Review: “Map of My Kingdom”

Last Friday, two of our attorneys attended the Ames showing of Mary Swander’s one-person play, “Map of My Kingdom.” The showing was part of the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) Annual Conference held at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University Campus.

PFI commissioned Swander, Iowa’s third and current poet laureate, “as a way to get people talking about one of the state’s most pressing and often divisive issues.”1

Prior to the performance, Swander told the crowd that she was initially skeptical that there would be enough drama in land transfers for a play, but after research and talking with families, it was apparent that “who will control the farm” provided more than enough intrigue and context for a story that has so much to talk about.

In another introduction, a representative from PFI stated that total attendance in the six plays throughout the state had numbered more than 400 people.

A lawyer/mediator is the hero of the play, of course, as she describes her interactions with clients who have faced difficulty when their family’s “own little while with the land” goes to a new generation.

Along the way, the lawyer recalls poignant memories of a grandparent, college literature classes (featuring the classics of generational real estate transfers, King Lear and A Thousand Acres), and a client’s story of seeing the Pope and the biblical impetus to be stewards of the land.

The play doesn’t provide an update of case law or analysis of the current federal tax code regulations. It aims to dive into the psychology of land ownership and transfer in a way that connects with an audience who must prepare for that inevitable question.

A trailer of the play from www.maryswander.com is below:

1 Michael Morain, ” ‘Map of My Kingdom’ digs into farmland heir drama,” Des Moines Register (July 11, 2014) .

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