Summer and Smoke
Act One: A Summer
The play opens at a park in Glorious Hill, Mississippi, around the turn of the 20th Century. The centerpiece of the park is the statue of an angel, called “Eternity” in faded letters at her base.
Ten year-old Alma Winemiller enters to have a drink from the fountain; she is followed shortly by her neighbor and classmate, John Buchanan, Jr. Alma, the preacher’s daughter, is already considered odd by her peers: she has an air of piety and naiveté about her. John, the doctor’s son, couldn’t be more her opposite. Called a “devil” by his own father, he is a misbehaving, popular prankster. He shoots Alma with a peashooter, in response to an earlier embarrassment: Alma left a box of handkerchiefs on John’s desk for him. Moreover, he says, she never stops staring at him. When pressed for her reasons, she explains that she thinks he would be handsome if he just cleaned his face. After sharing a moment in which John confides in her about his mother’s death, he wipes his face with one of her handkerchiefs, then kisses her. However, he finishes the kiss by stealing Alma’s hair-ribbon, and runs off laughing to join his friends, leaving her hurt and confused.
It is the 4th of July. Celebrations are taking place in the same park as the previous scene, but some years later. Alma and John are now in their mid-20s. Alma