“Goodbye, God. I’m going to Bodie.”

I present to you (In my estimation) a dramaturgical FEAST:


Three-hundred and sixty-one miles, six hours, fifty-four minutes from Los Angeles, California…

Bordering the Sierra National forrest and Yosemite National Park: A town founded in 1860, abandoned by 1941…

Approximately 150 structures “maintained in arrested decay…”

……..Welcome to your stage.

Bodie, California was a gold-mining town that evolved slowly from a small mining camp in the early 1860’s to “…the third most populous city in California by 1880.” At its peak, Bodie contained over 50 saloons, a red light district and was known throughout the state as one of the roughest, most dangerous and lawless places to live. As one source states, a little girl, upon learning she was moving to Bodie wrote in her diary: “Goodbye, God. I’m going to Bodie.”

……..If that isn’t a title for a play then I don’t know what is.

Bodie was also home to Rosa May (Rosa Elizabeth White) who lived in the red light district. Rosa May was one among many prostitutes who plied their trade in lawless Bodie, but she distinguished herself as a hero — beyond the label of “prostitute”– in the winter of 1911. A pneumonia epidemic struck the town, specifically the men who mined for gold and thus fed the commerce of Bodie. Rosa May sacrificed her life (contracting the disease) to care for the men when many would not. Despite her acts of courage, her wooden grave is sequestered outside the Bodie township, amongst those of “…murderers and other Bodians of ill-repute.” In the small, ramshackle town museum hangs Rosa’s own red light from her days in Bodie’s red light district and a single framed picture of the heroine.


………Now, we have a potential protagonist.

Some other interesting information to note about the Bodie township:

The fire bell (hanging in the museum), which rang out the ages of the deceased as they were buried and was said to ring with grotesque regularity at the peak of Bodie’s history.

Hollow graves remain in the Bodie cemetery, used for concealing alcohol during prohibition.

The Bodie hearse remains, utterly intact, in the museum– beer bottles sit exactly where they were left (with sips remaining) in the last intact saloon– Pews in the methodist church still dutifully face forward at an empty frame that once contained the ten commandments, painted on oilskin.

Here lies a wealth of history and memory that can be physically touched, held, smelled and– if you’re brave enough– tasted (a la “sploosh” from Louis Sachar’s Holes!). This is the sort of situation that inspires me dramaturgically, that makes my brain start buzzing and my heart start beating. It is a situation that illuminates my understanding of the creativity of dramaturgy and inspires me to push at the limits of artistry in all aspects, to blur the line, to drive a van full of actors to the middle of nowhere and stage a devised production on abandoned grounds where life once thrived.


Goodbye, God. I’m going to Bodie.

(If you’d like to come with, check out these links!)

LA to Bodie…zoom in to see some pictures of Bodie

A wealth of Pictures

Even though its from \”Stumble Upon\” give it a chance– check this blog out for some great info and pictures


ccleary7 posted on November 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm

PLEASE write this. PLEASE do it. This is amazing. I love things like this–little treasure pieces of history that haven’t been mined yet for all their potential. Let me know when the trip is and I’ll be on a plane…

alassar posted on December 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Sign. Me. Up. This is incredible! Wow, everything about this place is inspiring. As an actor, dramaturg, playwright, director… Bodie is a story waiting to be told. I agree, I’ll be on the plane.

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