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 Posted: Mon Feb 4th, 2013 03:52 am
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RTurco
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Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
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Mana: 
Hello guys,

This is an excerpt of my latest play. It is a little dark, so if one might be easily offended, he should steer clear. Otherwise enjoy, and please critique.

~

Principal Characters

SS-Blockführer Alexander Hertz
SS-Rapportführer Hans Gottschalk Prisoner 1 and 2
 
 
Place- Auschwitz.
Time- October 1944.
Set- Minimalistic. A few chairs and a table. Grey and depressing.
 

Die Verdammten und die Erretteten

ACT I

(Darkness. A chorus in plainchant rings out, singing “B’Tseit Israel/In exitu Israel” softly and growing louder. As the chant finishes, the lights rise slowly. A table and two chairs onstage. HANS GOTTSCHALK is sitting, drinking from a bottle. ALEXANDER HERTZ enters. GOTTSCHALK is clearly the superior officer. They salute each other.)

Gottschalk
Heil Hitler!

Hertz
Heil Hitler.

Gottschalk
So, Hertz… How was it? Sit, sit.

(He sits.)

Hertz
It was…

Gottschalk
Exhilarating, no?

Hertz
I suppose.

Gottschalk
Yes. It must be. There is no other alternative. Drink?

Hertz
What?

Gottschalk
Would you like a drink?

Hertz
No…

Gottschalk
Hmph. I never knew you to refuse one before.

Hertz
I’m not thirsty.

Gottschalk
Oh?

Hertz
I’m not in the mood.

Gottschalk
Oh… Did you dispose of them?

Hertz
Yes.

Gottschalk
All of them?

Hertz
Ja.

Gottschalk
Good. Did it take long?

Hertz
No.

Gottschalk
How many were there?

Hertz
Hundreds.

Gottschalk
How many?

Hertz
Hundreds. Two hundred.

Gottschalk
And you killed all of them personally?

Hertz
No! God, no. Not personally. I had my staff do most of it. I took care of the bigger fish.

Gottschalk
How many?

Hertz
I told you already how many.

Gottschalk
No. How many did you kill personally?

Hertz
Oh… I can’t remember. It was a long process. Grueling. Cold. Very bad.

Gottschalk
Me I always remember how many. Today, thirty-three.

Hertz
Thirty-three, really?

Gottschalk
Ja. For me it is not so hard. I make it like a game. See if I can beat the day before and by how many… Tell me, did they wriggle on the earth? Did they contort into funny shapes, the funny shapes those Jews make when they die on the ground? Like piles of shit.

Hertz
I didn’t notice.

Gottschalk
Me, I always take notice of these things. It helps bring variety to this mundane life of ours. “Oh, let us see how they will fall today.” “Will they cry for their mommies today?” “Will the crowd turn away, will they cover their eyes, will they scream?” These are the things I ask myself. You should take more notice of these things. It is like hobby. Come, Hertz, would you like to hear about how my day went?

Hertz
No, Herr Gottschalk, I really--

Gottschalk
It started as usual, with the appell. But this day was very cold. It took maybe, four hours. And this was before dawn. There was no selektion, that was the day before. Some died during the call and they were quick sent to the crematorium. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then I decided to change things up a bit and supervise the work detail. They played such beautiful music on the way out that I was compelled to sing, and make them sing too. One man, he was too flat, so I had him beat. Another, too hoarse, I beat him myself. Outside the camp, they took up their tools. One man was without and I saw him working with his hands. I may have pitied him a little. So I had him strip naked and stand still for hours. Then I shot him through the back of the head when the day was done. I watched them march back to camp. They did not play music this time. Twelve had fallen at work and did not get up. They carried the bodies back for roll call. Appell, this took maybe six hours. I decided to play one of my little games. You’ll like this. I went up and down the line, shooting every third person in the face. Ha ha! They crumpled like sacks. The vermin. And then we hanged a few, some traitors, just to watch them die. We made the entire camp stand, watch, and walk past on the way to dinner. And that was the end of it. Glorious. Like any other day. Glorious shit. I hate it. Getting to wave my pistol around makes it just bearable. What do you say to that?

