Institute History

  • 1999 Theatre Lab


Jesse Miller, Kennedy Center, Michael Kanin National Student Playwright Award Grantee

ONIONHEADS is a two-act full-length tragic-comedy. It follows the plight of four young onion farmers in the midst of the 1935 Oklahoma Dustbowl. The Tidwell brothers and the Bumpinmeyer sisters huddle to cope with the devil and the dust as the sky turns black over their farms. We learn the truth about the crop, the land, and the hands that plowed them, as these siblings’ skins are peeled back to reveal something sweet and something sour. As a desperate measure, the four pickers find their way to Califor-nee in search of a “Land o’ Plenty.” Just as they thought their lives were out of the suffocating dust, this promising field of “milk and honey” brings nothing but a camp built on cries of broken Okies. And there the devil sits, in his shack, laughing….forever and ever.

—Jesse Mille

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