Novel Ideas for a Modern World

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PLAYS

Wahrend Die Welt Sclief  (115 minutes) Drama with Music

First performed as one act in February 1994. Winner of Bravo Television’s “Scenes of Distinctions.” Recently rewritten as full length play.

Synopsis 

           The date is April 30, 1945. The setting is the theatre at the Immaculata School at Kosterona, a small island off the southwest coast of Sweden. The date is significant for two reasons. First, it is the date of the annual Swedish holiday Valsborgmassoafton, the celebration of Spring. Traditionally, school students would hold a party during which songs and skits would be performed. Second, on this date many German military officers had taken to the high seas, attempting to escape the forthcoming crushing defeat at the hands of the Allied forces. The script uses some Swedish and German to establish the setting and mood. Simple decorations and a large mural in Swedish welcomes the guests to the festival.

          Several cast members enter and sit amongst the regular audience as they arrive. At the opening curtain, the Headmistress, Caroline Eek, welcomes the guests to the festival and introduces the first act in their annual festival. Dancers and singers take the stage. In the middle of the act, the lights go out, and to the horror of everyone, German commands are barked out. In the dimly lighted room, a German Officer commands everyone to sit still, stay calm, and that following orders will ensure no one being harmed. During the blackout, lighted by a few flashlights, a scuffle ensues during which someone is obviously hurt. When the lights come on, a Nazi officer, Colonel Reinhardt is on stage and a row of Nazi soldiers line the orchestra pit in front.

        Reinhardt commands that everyone sit still but is interrupted by Caroline. Reinhardt reveals that they are in transit from Germany and stopped there to re-supply and escape from Allied ships. Caroline and other townspeople question the legitimacy of their intrusion, given that their country is a neutral one. Reinhardt and several of his soldiers reveal that they are there for just a short time and will depart shortly.

        Tensions are high as several misunderstandings almost lead to several German Officers playing a heavy hand with their captives until Reinhardt intervenes and brings order to the unusual situation. Several Germans find food and young performers backstage and things calm down. At this point Fraulein von Kleitel arrives, excited to be in a theatre. She inquires what is going on there, Caroline tells her of the festival, the skits and music that was interrupted. Fraulein von Kleitel implores Reinhardt to allow the festivities to continue. After some back and forth, Reinhardt relents, Caroline agrees, and the celebration continues under the watchful eye of the Germans. First, the story of the frog who fell into a bucket of milk and kicked so hard to save his life that he churned it into butter is told through song and pantomime (Music “Nackens Polska”). As the German soldiers circle through the audience, the celebration continues with a Swedish Folk song (“Varvindar friska, deka och kviska") , which is followed by a song/dance/reading of a selection entitled “Während die welt schlief” (While the world slept).

         The celebration is interrupted when one of the Germans discovers a film projector and turning it on, shows a short American newsreel heralding the impending defeat of the forces of the Third Reich. None too pleased, Caroline tries to divert the attention by announcing the raffle winner for the fruit basket. This is followed by a raffle for a basket However, the Germans, having gone a long time without fresh fruit, abscond with the basket and pass out its contents to the soldiers. Angered by the action, one of the Swedes takes the opportunity to disrespect the Germans in the next skit, a take off of a Charlie Chaplin movie. None too pleased the Germans are assuaged by a delightful children’s song, to which all Swedes and Germans sing along. This is followed by a musical rendition of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” acted out by several of the young Swedes. Several more acts follow, all of which is met with more and more appreciation of the Germans. Reinhardt, particularly is moved by the events, and comments how their peoples are so similar. Caroline opposes him in a series of verbal retorts which leads up to a performance of the Mechanicals scene from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” This is met with some groans by the Germans who question why so much Shakespeare and English works. During the mechanicals acting out the scene, the Germans question the action, much like the Athenian royalty did in the original play.

