A big play with a big heart.
– Stephen McKinley Henderson
For HUMANS REMAIN: 5F; 2M; 1 African dancer (optional) (small roles are doubled).
All but one character are mixed race, predominantly African-American.
For RAMAPOUGH: 5F; 2M; 1 dancer (optional) (small roles are doubled).
One character is specifically African-American. The others are as diverse as desired.
Est. 1 hr. 45 min.
Unit set w/flexible space.
The spiritual, peace-loving White Cliff Kinfolk are hidden away from the rest of the world on a mountain in New Jersey. The extended family has lived there for 12 generations, their blood mixed with that of fugitives from the outside world. Disease is devastating them. A shadow creeping over the mountain augurs destruction. They depend on their leader, the Watcher, but she is ancient, rapidly losing her powers. Her replacement must be found quickly.
A young Kinfolk woman brings a “foreigner” from the valley hoping he will teach her to read so she can find a spiritual connection between the Kinfolk and other people — so she will feel safe going off the mountain to learn about the rest of the world. He figures out that it is Lyme disease which is killing the kinfolk. She finds the connection in the New York Times (the newly discovered African Burial Ground). The young man is jubilant. They must let him “save” them by announcing their whereabouts to the world. They will make scads of money from reality tv, talk shows, and so forth; more than enough for medical treatment, insurance, and all the benefits of a civilized life, he promises.
In a test to determine who has Watcher powers the young woman saves her sister from death. The Kinfolk hold a pageant, a reenactment of their founding, performed as part of a ceremony to name the new Watcher. The young woman chooses to assume leadership rather than go with the young man. She refuses to let him have the evidence he needs to prove their link to the African Burial Ground. The Kinfolk have a new Watcher and their future is secure — or is it?
SET REQUIREMENTS: Stage bare except for two platforms with ramps.
– Winner of SteppingStone’s Millennium Playwriting contest. Staged reading Off-Broadway directed by Stephen McKinley Henderson.
– Finalist in the Moondance International Film Festival.
– One of eight plays chosen from almost 1,000 for Lark Theatre’s Playwrights Week residency in New York.
– Selected by Terrence Spivey, artistic director of Karamu House (Cleveland, OH), for a staged reading in ArenaFest.
– Places in the prestigious Reva Shiner competition.
– One of six finalists in Reverie Productions’ International Next Generation contest.
HUMANS REMAIN deals with provocative and dangerous notions, including hot issues such as mainstream ‘awareness’ of marginalized peoples, white versus non-white culture, Jeffersonian ideas of property and ownership versus communalism and spirituality, and uses of African chant and stereotypical dialects associated with African American culture, both urban and rural. To a degree the play is a lightning for political correctness, evoking in its audience unease about the ‘appropriateness’ of actions and events in the story. At the center of all this is a love relationship between a man of the ‘real’ world and a young woman in the tribe with mysterious shamanistic traits. Will she choose to serve her people, flawed as they are, or reach outside of her community to join a wider community beyond? The play’s most significant aspect to me is the way in which it explores this fundamentally unanswerable dilemma. – John Clinton Eisner, Producing Director, The Lark Theatre, New York City
NOTES: All except one character are members of an extended family which is African-American/Jamaican infused with Native American, southern and northeastern U.S. Skin color varies widely. Hard Hat 1 and Hard Hat 2 may be double cast differently or played by additional actors as desired.
The play weaves together reality, mysticism, past, present and future. It is challenging, unsettling, uplifting. It looks at big issues through a personal lens. A highly theatrical scene is a reenactment of the beginning of the Kinfolk when three women were brought as captives to pre-colonial New York to service British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. In another scene, a joint snake messages the threat of death closing in on the Kinfolk.
For inquiries, contact the playwright.