Interview Transcripts for the May 1st New Yorker Article “Out to Sea”:ⓒ
by Christopher Chen

Directed by Christian Haines

Featuring Will Brown + Jessica Risco

Characters:
ACTOR 1: Female, plays CARA and INTERVIEWER 1.
ACTOR 2: Male, plays WILLIAM and INTERVIEWER 2.

CARA:
My sister left the org ten years ago. I remember the scene so clearly. From my
window I saw her in the patio. She was pacing back and forth in a way Iʼd never
seen before. I could tell from her movements that this was a crisis, something
momentous was going to happen. She had her hands clasped together and she
was mumbling to herself. It was raining and she was drenched but she didnʼt
seem to notice. I stood at the window, transfixed. I wanted to go to her but
something in her movements told me that if she startled, she would run, and I
might never see her again. I donʼt know how I knew that, but a sister knows these
things. We had our differences, sure, but I could read her movements like an
animal. I knew her. More than I knew myself back then. And suddenly she looked
at me. And we stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. And I saw in
her the pain, the fear, everything weʼd gone through all these many years here.
There was wariness too, a resignation. She had reached the breaking point, I
could tell. But over everything else, in this stare that spoke volumes, it was a
raging courage that burned through every other filament I read. It was something
new. It was resolute, with a hint of sadness. Because I saw, in her eyes, that she
was also saying goodbye to me, for good. That was the last I saw her.
WILLIAM:
The real question is: what can I not say about the org. I know you guys have
been interviewing a lot of folks, so I know youʼve been hearing a lot of different
things. And thatʼs fine. It really is. Because the truth is, itʼs all true, and itʼs all not
true at the same time.
INTERVIEWER 1:
What do you mean?
WILLIAM:
Itʼs true because whatever your experience is with the org, that is your
experience, it is true for you. And the org does not deny that.
INTERVIEWER 1:
So people who have said negative things about the org, those things, youʼre
saying, are true?
WILLIAM:
Itʼs true because you put yourself into the org. Thatʼs all it is. And so thatʼs what
you get out of it: Yourself. So if you donʼt like what youʼre getting from the org,
guess what: That means you donʼt like yourself. The org is simply a conduit.
Anger at the org is anger redirected from yourself.
INTERVIEWER 1:
What do you mean by “conduit.” What is the org meant to be a conduit to
exactly?
WILLIAM:
The org, for those who truly embrace it, is a conduit… to a higher plane of living.
INTERVIEWER 1:
I thought you said the org doesnʼt provide anything you donʼt put in. What about
this “higher plane of living”? Donʼt you add things to a person to get to this state?
WILLIAM:
When I say higher plane of living, I mean plane as in a structure, a surface. A
blank surface. And that is all. There is no content in the org that isnʼt selfgenerated
by the user. The org takes an individualʼs content, and structures it in
new ways, organizes it differently, creates a space, a space on a higher plane
where this user, with all of his or her content, can exist in a clear, more
transcendental state, with other similar users who have undertaken the same
journey.
INTERVIEWER 1:
Of course youʼre aware of all the controversy Iʼm sure, accusations that the org is
a cult, or a scam-because youʼre forced to pay for more and more features; that
its founder, M. Don Cubbard, in fact didnʼt even graduate high school and his
teachings are just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
WILLIAM:
Of course weʼve heard these accusations before. But if we were truly some
nefarious cult, why would we already have some 250 million members, and have
attracted some of the top celebrities in the world? Will Smith and Jennifer Beale
came to us, we didnʼt go to them. We didnʼt say “Choose me, choose me,” no,
they were drawn into our orbit all on their own! Even Justin Beiber recently joined
the org. I say, let our members speak for themselves.
INTERVIEWER 1:
Another aspect of the org that I think people struggle with is its origin story. I
mean M. Don Cubbard, if Iʼm not mistaken, says that the giant alien lizard lord
Megadrathulon created the universe from his space station in six days, and that /
people were—
WILLIAM:
All—all this is coming up now just because weʼre about to go public. Once money
becomes involved, people start baring their fangs. But money is not our chief
concern. Weʼre putting Sea.org into the public sphere, for the public to handle
and make their own, because we believe in what we do. We want to share
ourselves with the world. Do you know what we call our I.P.O.? We call it our
“Inter-Planetary Offering.” So I just want you to have our perspective, our true
goals in mind when you and your partner continue with this article.
LARA:
I always thought it would be Cara who left the org, not me. She was the one with the independent streak. When we were teenagers sheʼd pull me out of bed and drag me into the woods. I was terrified of breaking the rules but I followed her just
the same. That spirit of hers had a pull. The woods behind our building was deep green. Moss made soft bedding of the tangled roots below. Weʼd run barefoot. I loved the feeling of earth between my toes. My sister was the fearless leader. Sheʼd take my hand and urge me across an ever-changing terrain. It didnʼt matter, jagged rocks, icy streams, we scaled them all, our momentum gave us wings. I sensed in her movements a desire to flee, and this in turn planted seeds for my own departure in the future. But even though she pushed forth, laying claim to these woods as ours and ours alone, there was still a hesitation. Still the sense that she liked playing freedom within the safety of a cage. When she determined we had run far enough, sheʼd stop, stare out into the distance, as if wilting suddenly at the thought of endless woods, of endless, unreachable land. Sheʼd put her shoes back on and turn abruptly back around, the fire of just seconds ago gone in the blink of an eye. Iʼd follow quickly behind, but I didnʼt put my shoes back on. Unlike her, I think I genuinely loved the earth for what it was. The feelings and textures of it, not just for the idea that it was different. When I left sea.org, it was to the earth that I returned. With my own two hands I built a cabin in the forests up to the North, away from the org and all its
shimmering and shiny people. I left with eyes wide open. I knew exactly what I was sacrificing. The friends, the community, the sense that I belonged in the world of other people. But those trips into the woods with my sister, they taught
me that there was a freedom out there unlike any freedom Iʼd felt before. And it was waiting for me. It was right there. And the only way to reach it, I knew in my heart of hearts, was to disconnect from the org for good, no matter how lonely the
consequences were. It wasnʼt an easy decision. The hardest part was the day I left. I saw my sister in the window looking down. I wanted to take her with me. I wanted us to run away together, like when we were younger. But as we locked
eyes, just for a second, I saw the glaze in hers. I knew she was in too deep. And I had to take care of myself.
INTERVIEWER 2:
What dangers do you still see in Sea.org that the people of the world should
know before it files for status as a dot org and goes public?
LARA:
I would say that we must keep a watchful vigil. We must not allow ourselves to
become… seduced or complacent. Sea.org collects and connects people far and
wide, but we tend to seek out people who reinforce our delusions.
INTERVIEWER 2:
What kinds of delusions are you talking about?
LARA:
I canʼt really say for sure, because if I did, they wouldnʼt be delusions anymore. I
can only say that: think of the ways you are building your life. With our without
sea.orgʼs platforms. So you can think of your life as becoming a building. Then
imagine a new season, with new buildings popping up, new cities, and these
cities change with the seasons too, then with the years and decades, and soon
all original architects are gone, and their buildings will stay standing for a few
decades more, then fall. Then crumble into dust. Then become the earth itself.
Sea.org promises safe and everlasting life beyond the earth. So in that sense, it
is delusion. But in the end, maybe it doesnʼt matter. Who am I to say there is a
correct way to live?
END OF PLAY

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