That Which Gives Life Takes It Away


I am not one for searching out a play and just reading if for the sake of reading it.  Funny that… I love theatre, I am on a play-reading committee at my local theatre, but yet I find reading plays a chore.  However, give me a script to memorize or audition for and…. ZAP… I’m right there.  Plays are meant to be performed anyway… not read for leisure.

In my efforts to help the theatre choose a season for the 2010-2011 season, I came across a remarkable play full of symbolism and allegory.  Entitled The Diviners by Jim Leonard, Jr., it tells the events of a backwater Indiana hicktown (Zion, population…40) one fateful summer.  The lead character is Buddy Layman (age 14 or 17 according to the script).  He is a mentally challenged boy who also is abundantly curious in all things.  He has only one fear (that I could gather from the script).  Ironically, this fear is also his greatest gift to the town.

One of the other major players is C.C. Showers.  He is a 30-year old preacher who has abandoned his congregation in favor of finding a new way of life… in midwest America during the Great Depression.  It is never specifically stated in the script, but I found myself reading more into the plot than was actually there.  But I think there are some moments in which my summation could be proven (as my playscript analysis professor instructed the class to do several times).  But Mr. Showers and Buddy form a bond that ultimately leads the young man to overcome his fear.

I was totally engaged in all of the symbolism in the play.  It had me from the very first page until the very end.  In one sitting, I was able to read, laugh, and believe in the play.  I find it really tragic that I had never heard of the play until recently and definitely will put it on my list for suggestions for the upcoming season.  On a footnote, The Diviners had its professional debut in 1980 and starred Robert MacNaughton as Buddy.  Who is Robert MacNaughton?  He played Eliott’s older brother Michael in E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial.  Oddly enough, I did remember the character’s name although it was probably said no more than five times the entire movie.

11 thoughts on “That Which Gives Life Takes It Away”

  1. Michael: Did you explain school to him?
    Elliot: How do you explain school to higher intelligence?
    Michael: Maybe he’s not that smart. Maybe he’s like a worker bee who only knows how to push buttons or something.
    Elliot: (knowingly) He’s so smart.
    Michael: Okay, I just hope we don’t wake up on Mars or something surrounded by millions of these little squashy guys.

    And how about that Michael going out for halloween looking like a terrorist, er- I mean hippie? 😛

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