By Sandra Fenichel Asher.
Cast: 2m., 3w. Expandable to 12 roles, plus extras as desired. Based on actual letters, diaries, magazine and newspaper articles of the period, this play follows young Virginia Reed and her family on their journey from Illinois to California as part of a wagon train that became known as the "Martyr Pioneers." Folk songs combine with dramatic action to recreate moments both typical of the 19th-century's vast migration and unique to the courageous struggle of members of the Donner Party, who were trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the ferocious winter of 1846-47. Commissioned by the Coterie Theatre, Across the Plains was selected for the Kennedy Center's New Visions/New Voices program and received the American Alliance for Theatre and Education's Playreading Project National Award. In the word of seventh-graders who attended the Coterie's performances: "I would recommend this play to anyone." "There was not a bored person in the whole theatre." "I was with you on the long journey to California." "It was truly the best play I have ever seen." Minimal sets.