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The Diviners - Full Length Play, Drama

The Diviners

Jim Leonard Jr.

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Full Length Play, Drama

6m, 5f

ISBN: 9780573608377

"A splendid drama by a playwright [...] with poetic as well as human feeling." - Variety

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Author | Now Playing | Reviews
: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $100 per performance

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Full Length Play


Time Period - 1930s

Settings Of Play - The play takes place in the homes, fields, and public gathering places of the mythical southern Indiana town of Zion, population forty.


Cutting Approved for Competition, UIL Approved, Competition or audition material

Unit Set/Multiple Settings

Period Costumes


Adult, Senior


College Theatre / Student, Professional Theatre, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

This marvelously theatrical play is the story of a disturbed young man and his friendship with a disenchanted preacher in southern Indiana in the early 1930s. When the boy was young he almost drowned. This trauma, and the loss of his mother in the same accident, has left him deathly afraid of water. The preacher, set on breaking away from a long line of Kentucky family preachers, is determined not to do what he does best. He works as a mechanic for the boy’s father. The town doesn’t have a preacher and the women try to persuade him to preach – while he tries to persuade the child to wash. When the preacher finally gets the boy in the river and is washing him, the townspeople mistake the scene for a baptism. They descend on the event and, in the confusion, the boy drowns.

"The Diviners, which would be meritorious from anyone, is astounding from so young a writer [...] Renders the humor and horror of the hinterlands with staggering accuracy [...] Compelling." - New York Magazine

"The playwright's warmth, humor and love for humanity permeate the drama, and make it both touching and entertaining." - Variety

Diviners received its first professional production with the Circle Repertory Company in 1980.



6m, 5f

BUDDY LAYMAN – an idiot-boy

JENNIE MAE LAYMAN – his sister

FERRIS LAYMAN – their father, a mechanic

C.C. SHOWERS – a backsliding preacher

NORMA HENSHAW – owner of the Hoosier Dry-Goods, a true believer


GOLDIE SHORT – owner of the Dine-Away-Cafe

BASIL BENNETT – a farmer, the local doctor of sorts

LUELLA BENNET – his wife, a doubter

MELVIN WILDER – a farmhand

DEWEY MAPLES – a young farmhand

Now Playing
Anthony Hanke 4/15/2015 9:42 AM
We did the Diviners for Texas UIL OAP competition. It is a challenge to cut because of the quality of the characters in Jim Leonard's worlds. However, we found the essence of the story to be extremely poignant. There are obvious huge acting challenges for young actors in the character of Buddy, but also in C.C., Ferris, and Jennie Mae. But really we found that all of the characters even the minor ones held great opportunities for actors of all levels. Great character arcs throughout. This show has plenty of comic relief, heart string pullers, and a show stopping ending. We advanced several levels deep in our competition with it. If you are looking for a proven competition piece that tells a great story and challenges your actors, The Diviners is a winner
Amy Zicafoose 11/19/2014 9:57 PM
Incredible script for young actors. Very moving piece.
Greg Donner 9/26/2014 9:49 AM
We did this play in its full length version twelve years ago. It was very well received by our audiences for the depth of emotions produced by our actors.  It is one of the most moving dramatic productions we have done. I am currently doing a short version for our competition play season and trying to maintain the intensity of the material. This has proven to be a winning piece in Virginia for the past several years and I am optimistic that it will be a winner for us.
Greg Donner, Halifax County High School, Virginia

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