Jan Quackenbush's Introductory Comments


With DAYS OF VENGEANCE in 1979, John Gardner plunged wholeheartedly into the local community theatre scene in Susquehanna, Pa, the town where he had recently purchased a home--small, white, neat--on Coleridge Road, commuting daily from there to SUNY-Binghamton to teach creative writing. Much of how John came to write DAYS OF VENGEANCE, is recorded in my memoir (available on this web site), Moon to Shore: John Gardner and the Laurel Street Theatre. During the summer, 1979, John and I, together with our wives, saw the Laurel Street Theatre production of Marriage Go-Round, and in the lobby afterwards, John dared me to write a one-act play to surpass ("beat") one which he would write, and so we embarked on a friendly, writerly competition. John said that he would take the scripts to a board meeting of the theatre, and offer them up for a production as a double bill, John wrote DAYS OF VENGEANCE in August-early September, 1979. Shortly afterwards, he took our plays (mine, EDEN'S ROCK) to a board meeting, excited the members with his vision of large audiences attending to see them, and the fun we could all have in producing the plays--and a motion was made, seconded and passed, that the Susquehanna Community Choral Society would produce and present the plays on two consecutive weekends, starting with Thanksgiving's, November 30th. John directed his play, with his mother in the starring role. She would rehearse at home in Batavia, New York, and arrive in Susquehanna the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 30, for the opening that night. Priscilla rehearsed with her sister, Lucy, assisting her; in performance on stage, Lucy would hover script-in-hand in the wings, by the curtain, to feed lines should Priscilla's memory falter. Lucy and Priscilla were a very classy act together, and the play proved to be wonderful--insightful, sensitive, stirring deep emotions in the audience--a vivid and realistic portrait of an heroic old woman.

DAYS OF VENGEANCE --a one-character play, is to my mind a lovely and easily producible play for any theatre--school, amateur, community or professional. Here are the play's first two pages of John's play script, copyright C 1979, John C. Gardner, presented here by permission of John's literary agent, Anne Borchardt. To inquire of the full script, or production, contact:

Anne Borchardt, c/o Georges Borchardt, Inc.

Literary Agency

136 East 57th Street

New York, New York 1002 2

Tel: (212) 753-5785 FAX: (212) 838-6518

on to the exceprt from the play

back to John Gardner Appreciation page

page updated on November 13, 1997