John Henry is a well-known figure of American folklore. Born in poverty in rural West Virginia, John Henry’s incredible size and strength became legendary as he worked laying track for the railroads that crisscrossed the countryside in the late nineteenth century. No one could match his skill or his endurance, until the invention of the steam-powered driver, that is. We remember John Henry for his famous contest with this newfangled machine. John won the day, but died soon afterwards of a broken heart. John Henry realized that ordinary men could not compete with the iron workhorses of the industrial revolution and that the days of men like him were numbered. John Henry, uses storytelling, drama, and music to bring the story of an American legend to life. It is a tale that speaks to young and old alike and carries a strong contemporary parallel about the importance of our humanity in the face of changing technology.
Age Appropriateness: Kindergarten through 8th grade
Duration: 50 minutes plus a Question and Answer session
Number of performers: 2 actors plus stage manager
Music: contains live music (electric guitar)