a poem for fourteen voices and blues band


David Budbill

Synopsis of the Play

LITTLE ACTS OF KINDNESS is a series of scenes, events, encounters, little acts, set in a city park about the little joys and great sorrows in the lives of the ordinary souls who pass through and inhabit this particular park.

From the sad and lonely old men and women who wander through the park to the young people on their way nowhere to the street preacher and Mr. C., the failed poet and caretaker of the park, to the lost and homeless to the ne’er-do-well rich man to the child abused by his mother, LITTLE ACTS OF KINDNESS is about the conflicts between the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the firm and the infirm; it is about loneliness and music.

Also in the park is a little street band that plays the blues and other kinds of music from time to time; the band reacts to, embellishes upon, interprets and sometimes predicts the action of the play; it functions the way The Chorus functioned in ancient Greek drama. The music is eclectic, both vocal and instrumental, and ranges from Villa-Lobos to two very old traditional twelve bar blues to Thelonious Monk to tunes composed originally for this play.

The play engages us in the pain and joy, the love and cruelty, the goofy delight of being human. In the end LITTLE ACTS OF KINDNESS makes a funny, sweet and quietly hopeful statement about the possibilities for acceptance and community in our lives.

LITTLE ACTS OF KINDNESS calls for an interracial, international cast at least half of which is non-white with a core ensemble of eight: four men, four women, four younger actors, four older actors, plus extras and a small, improvising street band to perform throughout the play, plus a blues singer.

Those interested should contact the author at the address and phone above or his agent:






City of Westminister College, Paddington Center, London, England, May 18 & 19, 2006

Center Stage Theatre Company, Montpelier, VT, Vermont Tour, 29 September-4 November 1995

Lost Nation Theatre, Montpelier, VT, 23 June-4 July, 1993



Literary and Theatrical Agent:
Susan Schulman,
The Susan Schulman Literary Agency,
454 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
phone: (212) 713-1633
fax: (212) 581-8830








How We Got to Where We Are

a satire in one act


David Budbill

Synopsis of the Play
Through satirical send-ups of Television Network News, advertising and a Game Show, THINGY WORLD! or HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE exposes America’s self-centered, all consuming materialistic way of life and how it has created a culture of waste and destruction which in turn has helped create climate change and global warming. The play also exposes the ways in which racism and the inequitable distribution of wealth are integral parts of “the environmental crisis.”

The play takes place in 1991–immediately after the great victory in Iropistan–on a TV Newsroom set with Tina Newsworthy and all the O.W.O.W. TV News Fantasy 90 reporters and staff, including weatherman–Barometer Bob, Periodicals Reporter–Luigi Magazini, and Fine Arts and High Culture Reporter–Nigel Fitchingfield. They give us the news, special reports from The All American Toy Fair, two exclusive interviews with The President as he discusses the great victory in Iropistan and what it means for the Free Market Economy, an exclusive interview with Mimi Mebaby, Editor-in-Chief of Self Now magazine and so on.

The play then moves to the set of THINGY WORLD, everybody’s favorite Game Show–where “you get what you want if you want it bad enough and where we always say ‘The one with the most toys at the end, wins!'”–and starring game show host, Stan “The Man” Fanofferly–with Lily White, Big Guy, Martha Greed and The THINGY WORLD! singers and dancers.

The play then returns to OWOW-TV for The Noontime News: What’s New in the News Behind the News at Noon.

There are also commercials for the Elegante Magnifico, “a Luxmobile for you,” McKing Burger, Coaxie, the Operation Iropistan Commemorative Knife and Rifle Barrel, etc. plus a public service announcement.

THINGY WORLD!: HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE is a funny, over-the-top, satirical look at American greed and racism and how “the American way” has contributed to our environmental crisis.

The play calls for an ensemble of variable size plus prerecorded and live music. Running time: about 60 minutes in one act and is especially suited for staged readings.





Partial Staged Reading, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, March 13, 2012

Rehearsed Staged Reading, Vermont Contemporary Playwrights Forum, Harwood Union High School Stage, East Duxbury, VT, June 18, 2008

Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN, November 13-17, 1991

Plays in Progress Production, Trinity College, Burlington, VT, June 14, 15, 16, 1990

In House Reading, American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, CA, January 19, 1990


Literary and Theatrical Agent:
Susan Schulman,
The Susan Schulman Literary Agency,
454 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
phone: (212) 713-1633
fax: (212) 581-8830



wwsgcovAvailable now from:




* * * * *

“Budbill’s frank self-awareness keeps him from sounding smug . .. .; he’s quick to include himself in the benighted . . . a list of references in the book shows how strongly he’s been influenced by the classical Chinese poets-but they find fresh expression here, thanks to Budbill’s good humor and gusto.”

–Joel Brouwer
The New York Times Book Review, July 17, 2005

If you think you’ll never like poetry, try Budbill, and if you think you like most poetry, try him, too. Either way, bet you’ll like him.

–Ray Olson
Booklist, July 2005

His poems deal directly with subjects many other poets cloak in poetical devices, and this directness makes Budbill’s poems accessible and moving.

–ForeWord Magazine

It’s that honest voice, spare and clean as a brushstroke painting, that bridges the centuries and makes his poetry so compelling. It takes a lifetime to learn to write like that. Fortunately for us, Budbill has devoted his lifetime to exploring the brevity, poignancy, and beauty of his life, and this life.

–Tom Slayton
Vermont Public Radio, June 2005

While We’ve Still Got Feet depicts a Spartan life of incredible interior richness. . . here are lyrics sharpened by solitude’s grindstone. . . . While We’ve Still Got Feet is a stirring record of Budbill’s commitment to living mindfully, simply and in concert with the world around him.

–John Freeman,
Seven Days, 25 May 2005

Budbill both informs and moves. He is, in short, a delight and a comfort.

–Wendell Berry

While We’ve Still Got Feet (Copper Canyon Press, 2005) is a joyous collection of poems informed by the work of Chinese and Japanese recluse-poets and by Budbill’s own distilled observations. The poems are clear and often arresting, filled with wry humor and a refreshing matter-of-factness.

 Jason Krane, 28 February 2010, jasonkrane.org



* * * * *

David Budbill is beloved by legions for straightforward poems dispatched from his hermitage on Judevine Mountain. Inspired by classical Chinese hermit poets, he follows tradition but cannot escape the complications and struggles of a modern solitary existence. Loneliness, aging, and political outrage are addressed in these poems that value honesty and simplicity and deplore pretension.

The poems in While We’ve Still Got Feet (Copper Canyon Press, 2005) grow out of the peace of a mountain wilderness home, the pleasures of daily life, and an acute awareness of the melancholy passing of time as the days turn through the seasons. These poems are written in a clear way with blunt honesty, humor, and insight into the human condition. Beneath the surface of these simple poems is a wealth of meaning and passion. As before, Judevine Mountain–and David Budbill–deal with opposites: solitude and loneliness, contentment and restlessness, the allures of the city versus the country and the ever present tension between the desire for engagement with the world on the one hand and withdrawal from it on the other. There is no resolution for the conundrums and dichotomies of this life, but rather the comfort that comes from a clear articulation between life’s opposites.

While We’ve Still Got Feet is a continuation of the Judevine Mountain poems begun with Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse (Copper Canyon Press, 1999) which was chosen by Booklistas one of the ten best books of poetry for 1999.


* * * * *

we are
bones and ash,
the roots of weeds
poking through
our skulls.

simple clothes,
empty mind,
full stomach,
alive, aware,
right here,
right now.

Drunk on music,
who needs wine?

Come on,
let’s go dancing
while we’ve
still got feet.

* * * * *




MANNEQUINS’ DEMISE, David’s first play, a one-act, written under Eugène Ionesco’s influence, was first performed in New York City in 1965, and in many places since then in the United States and Europe. An “absurdist” drama in eight scenes, about . . . silence . . . words . . . noise . . . what? Baker’s Plays of Boston originally published MANNEQUINS’ DEMISE.


Drama is to be seen and heard, not read. The dramatic script is not a work of art in itself; it is a set of directions with which the actors and director create a work of art.

Drama depends upon the sights and sounds that spring up from the script and dance upon the stage. Just as the score for a symphony is dead until the conductor and musicians give it life, a script is dad until the director and actors give it life. This analogy is drawn because Mannequins’ Demise, and all drama for that matter, is similar to a symphony in that both drama and music have their being in, and only in performance. The script for Mannequins’ Demise is the score for a symphony; it is a musically oriented arrangement of words, and, therefore, it lives only in performance.

After reading the script, do not be discouraged. The alternating and simultaneous dialogue in Scene II when seen on the printed page is confusing. The explanation of the execution of a verbal round, Scene VII, makes, at best, dull reading. The destruction of meaningful sound, from coherent sentences to nonsense verse to noise, is not heard when the directions for it are read. The emergence of The Silent Man as he “rises” above the sinking figures is not seen on the page. But when these things, and the play as a whole are seen and heard, in performance the directions take on life, and, hopefully, become a work of art.  . . .

David Wolf Budbill
New York City




by David Budbill

4592 East Hill Road

Wolcott, VT 05680

(802) 888-3729

david at davidbudbill.com


copyright © 1965

For copies of the script contact the author.

Royalty rates are $25.00 per performance.