NAWPA: Talking Leaves Synopsis

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Talking Leaves
Laura Shamas

An esemble cast plays multiple roles. 3W 5M. Suggested distribution:
Actor #1: Robbins/Soldier #1/Reverend/Protestor #1/Officer (male, ethnicity open)
Actor #2: Butler/Soldier #2/Protestor #2/Painter (male, ethnicity open)
Actor #3: Oo-no-leh/Sequoyah (male, Native American)
Actor #4: Standing Wolf/Red Stick/Neighbor #1/John Ross (male, Native American)
Actor #5: Wut-Teh/Neighbor #3/Council Member #1 (female, Native American)
Actor #6: Kaluna/The Worm/Neighbor #2/Tessee (male, Native American)
Actor #7: Ahyoka (female, Native American)
Actor #8: Utiya/Sally/Council Member #2 (female, Native American)
Place: Indian Territory and Mexico (various indoor/outdoor locations suggested in area staging).
In 1845 the Cherokee Nation dispatched a few scouts to look for George Guess (Sequoyah), who had been missing for two years from Indian Territory. Talking Leaves is the story of one of those scouts, Oo-no-leh. It is Oo-no-leh’s first project alone, and he has much to learn. Oo-no-leh has no first hand knowledge of Sequoyah or his achievements. As Oo-no-leh begins his journey to Mexico to search, he is struck with a strange vision in which he becomes Sequoyah and lives again many of the highlights and low points of the “Lame One’s” life. When Oo-no-leh’s vision finally finishes, he’s in Mexico and faced with the reality of finding Sequoyah in the land of the Mexican Cherokees. Curiously, he is face to face with a man who claims to know where Sequoyah is as Act One ends.
In Act Two, Oo-no-leh learns that the man is crazy who claims to know where Sequoyah is. But there is a great possibility that Sequoyah’s grave is nearby, as is his son Tessee. In the heat, Oo-no-leh is struck with another vision, in which he is again Sequoyah during the great council meeting with John Ross and the “Talking Leaves” are explained to the Tribal Council. After the “miracle” that occurs there, Sequoyah is a hero and proclaimed a genius by his people. After years as a teacher, Sequoyah opts to travel to Mexico to find the roots of all Indian tongues. At this point, Oo-no-leh awakens from his vision and confronts Tessee, Sequoyah’s son. Tessee explains many things to Oo-no-leh, most notably the peculiar circumstances surrounding Sequoyah’s death. Upon learning of Sequoyah’s death, Oo-no-leh decides to return to Indian Territory and leave Sequoyah’s final resting place a mystery. He believes that’s how Sequoyah wanted it to be.

-Synopsis written by the author.