Anansi is a trickster and a storyteller. He is also the de facto leader of an Ashanti village when traditional hierarchies go south with the presence of the Ambassador. Now his village is starving and the colonists are to blame… it is time to wake the demons, but can they be controlled?
Schools: This play is a good choice for schools.
The play begins with British soldiers Nigel and Lucas, wandering through the Ashanti Burial Garden (cemetery), seeking Thomas— a young Ashanti boy. There, they encounter Pak Kenwe, an Ashanti young man, and Ambassador Sutherland, their boss, who are also looking for Thomas. Pak Kenwe warns all the men to find the boy as quickly as possible and get out of the garden— that mortals are no longer welcome in this place now that the demons have arrived. The party breaks up to continue their search when both Nigel and Lucas are pulled off their feet and into a tree, where they are eaten by unseen monsters. Sutherland tries to run away, but the gate to the garden has become mysteriously locked. Pak Kenwe cautions that the only way out of this place will be to appease the demons and be granted their pardon.
Just then, Anansi shows up— Pak Kenwe’s uncle, and a wily spider at that. He offers to help Sutherland appease the demons in exchange for a pardon; it turns out that Anansi was caught stealing from the British food storehouses to help feed his starving family. Sutherland agrees, and Anansi produces a bag with a pardon prepped for Sutherland’s signature, a silver cross, some photographs, and two mangoes. The three journey into the burial garden to encounter the demons.
The first demon is Mmotia— the invisible dark fairy with backwards feet and horrific features. She appears to Anansi after he falsely flatters her and promises her an item of limitless value in exchange for her hold. After she admits she knows nothing of the missing boy, Anansi tries to trick Mmotia by offering her half of his mango— the only thing he’s eaten all day— as an item of limitless value. This angers the fairy, who freezes Anansi, steals Pak Kenwe away— and eats him. This devastates Anansi. We also learn that the Ambassador was unaffected by the demon’s magic.
The next demon is Obayifo— the shapeshifter. They also know nothing of Thomas but threaten to destroy any men that venture into this place, now that mortals are no longer welcome here. After Obayifo turns into a devastating tornado, Sutherland is able to fend off the demon by throwing his silver cross at it, at Anansi’s encouragement. Obayifo disappears. We then learn that the cross was an incredibly valuable family heirloom with silver dating back to the time of Jesus himself. We also learn that the British storehouses have lots of food but “not enough to feed the entire village,” which has been suffering from a blight. Anansi blames the demons for this lack of food, though secretly we get the sense that he blames the British.
The final demon is Asasabonsam— the Soul Eater. He is a huge, winged creature of few words. He is about to devour both Anansi and the Ambassador when Anansi warns the demon that Sutherland has great magic, including the ability to freeze time. He shows the monster the photographs from the bag— which enraptures the beast. Mmotia and Obayifo also show up and are also fascinated by the photos. The demons decide that they want this great magic and agree to eat Sutherland and absorb his powers. Anansi cries for Sutherland to run! Leave the photos with him and he will sacrifice himself for the good of his “great white protector.” The ambassador flees… and after he does… Anansi begins to laugh. Then all the demons begin to laugh… as the demons fade away to reveal the villagers, Anansi’s friends, who had played an elaborate trick on their stuffy colonizer. The cross is still intact, and the photos document the fact that the artifact is extremely old and valuable. Nigel and Lucas also appear (they were in on it the whole time) and will act as Anansi and Pak Kenwe’s guides to the east where they will buy food to feed their village.
Kwaku Anansi – The spider; wise, rascally storyteller. (M/F) (If played by a woman, change references to “Uncle” to “Auntie," “Brother” to “Sister,” “Mr.” to “Miss,” and “Kwaku” to “Akua.”)
Ambassador Sutherland – A large-framed, low-ranking British official; sincere and entitled. (M)
Pak Kenwe – A young villager; enthusiastic but also sly. (M/F)
Mmoboro – Feisty and quick. (M/F)
Onini – Patient and strong. (M/F)
Lucas – An older conscripted British Soldier. (M)
Nigel – A younger conscripted British Soldier. (M)
Mmotia – A sinister, mischievous fairy with backwards feet. (F)
Obayifo – A dark shapeshifter. (M/F)
Asasabonsam – An enormous, blood-sucking monster with huge wings and hooked iron feet. (M)
Note: The demons should be represented as puppets and can be double-cast as follows: Pak Kenwe/Asasabonsam, Mmboro/Mmotia and Onini/Obayifo. Also, dialogue in brackets are translations from Akan and are for the reader's reference only; they are not to be spoken as part of the character’ speeches.
“Asem mpe nnipa,
Nnipa na pe asem.”
“Trouble does not look for man,
It is man who looks for trouble.”
Setting: Ashanti Territory, West Africa, 1845.
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Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The required materials for Anansi and the Demons include:
Wicked Lit Print Edition - The beautifully designed anthology, available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!
Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.
Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution artwork and reference photos. Also, ready-designed posters, reviews and pull quotes, if available.