The Great Fire
A Play in Ten Minutes
- 2013, 24-Hour Theater Festival, Portland, ME
The year is 1947, and the resort town of Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island in Maine is on fire. All roads off the island blocked by the fire, the terrified residents were forced down to the harbor, where every boat that could be commandeered was picking up the stranded.
In this play, the Randall siblings, with a chambermaid, are waiting on the beach for a boat. The Randalls belong to one of the most socially prominent families on the island, and the older sister is struggling with maintaining her equilibrium on shoes never intended for sand and the possibility that they might not have adequate insurance to cover their losses. The wounded and alcoholic brother, just back from the war in Europe, views the fire with cynicism, delighting in the destruction of an elite way of life with which he can no longer identify. The thirteen-year-old daughter is curious but unattached to the event, and she regales the family with her "disappearing coin" trick.
The maid, an African American woman, breaks the frame of the play when she is left behind, sharing with the audience some of the appallingly classist history of the island and linking it to the underemployment of actors of color on Broadway.
The play resumes when the younger daughter returns, offering her alliance with the former chambermaid. Together they explore the price of this alliance in terms of transforming privilege.
1 African American women, 1 white woman, 1 white girl, 1 white man