Monday, February 27, 2006

A British Army Raid

Two good theaters have now asked to see the entire manuscript and a 10-paqe partial respectively. Very exciting.

As it's easier to send a partial before Saturday's reading, we've chosen both the first five pages of the play (on the assumption that they'd want to see the beginning of the piece) and five pages from Act III. The piece below concerns an early morning raid by the British Army on the Harkin home and features in the latter part of the novel.

(The below scene is realistic and was a very typical one played out in many Catholic families in Northern Ireland throughout the 1970s because the Unionist government urged the British government to introduce Internment without Trial to the province and it was a monstrous tool that was, unfortunately, wielded principally against the Catholic minority.

A SON CALLED GABRIEL:The Play

ACT THREE

June 1976 – October 1978

Scene 1 - Soldiers Raid

Loud KNOCKING. Silence. More loud KNOCKING.

Sergeant
Open the door. Open it, now.

A LIGHT goes on in the hallway. EILEEN appears in her robe.

Eileen
Who’s there?

Sergeant
British army.

Eileen
(She lets out a clipped shriek. She speaks in an unsteady voice.) It’s eight o’clock in the morning. What do yous want?

HARRY appears in the hallway. The LIGHT in Gabriel’s room goes on. GABRIEL gets out of bed and walks to his bedroom door.

Sergeant
Open the door or we’re kicking it down.

EILEEN opens the front door and a swarm of SOLDIERS with painted black faces and rifles sweep inside. SERGEANT AND SOLDIER #1 stays in the kitchen. SOLDIER #2 goes into Gabriel’s bedroom. SOLDIER #3 goes into Eileen’s bedroom off the hallway.

Sergeant
(He approaches Eileen’s bedroom.) You’ve got one minute to get dressed.

Harry
What the hell’s this about? Why are you raiding my house?

Sergeant
Where’s the other man?

Eileen
What other man? There’s no other man here. (She tries to stay calm but her voice is all over the place.)

CAROLINE and JAMES appear in the hallway.

James
There’s a soldier searching under our bed.
Harry
(From offstage.) There’s nothing of interest to you in those drawers.

SOLDIER #1 pulls POTS out of the cabinets and tosses them to the floor. We hear the sound of a soldier tromping around in the attic.

Sergeant
(He yells.) Rip up the floorboards and search everywhere until you find their guns.

Eileen
(In a firm voice.) Yous damage anything in this house and we’ll set the law on yous. Where’s your warrant?

Sergeant
(He walks back to Eileen.) We don’t need a warrant to search for terrorists.

Soldier #2
(He emerges from Gabriel’s bedroom.) Look what I’ve found, Sarge? (He holds a DUFFEL BAG in one hand and a polka-dot DRESS and WIG in another.)

Gabriel
That’s my Twelfth Night costume.

Sergeant
Your what?

Gabriel
My costume for a Shakespeare play we’re doing at school.

Sergeant
(He looks at the frock again.) That’s no costume, mate. Shakespeare costumes don’t look like that. They’re old-fashioned they are.

Soldier #2
It’s a fuckin’ disguise, Sarge.

James
It’s his fucking costume.

Eileen
Keep quiet, James. (She turns to SOLDIER #2.) Stop cursing in front of my children.

Sergeant
Is this a disguise, ma’am?

Eileen
My son told you what it is, and none of my children lie.

Sergeant
(He stares at her, then at the garment as he decides how to respond.) Where’s the terrorist who’s staying her? Does this belong to him?

Eileen
Call the priest at the school and you’ll find out it’s a costume for a play.

HARRY emerges from the bedroom followed by SOLDIER #3. Harry’s shirt is only partially tucked in, his fly is half open and his hair is totally rumpled. SOLDIER #2 walks up to HARRY and they both seize his upper arms.

Harry
Let go of me.

Sergeant
(He turns to HARRY.) Do these items belong to the terrorist?

