LAUNCHING NEW PLAYS INTO THE REPERTOIRE
Led by the Lark Play Development Center, Launching New Plays is a national initiative to transform the American theater repertoire to reflect shifting demographics and emerging issues of local, national and global concern. This is accomplished by “creating a movement” around a single playwrights’ vision by a consortium of five theaters that commit to developing and producing what many consider “risky” plays and to engaging in local and national conversations about the importance of the plays relevance and potential impact. The Road Weeps Bulletin is part of the community engagement activities for this program. Launching New Plays is generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation.
WHY THIS PLAY
Gardley’s dynamic, challenging play, The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry presents a rare opportunity to spark conversation among people from wide-ranging cultural backgrounds about both the largely unspoken American history that the play specifically references and also the resonances that exist in today’s cultural landscape.
SYNOPSIS OF THE PLAY
Surviving centuries of slavery, revolts and ‘the trail of tears’, a community of self-proclaimed Freemen (Black Native Americans) incorporate the first all black town in Wewoka, Oklahoma. But the very foundations of the town are put to the test when the new religion and the old way come head to head, their former enslavers try to cease their land and the leader of the Freemen makes use of his brilliant, “burning” immortality.
The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry is the second installment in a trilogy about the migration of Black Seminoles (African and Native American people) from Florida to Oklahoma. The first act of The Road Weeps traces events leading up to the Civil War in Wewoka, Oklahoma and the second act follows the war. At its core, the play is about a group of people whose faith and identity are put to test when their water well runs dry.
THEMES IN THE PLAY
There are four major themes: spirituality, identity, education & migration. It is an epic much like The Oresteia and other Greek trilogies, but The Road Weeps is structured more like a Native American myth. All of the stories are told in the oral tradition, where someone (usually an elder) passes down the history/folklore to a younger person. The plays also bring to life various characters from Seminole myths and in this way the folklore of the tribe is infused in the larger history.