Author Fanny Howe is, by her own account, “sort of obsessed with issues of race.” Her father, Mark deWolfe Howe, was a civil rights activist and Ms. Howe, who now lives in West Tisbury, grew up in the slow-burning racial fire of Boston. These experiences culminated in ’Tis of Thee, a work of drama more poetry than play, penned by Ms. Howe, directed by Robert Scanlon and presented by actors Anthony Gaskins, Jill Macy and Charles Turner on Monday evening at the Vineyard Playhouse as part of its Monday Night Special series.

As its introduction states, ’Tis of Thee tells the often-overlooked story of the “reverberations of a particular brand of orphanhood” — the children of secret interracial unions given or taken away from their parents in the wake of anti-miscegenation laws and social taboos. Ms. Howe’s play relates two such instances, one in Reconstruction-era Onset, the other in 1950s Boston, although the structure of the drama is such that the two cases seem to merge into one another.

In both cases, the orphaned child is the son of a black man and a white woman. The voices of these three — provided by, respectively, Mr. Gaskins, Mr. Turner, and Ms. Macy — form the backbone of the work; audience member Valerie Sonnenthal of Edgartown pointed out in a talk-back session that the subtle melancholy of the drama’s score also serves as a character in itself.

To simply state the outline and characters of ’Tis of Thee, however, does not do the work justice. Ms. Howe choreographs a dance of the English language throughout the play, and the actors rise to the challenge of performing it, each capturing the essence of the “little cave-dwelling particles of universe,” to use ’Tis of Thee’s own words, that they inhabit for 70 minutes.

“The play needs to be experienced,” said Mr. Turner after the show. “It is so infused with life and mysteries, contradictions and possibilities . . . all of which we celebrate.”

The zenith of these infusions is ’Tis of Thee itself, an imagined country the female voice pictures as a place “outside of history,” where the bindings of the real world have no bearing, and where she can finally see her lost children. ’Tis of Thee is not a perfect place; rather, it is a land of “unattached railroad cars occupied by derelicts,” where the unseen become visible.

“I think it’s a polemic on behalf of the soul,” Ms. Howe said of her work.

“We should allow [people] to be-come aware of these issues,” said Mr. Gaskins during the talk-back session. “I think we are going that way. I really do believe that.”

The sentiment was shared by those who attended the play, with the talk-back lasting nearly a half hour and many staying afterwards to attend a reception with the cast.

“It felt that the whole audience was so with us,” said Ms. Macy. “It just carried me along.”

Both actors and audience agreed that seeing one performance of the play was not enough to fully absorb its detail and nuance.

“You can’t possibly take this in in one sitting,” said Niki Patton of West Tisbury.

“I was actually writing lines down,” said Ms. Sonnenthal. “They’re real keepers.”