The Depth of Holes

Statement of Purpose


The character of Jonah Hilliard is based, somewhat, on Kalief Browder, a young African American, 16 years old when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack two weeks earlier.  Kalief was sent to Riker’s Island and held, without trial, for three years.  Two of those years, he was restricted to the Central Punitive Segregation Unit or solitary confinement.  Kalief was released in 2013 without a trial.  In 2015, Kalief committed suicide by hanging.

I began this play with a question in mind: What differences are there between solitude and solitary confinement?

Solitude is a state wherein many people feel discomfort.  Human beings are often defined as communal creatures, needing the support of other people in order to live well.  But quite often solitude is touted as a growth medium for creativity, spirituality, insight.

Solitary confinement, on the other hand, is most often defined as torture.  Anders Breivik, who is held in prison under tight security for murdering 77 people in the summer of 2011, recently sued the Norwegian government on the grounds that his punishment was inhumane and won a partial victory.  Yet Breivik’s state of detention might be considered POSH compared to the solitary confinement within U.S. prisons, where inmates, as a result of the deprivations and abuses, are driven mad.

This play, The Depth of Holes, is an imaginative investigation of the various effects of these states of being on my characters, as Darcy assumes a life of solitude and Jonah digs his way into solitary confinement, a.k.a. The Hole.

Four men; Three women Ages 18 to 65+ Mr. Smaka – an immigrant from Bosnia; 65+ years old, speaks fluent English with an accent Mrs. Smaka – an immigrant from Bosnia; 65+ years old; speaks English with slight difficulty; both she and Mr. Smaka came to the U.S. 20 years ago Professor Hank Perry – Professor of History at Berkeley; Caucasian male, approximately 45 years old Jonah Hilliard – African American male, 18 years old Caleb – African American male, 22 years old Professor Darcy Perry – Professor of Comparative Literature at Berkeley, Caucasian female, approximately 40 years old Student (voice only; same actor as Caleb) Dean Simmons – (same actor as Mr. Smaka) Defense – (same actor as Hank) Aunt Sally – professional woman, African American female, 50+ years old Witch (same actor as Aunt Sally) Troll (same actor as Caleb) Ronny (same actor as Hank) White (same actor as Caleb) Guard One (same actor as Caleb) Guard Two (same actor as Hank) Warden (same actor as Mr. Smaka)
Karen Ackerman