‘Eminent Domain’ Premieres at Omaha Community Playhouse


August 24th, 2017

Back row L-R: Cork Ramer (Cam MacLeod),  Erika Hall Seiff (Adair MacLeod), Bill Hutson (Rob MacLeod); Front row L-R: playwright Laura Leininger-Campbell, director Amy Lane, Jeremy Estill (Bart MacLeod)
Photo by Colin Conces

Omaha, NE—Omaha Community Playhouse’s next performance is an original production, Eminent Domain, by Laura Leininger-Campbell, premiering this Friday, August 25. Leininger-Campell was born and raised in Nebraska. She attended Connecticut College, the Lee Strasberg Institute for Theater in New York City, and the National Theater Institute, and returned to Omaha in 1996 to work with local theater companies.

Leininger-Campbell was primarily an actor writing occasional adaptations, and Eminent Domain, 2016 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference finalist, is her first original piece. The play is a perspective on rural Nebraskan family life confronted by the prospect, or curse, of an oil pipeline.

“I knew that I wanted to write a story about a Nebraska family,” Leininger-Campbell said. “I think there are so many plays that are out there that are very focused on family life, but a lot of that is either on the East Coast or the West Coast, and you don’t ever really get to see a family and the character of the people of Nebraska. And when we had a reading of Eminent Domain, last year it was so fun to watch the audience and also in the feedback forms that I gave to the audience, just how many people said ‘this is my family.’”

The pipeline is a source of conflict, but Leininger-Campbell’s interest is in what it is that makes Midwest family life unique.

“There’s a part of me that really thinks that here in the middle of the country, there’s not a lot of time for us to really distinguish ourselves according to our differences. I think the best example of that that I can point to right now is that, even here in Nebraska, we have a very unique form of government, and it’s the unicameral. It’s just one house. There’s one place where we all have to take all of our disparate ideas and our politics, and we trust our representatives to get into one room and work it all out, and I think that dynamic is reflected within the people here in Nebraska and I write about that in my play. All of my characters have very different political views. They have very different views on how the world should work and yet they all have to get together at Sunday dinner and sit at a table and have to honor and I and get along with each other.”

Leininger-Campbell based her characters on her own life and personal experience, but she has closely followed the conflict surrounding the Keystone Pipeline controversy, which real Nebraskan families are experiencing today. She’s spent time in Norfolk, Nebraska, meeting with families fighting the pipeline and attending one of the Public Service Commission hearings.

“How Nebraskans really look past our difference is the families that are speaking out against the pipeline and speaking out against eminent domain, they come from all sides of the political spectrum There are some folks that are Republicans, there are some that are Democrat, and what has united them in this is not anything that’s affiliated with party, but really what’s affiliated with what’s best for our water and for the aquifer and trying to teach the Public Service Commission and everyone who is informed on this issue on what the stakes are. So I really think that what they’re most concerned with is making sure that their land is protected, not only for themselves but for future generations, and so their resiliency and their character has been very inspirational to me writing this.”

Eminent Domain will premiere this Friday, August 25 and run until September 17 at the Omaha Community Playhouse. On Friday there will be an opening night celebration, with pre-show appetizers, drinks and a chat with playwright Laura Leininger-Campbell. For more information or tickets, visit omahaplayhouse.com.


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