And Maybe A River Will Come
VOYAGER 1, 2, and 3
ROBUST YOUNG MAN (optional)
ROSE is convinced that she had found the promised land and crosses the desert with a band of
followers to settle on it. When they arrive and there is no water source, they are skeptical of
ROSE’s sanity, who is trying to convince them that if they build the town, the river will come
ROSE MCMILLAN leads a trek across an expansive desert. She had a large pack on her back
and a dream in her eyes. Behind her are three VOYAGERS, people who have been following
her for miles. They are exhausted and caked with dirt. ROSE comes to a halt and they all
collapse, grateful. ROSE surveys the land.
ROSE: Well now ladies and gentleman. Will you look at that. We have arrived!
VOYAGER 1: Oh God, I need water.
VOYAGER 2: My canteen is empty.
VOYAGER 3: (shares canteen) Here. (VOYAGER 1 drinks greedily) That’s to share. Pass it around.
VOYAGER 2: How far did we walk?
VOYAGER 1: My legs are like rocks.
VOYAGER 2: How long will it take the others to find us?
ROSE: Calm your yapping, they’ll find us easy once we set up camp.
VOYAGER 3: This is it?
ROSE: Smell it. Promised land.
(They look around. There is nothing.)
VOYAGER 1: Ha! Some promise.
ROSE: This is our destiny! This is where we are meant to build the next great civilization. Right
here. We’ll call it Riverville.
VOYAGER 3: Ah. Irony.
VOYAGER 2: I think she means that it’s ironic to build a town called Riverville some place where
there is no river.
ROSE: There will be.
VOYAGER 1: What?
ROSE: Well, everyone knows that rivers run near towns. Cities and industry are built on the
banks of rivers and lakes, humanity thrives on the coasts. We need water to live. (she takes the
canteen, takes a gulp, swishes the water around in her mouth, gargles, and spits into the sand) I know that. You know that. No one here is uneducated in the ways of hydration.
VOYAGER 3: But…
ROSE: No buts about it. We build our town. We prepare ourselves. And eventually a river will
(The VOYAGER’s exchange a glance.)
VOYAGER 1: What kind of Mark-Twain-cow-manure logic is that?
ROSE: This is where we are meant to be, gang! This is our town. I can feel it in the air. I can see
it in the sky. Our river is on its way. So let’s get ready.
(ROSE beings unpacking and the VOYAGERs exchange another
round of fervent looks. “You talk to her.” “No, you!” “I’m not doing it.” “Are you serious?” “La-la la I can’t hear you.” Finally, VOYAGER 2 goes over and gently lays a hand on ROSE.)
VOYAGER 2: Rose?
ROSE: (handing off a pickaxe and shovel) Here. You’re going to need these.
VOYAGER 2: Um, Rose, why don’t you sit down for a second.
ROSE: (puzzled) Sit down?
VOYAGER 2: Just for a second.
ROSE: Okay. (Sits)
VOYAGER 2: Drink some water.
ROSE: I’m fine.
VOYAGER 2: Please.
ROSE: Okay (drinks) I drank.
VOYAGER 2: Now. Run this plan by us one more time.
ROSE: Um… the plan?
VOYAGER 2: Refresh our memory.
ROSE: Well. We crossed the desert with everything we own. We left our families and friends at
the camp while we went ahead to find our land. We got here. It’s perfect. We now have to build
a bank and a post office and a brothel.
VOYAGER 2: With no water.
ROSE: We take care of the town. The water will take care of itself.
VOYAGER 1: That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.
VOYAGER 2: Calm down.
VOYAGER 1: People didn’t sit around and wait for water to find them! That’s not how civilization
has formed itself!
ROSE: How do you know?
VOYAGER 1: How do I… are you… I can’t… nature doesn’t conform to our whims.
ROSE: Maybe we’ve never asked it. It might right quick if we ask it nicely enough.
VOYAGER 1: Manners is not a survival tactic!
VOYAGER 3: Let’s not yell.
