on Nov 24 in Plays posted by

“We are living as always in the midst of eternity!”


In the late 1830’s and early 1840’s Shaker communities were at the height of their prosperity. Combined, they were over 6,000 members strong, their farms were prosperous and their spirituality had undergone a charismatic revival which involved seeing visions, elaborate rituals and speaking in tongues.

Into this setting a vagrant Appalachian girl appears. She is running from an abusive fundamentalist preacher father and toward what she sees as her salvation, the devil. She is depleted by her flight from her father and cannot leave the Shaker community. Having never experienced a safe environment she questions everything. Where is she? Is this heaven on earth, as the Shakers literally believe, or hell?

Brother James, the elder of the community, receives a “blessing”, a vision he interprets as a warning of an impending holy visitation. As the community seeks to prepare for this visitation the routine of life is disrupted and dissension that has lain dormant surfaces. Is this visitation a blessing or a curse?  Through the use of Shaker music and Shaker dance, the story progresses until the characters begin to see who they are and where they are. In this world there is only one certainty: faith.

Character breakdown: 6 women, 5 men

Production History

A SIMPLE GIFT was a semi-finalist for the 2000 New Harmony Project, a semi-finalist for the 2003 Mill Mountain Theatre’s New Play Competition and a finalist for the National Playwrights Conference in 2004. Readings include a staged reading sponsored by the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, StreetSigns Center for Literature and Language and the York Theatre Company in New York’s Citicorp Center.

Read Scenes from A SIMPLE GIFT

Prologue A Simple Gift – Scene

Trailer for A SIMPLE GIFT

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