Jim and I met and developed a relationship on the GENIE computer network...he being in Vermont and me being in Berkeley. Jim sent me his play in 1992. Linda, Michael, and I read it at a cafe. We were crying by the middle of it. So I wanted to direct it.
But it was a year before things began to come together...
Frank Moore, October 26, 1994
The play is about a tribe that has been isolated from the "civilized" world (although there are some clues that the chief has been to the outside sometime in his life). It could be anywhere on earth...or, if we want to go scifi, anywhere in the universe. the tribe lives in close relationship with both earth and their ancestors...with whom they relate as spirit people (the seeress is one of these). One of the channels of this relationship is the tribal wordless songs. these songs root/balance to earth, not just the tribe, but the human race.
A young man at sometime before the time of the play had left the tribe to see what the outside was like. He now returns, dressed (unlike the tribe who are nude), with the western name "Christopher". An anthropologist found him, took him to a university as a great find, lectured about him, gave him a great name, taught him english and better Western ways. when Chris got sick and great Western medicine cured him, Chris converted to Western religion. One problem...Chris had forgotten the tribal wordless songs. The anthropologist knows if he finds the tribe and records their songs...fame and money will be his...because even with all of the Western songs...civilized people had long ago forgotten the wordless songs of the spirit.
So Chris brings the anthropologist to the tribe along with Western goodies like clothes, and does a hard sell. Some of the tribe at first are tempted. but soon when the newness wears off, what he is offering seems very shallow. The basic problem is they are a happy people. So Chris reveals he has brought other things...he carries the illness which he has already given them by being with them...and he has the Western medicine which cured him and would cure them...if they convert to the Western ways...and if they sing the songs to be taped. The chief and the seeress know the songs would be misused, drained of their magical effect. But if the tribe dies, the songs would sink to the underground to wait for the time when humans will be capable of singing them again. But each tribal member has to decide whether to die or not.
The play is done in the round. When each tribal member dies joining the ancestors, he/she goes into the audience to melt physically/sensually with the rest of the cast, leaving Chris alone in the growing darkness....without a song.