Cover photo by Marianne Courville

Roots in Water

Richard Nelson

Enter total users


This collection includes 12 thematically related short plays: 1976, FLYER; 1977, BRIEFING; 1978, SQUASH; 1979, WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION; 1980, THE ENVIRONMENT; 1981, THE FREEZE MOVEMENT; 1982, CIVIL RIGHTS; 1983, BUYING A HOUSE; 1984, THE LAST CIGARETTE OR THEY HAVE PROBLEMS IN CENTRAL AMERICA; 1984, U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.; 1986, “THE CHERRY ORCHARD”; 1988, THANKSGIVING. 1976, FLYER: A man shares his duties in the transportation and delivery of food aid. 1977, BRIEFING: A United States congressman visits Thailand and prepares a report on the human tragedy he’s witnessed in the provinces. 1978, SQUASH: A married couple reflect on their opposition to the war in Vietnam. 1979, WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION: A man laments the seeming indifference of the next generation to the causes for which his generation fought. 1980, THE ENVIRONMENT: An environmentalist group learns that in order to prosper they must compromise their principles. 1981, THE FREEZE MOVEMENT: A couple begins to consider the future of their five-month-old child. 1982, CIVIL RIGHTS: A man talks to his son about the work he and his mother did in Harlem when they were younger. 1983, BUYING A HOUSE: A woman expresses her dissatisfaction with what has become an ordinary life to her close friend. 1984, THE LAST CIGARETTE OR THEY HAVE PROBLEMS IN CENTRAL AMERICA: A group of friends decide to give up smoking, an act tied to pivotal moments in their lives. 1984, U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.: A couple debate the significance of their son’s T-shirt, which is imprinted with the letters “U.S.A.” 1986, “THE CHERRY ORCHARD”: Siblings divide the estate of their deceased mother and consider whether a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who administered her physical is warranted. 1988, THANKSGIVING: Marriages and relationships splinter among a group of longstanding friends.

Categories: ,

Press Quotes

“ROOTS IN WATER is a series of twelve short plays, ranging from five to fifteen minutes in length. Some have already been staged at a small theater in Woodstock, but the new radio production is the first time they have been performed as a whole. Richard calls the plays ‘a fragmented portrait of a generation’ — his generation, the ‘baby boom’ children of the 1950s who came to adulthood in post-Vietnam America. All the characters are American, though not all the plays take place in the USA. The drama spans the years 1976 to 1988 and the plays were written over the past eight years. Stylistically different — some are funny, some satirical, some moving — they focus on a disparate set of characters including a Vietnam pilot, former anti-war campaigners, teachers, politicians, and lawyers. Nelson sees the series as being ‘like a volume of collected stories.'” —Radio Times

“A tapestry of American society.” —Sheridan Morley, The Sunday Telegraph

“Something of the spareness and the ability to set up slow-burning trains for thought which mark out Raymond Carver’s short stories.” —Robert Hanks, The Independent

About the Author


  • Richard Nelson

    Richard Nelson's plays include the four-play series, THE APPLE FAMILY (THAT HOPEY CHANGEY THING, SWEET AND SAD, SORRY, REGULAR SINGING (Nominated for Outstanding Play in Drama Desk Awards 2014; Public Theater, 2010 – 2013), NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater, 2013), FAREWELL TO THE THEATRE (Hampstead Theatre, 2012), HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, (Huntington Theater, 2008), CONVERSATIONS AT TUSCULUM (Public Theater, 2008), FRANK'S HOME (Goodman Chicago, Playwrights Horizons, 2007), RODNEY'S WIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 2004), WHERE I COME FROM (National Theatre Connections), MADAME MELVILLE (which ran in the West End starring Macaulay Culkin and Irene Jacob and opened in May 2001 Off-Broadway); GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE (winner of Olivier Award for Best New Play, 2000), KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (with Colin Chambers, RSC), THE GENERAL FROM AMERICA (at the RSC and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York), NEW ENGLAND (RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), MISHA'S PARTY (with Alexander Gelman, RSC and Williamstown Theater Festival), TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS (Tony nomination for Best Play, RSC and Broadway), COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JAPAN (RSC Barbican), SOME AMERICANS ABROAD (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy; RSC, Lincoln Center and Broadway), LEFT, BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Hampstead), PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORAE (winner of Time Out Award, RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, AN AMERICAN COMEDY, BAL, CONJURING AN EVENT, RIP VAN WINKLE, JUNGLE COUP, THE KILLING OF YABLONSKI, THE VIENNA NOTES (Obie Award). His musicals include JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (starring Christopher Walken and Blair Brown; Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, Kennedy Center, Washington; for which he received a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Musical Book), CHESS (the book for the Broadway musical), PARADISE FOUND (dir: Harold Prince and Susan Strohman), MY LIFE WITH ALBERTINE (with Ricky Ian Gordon; Playwrights Horizons), UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO (with Peter Golub). His translations and adaptations include TYNAN starring Corin Redgrave (with Colin Chambers, RSC and West End), LOLITA with Brian Cox (National), Molnar's THE GUARDSMAN (Kennedy Center), Carriere's THE CONTROVERSY (Public Theater), Fo's ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST (Broadway), Strindberg's THE FATHER with Frank Langella (Broadway) and MISS JULIE (Yale Rep), Beaumarchais' THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (the Guthrie and Broadway); Molière's DON JUAN, Ibsen's WILD DUCK and ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Pirandello's ENRICO IV, Goldoni's IL CAMPIELLO, Erdmann's THE SUICIDE. With the esteemed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he was co-translated Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Gogol's THE INSPECTOR, Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY and Bulgakov's DON QUIXOTE. Films: Hyde Park on Hudson, staring Bill Murray and Laura Linney (Dir: Roger Michell), Ethan Frome, starring Liam Neeson (Dir: John Madden); Sensibility and Sense, staring Elaine Stritch and Jean Simmons (Dir: David Jones). Television: The End of a Sentence with Edward Herrmann (Dir: David Jones). Radio Plays include: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE (Giles Cooper Award), EATING WORDS (Giles Cooper Award), ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE, AN AMERICAN WIFE (all BBC).

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 11/1/1991
Pages 72
ISBN 9780881450934

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Roots in Water is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC