Buried Child


Writers: Sam Shepard


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Dark Comedy
Time & Place
old farm house, illinois, sometime after the vietnam war
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Mature Audiences, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Small Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes elderly, mature adult, young adult, late teen characters


Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child takes place in an old farm house, somewhere in Illinois. We are introduced to Dodge, a cranky, sarcastic alcoholic on his death bed, and his chatty, oblivious wife Halie, who is having an affair with the local Protestant minister. As Dodge’s health devolves, the prodigal sons return: Tilden, who has come back into town after having run into some trouble in New Mexico, and Bradley, who seems to live nearby and only has one leg, having lost his other one in a chainsaw accident. Their lives are a whirlwind of chaos and confusion: Dodge sneaks whiskey even as he coughs, unstable Tilden claims to have discovered vegetables in the yard that Dodge swears don’t exist, and Bradley enters the house and cuts his father’s hair while he is asleep. It is not quite clear why everyone is acting so strangely until Tilden’s other son, Vince, comes home, after six years’ absence, with his girlfriend Shelly in tow. As old secrets from the past rise to the surface, we see newcomer Shelly try to fit the pieces together. As the family tries desperately to keep the past in the past and stay afloat, the darkest of secrets begin to come to light. Alternately funny and darkly macabre, Buried Child weaves a twisted family drama of epic proportions.

Lead Characters

Buried Child guide sections