Off the Map was first published in 1994. It has been produced throughout the United States and has won a fair amount of critical acclaim. Most notably, Off the Map caught the eye of intelligent, independent film director, Campbell Scott. Scott, who has a propensity for moving stories from the stage to the screen, fell in love with Ackermann’s drama. The movie premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Although it did not win awards, the film had a short national run and received complimentary reviews
The play’s title comes from the location where the Groden family lives in northern New Mexico. The family is so far removed from any sense of conventional society that they live almost completely “off the map.” With Off the Map, Ackermann constructs a memory play in which Adult Bo Groden reflects back upon one summer of her childhood. During this summer, Young Bo, an eleven-year old girl, lives with her mother and father, Arlene and Charley. Other than Charley’s friend, George, the family has little contact with the outside world. During this summer, Charley falls into a deep depression that challenges the Groden family. An unlikely visitor, William Gibbs, arrives at their doorstep to collect on back taxes. Gibbs is also suffering from depression and quickly develops a distant, unspoken bond with Charley. Strangely, Gibbs falls in love with the Grodens and their lifestyle, never returning to his life “on the map.” Beyond the sad, funny, and heartwarming moments, the Groden family and Gibbs share during the summer’s struggle with individual demons and depression, Ackermann is also able to use the memory play to question the differing freedoms Bo experiences both as a young girl and an adult banker.