Thomas J Gardiner

The late Thomas J. Gardiner was a National Defense Fellow at the University of Oregon, where he earned a master's degree, and a Danforth Fellow at Columbia University, where he did his doctoral work. He taught literature and writing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City College of New York, Hostos College in the south Bronx, and the College of New Rochelle. He also taught courses in religion at Mercy College, Bedford Prison, Rikers Island, and Sing Sing. His poems have been published in "Voices International,"" Channels," and other magazines. His play about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Beyond All Cost," was performed at The Theatre of Riverside Church in New York and is now part of the Bonhoeffer Archive in Munich. His other plays have been performed at various colleges and churches.
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  Beyond All Cost

Drama by Thomas J Gardiner

51 pages

14 m, 1 w, 1 child (can be doubled to 10 actors)


The play tells the true story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who led the resistance to Hitler in the German church. Narrated by his friend Eberhard Bethge, the play follows Bonhoeffer from his early years as a seminary professor, to leading his students to organize an underground seminary and distribute clandestine anti-Nazi literature, and finally to his joining the secret unit of German military intelligence plotting the death of Hitler. Arrested by the Gestapo, Bonhoeffer is sent to prison, where he is visited by relatives and his fiancée in a poignant scene. In a poetic chorus, his ...

  Innocent In Eden

Anytime Youth by Thomas J Gardiner

33 pages

6 m, 3 w, 5 flexible


In the Prologue, Light, Night, Sky, Sea and Earth tell how and why God created them, and why He went on to create Adam to rule over all the other creatures on the Earth. In the Garden of Eden, Adam decides to name all the animals he meets. A pair of Elephants teach him some manners, describe how versatile their long noses are compared with his, and leave him to ponder his limitations. A pair of Monkeys play word games with him to arrive at their name, which Adam finally decides must be "Montgomery." Satan as the Snake appears and privately reveals to the audience his rebellious origin a...

  Joe's Wait

Adult Christmas by Thomas J Gardiner

13 pages

4 m.


A modern retelling of the Job story from the Bible. A fascinating discussion about the differences in modern religions. In the waiting room of an airport in the American Midwest, Joe Barnes, a prosperous businessman, is met by his doctor, Ed Tishman. Joe's wife and children were aboard a plane that crashed at the Tel Aviv airport, and he's waiting to hear what happened to them. Dr. Tishman offers pills to calm Joe's nerves, but he refuses them. Joe recounts his toughness in riding out business losses, but confesses his confidence and faith have now been shake...

  The Last Words of Christ in the Way of the Cross

Lenten by Thomas J Gardiner

25 pages

1 m, 1 w. (If more speakers are available, the parts can be distributed)


The 14 Stations of the Cross are brilliantly re-interpreted for modern audiences in these readings. Each Station is written to be whole in and of itself, and thus different Stations may or may not be used in each production. The goal of this play is to "Help us to share in the Passion of our Savior, to sense how those twisted streets of Jerusalem run through the streets of Los Angeles and Calcutta. To intuit how the wood that made the cross may buttress the fragile walls of our own homes, to feel how the steel that made the nails may make bullets and and bayo...

  The Menagerie of St. Francis

Christmas Youth by Thomas J Gardiner

29 pages

20 characters. (2 m, 1 w plus other parts which can be played by males or females.)


Friar Francis and Friar Juniper decide to re-enact the First Nativity for the people of their town at Christmas. They ask the nearby animals if their ancestors were at the First Nativity and could tell them what it was like. They encounter an amusing variety of creatures, reflecting a range of human follies. But the animals they encounter are all too busy with themselves to give Friar Francis what he wants. In despair, Friar Francis lies down for a nap. As he sleeps it is disclosed that Friar Juniper and all the animals have secretly been rehearsing for weeks...

  Noah's Rainbow

Anytime Youth by Thomas J Gardiner

36 pages

6 m, 7 w, numerous extra children.


A delightful version of the Noah's Ark story in verse. Noah talks with his wife about filling an Ark, but she is indignant at the prospect of cleaning up after all those animals. As the animals appear two by two we meet them and they, too, turn up their noses at the Ark until it starts raining. Once on board everyone is complaining. A clever Fox persuades all of the male animals to "mutiny" but the wives save the day and Noah's wife sends the Fox to the brig. When the Dove returns with the olive branch the Rainbow Children appear and describe the bright and colorful new world upon whi...

  St. Francis and the Angel

Drama by Thomas J Gardiner

16 pages

5 characters: 5M or 4M 1W or 4M 1B.


In Assisi, Italy, in the Thirteenth Century, Francis has gathered some followers in a primitive monastery. A boy appears at the gate and asks to speak with Francis, who has gone into the woods. Though poorly dressed, the boy is an angel sent to test the charity of the men and to expose the one who is a fraud. One monk, Masseo, is too foolish to recognize who the boy really is, and reacts to him with comic resentment. The Vicar, Elias, is too angry to treat the boy charitably, sending him away. Elias then lies to Francis about what happened to the boy, but Fra...