A search for water and a search for salvation cross paths in Sacramento State’s production of Jim Leonard Jr.’s drama The Diviners.

Directed by Theatre and Dance Professor Michelle Felten, The Diviners is set in the fictional town of Zion, Ind., during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Performances are at 8 p.m. Oct. 19-22 and Oct. 28-29; 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26-27; and 2 p.m. Oct. 23 and 30 in the University’s Playwrights’ Theatre.

The production, both comedic and heart-wrenching, was the winner at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for playwriting and is part of the 60th anniversary celebration of Theatre and Dance at Sac State.

The DivinersDrifter C.C. Showers (Roderick Hickman), helps troubled Buddy Layman (Liam Worrell-Olson) in Sac State’s production of The Diviners. (Sacramento State/Craig Koscho)

The story focuses on two characters. Buddy Layman is a teenager who suffered a traumatic experience years earlier when his mother drowned while trying to save him from drowning. The event left Layman terrified of water and emotionally challenged, yet with an innate talent for divining – sensing where underground water is in a town struck by drought.

Into his life comes C.C. Showers, a wanderer who turned his back on a life of preaching years earlier, but now is pressured to return to that calling by the town’s citizens as they search for a sense of the divine.

“I was drawn to The Diviners because of its simple yet complex characters, all of whom are searching for something with which to create a better life, whether for themselves or, perhaps foolhardily, for someone else,” Felten says.

Sac State junior Roderick Hickman, a Sacramento City College transfer, portrays Showers. “He has a few demons hanging around his head,” Hickman says. “He’s running from preaching and yet he’s trying to find some salvation in a sense.”

Liam Worrell-Olson portrays the young Buddy Layman. He notes that the character is seen as both “different” since his traumatic incident, but also blessed because he now has this gift for divining water under the ground.

Worrell-Olson also observes how much faith is important to the town and the water douser. “Most diviners say faith is imperative to successful dousing, but there is controversy whether that means religious faith or a more spiritual or paganistic faith,” he says.

The Diviners reminds us that we don’t have to be a great or particularly important person to impact the lives of those around us.” Felten says. “Anywhere there is deep passion we can find happiness or experience tragedy.”

Tickets for 6:30 p.m. performances are $8 general admission and $5 for children. All other performances are $12 general admission, $10 students and seniors, and $8 for children. Tickets are available at the University Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323 or csus.edu/hornettickets.

For more information about The Diviners or any of the programs offered by the Theatre and Dance Department, visit csus.edu/dram or call (916) 278-6368. – Craig Koscho