VOYAGER 1: We followed this woman across a desert! She spoke to us, convinced us to give
up our old lives. And now, what, we’re just supposed to continue listening? Don’t we have a right
to question the authority of leaders who are clearly out of their minds?!
VOYAGER 3: Yes, but you don’t have to yell.
VOYAGER 1: I’M YELLING! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? I’M YELLING!
VOYAGER 2: Please stop-
VOYAGER 1: WHO IS GOING TO HEAR US IN THE DESERT? WHO IS GOING TO CARE
THAT I’M YELLING? WE’RE ALONE OUT HERE. THERE’S NO WATER, NO PEOPLE, NOT
EVEN PLANT LIFE. WHO AM I EVEN BOTHERING, THE SAND?
(In a cloud of sand, SUSANNA STARLAND enters on a wagon, pulled by a ROBUST YOUNG
MAN, strong, handsome, the smiling face of an adonis. NOTE: THE ROBUST YOUNG MAN
CAN BE CUT. SUSANNA CAN ARRIVE IN WHATEVER MEANS SEEMS A LITTLE
RIDICULOUS. SUSANNA is well-groomed and clearly someone of decent means. She has that
calm authority that booster club presidents adopt.)
SUSANNA: Well, I just knew we heard someone yelling. (she holds out her hand and the
YOUNG MAN helps her off the wagon.) Hello. My name is Susanna Starland. I’m a resident Corral Ridge. Are you poor folks lost?
VOYAGER 1: Yes.
VOYAGER 2: We’re not lost, we’re just new.
SUSANNA: I see. Well, you are not that far from Coral Ridge on the Rio Mojado. It’s less than a
day’s journey. So you are almost there my friends! If you come with me, we can get you settled
in some nice temporary housing while you gather your thoughts.
ROSE: Thank you. We don’t need help. See, we’re building our own town. Called Riverville.
SUSANNA: How ironic.
ROSE: It’s not ironic. It’s apt. It’s fitting. It’s almost too on the nose for its own good.
SUSANNA: My mistake then, I guess.
VOYAGER 2: Rose seems to think a river will find us if we stay put.
ROSE: I don’t seem to think anything. I know a river is in fact going to join us right here at this
spot and we will have a booming economy and a first rate school system and only the
occasional audit of small businesses.
SUSANNA: Well, Rose, you’re almost right. There is a river. If you come with us, we can-
ROSE: Nope. No thank you. This is our spot. We’re going to stay right here. Thanks for the
offer, Susanna Starshine-
ROSE: (moving right along)-but the citizens of Riverville
are going to be a-okay.
(SUSANNA exchanges a look with her robust YOUNG MAN. He has no reaction, which seems
to suit SUSANNA just fine.)
SUSANNA: Well. As you wish. But just so you know, you all are welcome to join me at Coral
Ridge any time. Really. Ask anyone when you get to town. They’ll point you in the right direction.
(And with that, SUSANNA climbs on her wagon and her ROBUST YOUNG MAN pulls her back
where she came from towards Coral Ridge and the Rio Mojado. THE VOYAGERS look
longingly after her and then back to ROSE, who is laughing).
ROSE: Phew! I thought she would never leave. Now. Let’s get started. I’m thinking right here is
a good place for the town hall. Thoughts?
VOYAGER 1: Are you seriously going through with this. Knowing that there is a river less than a
day’s journey from here, you are seriously going to pretend that building a town at an
inconvenient and irresponsible distance from a water source is a good idea?
ROSE: It’s not a good idea.
VOYAGER 2: Oh, thank god.
ROSE: It’s destiny!
VOYAGER 1: But, there is literally already a river. We could just go there.
ROSE: Nonsense! We’re not getting paid by the mile!
VOYAGER 2: Rose, we appreciate everything you’ve done for us-
ROSE: Dang right you do.
VOYAGER 2: But we have kids. We have horses. We need water.
ROSE: Give it time. You’ll see. Soon, we’ll have the most crystal clear water this side of the
VOYAGER 1: This is the most insane thing I have ever heard. I’m going.
VOYAGER 1: Leaving. I’m going to go apply for citizenry in Susanna’s town.
