Floyd Collins and the White Angels of Sand Cave

by Robert P. Arthur
  • 120 Minutes
  • 3-7M/2-3F - MAX 50+/MIN 7

Colleges, Community, Doubling Possible, Drama, Edgy Play, Highly Theatrical, Large Cast


In Kentucky, caves were popular tourist attractions and a source of revenue. In 1925 Floyd Collins hoped to find another entrance to the Mammoth Cave, He got trapped undergound for two weeks  and a frantic media circus ensued, heightened by a new invention, public radio broadcasts.


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  • Review Script 11.00 Watermarked PDF Download
  • Hardcopy 13.95 Delivery 1- 3 Weeks
  • Multi-Copy PDF 115.00 Printable PDF for Cast/Crew
  • Class/Group Study 115.00 Printable PDF for Multiple Copies

Performance Fee $90.00 A Production License Fee Per Performance (mandatory for all performances)

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Play Details


In the play, a group of neighbors of Floyd Collins tries to remember all the details of the story and what actually happened, as a counter to the distortions and disinformation that surfaced in the popular songs, TV programs and films that came later.

The Mammoth Cave was the largest and most popular cave in the area and Collins was trying to find a new way into it or possibly a new unknown cave to draw more visitors and greater profits. For the two weeks he was trapped deep underground, a media circus ensued, heightened by a new invention, public radio broadcasts.

The incident inspired the 1951 movie “Ace in the Hole”, starring Kirk Douglas.

The play is a full-length drama for 7 to 50 actors, made for educational, professional, and community theatres and is easy to stage.

The actors play multiple roles as the play switches back and forth from the present to the past, as the figure of Floyd Collins navigates a huge wooden structure on the stage made to represent the cave system where he died.

The result is an almost operatic blend of voices, stage movement, and contrapuntal action with delightful opportunities for experimentation by directors and set designers. And it is surprisingly easy to stage.

There is no set except a kitchen table and 2 chairs off to a side and the structure representing the cave. The rest of the production is close to black box theatre.  Actors are in everyday Kentucky country clothes.

There is a wooden structure (the cave) of some complexity maybe eight to ten feet high. The side toward the audience is open so the audience can see Floyd climb up inside it and be suspended almost upside down or flat out looking up toward the audience. He must be totally comfortable.

The actors are in front of him and are usually looking at the audience, talking to the audience and Floyd, as the script allows. The actors talk to the audience, wave, etc.  The actors simulate a crowd when needed, newsboys, etc.

An enthralling historical drama.

Floyd Collins and the White Angels of Sand Cave was written by Robert P Arthur


From the Play

MAY: They’ve been lies, mostly… people trying to make a buck off the ghost of Floyd Collins.

HARLEY: I guess that’s true …  just trying to make a buck off Sand Cave and Floyd’s memory, that, like Floyd, just seems designed to slip in and out . . . never seems meant to render Floyd true like he was. You see, there are two ways a person can pass through life without too many people knowing the truth about him. One way is to hide out so that people don’t talk about you much, and the other is to so arrange circumstances that too many people talk about you too much. I guess Floyd, not really trying, took the second way. He just got lost somehow in all that talk.

WAYNE: Things get distorted.

MAY: And twisted around.

WAYNE: They get so backwards and distorted and twisted up and down that pretty soon the person himself who all the talk’s about doesn’t know what he himself is up to or down to, or all about.

HARLEY: That didn’t happen to Floyd.

WAYNE: No, it didn’t, but it might have if he had lived.

MAY: If he had ever got out of Sand Cave alive and had to listen to all the talk or the stuff people made up in papers and books.

WAYNE: He might have gotten confused about himself. Maybe he’d have taken to wearing a fancy hat or something or got himself a big car low to the ground.

HARLEY: Might have but didn’t.

MAY: No sir, he did not.

WAYNE: Because he never got the chance.

HARLEY: No, he didn’t. What he did was die in Sand Cave in 1925. Now we’ve got some slides here. May, do you mind lending a hand with that projector?


  • The Actors' Mission, 9th - 13th November 2022

    The Actors’ Mission, 9th – 13th November 2022

    Daniel Bendtsen plays Floyd Collins and Shannon Bendtsen is the Angel of Sand Cave. Photograph by Dave Gutierrez

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