A Note from the Dramaturg, Lauren Halvorsen

Quiara Alegría Hudes tries not to overthink her process, but a few ideas were swirling as she began to draft Water by the Spoonful: she wanted to write about recovery and redemption, feature characters of different ethnicities, and set part of the play in an online chat room. “I knew it was going to be big and messy,” she recalls.

To organize these components, she drew inspiration from her own musical background. Music infuses all of Hudes’s work; she turned to jazz (specifically, the late work of John Coltrane) to inform the style of Water by the Spoonful, corralling disparate elements into a glorious cacophony. “As I researched online chat rooms for recovering addicts, I found the language people used thrilling and virtuosic,” she says. “It reminded me of jazz solos. And so you will see that in the play: monologues, punctuated by bursts [of language] or crazy fervent conversation.”

The language isn’t the only component influenced by the rangy contrast of jazz. Two narratives, spanning real and virtual worlds, run parallel to one another in Water by the Spoonful, only to unexpectedly collide. As the characters’ lives start to intersect, on- and offline, Hudes finds beauty in dissonance as she slowly illuminates an intricate network of families of blood and choice, comprised of survivors striving to reinvent themselves. “Within these families, these people are facing many obstacles,” says Hudes, “figuring out what their place in the world is, why they're punishing themselves, why they can't forgive other people, figuring out who they will fall in love with, figuring out who they will never talk to again. And they're all recovering, in some way or another.”

The strength of the close-knit tribes within Water by the Spoonful ultimately doesn’t rely on shared geography or genetics but on the power of community, the necessity for second chances, and the love, pain, and compassion that can spring from the unlikeliest of connections.