The Wise Gardener - Ten Short Plays
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These ten contemporary plays reveal mysteries working in the lives of the characters, in chance or seemingly insignificant situations. The cast requirements for each play are from two to four characters. An abstracted set requiring minor changes in furniture and props can accommodate all of the plays. The plays are suitable for ages ranging from the late teens through adults.
The Wise Gardener
Elise and Stephen, junior college students, meet to rehearse a recital of Elise's poem, accompanied by Stephen's recorder music. The metaphor of her poem relates to the differences between the shy, promising poet and the mathematics prodigy, who ridicules poetry and denies all intuitive feeling, even in the realm of music.
In this relationship of irreconcilable differences, Elise draws comfort from the poetic metaphor of The Wise Gardener, who plants his flower seeds to a purpose, that their blossoms might adorn the garden at varying seasons. This play requires recorder music (Mozart).
Henry Thomas and his friend Julie walk through a city park and there encounter a mysterious figure painting with watercolors. Julie notices the stranger has the aura of the past about him; he reminds her of a sepia photograph. Henry and Julie have come from the art exhibit of a friend, whose work-similar to de Kooning's-has been successful, while Henry's placid landscapes are ignored. Henry, unable to accept abstract trends in modern art, is on the verge of giving up painting, when the encounter with the stranger and his inspiring work provides insight from the past and direction for the future.
The Guided Lesson
Mr. Morris, an energetic young tutor, greets a new pupil, a withdrawn, awkward teenager-who presumes he calls her Rosie because she is wearing a pale rose, corduroy jumper. Having too quickly consulted his schedule book, he begins a first lesson in mineralogy, an elective for which Rosie has shown no interest. However, after only a brief introduction to minerals and gems and their geometric forms, the troubled teenager is suddenly transformed, and has fiery enthusiasm for the subject. Puzzled, Mr. Morris again consults his schedule book.
The Blue Night Theater
Larry Blue, a talented comedy actor with a sunny, good-natured disposition, is quickly closing the office of Larry Blue Enterprises, which manages his musical comedy theater. He encounters Sarah, the cleaning lady, and the two become engaged in a conversation about their lives, Sarah determining the reasons for Larry's sudden departure. Sarah's life, which might have been tragic, is full of joy in service; Larry's life is tragic despite his great comedic and musical talents.
A mysterious distinguished-looking train conductor, consulting his watch from eternity, oversees a meeting of individuals very important to him. Marjorie's uncle, Lafayette Dobbs, believes himself to be the Confederate General, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. Laura Stafford, a social worker, visits to help with his disability application. The conductor emerges as vitally significant in the destinies of the characters, and this realization brings a first balm of healing for Lafayette.
Iveson and Earnest
Iveson is a frail, elderly man who finds contentment and wards off the sharper edges of loneliness with the help of his faithful companion Earnest, a remarkably accommodating cat. Iveson's granddaughter, Penny, visits their humble home and boldly confronts Iveson with the fact that no one but himself has ever seen Earnest. However, she soon has cause to regret her imprudence.
The Red Horse
Brother Anthony is a young man who has made a perfect adjustment to a strict monastic life and is about to become a permanent member of his order. His advisor, Brother Timothy, has requested they meet for a few moments before vespers, in the unlikely event that Brother Anthony has any last-minute questions or concerns. Brother Anthony expresses no doubts about his chosen path, but he has had a troubling, recurring dream.
Prosecuting Attorney Russell Danneman has been waking up at two in the morning for months and begins to understand that a certain disturbing but illuminating dream relates to a case which his wife Beth calls his most sterling success. Attorney Danneman has had a man convicted on circumstantial evidence in this sensational case, and Judge Lewis has handed down the death sentence. But Attorney Danneman has received a series of troubling letters which he would dismiss as inconsequential were it not for what has become his-and Beth's-disturbing two a.m. routine.
Amy Robinson is a young, aspiring writer of children's plays. The manager of the Merry-Go-Round Theater, Jason Hilliard, has finally agreed to meet her about a script she has mailed to him, called The Lamb. However, she quickly learns that her play-an allegory about an ingenue who encounters three evils represented by three characters-cannot compete with what has become the theater's new sensational repertoire: The Assassination of Jean Paul Marat is about to open. Amy also cannot relate to two teenagers she encounters, Claude and Desiree, who remain in character for their rolls as asylum patients, for the sake of method acting. After a meeting with the haughty manager, Amy realizes that her play has prophesied her own unpleasant experience at the Merry-Go-Round Theater.
Glenda has developed a longing to visit once again a lovely clearing in the woods she knew as a child, a clearing surrounded by pine trees. Her friend Ellen, a hiker, knows the location of the clearing and the two visit this special place. But why has Glenda felt so many times what she refers to as called to the clearing? The answer becomes apparent when they encounter Mamie, a young woman whose situation has become so desperate, she can only find peace in the clearing, where she communes silently with the pine trees and prays for help.