            At the end, the Germans are questioned about their own part in this war. In a moving monologue, Reinhardt explains his hatred of war, and tells of some of the horrors he and his men have experienced. He admits how horrible the experience has been and tells of the futility of seeing so many people on both sides suffer the pain and agony that came from his country’s actions. In an attempt to lighten the mood, the entire cast dances to an old standard “I Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.” In this most ironic of scenes, the entire group forgets, if just for a moment, the horrible situation each is in. Unfortunately, even this moment is ruined when one of the Germans is found to have raped one of the Swedish girls. This causes tension to fill the room, each side falling back to its stereotypes and hatreds. In a final act of defiance, Caroline commands one of the Swedish girls to sing the last song of the festival, which happens to be the Swedish national anthem. The performance is interrupted when Field Marshall von Kleitel enters the room with a few of the guards, and commands the soldiers to round up all the Swedish prisoners. In a startling act, he commands that all the Swedes be shot, as they would be witness to the German intrusion. Reinhardt refuses this act of kriegsnotwendigkeit,  a necessity of war, as the Field Marshall describes it. Because of his insubordination, Reinhardt is the first to be unceremoniously shot, and as the Field Marshall lines up the townspeople, Caroline leads them in a last song of defiance. The lights go out just before the mass murder is committed. Under the cover of darkness, the Germans make their exit, pausing only for one Officer to pass his respects to his friend Reinhardt. As the Germans leave, the newsreel is tripped on again, the film celebrating the coming end of the war and the possibility for hope and new life across the continent.

           The house lights come up and the show is over as the fallen Swedes remain fallen on stage, lost in their own holocaust.

 

Silent Guilt (112 minutes) Psychological Drama with music and dance


Winner of numerous one act awards, rewritten as a screenplay. Finalist in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Project Greenlight 2001 Screenwriting competition. Now rewritten as a full length play.         


SYNOPSIS: Amy, a social worker, has many problems of her own- always late to work,  too easily bedded by strange men, and frustrated by the fact that she never became the premier dancer she always thought she would be. Into her life walks Melissa, a 16 year old deaf girl who is the only witness to her father's murder. Melissa is unable or unwilling to open up and explain what happened and who did it and it becomes Amy’s job to reach through her silence and help get to the bottom of the tragedy. The girl was assigned to Amy in desperation because she took sign language in college and Melissa refused to open up to any of the court appointed sign specialists.  In the course of working with the girl, Amy finds out Melissa is a dancer, and an excellent one at that. By using dance she is finally able to get the girl to remember what happened. In horror, the girl acknowledges she knows what happened but will only tell what happened when her sister Kristine arrives. When her sister gets there Melissa begins her story when she was a little girl and through a series of flashbacks we learn that her mother died when she was a little girl and because of her deafness she was so alone in the world. It finally comes out that it is Melissa who killed her father. He had been sexually abusing her for several years since her mother’s death. She could not tell anyone because she did not know the signs and later when she did, she was too ashamed to let anyone know. It all came to a head when she began to have feelings for a young boy. When the father banned her from seeing the boy and threatened to remove her from the dance school, it was too much for her to take. She killed him in an accidental moment of rage. Kristine breaks down and says that it’s all her fault, and admits that the father had abused her too when her mother died. She never said anything and when she left for college hoped that the father would not do the same the 12 year old sister.

         As the story unfolds, Amy has to deal with her own angst as she recalls the heartbreak of being a teenager herself and having her mother give all the lead dance roles to girls with families with money who supported their fledgling school. When she left for college, she ignored her mother who begged her to come back and dance in the studio again, “dance for me one last time.” Instead, she concentrates on college and celebrated graduation with a night of drunken sex with a boy she met briefly in a bar and hardly talked to. It was that night that her mother died. Heartbroken and guilt ridden, her life was even more complicated when she found out she was pregnant. Having never heard from the boy and not knowing where to find him, she was left to deal with it on her own.  An abortion and much hurt later she runs into the boy and rails at him for his insensitivity.  At that point she discovers he was deaf and never called her because he had no way to communicate anything to her. Again feeling guilt, she takes some sign language classes in an attempt to confront him again and apologize for her remarks. In the end he blows her off, and she is left to move on with her life.

            At this point Amy realizes that what she had to go through was so she could help these two sisters. Seeing that they would be okay, and now able to make peace with herself, the final scene finds Amy alone to dance for her  mother one last time.





Sonnet of Scenes Book One and Book Two    


Two collections of short plays and scenes, each containing award winning selections.. Book One contains "Standard Audition," a farcical comedy that has been performed often in Forensic Competitions, reaching the NCFL National final round  numerous times. Book Two contains "Permanent Record" and "West End Whistle," both also very competitive selections.