Tag Archives: like a loss

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TONIGHT Like a Loss staged reading with Bare Bones!

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Join us this evening for the staged reading of our ten-minute installment “Like a Loss” with Bare Bones!

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Last night we had our dress rehearsal, where Eboracum Richter-Dahl and Brad Smith practiced their performance where faithful batman Henry Chapman tried to reach out to his longtime employer Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking in a difficult time.

I really love this piece because it is the most subtle of the Mrs. Hawking stories, being an exploration of people who must find ways to connect and express themselves without doing it overtly. It was an excellent challenge for me to rise to as a writer. And I love allowing the audience to have a glimpse of the Colonel, who we’ve heard so much about from other characters, and that many people have been wondering.

So please join us at 8pm tonight at Unity Somerville at 8 William Street, Somerville, MA. We will be opening for a reading of The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator.

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REMINDERS – Auditions for Mrs. Hawking; Like a Loss staged reading

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Two reminders, dear Hawks! 

 

Auditions for the encore performance of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival are TONIGHT and TOMORROW NIGHT, March 23rd and 24th, at the Watertown Public Library from 7PM to 9PM. Signups are preferred, so e-mail us at mrshawkingweb@gmail.com to reserve a timeslot, but walk-ins are also welcome.

 



 

Also our staged reading of Like a Loss will be going up this Thursday night as part of Bare Bones 16: At War!

Like a Loss, the ten minute play featuring Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking, will be read as the opener for The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, at 8pm on March 26th at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA

“Faithful batman Henry Chapman does not often pry into the personal matters of his employer, the decorated Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking. But when some of his master’s burdens seem to grow too great, Chapman attempts to understand why Colonel Hawking has chosen to endure conditions as they are.

As those familiar with the Mrs. Hawking play series know, one of its most intriguing mysteries is the figure of the Colonel, the late husband of our hero about whom she still harbors so much resentment and complicated feeling. In this ten-minute play, set seventeen years before Mrs. Hawking and Mary ever meet, we at last get to meet this much-discussed man, and gain some insight into the nature of his strange, tragic marriage to our hero.”

Hope to see you are both or either of these!

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Rehearsing “Like a Loss” for staged reading with Bare Bones

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This Sunday we had rehearsal for the staged reading of the ten-minute play Like a Loss at Bare Bones 16: At War. As I’ve mentioned, Like a Loss is unique in that it’s the only time up to this point in the story that the Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking ever actually appears onstage. I like the opportunity this gives for the audience to fill in certain blanks, to compare what they observe of the man themselves to the disparate viewpoints taken of him by other characters.

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This piece stars the Colonel as well his longtime personal valet Henry Chapman, who in having served him for so many years through so many adventures has become his good friend. What makes the piece interesting is that it depicts a rare moment of emotional exploration between two gentlemen who do not often discuss such things under any context. They are Victorian gentlemen, of a culture that keeps these things to themselves. They are master and servant, and while closer than many, there is a level of formality and distance that makes such things off-limits. And finally, the Colonel is in the very delicate position of having pretty much every single person he’s close to in a total state of confusion as to why he married such a difficult, disagreeable woman. His family hates her, and Chapman thinks she’s unforgivably cruel to him; none of them see in her what the Colonel sees. Even among all the other factors, that in particular makes it so the Colonel has no one safe to talk to about what he’s currently struggling with. But Chapman cares about his master a great deal, and is taking this opportunity to try and address the pain that the Colonel is so clearly in.

This was a great opportunity for me as a writer, as it demanded effective use of subtext, which is always hard for me. It also presents a particular challenge to our actors, Brad Smith as the Colonel and Eboracum Richter-Dahl as Henry Chapman, his faithful batman and valet. They must convey to the audience just the depth and significance of the emotional moments while maintaining that superficial even keel. It was fascinating to watch them manage those moments, to bring levels that required a huge amount of nuance to read through their guarded, civil attitudes. Like Nathaniel, I always pictured the Colonel to maintain that particular variety of never-say-die British cheer, which is strongly at odds with the difficulty he’s going through in this piece– and Chapman is seeing right through it while politely pretending he isn’t. Brad and Eboracum did a beautiful job illustrating what is actually an extremely tragic story, that of a man who loved of a woman who utterly lacked the capacity to love him back, and of how completely without meaning to they ended up ruining each other’s lives.

