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Theater 30.2 (2000) 112-127

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The Gardening of Thomas D. * - [PDF]

Rinde Eckert


Digging is heard.


Midway through life's journey
I found myself in a dark wood
for the straight way was lost to me
I cannot say exactly how I entered here
exhausted as I was when first I strayed
but at the end of this, the valley
that had caused me so much fear
I looked up and I saw the sun

IMAGE LINK= IMAGE LINK= IMAGE LINK= Open on THOMAS in his monk's habit, dimly visible in back of bleachers, appearing to light a fire. He drags the man's suit that has been lying up center on the bleachers to the back. The flame brightens as if the suit is now burning. THOMAS shovels sand on the fire and the flame is gradually extinguished.

A square of light appears in center stage. In square of light stage right there is a pair of black overshoes. Stage left in square there is a shovel with blade pointing downstage left. THOMAS approaches from behind. He is lit only by the reflection of the light square.


When Thomas D. was young he summered by a lake in upstate New Jersey. Often of an evening his parents would dress up and go off to the lodge to eat and Thomas would go up to the monastery on the hill to watch the monks play softball. Years later, fleeing for his life, he remembers; he returns to the doorstep of the monastery; he begs for sanctuary.

"Stay," says the abbot, "but make yourself useful. We have a ball field fallen into [End Page 113] disrepair. We no longer play. Our number has decreased since then, and we have grown old. Make us a garden of that place."

Thomas misses the innocence of his boyhood days when, with his whole life in front of him, he would sit in the stands, amused by the baserunning of the robed men on the green field.

Light changes to diamond shape and THOMAS is illuminated in the upstage angle of the diamond.

Lights up on THOMAS seated in the bleachers, writing with a piece of charcoal on an eight-foot plank.


Name: Thomas D.
Age: Forty
Occupation: Exile
Comments: I live in a bare room with a small window.
I have an idea for a garden.

THOMAS lies down on the plank upside down.

He sings softly in falsetto.

VOICE-OVER (Thomas's voice slightly altered)

What is it, Thomas?


It's an allegory--three barriers, nine circles, a door, and a diamond.


What now?

THOMAS (voice altered)

I don't know; it's getting too dark to work.

angel begins pouring sand from her position on top of suspended fencing.

Lights up on THOMAS seated stage left on top step of bleachers, where he unwraps a heel of bread from waxed paper.


Thomas D. is good with numbers
he might have been a good accountant
he could have been a very good accountant
he could have been too good an accountant
he could have juggled the books
he might have juggled the books in a big way
he might have made good money hiding bad money
he could have been good enough to obscure the deeds of unconscionable men
he might have been good enough to mask the real intentions of dishonorable men.
And still he could have enjoyed his work; he might have loved his work.
Still he might have slept the sleep of the innocent . . . the sleep of the just, or the ignorant.
And yet, one day he might have surprised himself.


There were signs of the coming collapse.

There was that one day when I caught my tie in the document shredder and almost killed myself. I was . . .

There was another day when an old friend had sent me a picture of our fourth-grade class and I couldn't pick myself out; I had no idea which of the little faces . . .

There was the third day when I didn't go to work...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 112-127
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2005
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