The Transit of Venus
A play by
Michael Craft

Cast of characters
(in order of appearance)

Joan Harper, free-spirited widow of a renowned astrophysicist
Geoffrey Grove, Joan’s son-in-law, an astronomy professor
V. Allison Harper-Grove, Joan’s daughter, Geoffrey’s wife, an attorney
Lloyd Westcott, an architecture professor and friend of the family
Brooke Ferris, a colleague of Allison’s
Eric Ferris, Brooke’s husband
Nate Clark, Lloyd’s young lover, a university student

Character sketches

Joan Harper, 60, is the free-spirited widow of a renowned astrophysicist. An artist who dabbles in many crafts, but especially pottery, she acts, dresses, and wears her hair in a manner that brings to mind an aging hippie.

Geoffrey Grove, 32, is an astronomy professor, a bit of a science nerd, but not a caricature of an absentminded academic. He wears khakis, Top-Siders and a short-sleeved shirt. He is soft-spoken, studious, and intent, but also affable, sweet-natured, and even charming.

V. Allison Harper-Grove, 29, grew up without her mother’s artistic bent or her father’s romantic awe of the universe, but she has a quick, logical mind—a good attribute in a young attorney. She enjoys her career and is content with her husband, but we sense her world is colored by a mild melancholy. Her grooming and dress are drab—not homely, but a bit too correct, without passion.

Lloyd Westcott, 46, an architecture professor at the university, has “flair.” Witty, wisecracking, a bit flamboyant, he is also well grounded in the physical sciences. He has loads of heart, soul, and insight. His age is midway between that of Joan and Allison, both of whom are old friends. A stylish dresser, he wears a casual, well-coordinated outfit, perhaps in a single color such as black, gray, or beige.

Brooke Ferris, mid-30s, is a senior partner in the law firm where Allison works. Career-driven and class-conscious, she worships the material trappings of “the good life.” Her humor is generally sarcastic. She dresses in high style, which is too much for the lakeside setting. She wears dressy slacks and matching jacket with jewelry and low-heeled pumps. Her hair is impeccably coiffed. She carries a handbag or briefcase.

Eric Ferris, mid-30s, is a polished, high-class pharmaceuticals salesman. He makes a good income, which he considers his mad money while living off his wife, who earns far more. An avid golfer, he is dressed smartly for a game later that morning and carries a putter. His sexuality remains an open question throughout the play.

Nate Clark, 21, is an athletic, good-looking university student. A bit of an enigma, he seems wise beyond his years. He has a “practical” and somewhat conservative edge, studying to be a pharmacist. With a second major in English, he also has a poetic side with an interest in classics, mythology, and beautiful language. He is dressed for an early-morning run, wearing running shoes, nylon shorts, T-shirt or singlet, and a watch.

Synopsis of scenes


The action, which is continuous, takes place on the deck of Joan Harper’s beach house in southeastern Wisconsin, facing east from the western shore of Lake Michigan.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004, at dawn. The action begins at 5:00 A.M. and ends around 6:30 A.M.

Click here to view the scene design .

Click here for an overview of the script.

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