Tuesday, November 30, 2010
My one-act play, "Knock," is going to be part of Studio Roanoke's Lunch Box Play Reading Series on Wednesday, December 8th at 12:15. Studio Roanoke (link above) is at 30 Campbell Avenue SW in Roanoke, Virginia. It will be directed by Studio Roanoke Associate Artistic Direct Don LaPlant. We had a very productive phone conversation about the play yesterday, and I am only sorry that I won't be able to attend. It turns out that Don and I met in Valdez in 2003 at the Last Frontier Playwrights Conference.
Many years ago, I wrote an unproduced screenplay about an Italian family living in Cleveland in the 1940s. Both the parents and one child were Italian citizens who wound up being transported to camps in the US for enemy aliens during World War II.
I didn't think much about the screenplay until the reports about secret detention camps to thwart the war on terrorism came out in 2007. I'd recently been living in Yorkville, which was a very German neighborhood in the 1940s. So I decided to write a play set there about a family, the Schmidts, who'd immigrated to the US from Munich in 1939.
Set in 1942, “Knock” is about the Schmidt family, refugees from Nazi Germany who have relocated to New York City. The previous evening, Maria’s husband was arrested by the FBI, on suspicion of aiding the Nazis. FBI Agent Schaeffer returns to the Schmidt apartment to find out how much the family knows. He uses coercion and threatens to send the family to a camp for enemy aliens. His questioning shakes Maria’s faith in her husband, but it isn’t until Schaeffer leaves that her son Gustav spills the beans about his father. At the end of the play, her marriage destroyed, Maria begins to pull herself together to look after her son.