The Briars


The Townsfolk become a four-part chorus telling the tale of Buddy Briar, eccentric and larger-than-life, the kind of man who owns a zoo. The Townsfolk recount the rise and fall of their great villain, benefactor, and entertainer.

The Story

This play was originally commissioned by the Playwrights Center at Emory University as part of 48 hour theatre festival. It was inspired by the Briarcliff Mansion.

It was also developed at the Ground and Field Theatre Festival at UC Davis.

More info here.

The sound of heat at night. Crickets, cicadas, air conditioners and so on. Is that an old jingle, the bell-filled song of an ice cream truck on the wind? In the distance, we hear a rumbling like thunder, like a stampede of something drawing closer and closer… A cry.  A roar. It dissolves into the heat of night. Then we see the TOWNSFOLK – four people, who will play everyone.They fan themselves. They are one, they are many.


This town

This city

It’s got heat.

Climbs right into you, splits you open, flattens you out, like a hot-iron, a steamshovel –

This heat–

It’s the humidity, not the heat.

That’s right, it’s the humidity.

And the heat.

They’re evil twins.

The devil’s two swampy testicles side by side,

And you sweat balls until you’d pledge yourself to Him-the-Devil if it came with relief. 

Summertime –

June, July, August

Every time you inhale-

(they inhale)

It’s like breathing in someone else’s breath.

June, July, August

Three months that wakes up the cicadas, and

knocks out of them a trilling so damn loud it breaks into your sleep.

You hear their songs in your dreams

Loud enough to wake the dead.

Summer’s a

a good time —

Good time to go for a swim

So this town

This city you mean.

A town can disappear. A fire, a flood, a tornado, and a town washes away.

But a city, a city lasts.

The Briars built this city.

Turned if from town to city.