongings, which never arrived. But, we had enough things to get along with.
“The Oregon Trail is a computer game developed by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) and first released in 1985 for the Apple II. It was designed to teach students about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. In the game, the player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley via a covered wagon in 1848.” – Wikipedia
Nearly a hundred years later, my family left Nevada, Missouri in 1947 and traveled to Tacoma, Washington on our way to San Pedro in Southern California. Once we arrived in the Pacific Northwest, we never left. I look forward to watching Jane on her journey via the computer and her imagination along with her discoveries.
“The Oregon Trail” by Bekah Brunstetter runs January 28 – February 20, 2022 at CenterStage Theatre in Federal Way. – centerstagetheatre.com/current-season/