The moment depicted in this particular piece alludes to lots of story we’ve yet to see. One thing we do know for sure is that the marriage of Colonel and Mrs. Hawking was extremely fraught. But there’s a great deal of lead-up before it reaches the state it was in when the Colonel died, one year before “Mrs. Hawking” opens. This piece hits at some of those stages it passed through, how they may not always have been as completely at odds as they ended up, how their conflict evolved from friendly opposition to directionless anger and ultimately to the chilly distance that was the final straw in breaking Reginald’s heart.

Someday we’ll tell that whole story. In fact, I’d like to detail the journey of how Victoria and Reginald met and married in what I’m planning to be the fourth full-length installment, after the upcoming Base Instruments. But for now, we only get a glimpse at another point in that timeline, here right after a major downward turn, in the the tragedy of the man who had the terrible misfortune to fall in love with our distant, damaged hero.

Come join us for our one-night only performance as the opener of Bare Bones 16: At War for piece, The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8pm at Unity Somerville, at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA.

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Cast for “Like a Loss” staged reading at Bare Bones

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We have a cast for the reading of “Like a Loss,” the ten-minute play in the Hawking timeline!

“Like a Loss”
by Phoebe Roberts
~~~

Starring
Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking, hero of the Indian Rebellion: Brad Smith
Mr. Henry Chapman, his valet and batman: Eboracum Richter-Dahl

Both these talented people have been part of the telling of Mrs. Hawking’s story before. Brad you may remember from the Bare Bones reading of Mrs. Hawking, in which he played the villain Lord Cedric Brockton. He is an experienced actor onstage and in voice only, including in the Second Shift podcast and in the 2012 tour of the new musical 2010: Our Hideous Future. Eboracum served as the stage manager for the Arisia 2015 production of Mrs. Hawking, and is a founding member of The Chameleon’s Dish Theater as well as a longtime veteran of Brandeis’s Shakespeare troupe, Hold Thy Peace.

I’m super excited to work with them, and tell this bit of Mrs. Hawking history! Come join us for our one-night only performance as the opener of Bare Bones 16: At War for piece, The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8pm at Unity Somerville, at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA.

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“Like a Loss” staged reading with Bare Bones 16: At War!

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Like a Loss, the ten-minute play accompaniment to the Mrs. Hawking play series, will have a staged reading with Theatre@First’s Bare Bones reading series!

Faithful batman Henry Chapman does not often pry into the personal matters of his employer, the decorated Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking. But when some of his master’s burdens seem to grow too great, Chapman attempts to understand why Colonel Hawking has chosen to endure conditions as they are.

As those familiar with the Mrs. Hawking play series know, one of its most intriguing mysteries is the figure of the Colonel, the late husband of our hero about whom she still harbors so much resentment and complicated feeling. In this ten-minute play, set seventeen years before Mrs. Hawking and Mary ever meet, we at last get to meet this much-discussed man, and gain some insight into the nature of his strange, tragic marriage to our hero.”

This high-drama short piece will be read in Bare Bones 16: At War, as the opener to the reading of a full-length piece, The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator. This is a one-night-only performance on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8pm at Unity Somerville, at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA.

Care to be involved? Auditions will be held on Monday, February 16th, 2015 at 7pm at 13 Park Avenue, Somerville by appointment only. If you are interested in auditioning for either of these readings, please go here to fill out the webform for a timeslot.

Join us as we tell a little of the story of the mysterious Colonel!

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Mr. Ambrose Hawking

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Categories: character, scenes, themes, Tags: , , , , , ,

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Though I’ve written very little in his voice, I’ve thought a great deal about the patriarch of the respectable, successful middle-class Hawking family, and the father of Justin and Nathaniel. While his younger brother Colonel Reginald Hawking served in the military, Ambrose built the family business from the ground up, turning a series of small investments into a thriving venture capital firm with interests all across the empire. He was close to and very proud of his brave younger brother, with Reginald’s choice to marry the fiery, inscrutable Victoria Stanton being the only difference to ever come between them. This conflict is referenced in Like a Loss, a ten-minute play featuring the Colonel and his valet.

Ambrose is a bastion of traditional Victorian masculinity, accustomed to authority and privilege and very skeptical of the notion of women having agency. The world and its accompanying systems have done well for him, and so he is loath to see them change. His younger son Nathaniel, however, is beginning to question and even reject the assumptions to which his father raised him. It will come as quite a shock when he is confronted by Nathaniel’s new perspective on things, especially when it comes to affect the way Nathaniel decides to raise his own son.

I don’t know if or when Ambrose will ever actually appear in the plays. Even in the upcoming third one, in which I plan for other members of Nathaniel’s family to appear and drive the conflict, I don’t know if there will be room for him. Still, I think the influence of a traditionally Victorian patriarchal father is important for Nathaniel’s sorting out of how he’s going to engage with feminism. If nothing else, I’m sure he will be mentioned, as he is in Like a Loss, or perhaps show up in another in-universe short piece.

Here is a small chunk I felt compelled to write, just as a way of exploring the slightly more human side of him. One thing is clear, he cared very deeply about his brother the Colonel, and what pained Reginald was also pain to him. I also think it serves to make his strong antipathy towards Victoria a lot more understandable. So, in service of that, here is a conversation I could picture them having about the Colonel.

