Cast: 7 + extras; 4f, 3m, many extras possible and needed
SYNOPSIS: What would you give to live a life of peace, free of hunger, free of disease, free of the ravages of age? Asher poses this question in ARK 5 where the citizens of the ARK are doing exactly that. They lead productive, useful lives free of anything that causes chaos - emotional or physical.
JOAN & PETRA: We will fill our days with usefulness and contentment.
PETRA: The past is useless. We work in the present to create the future.
Petra rules a future that is free of any sort of chaos and in her mind chaos includes love and music. Attachments harm the greater good. Those who are deemed "useless" are cast aside. For the people of ARK 5, they have no idea where the useless people are and how they live their lives. "Out of sight, out of mind," rules and people only know what they need to know to live their lives and nothing more.
Using the framework of Joan of Arc, Asher creates a unique futuristic heroine with her Joan. Joan in ARK 5 is not called to act by angels but by humanity. The numbers in the "useless" area are growing and they have declared their space the "wilderness." With the help of the very human Michael, Catherine and Margaret, Joan discovers her calling and her long-buried humanity as she is called to save the wilderness people.
MARGARET: Catherine says information is not knowledge. She says we are deluged with facts, but we lack understanding.
WHY YOU SHOULD PRODUCE THIS PLAY: At a time when teenagers are exploring the notions of their individuality, individual rights and the collective good, ARK 5 poses many questions regarding the often hidden price tag of safety and freedom. Teens are grappling with a challenging world. Technological advances come at them at the speed of light. Their use and abuse in the play have direct parallels to today's world. In addition to giving the cast worlds of discussion, this play is one that would highly resonate with a high school/university audience.
JOAN: The ARK System is a force for good in the world. We are kept healthy and safe. We are well-trained to do important work.
CATHERINE: There is peace and usefulness, yes, order and health. But at what price?
JOAN: No price but our willing service!
MARGARET: If we are fit to serve.
CATHERINE: But if not ...?
JOAN: I'm not aware of anyone dying!
CATHERINE: You have been protected from grief as you have been protected from love.
By high school standards, the cast may seem small but the importance of the extras in the wilderness scenes can not be understated. Using movement and little dialogue, the wilderness scenes are some of the most poignant and powerful scenes in the play. Just as with the major roles, teen-actors "in the wilderness" have the opportunity to create their own character arc and who they were in the past and how they came to the wilderness. There are so many study variations to be had here. One project could be to compare and contrast it with the original Joan of Arc story - both historical and dramatized. Asher brings up the role of music in the ARK 5 society. Music can cause messy emotions. Yes it can make the heart soar but it creates attachments, it stirs the being and in that sense is chaotic. So it is banned. What else could be banned to create a useful, orderly society? What is the role of faith? Asher doesn't supply you with answers but she does open doors for you and your cast to create a thoughtful debate.
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