Author Topic: One word play: Family Emergency  (Read 2384 times)

Offline matsamu

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One word play: Family Emergency
« on: September 19, 2008, 07:45:35 PM »
Here is a play i wrote for my Drama, Screenwriting and Performance Poetry class (that's quite a mouthful) The idea of it was that the class is not ready to write a play yet, so we were only allowed one word and the rest of the show had to be silent. We also had to take a story from the newspapers and write the play based off of that story, (some of you may recall the Living Theatre, a program put forth during the Great Depression to keep writers and actors in work)

My play comes from the story about "Hurricane Hannah leaves Haiti Desperate" and it's called Family emergency. I've already gotten my teachers...approval? stamp of recognition in the fact that it is done? He's seen it, so i want to know what you guys think


GRANDFATHER – A 60-year-old man with enormous faith in humanity and God

MOTHER – A 40-year-old woman who loves her children more than herself, and is willing to give up anything for them

GREEDY DAUGHTER (GD) – 7-8 years old, a girl who believes all things should be hers, food, water, etc.

CYNICAL DAUGHTER (CD) – A 20 year old, a girl who argues relentlessly with GRANDFATHER and believes that people only care about themselves. No one is going to save them.

QUIET DAUGHTER (QD) – A 16-year-old girl who, unless otherwise specified doesn’t move, and goes about her actions quietly and to herself. She’ll eat when given food, move when uncomfortable, etc., but will not otherwise change her situation.

2 RESCUERS – 2 men who arrive at the end of the play to rescue the family.


The set is of a poor house in Haiti, though Haiti is not mentioned, nor implied at any time. There are 2 sets of bunk beds, one on each side of the set. The blankets for the bottom bunks are all on the top of each, save one on the right side that is water-logged and stays down there throughout the play. In between the beds is an ancient, rusty wood- burning stove with 2 well beaten pans and a large stew pot up C. L of it is a small shelf with nothing on it except a few cans scattered on the shelves. Directly in between the beds, down from the stove, is a small table, about the size of a coffee table in America. The family’s obvious religious inclinations are shown by a tarnished cross hanging on the wall above the stove, and pictures of Mother Mary and Jesus hanging on either side of it (Jesus R, Mary L). 2 hanging oil lamps are on the wall under each picture, below a water line from where the floods obviously receded. There is one window on the L, next to the bed, large enough to allow access for a person.


A Play by

Casey Hibma

Scene 1

(Before any action, the stage is dark. There is sudden flashes, storm effects, and in the flashes, one can see scrambling and movement onstage as if preparation for a storm or a flood. Lights up in the house. MOTHER, GD, and QD are all on the R bed, top bunk. MOTHER prepares some food in the pot. QD and GD are playing some kind of game half-heartedly with their hands, having no real games to play. GRANDFATHER reads his Bible on the L bunk, his lips moving in prayer. CD jumps in through the window and all eyes look expectantly toward her. She shakes her head and just rests on against the wall next to GRANDFATHER. After a few seconds, MOTHER begins dishing up some food in bowls and handing them out. GD quickly gobbles hers down and looks around for more, though there is none. GD starts to cry silently as the lights fade.)

Scene 2

(Lights up on each character sitting in the same places. GRANDFATHER is praying and CD obviously shows disdain for it. GRANDFATHER offers her the Bible, and she refuses, sparking an argument. The argument cuts off abruptly as food is served again, but this time, everyone eats as heartily as GD, though they leave off unsatisfied. GD gestures for more, and when refused, gets more and more furious until MOTHER gives half of her own portion to appease her daughter. Lights fade to black.)

Scene 3

(Lights up on MOTHER trying to calm GD, and restrain her from hitting MOTHER and QD. GRANDFATHER is trying to appease the youngest girl from across the room, to no avail. CD is resting. GRANDFATHER tires of it, prays, crosses himself and falls asleep, wedged against CD. While he tries to shift, GD loses the fight and slumps back angrily. CD shakes GRANDFATHER, but he doesn’t wake. He’s dead. Continues to try to wake him, hitting, shaking and pushing him, but nothing. CD finally settles back with the Bible in her hand, crying as the lights go dark.)

Scene 4

(When the lights come up, CD hasn’t moved from the R bunk next to GRANDFATHER’s body. She just rocks back and forth, muttering, praying and clutching the Bible, her eyes darting back and forth. She has been driven insane by the old man’s death, shown by her looking at GRANDFATHER every so often and freezing for a few seconds. GD is crying and holding her stomach, also rocking back and forth, though she is in pain. She retches over the side of the bed, MOTHER patting her back. MOTHER gets her laid down, and she falls asleep, tossing and turning in pain. MOTHER then steps on the table to try to calm CD. CD won’t move from her perch on the R, but consents to be laid down. When she finally closes her eyes it looks as though she is finally at peace with herself. MOTHER takes a look at her, then sits down on the table and cries. QD also cries from her place, gently stroking her little sister’s forehead and hair. Lights fade.)

Scene 5

(GD has been moved to the other side of the room, lying in the bed with CD and GRANDFATHER. MOTHER and QD sit together, too tired to move or cry. MOTHER watches QD fall asleep then looks at the cross for a long moment before crossing herself. She clambers down from the R bed and into the L bed. She takes one more look at the sleeping QD, crosses herself again, pulls out a knife and makes to cut her wrist. Light fades.)


Scene 6

(QD stares at her family, at the cross, at the bible, now in her lap, then back at the family again. She puts the bible down, eats a little. She stops, crawls across the bed toward the cross, pulls it off the wall, and hugs it to herself. She lays it against the wall next to her and cries herself to sleep. A few beats of stillness, then knocking at the door. 2 RESCUERS hesitantly walk in, notice the dead on the R bed, and see QD on the left. One checks her pulse, shakes her head and they both walk out, slamming the door on their way.)

*pop* That was my head. It just got blown.

Offline Don

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Re: One word play: Family Emergency
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2008, 12:40:52 AM »
Good staging, Mat.  Very inventive set--well thought out and doesn't obstruct actors movement or audience line of sight.  Was this graded?  If so, you know what to do.  :)
I have a motto: when in doubt, go for the cheap laugh.