~~~

NATHANIEL: Did you think he ever knew just how… strongly she felt?

AMBROSE: Are you joking? Of course he did. He wasn’t a fool.

NATHANIEL: How do you know?

AMBROSE: Everyone knew. You could read it in her every glance, she never tried to hide it. And it cut him.

NATHANIEL: Did he tell you?

AMBROSE: He didn’t have to. I was his brother, I could see it in his eyes.

NATHANIEL: You never told me.

AMBROSE: By Jove, Nathaniel, do you fancy I hate her just because she’s unpleasant at dinner parties? The woman my brother loved despised him above all else. And he had to live with that. You may have found a way to forgive her, boy, but I never shall.

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Sparking a romance

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As you may have gleaned from reading Vivat Regina, I want to explore the idea of a relationship between Mary and Arthur Swann, the police officer she meets (and makes use of) in that play. All I wanted to do in that story was start a connection, but that meant I had to take care to get it off on the right foot.

I like the idea that romances begin because of something special that two people see in each other. Mary of course demonstrates she is brave and tough and quick-witted in a way Arthur didn’t expect, but Arthur shows he finds the fact that Mary saved him intriguing. He is not threatened by Mary’s capability, but impressed by and delighted with it. That immediate respect he shows makes an impression on her. Moreover, he’s not without wit and charm himself. These things altogether spark something that ultimately turns to romance.

I had Mary save Arthur to deliberately turn that damsel in distress trope on its head. Also I wanted to contrast it with the first meeting of Victoria and Reginald as the Colonel describes it in “Like a Loss.” Both men are impressed by the women’s display of courage and independence. But while Arthur wants to encourage and enable her to take her own action, Reginald’s impulse is to cocoon her protectively so that she doesn’t ever have to be brave or fierce or stand up for herself again. Arthur wants to nurture Mary’s strength, while Reginald wanted to neutralize it in Victoria. This makes for an interesting way to explore the effects of feminism, or the lack thereof, in our characters’ lives.

I haven’t figured out the whole trajectory of Mary and Arthur’s relationship, but I think it’s off to an interesting start. Especially in contrast to Mrs. Hawking and the Colonel.

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“The Lieutenant’s Daughter” — scribbling on the backstory of Reginald and Ambrose

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This was an experiment in a Hawking backstory scene, written on August 24th for 31 Plays in 31 Days 2013. Back in the day, a young soldier by the name of Reginald Hawking tells his older brother Ambrose of a remarkable young woman he’s just made the acquaintance of. I used this as an exercise about getting the point across even though the characters do not have an accurate assessment of the situation. See for yourself how well I did.

