ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Professor John Oldman looks like a healthy 35-year-old male. But he’s actually the 14,000-year-old survivor of the Upper Paleolithic era.
“The Man From Earth” places this living specimen in a roomful of scientists and asks hypothetical questions about time, life and love in a play adapted from the film version by Richard Shenkman. Jerome Bixby (“The Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek”) completed the screenplay on his deathbed in 1998.
The Adobe Theater will present the stage version of “The Man from Earth.”
The play opens with Oldman skipping out on a farewell party at the university. He moves every 10 years to keep others from realizing he does not age.
“He’s a history professor; if you’ve lived for the entirety of written and oral history, you might as well teach it,” director Ned Record said with a laugh.
His colleagues follow him home: a biologist, an anthropologist, an archaeologist, his student, a Christian literalist and a psychiatrist. Each attempts to deconstruct his story. Questions of loyalty, faith, friendship and love surface, to be both debated and tested.
“In most stories about immortality, the person is a vampire,” Record said. “I’d never seen a story that focuses on ‘What does that mean?'”
Many of the questions Oldman’s existence poses remain unanswered.
Record wanted to stage the play after losing multiple family members. He most recently lost his brother.
“He may have been only 53 when he passed away, but had he lived his life,” Record said. “Has (Oldman) lived his 14,000 years? It’s the quality, not the quantity that makes the difference.”