Hertz
I say it sucks.

Gottschalk
Right. But does not the pistol in hand make it better?

Hertz
I suppose…

Gottschalk
Hmm… You hanged them after you shot them right?

Hertz
What?

Gottschalk
You hanged the prisoners after you shot them all, right?

Hertz
We hanged some.

Gottschalk
Good. Ah, it is terrible. The balls on those ones… No good. No good at all. Mind you how it started. We know now. And it will not happen again. It was the munitions girls, I tell you. Smuggling in explosives from Weichsel to the sonderkommando. Some escaped, we know that. There was a list. Somehow they knew, the sonderkommando knew that they were to be done away with. Liquidated, as is custom. The boys led them into the yard in front of crematorium IV. I saw the rest from my window. It was disgusting. The scharfuhrer called out some names, and one by one, they went to the opposing side of the yard. One stood apart, who approached the scharfuhrer and I heard him shout. And then he struck the guard with a hammer and the others rose up, the vermin. Revolting creatures, ugly, putrid Jew-bags. Now that one that struck first hangs by a rope… So then prisoners rose up and beat the guards’ heads in with stones and little axes. Our boys rolled in with machine guns and mowed some down. My God, there was a lot of them. Then suddenly I heard an explosion. Crematorium IV was destroyed. More gunfire and shouts, this time coming from crematorium II. I heard stories that some of our men were thrown in the furnaces alive! Bastards, how could they do this to us? Crematoria III and V were silent. A few escaped, or so I’m told, and ran instead toward the other camp at Rajsko. There they hid in a barn. This next bit from Herman. Our men burned the barn, some perished inside, others were shot as they emerged on fire. One, two, three, down. They fell like dogs. Like rats. I wish to God I were there to cut some down myself. But I was hiding in my office then. It all was cleared up, as you know, the perpetrators shot, some I did myself. I had them lie face down in the mud and I stepped on their backs and shot them in the back of the head. But we lost three men that day. Erler, Preeze, and Purcke. Three good men. We managed to get, all in all, five or six hundred, I think. Even some of those women who got the explosives from the factory. We got them too. But those three of ours, never to be forgotten. It was a horrible day.

Hertz
Mmm…

Gottschalk
Where were you?

Hertz
Me?

Gottschalk
You, yes, you.

Hertz
I was… oh… about.

Gottschalk
About?

Hertz
I was firing on them. I was there. With my gun.

Gottschalk
Were you?

Hertz
Yes.

Gottschalk
Were you really?

Hertz
Yes.

Gottschalk
Huh.

(Pause. GOTTSCHALK eyes HERTZ suspiciously.)

Gottschalk (Cont’d)
Alex, what’s wrong?

Hertz
What?

Gottschalk
Something is wrong. I can tell.

Hertz
Ach… It’s my lady.

Gottschalk
Grete? What’s wrong with Grete?

Hertz
We haven’t spoken since I took my leave. Since I was transferred.

Gottschalk
I see.

Hertz
That was eleven months ago. Last time we saw each other, we fought. It was something terrible. We were arguing about one thing or other… Yes, I remember now. She was upset I had to go. To the death camp of all places. Tore her apart. And she was expecting. My God, yes, that’s it…

Gottschalk
Did you write?

Hertz
I tried to. I couldn’t. Too much to say. You know, when it’s right in front of you, a sea of white, and you’ve got that pen in your hand, you lose the will to speak or write. At least that’s how it is with me. And… With all of… this… around you, it’s hard to concentrate.

Gottschalk
Huh… Well, I only know one remedy for this.

(GOTTSCHALK passes him the bottle.)

Gottschalk (Cont’d)
Take. It’s good for you.

Hertz
No. I’d better not.

Gottschalk
Fine. You know, when my child was born, I was here. I went back to see him, maybe once. The little thing… so cute… somehow tainted… Torn by all this, as you say. It didn’t matter. I was alive. She was alive. My Vera. It saddens me to leave her, it does. Really. And to come here… We do the best we can under the circumstances. Try to make it light. Doesn’t always work. Sometimes… Ach, it is too much. I am going to get more.

