Writing the story of the “Enlightened Ones” started about thirteen years ago when I asked myself the question of how a cult leader can convince someone to kill themselves. The idea that someone can control your mind so well that you would override the basic instinct of survival just to obey him was unfathomable, yet it has happened so many times in history, and also relatively recently with the news of the Order of the Solar Temple’s suicides (this news was recent when I started writing this story). I started writing this play as I researched the topic of cults and brainwashing. As I did this, I came across some remarkable stories and realized there was so much more than brainwashing going on.
I am forever indebted to the people of the 42nd Street Workshop Theatre, who helped me workshop this story as a play. They gave me feedback through short readings and a full-production, staged reading. The actors in the play did not hesitate to share with me their feelings and views regarding the emotional, disturbing, and controversial issues I presented. Since I workshopped the play, I have moved several times and became a mother. I have lost any record of who helped me, but here are some people who I can never forget:
Daniella Topol directed the staged reading. Mike Jankowitz, Jeff Taylor, Greg Skura, Jenna Kalinowski, Virginia Roncetti, Sauda Jackson, Alexandra Devin Vicich, Rebecca Montabano, and Ivan Goris were all actors in the play, The Enlightenment Lodge.