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welcome to the dramaturgy website for 


dramaturg: sabrina zanello jackson (she/her)
assistant dramaturg: rowan dunlop (any pronoun)


In their local community center, 6 members of a small town gather to rehearse Shakespeare's Richard II and unpack what it says about Christianity's role in American politics today. However, things quickly go awry as the actor playing Richard goes on his own power-trip and the Shakespearean story sucks the community members deeper and deeper into its world (and into the same old systems of power and violence that they wanted to escape). In the end, the play-within-the-play ends as expected: Richard II is murdered... but is Richard the actor gone too? 

Power/Trip is about two taboos of the dinner table: religion and politics. Specifically, it explores the relationship between church and state in the United States, and how that influences the peaceful transition of power that we expect between presidents. By comparing presidential power in the modern United States to the king's divine right to rule in medieval England, what might we learn about power and authority? About the difference between a person and their position? About free will versus God's will?


King Richard II loses public favor when he raises taxes and seizes other people's property to fund wars, so they depose him and put his cousin Henry on the throne instead.

Richard II is a Shakespearean history play about the first time in European monarchial history that a king was deposed by the will of the public. King Richard II was considered by many to be an immature, incompetent, performative, and tyrannical ruler, but nobody questioned his authority because he was believed to be God's chosen representative on Earth. Who would dare go against God? So as you can see, his overthrow was an enormous deal. The historical event and the play raises the questions:

  • at what point do our systems of leadership no longer serve us

  • at what point do we decide to act on that knowledge and change them?

  • what keeps people afraid of revolution?

  • in the face of doubt, where do we place our faith?

  • in what, or who, do we trust?


At least while at CMU, we are all living in the U.S.' representative democracy, which we know just had got through a very difficult 4 years. And personally, I'm scared of what may happen in the 2024 presidential race. We want to hold space to examine, reflect on, and grieve what has happened in this country. To do that, we're going to tackle difficult topics, such as:

  • white Christian nationalism,

  • conspiracism,

  • political violence and assassinations,

  • free-market capitalism,

  • and revolution. 


We understand that talking about faith and politics is not easy. We are all coming to this work from different experiences and personal beliefs, and we'd like to welcome us all to share as much or as little about our personal relationships to these topics as we wish. A community agreement page is in the works!


This site has a lot of information, much of which I've provided in written, video, and audio form, so that you can learn in the way you like best. In general, I recommend explore the menu tabs from left to right (aka. from the history of Richard II to the meaning in the modern day). Not sure where to start? Check out my 'Best Hits' list.

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