September 1935. Lonely, imaginative 11 year old Johanna “Jojo” Benton is play acting a story one evening in her family’s Kentucky barn when her solitude is interrupted by a stranger. A destitute wanderer with a long beard and curly hair, Jojo suspects he is the “Hairy Man” - a sinister trickster from a southern American folk tale her late father used to tell her - whom she thinks has come to take her away....
September 1935. Lonely, imaginative 11 year old Johanna “Jojo” Benton is play acting a story one evening in her family’s Kentucky barn when her solitude is interrupted by a stranger. A destitute wanderer with a long beard and curly hair, Jojo suspects he is the “Hairy Man” - a sinister trickster from a southern American folk tale her late father used to tell her - whom she thinks has come to take her away. But the man is simply a poor Jewish immigrant, Abraham Goldstein, making his way to California to begin a new life. Jojo’s mother, Sarah, takes pity on the penniless, starving man and allows him to stay in the barn and work on the farm to earn money to continue his journey, despite the objections of her older son, Will, who is suspicious of this outsider, the first Jew they have ever met.
As weeks pass, Jojo and Abraham discover a shared love of storytelling and create a theatre in the barn, while Sarah and Abraham learn they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. As America’s economic woes continue, and new worries arise from the recently announced Nuremberg laws in Germany that signal trouble for Jews, can the blossoming relationship between Abraham and Sarah survive the ingrained cultural, ethnic and religious differences that pervade their society? Most importantly, as secrets are revealed, will their haunting pasts cause the Hairy Man to stay or go?
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The Hairy Man
2 Feb. 2021
A terrific story of the bonds of friendship that can create art, bring individuals to life and bring about a strong faith in humanity where there wasn't one leaving a permanent mark. Beautiful. ”
Premiere Stages at Kean University:
5 Mar. 2019
Premiere Stages, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Kean University, is pleased to recognize “The Hairy Man” by Bryan Halperin as a semifinalist for the 2019 Premiere Play Festival. “The Hairy Man” rose through a competitive selection process conducted by Premiere staff and a panel of outside theatre professionals to become one of 23 semifinalists out of 659 submissions. The panel was particularly impressed by the play’s compassionately drawn characters (particularly Abraham, a phenomenal creation); its examination of anti-Semitism in the Depression-era U.S; and its embrace of storytelling as a universal cultural pleasure. Our congratulations and thanks to Bryan. ”
Eastern European, Jewish
A widower, Jewish Russian immigrant, unkempt beard and curly charcoal hair. Threadbare clothes, dirty. Eastern European accent.
Can be played by:
Johanna "Jojo" Benton
(pronounced "Joe-Hannah") 11, imaginative, lonely. Farmer's daughter. Alabama accent. Maybe slightly less pronounced than her family.