Excerpt from ‘A Candid World’ by Dawn Brodey


* "A Candid World" - It is July of 1776 in New York City.  The Revolutionary War is just beginning and the Bassett family is trying to navigate the many faces of Independence.  Staged at Illusion Theatre in Minneapolis - 2011 and at Savage High School - 2014.

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OPENING VIGNETTE: A spotlight rises and a man steps into the pool of light. He is black, dressed in a way reminiscent to a Shakespearean fool, and speaks directly to the audience.

LEE: 

Ladies and gentleman! Young and old! Tall and short! Genius and fool, alike – welcome! 

Tonight, a story of revolution! Of love, murder, and madness! It is New York in July of 1776. 

The ink is still wet on the Declaration of Independence – the very signing of 

which the King considered a crime punishable by death.

The colonies have demanded their Independence, Great Britain has refused. And so - to war!

The company rushes onto the stage in choreographed chaos.

LEE: 

On the one side we have King George the III, of England:

King George III is revealed. He is pompous, soft and laughable. His nose is running, his hair is a mess, his sword is too big for him and he wears cartoonishly thick spectacles.

As he is revealed, a spontaneous heckle and hiss rise from the audience (planted players). He scoffs and waves his hand at them like they’re flies, then blows his nose loudly.

LEE

On the other side we have General George Washington!

George Washington is revealed - the hero of portraits and poetry. His chest is out, one leg is elevated as if he is crossing the Delaware and his hair, long and white, falls to his shoulders.

A cheer arises from the audience and General Washington gives them a humble salute.

LEE: 

General Washington has never led an army successfully in battle. 

Never led an army in battle ever, as a matter of fact. He had only ever led retreats.

Washington’s confidence slouches slightly...

LEE: 

Actually, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but one of his missions 

was such a huge failure, he almost quit the military forever.


Lee laughs, this cracks him up – he begins to tell this divergent story as if the audience were sitting next to him at a bar.

Washington tries to get Lee’s attention to cut him off but to no avail:

LEE: 

He was supposed to deliver a message to some French general-

He turns to Washington.

LEE: 

It was a message, right?

Washington gives him the ‘cut it out’ sign.

LEE: 

Right, a letter or something. But everything falls apart when the recipient of the 

letter gets his head split open with an axe by Washington’s Indian guide. 

Almost set the whole French and Indian War into an inferno that could have-


Washington finally gets his attention, and Lee stops.

LEE: 

Yes. In short, he was not an award-winning blue-ribbon general. And to make matters worse, 

the colonies had no organized army. They didn’t know how many men 

they had, how many guns they had, or who was going to train them.

It was an army of volunteers, many of whom had never even carried a gun. 

Washington’s two closest military advisors were a 25 year-old, over- weight, 

book-seller; and 32 year-old Quaker with a limp.


Washington is now totally humbled, but not cowering. He stands like an everyman, his hands on his hips – examining the truth Lee has just laid out.

LEE: 

As for the King, (hiss from the audience) he led the most formidable force on the planet! 

They had fought hundreds of wars for hundreds of years. From sea, from land, foreign, domestic. 

An unlimited number of cannons and gunpowder, horses, and the loyalty of 

about a third of the colonial population.  By the time it came to conflict, King George had assembled 

the largest naval force in the history of mankind, and they all had their cannons aimed on New York.


As Lee is listing his many assets, King George has begun to puff up, growing more confi- dent. However bold he feels, his nose is still running, and he can’t lift his sword above his waist.

As Lee says the following, the George’s exit and he is again alone in a pool of light.

LEE: 

In short, it appears impossible for America to win her independence – many claim it will take a miracle. 

They’re wrong, of course, it will take a million miracles and as many strokes of luck. And yet,


There is a tide in the affairs of men.

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.  (Julius Caesar 4.3)


The lights go to black.


  dawnbrodey@gmail.com  © Dawn Brodey 2012