ROSE: Fine. Defector. Be like that.
(VOYAGER 1 begins to pack and leave and VOYAGER 2
slowly starts to as well.)
ROSE: Not you too!
VOYAGER 2: I have a family to look out for. I’m trying to make a new life for myself and that
certainly can’t happen if I’m just sitting here waiting for a river that may never come.
ROSE: What happened to your faith? The faith of your fathers?
VOYAGER 1: Our fathers never willingly participated in drought!
(VOYAGER 1 and 2 exit. ROSE is left with VOYAGER 3. They look at each other blankly. The sun sets and stars light up the sky.)
ROSE: You’ve been awfully quiet.
VOYAGER 3: (shrugs)
Not much use in talking.
ROSE: Aren’t you going to go over and join Susanna’s town? With their dams and tributaries
and paddle boats and what have you?
VOYAGER 3: I get sea sick.
ROSE: Ah. (They sit in silence, a leader and what remains of
her followers. They look at the stars.)
VOYAGER 3: You really believe this, don’t you?
ROSE: Believe it?
VOYAGER 3: Your river.
ROSE: It calls to me. I know it’s coming.
VOYAGER 3: You sure?
VOYAGER 3: Ah.
ROSE: But giving up now only proves I’m not strong enough, not that it wasn’t gonna happen.
VOYAGER 3: You’re gonna need water eventually.
ROSE: I know.
VOYAGER 3: How long do you give it?
ROSE: Well, I don’t know what the doctors or scientists or shamans would say, but the chances
of surviving in the desert without water aren’t great. Maybe a day. Maybe two. Not beyond a
weekend, I’ll give you that.
VOYAGER 3: Do you want to follow the others? Even just to get enough supplies to get back
VOYAGER 3: Okay.
ROSE: Do you?
VOYAGER 3: Nah. I’m okay.
ROSE: You don’t have to stay. I wouldn’t blame you. I don’t blame them.
VOYAGER 3: I want to.
ROSE: Do you mind if I ask why?
VOYAGER 3: Do you remember that speech you gave in the town square before we left? Like, before we really left. Back when we were just townspeople and not voyagers or pioneers?
ROSE: Which speech?
VOYAGER 3: You said, “We were not meant to stay still. We were not meant to be certain. We
were not meant to be comfortable. We were meant to journey and to fight and to lose. I want
you to follow me today to fulfill the things we were meant to do, all of the things we were meant
to do, save one. I intend to journey, to fight, and to win. But I need you to do it.”
ROSE: Huh. Good speech.
VOYAGER 3: So I figure, maybe you’re right. Maybe a river is going to magically appear in the
middle of the desert. But you can’t make a town by yourself.
ROSE: “No man is an island.”
VOYAGER 3: Especially in the desert.
(they sit in silence again, looking to the stars.)
ROSE: Some clouds in the distance.
VOYAGER 3: I see them too.
ROSE: Looks like rain.
VOYAGER 3: Could be.
(they share a look. They try not to get excited.)
ROSE: It might miss us.
VOYAGER 3: It might.
VOYAGER 3: Or maybe a river will come.
(The rainfall sounds in the distance. They look up. The rain moves closer. ROSE inhales.)
ROSE: That smell.
VOYAGER 3: I do love the smell of rain.
ROSE: No. The other smell.
(VOYAGER 3 inhales.)
VOYAGER 3: What is that smell?
(A huge thunderclap and the stage goes dark.)
END OF PLAY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bridget Grace Sheaff (she/her):
PUBLISHED WORKS: Perfect, Forgive and Forget, love letter to my home town. A Chance of Rain, The Days of Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches, Kissing Lesson, It’s Not About the Hair, Danny’s How-to-Vlog, The Art of Preservation, decisions, The Next Table, At Her Door, moving on, The Man Who Tried to Reach Infinity, A Complete Stranger’s Car, Everything Under the Sun, Stratovolcano, An Evening with Julia Maggiano, and I Wish I Was Gregor Samsa. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab 2019. BA 2014 summa cum laude, The Catholic University of America. www.bridgetgracesheaff.com