I’m not sure this conversation could have ever actually taken place in the timeline– because Reginald would have to be stationed in the colonies, and his older brother would already have been married and settled by then and likely not living close enough to have a real-time conversation with. Justin and Nathaniel might have even been born by this point. It’s a shame it’s not canon, so to speak; it’s thus far the first and only thing I’ve ever written in Ambrose’s voice. But nothing is ever really wasted, even if it can’t be used in its original form. You may also notice that pieces of this scene were adapted for use in the “Like a Loss” ten-minute play.

~~~

Day #24 – “The Lieutenant’s Daughter”

(Enter REGINALD, with a giant black eye.)

AMBROSE: What the devil happened to you?

REGINALD: Do you know the Lieutenant Stanton? The territorial governor?

AMBROSE: The territorial governor blacked your eye? By Jove, Reggie, whatever did you do?

REGINALD: It was his daughter.

AMBROSE: He blacked your eye over his daughter!?

REGINALD: No, Ambrose–

AMBROSE: Reginald, what’s come over you!?

REGINALD: Ambrose! She did it! She blacked my eye!

AMBROSE: You’re joking! His daughter?

REGINALD: Hand to God, sir.

AMBROSE: Still– I must ask– what did you do to her?

REGINALD: I– well, I tried to rescue her. I thought she was about to fall from the tree she was in.

AMBROSE: She was up a tree?

REGINALD: Climbing it. I thought she was falling, so I raced over to her. But she landed like a cat, whirled out of my arms, and her fist shot out faster than I could blink.

AMBROSE: Why, the little minx!

REGINALD: Like a striking cobra, she was. Hardly saw her move.

AMBROSE: Had she taken leave of her senses?

REGINALD: Damn near knocked me bum over teakettle.

AMBROSE: Her father had a thing or two to say about it, I’m sure.

REGINALD: He didn’t know.

AMBROSE: How could he not know?

REGINALD: I didn’t tell him, at any rate.

AMBROSE: But such behavior–

REGINALD: Ambrose! Surely I’d frightened the girl when I came at her from nowhere!

AMBROSE: Well, naturally. But surely the lieutenant wondered at your blighted eye!

REGINALD: Told him I’d gotten it boxing with the lads. She has enough of a hook that you’d never know the difference, eh?

AMBROSE: That’s barking madness, Reg.

REGINALD: Jolly well may be.

AMBROSE: Did the girl seem off otherwise to yu?

REGINALD: That’s the trick, Amber. She wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen.

AMBROSE: How so?

REGINALD: I hadn’t done much more than see her before that. She spoke not a word but she had the sharpest eyes that ever mine had met. And for all the fight I must have given her dashing up like that, she took her shot as quick and cool as any man on the line. No dithering, no starting. Just one cold, dead-on strike.

AMBROSE: Surely you can’t have seen all that in the failing of a startled young girl.

REGINALD: There was something about her, Ambrose. Something… jolly well remarkable.

AMBROSE: She must have given you a right old drubbing. You’re acting odd enough.

REGINALD: Very funny.

AMBROSE: Well, at least now you know better than to bother with her any longer.

REGINALD: Bother with her? Far from it, brother.

(He gets up and exits.)

REGINALD: I think I’d like to marry her.

8/24/13

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“Like a Loss” – a ten-minute play in the Mrs. Hawking universe

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I like how much potential there is for other stories in this universe. Most of them I hope to turn into full-length pieces in some way, but on occasion I want to tell a story that’s not centered around one of our heroes Mary and Mrs. Hawking. So I need to find some other ways to depict those ideas, and a ten-minute play is a nice idea.

So in this piece, I am giving you all the first-ever first person look at the most speculated-upon character in the Mrs. Hawking universe, the late Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking. I am not sure, in the grand scheme of the story, if it’s better to always leave you guessing about him or if your desire to know more about him should be fulfilled, but for scribbling purposes it’s all right.

One big question regarding the Hawkings’ relationship is how they interacted given the huge amount of silence, secrecy, and distance between them, and the one-sided nature of the affection. It’s a little hard for me to conceive of, as it’s tough to imagine how little talking and communication there would have to be to allow that, but this scene is my attempt to show a bit of how it might have been.

Also, I’ve been watching Downton Abbey so this sort of master-servant relationship is in my head right now. It was from this that I created the character of Henry Chapman, the Colonel’s batman and valet. I think, after the Colonel’s death, Mrs. Hawking got rid of Chapman so fast it made his head spin. Which did nothing to improve his opinion of her. I think he works for Nathaniel or maybe Ambrose or Justin now, but he’s still bitter.

This piece was originally written on August 2nd, 2013, and was expanded over the course of November 2013. Some very talented, discerning theater friends kindly workshopped a reading of it for me, with Ben Federlin as the Colonel and Eboracum Richter-Dahl as Chapman. As a production note, this piece is intended to stand alone and can be performed completely out of context. Though I do warn you, this contains spoilers for “Mrs. Hawking.”

Like a Loss
by Phoebe Roberts
~~~

