The Diviners Creates Drama Over Its Portrayal of Difference

In an “audience talkback” following the show, cast members describe the challenges they faced in performing a play that centers intellectual difference.


Jessica Raman

Cast of The Diviners during the audience talkback following the performance.

Jessica Raman, Co-Editor in Chief

The Diviners, featuring Graeme Evans ‘24 as lead Buddy Layman, premiered in the EPAC theater on Friday, May 12, followed by two performances on Saturday. The play traced the story of Buddy’s fear of water and his relationship with C.C. Showers, played by Jack Morgan ‘24, a preacher who endeavors to help Buddy overcome this fear. The 55-minute performance showcased the talents of the cast in an emotionally intense production. Graeme’s portrayal of Buddy, a 17-year-old with an intellectual disability, captivated the audience, but it wasn’t until the “audience talkback” after the play that the cast members could explain the careful thought that they had put into their performances.

During the ten-minute audience talkback, the cast emphasized how emotionally draining the show was, especially in the final scene where Buddy drowns. Rachel Nelson ‘24 had the especially emotional role of Jenny Mae, Buddy’s younger sister, who does everything she can to protect him and is crushed when he ultimately drowns. Graeme described the considerable research and conversation that informed his portrayal of his role. Several members of the cast highlighted distinctions in Graeme’s portrayal of Buddy from that of other productions of The Diviners.

In the talkback, the cast emphasized its goal of increasing awareness in the audience of the prejudice that people with differences face, including infantilization. The cast described how much they had learned about themselves, acting, and each other from putting on this production. They also expressed their appreciation for Ms. Mia Fisher-Philips, the faculty director, for challenging them throughout the entire process. Despite any initial controversy, they all learned and grew from the experience, and in the process, put on an amazing show.