(GOTTSCHALK rises and exits.) 

Hertz
He’s right. We do the best we can. It isn’t much, but I’ve tried. Done more than most. I… maybe I should not have… No… To tell? It is too great. Not now. Not yet. But it burns inside me, like fire. I must let it out, I must answer the call in the end. I need to know… for myself, for Grete… Did I do what was right? Oh Grete, if only you knew how much I suffered, how much I care. How much you have suffered! I cannot imagine. Those cold nights, alone, with child. Nein… Must not dwell on this, Alex. Makes you sick of home. We cannot have that now, not here, so very far away. But of my deed… When? How? So many questions unanswered. My mind is a plague, a hole of blackness. I must find relief. We all must. Or we will die here. Like the Juden. Not much better than them, I think. But now listen to me. This is silly talk. Herr Gottschalk would not approve.

(GOTTSCHALK returns with a bottle and sits. He drinks.)

Gottschalk
Ha ha ha! Hertz… my boy… Ha ha… Drink?

Hertz
Nein.

Gottschalk
Hmph. Your loss.

(GOTTSCHALK gulps from the bottle. He sighs with satisfaction.)

Hertz
Uh…

Gottschalk
Hmm? What’s wrong, Alex? What’s up? Hee hee… What’s burning in your breast? Come now, cheer up! It’s a good day. Always a good day when you’re at war and the enemy can’t fight back. It makes one giggle… No? Hmph.
 
(GOTTSCHALK stumbles off. Pause. HERTZ puts his head in his hands. Pause. GOTTSCHALK returns, dragging a Jewish PRISONER.)

~

End of excerpt. Email me at raymondturco@yahoo.com for more!


Last edited on Mon Feb 4th, 2013 03:56 am by RTurco

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 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2013 03:59 pm
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suelange
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Joined: Thu Dec 6th, 2012
Location: Pennsylvania USA
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Mana: 
Hello RTurco,

Wow. You've got a really graphic scene here. You're telling more than showing, but I think that works in this case. The scenario is so horrific, if someone tried to stage this, it wouldn't be half so graphic as what one imagines when hearing this way. Good job.

I'm not sure what you're doing with the rest of the play. You don't have any action or forward movement yet, so I'll just comment on this as an introduction to two characters.

I think you've done a great job creating these characters. I know who's sensitive and who's a thug. You may be laying it on a little thick with Gottschalk. The first long monologue of his serves little purpose IMHO. We already know all about this man from the first few exchanges.

The second long monologue works for me. I really like exposition like this, but I'm not sure how it would sit with others. If it feels long, you could break it up with responses from Hertz in between Gottshalks various descriptions.

I feel like Gottshalk is letting his humanity show when he talks about Vera. That makes him more rounded which is a good thing. Of course at this point in the play, I don't know how much of that you want us to see. I like it, though.

I'm not sure I buy Hertz' monologue. If he's talking to the audience, then it's fine. If he's talking to himself, I don't buy it. People don't talk to themself unless they're crazy and he sounds sane so far.

I'm also wondering if you might get a glimpse of conflict if you had Hertz tell Gottshalk this. At this point I'm not seeing a conflict. There might be an internal conflict in Hertz developing, but I'm not sure if that's what your play is about. If it is, great. If not, maybe come up with a conflict between Gottshalk and Hertz and use Hertz' monologue as a springboard. Maybe.

Really good beginning here for what could be an important play.

Carry on.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2013 07:02 pm
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RTurco
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Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 260
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Mana: 
Thanks suelange, for your response.

I agree with your sentiments on Gottschalk's monologues. First is maybe irrelevant. As for Hertz's soliloquy, it's a common trope in this and some of my other plays. I think it's the most convenient way to express Hertz's burgeoning conflict in himself. But I'll take your notes into consideration.

Care to read more? It's not too much longer than this.

Glad you enjoyed the excerpt anyway!

RTurco

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