The Playwrights Database
JEFF EDWARDS (1955 - )
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Jeff Edwards graduated from earlham College and Yale Divinity School. He is a United Methodist pastor in Parsippany, New Jersey whose work is informed by his work.
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below is a list of Jeff Edwards's plays - click on a Play Title for more information
No Preacherman portrays the encounter that takes place between a 19 year old black man, Benny Waters and a white son and mother, Joseph Billington, 40 and Marge Billington, 60. Benny, raised in the inner city, has recently begun selling magazines door to door in an unwelcoming white suburb, where, at the start of the play, he rings the doorbell of the Billington home. Benny is surprised to be invited into the living room by Joseph, who proceeds to order several magazines. When it comes time to pay for the magazines, it quickly becomes clear that Joseph is mentally disabled-a child in a man's body. It also comes to light that Joseph's Father died suddenly three days earlier, and that as of yet there has been no funeral. as Benny sits there holding the jar containing the father's ashes, grief-stricken Marge enters the living room for the first time, reacting angrily to the presence of this stranger in her home holding her husband's remains. Marge is intent on Benny's quick departure, but an _expression of sympathy by Benny for Marge's loss, as well as the sharing that he, too, has known grief in the death years earlier of his little brother, abruptly leads to a change of heart on Marge's part. Now Marge is determined that Benny not leave. It becomes obvious that this is a home in which visitors from the outside world have rarely entered. Joseph serves as a gauge to the rising anxiety level present in the house, breaking off riffs of memorized children's verses of a sardonic nature whenever he becomes frightened. Benny feels absolutely inadequate in the face of the emotional and spiritual needs present in this home. It is, in short, an impossible situation into which he has stumbled, from which Benny would gladly flee if the opportunity presented itself. Marge is stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for a preacher she has met only once to return her phone call, in the hope that he will come and perform a funeral for her husband through which she can find some kind of release from the deep darkness of the family. Benny, anxious for something practical to do, offers to call the preacher on her behalf, doing so three times, leaving increasingly aggravated messages on the preacher's answering machine, culminating, to Marge's great horror, in a diatribe of obscenities. the failure of this "man of God" to return her call confirms for Marge her suspicion that she is rejected by God. Reluctantly, Benny finds himself in the role of Father-confessor to Marge who is paralyzed by old feelings of guilt for sins committed long ago, and of which in her agony she is compelled to speak. It comes to light that Marge has long interpreted her son's disability as a sign of God's judgment upon her. In contrast, Benny, the recipient of Joseph's hospitality in a frequently inhospitable world, experiences Joseph as a sign of grace. In the climax of the play, Benny throws caution to the wind and offers to improvise a funeral for Marge's husband/Joseph's father. Benny begins slowly, awkwardly with the reading of the 23rd Psalm, Marge's one requested scripture. Midway through the psalm, Joseph adds his voice to the reading, having long ago memorized the verse, and a power takes over that is far greater than Benny and Joseph, as together they preach the funeral sermon, feeding off of each other's words. Clearly, the "funeral" achieves a spiritual breakthrough for all three persons, perhaps even for the departed husband/Father as well. Ironically, the preacher finally calls, but there is no longer a need for his services. the Word has already been delivered.
William Paterson University 2006
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Drama One act
Male: 2 Female: 1 Other: -
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