RAFETUS

AWARDS: Finalist, 2019 Blue Ink Playwriting Award; Finalist, 2018-19 Woodward/Newman Drama Award; Finalist, 2019-2020 New Light New Voices Award; Semi-Finalist, The Bonnie and Terry Burman New Play Award (Barrington Stage); Selection, 2018 National Winter Playwrights Retreat (HBMG Foundation); 2017 Finalist & 2018 Semi-Finalist, National Playwrights Conference (Eugene O'Neill Theater Center)....
AWARDS: Finalist, 2019 Blue Ink Playwriting Award; Finalist, 2018-19 Woodward/Newman Drama Award; Finalist, 2019-2020 New Light New Voices Award; Semi-Finalist, The Bonnie and Terry Burman New Play Award (Barrington Stage); Selection, 2018 National Winter Playwrights Retreat (HBMG Foundation); 2017 Finalist & 2018 Semi-Finalist, National Playwrights Conference (Eugene O'Neill Theater Center).
In a near-forgotten corner of the Suzhou Zoo in China, the last male and female Yangtze giant softshell turtles unknowingly find themselves in the spotlight when suddenly thrust into confinement by a team of scientists, who are prepared to rewrite the laws of science to get the Turtles to breed and the species to perpetuate. But when the lovestruck Turtles finally grasp the full implications of their circumstances, the line between responsibility and self-preservation starts to blur… In the animal kingdom, held in captivity in a race against the biological clock, at what point does nature’s instinct finally overpower free will? In RAFETUS, “freedom of choice” takes on a whole new meaning -- or perhaps is rendered meaningless.
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RAFETUS

Recommended by

  • Ian W. Hill:
    2 Apr. 2018
    Lovely and sad work, inventive in structure, language and action, that excellently mixes the worlds of human and turtle at a level both realistic and magical all at once. Deals with moral questions while never being didactic -- everything is integrated into the characters and their actions. Eminently stageable.
  • Jordan Ramirez Puckett:
    2 Feb. 2018
    This highly theatrical play tells the story of two Yangtze giant softshell turtles and the team of scientists who are trying desperately to keep this species from extinction. This beautiful and moving play presents morally complicated questions about animal nature and reproductive rights. I was thoroughly engaged with the story and the characters the whole time. I hope to see a production of this play soon.
  • Eugene O'Neill Theater Center:
    5 Sep. 2017
    It is the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's pleasure to recommend Ali Skye Bennet and their play Rafetus as a finalist for our 2017 National Playwrights Conference. The play rose through a competitive, anonymous, multileveled selection process that took nearly nine months to execute. As one finalist out of hundreds of submissions, the strength of this play’s writing has allowed this work to prosper in such a competitive selection process.

Character Information

  • China Girl
    20-30s to play 80+ years old,
    Any Race/Ethnicity
    ,
    Female
    The last surviving female Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle (scientific name: Rafetus swinhoei). Small but tough.
  • Leo
    Late 30s-Early 40s to play 100+ years old,
    Any Race/Ethnicity
    ,
    Male
    The last male Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle in China (scientific name: Rafetus swinhoei). Physically larger than China Girl, a “gentle giant.”
  • Soft (“Emily Ash”)
    Mid 20s-Early 30s,
    Vietnamese-American
    ,
    Female
    Human scientist
  • Eyes (“William Chen”)
    Mid 20s-Early 30s,
    Chinese
    ,
    Male
    Human scientist, wears glasses
  • Rough (“Bryan Powell”)
    30s,
    White, American
    ,
    Male
    Human scientist
  • Dr. Long (“Dr. Josef Koehler”)
    50+,
    White, European
    ,
    Male
    Head human scientist, European (Austrian, German, Hungarian, or Swiss), tall.
  • Prime Minister, Zoo Patrons, Press, Others
    Various,
    Asian
    ,
    Female
    Plays various ages and multiple Asian nationalities, including Vietnamese and Chinese.
  • Dong Mo, Zoo Patrons, Press, Others
    Various,
    Any Race/Ethnicity Except White
    ,
    Male
    Plays various ages and multiple ethnicities (except white), including - briefly - a Yangtze giant softshell turtle.
  • Zoo Patrons, Press, Others
    Various,
    Any Race/Ethnicity
    ,
    Any gender
    Plays various characters of non-specific genders, ages, and races/ethnicities

Development History

  • Residency
    ,
    National Winter Playwrights Retreat (HBMG Foundation)
    ,
    2018

Production History

  • Workshop
    ,
    29-Hour Workshop with Two Invited Presentations
    ,
    2018
  • Workshop
    ,
    Closed 10-hour workshop, independently produced
    ,
    2017

Awards

Selection
,
National Winter Playwrights Retreat
,
HBMG Foundation
,
2018
Finalist
,
2018 Spring Submissions
,
The Dare Tactic
,
2018