Maya Kuper & Paul McComas
Performers at the 2017 Teen Wellness Conference
Maya Kuper & Paul McComas’ alt-rock musical UNPLUGGED: A Survivor’s Story in Scenes & Songs tells the story of Dayna Clay, a young rock star bravely battling clinical depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts in the wake of an abusive childhood. Although Dayna’s story is a work of fiction, UNPLUGGED addresses very real issues. Through songs and scenes adapted from McComas’ acclaimed novel, the show chronicles Dayna’s bumpy journey out of depression, through the South Dakota Badlands, and into self-discovery, healing, and love. At this special appearance, Maya and Paul will share excerpts from UNPLUGGED in an intimate performance — and give the Teen Wellness Conference audience a sneak preview of the UNPLUGGED soundtrack album, which drops October 22 on CAUDog Records! Learn more: UnpluggedTheMusical.com
On the final night of her wildly successful concert tour, 27-year-old rocker Dayna Clay—tormented by an ever-deepening depression—confides that she’s through, then performs a song-as-suicide-note (“Give Me Oblivion”) that her sales-focused managers hear only as her next big hit. At the end, she sets fire to her record contract; unsure if her life is worth living, Dayna then hits the road for parts unknown.
She winds up, by chance, in the South Dakota Badlands and checks into a cheap motel; there, she fights through an episode of depression marked by a post-traumatic-stress (PTS)-driven flashback to her rape at age 12. When the veil lifts, she spots a tiny weed that somehow has managed to grow up and out between two of her motel room's floorboards (“Ready to Bloom”). Inspired by this display of against-all-odds survival, she sets out to hike and then climb the breakaway Badlands; it's a tricky proposition, yet she manages to ascend the tallest formation in sight all the way to its peak. Her suicidal impulses are pushing her to step off, but Nature intercedes.
Convinced, now, to give herself “a fighting chance” and see a doctor, Dayna climbs back down, yearning and half-praying for a firm foundation from which to heal (“Hand Over Hand”). A while later, while out hiking, she's enveloped by a raging dust storm; looking back on the dark day when she first drove into South Dakota, Dayna recognizes just how far she's come on the road to recovery (“Second Storm”) and manages to rally and to weather the terrifying tempest.
Dayna's journey to wellness is not yet complete, but she's on the right road—and she's moving forward.
PAUL McCOMAS is the author of six acclaimed works of fiction: two novels, two short-story collections, a novella and a suite of short plays. His first major nonfiction work, a scholarly film book, is in process for a university press. Paul is as recognized for his live performances and his original music and short films as he is for his writing — all geared toward positive social outreach, progressive activism and healing. He is an award-winning teacher of film/media, literature and creative writing. Paul is honored to be a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council and its Speakers Bureau. Paul and wife Heather live in Evanston, Illinois with their rescue greyhound, Sam.
MAYA KUPER is a writer and musician from Chicago, by way of small-town Iowa. The first woman to graduate from Northwestern University’s sound design program, Maya built a career as a film sound editor and voiceover producer, then switched gears to become a copywriter. She made her first foray into stage acting with UNPLUGGED: A Survivor’s Story in Scenes & Songs. When she’s not collaborating with Paul, Maya blogs about audio gear, makes keytar videos, and occasionally finds a free minute to work on her solo album, How to Score.