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“Looking Back”- New, Original Play for Living Library Project to Debut at Desert Foothills Library!

“Looking Back,” a new, original play inspired by a true story about Cave Creek ranchers Dick and Evie Engel, kicks off Desert Foothills Library’s exciting new Living Library oral history program November 17. The Engels purchased Cow Track Ranch in 1950, intending to strike it rich by subdividing the land. But unintended consequences forced the couple to choose between living in prosperity or Paradise.

“I knew their story would fascinate today’s audience the moment I dove into the newsy letters Dick wrote to his mother,” says playwright Andrea Markowitz, who found the letters in the Cave Creek Museum archives. “Dick chronicles the couple’s trials and triumphs as they search for their place in a changing world.”

The play also showcases historic characters such as Manfred Cartwright, who owned the famous Cartwright ranch at Seven Springs, and Bud Miller, who rode the local Pony Express and was Harold’s Saloon Bar’s official greater.

A recorded interview with Evie’s daughter accompanies Dick’s letters.

“When we began to interview locals in the 1980’s, some of them had lived in Cave Creek for more than 50 years,” says Evelyn Johnson, Cave Creek Museum’s Executive Director. “The play’s inspiration is based upon listening to the actual voices of Cave Creek pioneers.”

“Our Living Library program will continue to feature and preserve stories of people who shape our community, and teach families how to preserve their stories,” says Debra Lay, Desert Foothills Library’s Executive Director.

Library volunteers have been interviewing a new generation of locals who represent everyone from cowboys to artists, conservationists, and politicians. Together, the Library and Museum will offer a treasure trove of oral interviews on the Arizona Memory Project’s online platform.

The Library is partnering with Desert Foothills Theater to produce “Looking Back.” “I’m delighted to participate in staging another play by Andrea, who is our Playwright in Residence,” says the Theater’s Producing Artistic Director, Sandi Carll.

Desert Foothills Theater previously produced Andrea’s musical, “Fair Game,” which received the ariZoni Award of Excellence for best new script, 2021-2022.

“Looking Back” will be the second play developed under the Theater’s “Desert Playlights” program, which incubates new plays by local playwrights.

“I’m delighted about the collaboration between the Library, Museum, and Theater,” says Lay. “Combining our talent and resources augments our ability to serve this wonderful community.”

“Looking Back” runs Nov. 17 – 19 at Desert Foothills Library, 38443 N. Schoolhouse Road, Cave Creek, Arizona, 85331.