London, England, 1862

COLONEL REGINALD HAWKING, of the Indian Rebellion, late thirties
HENRY CHAPMAN, his batman and valet, early thirties

~~~

(CHAPMAN sits in the dressing room, brushing a top hat. He stands when his master THE COLONEL enters.)

THE COLONEL:
Evening, Chapman.

CHAPMAN:
Good evening, sir.

THE COLONEL:
I think I’ll turn in now.

CHAPMAN:
Very good, sir.

(He takes THE COLONEL’s tailcoat and helps him undress.)

CHAPMAN:
If I might ask… is she any better today, sir?

THE COLONEL:
Much the same, really.

CHAPMAN:
I’m sorry to hear it.

THE COLONEL:
I expect she shall be for some time now.

CHAPMAN:
I see. A shame.

(CHAPMAN makes a face as he assists THE COLONEL.)

THE COLONEL:
I know that look.

CHAPMAN:
What look, sir?

THE COLONEL:
Come off it, now. I know you don’t approve.

CHAPMAN:
Sir! I would never presume—

THE COLONEL:
Of course, of course.

CHAPMAN:
Far be it from me to judge the bearing of the lady of the house—

THE COLONEL:
Spare me, old boy. Just that I’ll thank you to keep it to yourself.

CHAPMAN:
Of course, sir.

THE COLONEL:
Well. I’ve had enough of all this. Tell me something new, Chapman.

CHAPMAN:
Something new, sir? Well. You’ve had another letter from your brother.

THE COLONEL:
Have I? I suppose he won’t be put off, then.

CHAPMAN:
May I ask what he wants?

THE COLONEL:
A visit, it seems. A long one.

CHAPMAN:
Hmm. It would be quite understandable if you weren’t keen on having company.

THE COLONEL:
I think he means to take my mind off things.

CHAPMAN:
Well. That’s kind of him.

THE COLONEL:
Ambrose always looks out for his little brother.

CHAPMAN:
Perhaps you might find him a comfort.

THE COLONEL:
Perhaps. She won’t, though. He’s never cared for her either.

CHAPMAN:
I’m sorry, sir.

THE COLONEL:
He can think whatever he likes. I only hope he doesn’t teach it to the boys.

CHAPMAN:
Will they be joining him?

THE COLONEL:
I expect so.

CHAPMAN:
You don’t seem pleased.

THE COLONEL:
Don’t I?

CHAPMAN:
I thought you were quite fond of them.

THE COLONEL:
I am. They’re fine boys. Ambrose is very lucky. But— I fear they may wear on Mrs. Hawking’s nerves.

CHAPMAN:
I see.

THE COLONEL:
With her mood this black, that’s the last thing she needs right now.

(Pause.)

CHAPMAN:
It must be difficult.

THE COLONEL:
What must be difficult?

CHAPMAN:
When the family doesn’t get on.

THE COLONEL:
That’s putting it mildly.

CHAPMAN:
Well… it isn’t as if we choose our brothers’ wives.

THE COLONEL:
No more than we choose our brothers. Like it or not, Ambrose is stuck with the lot of us.

CHAPMAN:
I suppose not every man would choose a woman so… ah…

THE COLONEL:
Yes, Chapman?

CHAPMAN:
Fierce, perhaps?

THE COLONEL:
I’m a soldier, old boy, I’m drawn to it.

CHAPMAN:
Of course, sir. But fierce is a two-edged sword.

THE COLONEL:
Precisely. You lot only see the cuts. You miss how bright the blade is. She really is a remarkable woman, you know.

CHAPMAN:
I’m sure, sir.

THE COLONEL:
No, Chapman, don’t nod me off like that. I know what she seems like to you, but you’ve not seen the other side of it. It means more than just that she’s difficult for going so much her own way.

CHAPMAN:
How so?

THE COLONEL:
