Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

Photo by Dani Masterson.

Critically Acclaimed Master Playwright Gavin Kayner of SNIPER, HOKEY POKEY and SKYLAR'S SYNDROME tells the tale of a grave digger’s struggle to alleviate his grief (after having buried 128 school girls) by digging and occupying a grave for himself, but is interrupted by a clown, two Shakespearean actors and an obituary writer each in their turn and each of whom try dissuading him from the task – after which he decides to accept his fate.


Thoughts from playwright Gavin Kayner – Grave Digger and playwriting in general – Playwriting is the most dramatic way to tell a story. The resulting play is a living thing; this vibrant, pulsating, unruly beast that won’t be tamed, but does demand its audiences. It has a resounding voice, its music, a passion that may exceed the bounds of propriety, but only as much as it is both a mirror and a window. A way in and a way out.

Live theater is visceral. It is immediate and engages all our senses. Poetry and prose have their effect – and movies – but a drama played out by dynamic individuals is always something unique and when it is absolutely right – terribly moving. Personally, I am compelled to write plays above everything else because playwriting is my opportunity to speak aloud about my grappling with God, the multitude and meaning of myths, the ambiguity of existence, the ambivalence of the universe. It is my time to cry out in protest, to plead for compassion, create meaning where there is none. Seek rescue. Occupy the space in- between the stars.

Grave Digger’s Lament is one cry out in protest. Once I read the article about terrorist (religious fanatics) murdering 148 children and staff in a Pakistani school some few years ago and the grave digger who buried them, it gnawed at my consciousness until I was compelled to dramatize my despair in a play.

To speak for those whose voices had been silenced.

But how to dramatize such a horrific act? The only way in, it seemed to me, was through elements of tragic-comedy and theater of the absurd. Hence a Clown, Can-can Ladies, two self- absorbed Shakespearean actors and an obituary writer who confront the grave digger and his angst.

From the confrontations, we create the comic-relief necessary for regarding man’s inhumanity. To consider the tragic ‘absurdities’ of our collective behaviors. To laugh and weep nearly at the same time. And nearly for the same reasons.

All together these characters allow us to ask the question: When will the murder of 128 girls matter enough to make a difference in the way human beings treat one another?

I await the answer.