“I Found that the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow” is an exploration of autoimmune disease and chronic illness, of depression and disordered eating, and of the long‑lasting effects of sexual trauma. It is a lot to fit into a sixty‑minute piece, but all these themes are intertwined in their impact on writer‑performer Anna Snapp’s young adult life. Ms. Snapp is a fearless and versatile performer. With honesty and vulnerability, she addresses her audience directly to share deeply personal details of her life. She recites Shakespearian‑style monologues and sonnets with bravado. She moves emphatically through expressive physical sequences. She performs a hilarious parody of a “depressed” tennis player in a psychiatric drug commercial. Her performance makes for a truly engaging and moving experience. Ms. Snapp takes her audience through each of the three major themes: physical illness, mental health, and sexual trauma in sequence rather than chronologically over ten years of her life, from age 19 to 28. At 19, Ms. Snapp was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which was later followed by diagnoses of Lyme disease and fibromyalgia. As an undergraduate student in Philadelphia, she attempted suicide and was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Around the same time as her diagnoses, Ms. Snapp was sexually assaulted. It is sometimes difficult to keep track of the timeline as Ms. Snapp jumps around to cover each theme in its own sequence ‑ with far more detail than can be recounted here. But the thematic rather than linear structure reflects the cumulative impact of these challenges on her life. It was difficult to know, Ms. Snapp says, for example, whether she was depressed because she was sick, or sick because she was depressed. The set consists of three black chairs, a black table adorned with some pill bottles and makeup, and a clothing rack with a doctor’s coat and a tennis racket. Ms. Snapp occasionally incorporates props and costumes ‑ she wears the white lab coat, for example, while playing the role of her colorectal surgeon. But even these relatively minor physical details seem extraneous in a piece that is otherwise non‑linear and non‑literal. Ms. Snapp addresses the audience as “the audience,” her mind, and the world at large. Throughout the performance, she recites poems and letters ‑ to the floor, to her body, to her rectal foam treatment, and to the man who assaulted her. She is examining her past, she says, to reflect on who she is, who she wants to be, and who she’s left behind. What she is reaching toward is not a solution, but something like honoring and bearing witness to all of the versions of herself. Ms. Snapp leaves her audience with little resolution on chronic illness, depression, or sexual trauma. She offers no authoritarian advice, simply vulnerability, gratitude, and some humor. It seems that she is still working through it all, one day at a time. “Writing this damn show was most of the cure,” she writes in the letter to her assaulter. The only certainty Ms. Snapp leaves her audience with is a variation of Little Orphan Annie’s hopeful refrain that the sun will rise again tomorrow. And sometimes, that is enough.
“I Found that the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow” Written and Performed by Anna Snapp Directed by Sheila Bandyopadhyay Music by Ryan Attie Stage Manager Carmen Legg October 20, 2019 at 7:30 PM Photo credit: courtesy of the production 2019 United Solo Theater Festival Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
ALLYCE MORRISSEY is a dramaturg based in New York City. She holds an MA in Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a BA in English from Villanova University. She also works in entertainment advertising.