Harry
You heard my wife. There’s no other man living here. Luksee, let go of me.
Sergeant

(From “luksee”) That’s not what our intelligence confirms.

James
You’re intelligence is bloody useless.

Harry
(From “bloody”) You have no right to be bursting into someone’s house at this time of the morning. And your guns are frightening my children.

Eileen
I don’t give a ball of blue what your intelligence confirms. The only other man staying here was his brother. He argued badly with his wife and stayed here weeks ago.

Sergeant
(Surprised by her answer, he takes a step back. He speaks with a softer tone.) Your husband’s brother, you say?...and who’s this vicar you’re talking about? Is he local?

Eileen
He’s not a vicar. He’s a priest. He’s headmaster of Saint Malachy’s. (She makes a quick, deliberate laugh.) Oh, yous have made a grave mistake coming here and raiding an innocent man’s house. Yes indeed, a grave mistake.

Sergeant
How would he know it’s a costume for a play?

Eileen
Who?

Sergeant
(He is a bit nervous about being wrong.) The vic...I mean, the priest. Give us it, then.

Eileen
Give you what?

Sergeant
The number. (He looks at the SOLDIERS holding HARRY.) Get him into the truck.

Harry
Let go of me. I’ll walk out of my own house on my own good time. I’m not going to be taken from my own house like this in front of my children.

Gabriel
Yes, leave my father alone. He’s done nothing wrong, and he’ll walk out on his own if needs to go out.

SOLDIER #2 and SOLDIER # 3 lift HARRY inches above the floor and he struggles and swears as they move toward the door. HARRY claws at the doorjamb on the way out but the SOLDIERS are strong and have momentum on their side and whisk him outside.

Eileen
You have no right to do that to my husband in front of his children. Where are you taking him?

Sergeant
The phone number, ma’am.

EILEEN quickly crosses to the telephone table in the hall and viciously whips the PHONE DIRECTORY out of the drawer, bangs it on the tabletop and begins flicking through it, snapping the pages, ripping some as she does. When she finds the number, she thrusts the book at the SERGEANT.

Eileen
There it is, besides Father Rafferty’s name...and I’ll tell you another thing for free, the priest won’t be pleased you’re calling him at this hour of the morning.

The SERGEANT goes to PHONE and dials.

Eileen
Where are you taking my husband?

Sergeant
Ballykelly barracks.

Eileen
What for?

Sergeant
For questioning. We must. It’s routine in cases like this, ma’am.
Eileen
Even if you know your intelligence is for nothing?

The SERGEANT doesn’t answer. He’s already talking to the headmaster. After a few moments he starts apologizing and kowtowing to the headmaster.

Sergeant
Yes, Father. I understand. Yes, I realize it’s very early in the morning.
Rollins, Sergeant Rollins, Fourth Battalion. (He hangs up the phone and comes back into the kitchen.)

Eileen
Now that this has been cleared up, I’m sure yous won’t need to take my man away.

Sergeant
I can’t do that, Ma’am. I’m very sorry, but I’m under orders to take any men living in this house to the barracks.

Eileen
Well, we’ll just lie in front of your Land Rovers and you’ll not be able to take him. Gabriel, James, Caroline, out yous go and lie on the ground in front of the wheels.

Sergeant
Ma’am, we’d just have to remove the children if they did that. Please understand that orders are orders.

Eileen
They’re orders that’ll land the pack of yous in a pan of boiling frying-oil by the time I’m finished. (She makes no attempt to advance, however.) Coming here brandishing guns and wrecking the homes of civilized people. If there’s as much as a scratch on him when he comes home, yous’ll have me to answer to, personally.

Sergeant
We’re done here.

All the SOLDIERS LEAVE. The sound of the LAND ROVERS engines starting up can be heard amid the SOLDIERS VOICES and LAUGHTER. CAROLINE and JAMES go to the window and watch the soldiers leave as the LIGHTS slowly fade.

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