She’s utterly fearless. Their judgment can’t touch her, and no man, woman, king, brute, or god can bow her. Have you ever known a woman like that? I hadn’t, not before her.

(He pauses, remembering.)

THE COLONEL:
The first time I ever saw her– I was only a callow youth, a green officer stationed abroad in the colonies. I was making a report to the lieutenant governor in New Guinea, and when I was on my way to his bungalow, I saw, of all things, a girl climbing up a tree. The lieutenant’s daughter, though I didn’t know it yet. I watched her a moment, then all of a sudden she dropped down. I thought she was falling, so I rushed over to catch her. But she landed like a cat, whirled out of my arms, and her fist shot out faster than I could blink. Like a striking cobra, she blacked my eye.

CHAPMAN:
She never!

THE COLONEL:
Quicker than I could blink. Damn near knocked me bum over teakettle.

CHAPMAN:
My word! Surely the lieutenant had something to say about that.

THE COLONEL:
I never told him.

CHAPMAN:
But your black eye!

THE COLONEL:
Said I’d had it boxing with the lads. He never knew the difference. I tell you, Chapman, I thought I’d frightened her that day, but no. She was just that fierce.

CHAPMAN:
I’m afraid I don’t understand, sir.

THE COLONEL:
No. You don’t. No more than Ambrose does, nor anyone else.

CHAPMAN:
Except you, it seems.

THE COLONEL:
Someday, perhaps.

CHAPMAN:
Sir?

THE COLONEL:
It would take a lifetime to understand her. I knew I had to marry her to give myself the time.

CHAPMAN:
I supposed you’ll have to forgive the rest of us if we haven’t done it yet either.

THE COLONEL:
Suppose I shall. If you lot can forgive her in turn.

CHAPMAN:
A fair point, sir.

(Pause.)

CHAPMAN:
Is that how you manage? You forgive her?

THE COLONEL:
Forgive her for what?

CHAPMAN:
For this.

(Pause.)

THE COLONEL:
You’ll not judge her for it, Chapman.

CHAPMAN:
It’s not that, sir. Not precisely.

THE COLONEL:
After bearing through that, she can do whatever she damn well likes.

CHAPMAN:
It’s only… what about you, sir?

THE COLONEL:
What about me?

CHAPMAN:
He was to be your son, too.

(THE COLONEL tenses and turns away. CHAPMAN is chagrined.)

CHAPMAN:
Forgive me, sir. I shouldn’t speak of it.

(Pause.)

THE COLONEL:
I don’t know why it should hit me so hard. These things happen all the time. To some people, over and over again. Nothing to be done.

CHAPMAN:
It’s normal to mourn a loss.

THE COLONEL:
Strange, though, to call it that.

CHAPMAN:
You held in him your arms, sir.

THE COLONEL:
Wonder if it wasn’t a mistake.

CHAPMAN:
A mistake?

THE COLONEL:
He never cried. Never opened his eyes. But he was whole, you know. Still warm. He might have been sleeping but for that he never drew a breath. Made it harder to remember that… we never really had him to lose, did we?

CHAPMAN:
Still. It feels a loss, to you.

THE COLONEL:
There’s the rub, Chapman. If it’s like a loss to me… what must it be to her? She would have been his mother, for God’s sake. If I feel like… like this… what must it be like for her?

(Pause.)

THE COLONEL:
Tell me, Chapman, how can I ask anything of her now?

(He pulls on his robe.)

THE COLONEL:
That’ll be all now, old boy.

(CHAPMAN bows and exits, leaving THE COLONEL there alone.)

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