A Minute of Silence by HW Freedman


This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


(SOUND OVER: Music of the HUNGARIAN RAG as ... )


BARRY goes to his workbench to repair a shoe and to watch the PLAYERS as they
practice their tricks, acrobatics, juggling.)

(SHEM appears and interrupts the action.)

(SOUND OVER: MUSIC volume reduces to play under SHEM'S voice.)

(PLAYER-4 Signs for SHEM as PLAYERS go on their knees and also Sign
but in an exaggerated manner.)

SHEM: (SPEAKING to the Audience.) Ladies and Gentlemen! Once upon a
time, a shoemaker joined our circus. He was such a quiet man we
confessed to him our most intimate secrets. He listened and watched
with his soulful eyes, but did his silence make him wise?

(SHEM goes to PLAYER 1 and PLAYER 5 who mime a question mark.)

(SOUND OVER: MUSIC increases in volume as SHEM sits next to BARRY.
PLAYERS begin to move in rhythm to the music as . . . )




(TIME: The Present. Mid-morning)

(SOUND OVER: MUSIC Continues.)

(PLAYER-2 becomes ZACH and PLAYER-3 becomes ANDREA.)

(DORA ENTERS and PLAYER-1 joins her to sign for her.)

(PLAYER-4 will sign for ANDREA and PLAYER-5 will sign for ZACH.)

(In the Half-light we can see BARRY and SHEM at the workbench quietly
repairing a shoe.)


(DORA is attractive, confident, well dressed in a business suit. She
is completing a consultation with ANDREA and ZACH.)

(PLAYERS-1, 4 and 5 can see each other and they sign to each other,

ANDREA: You must convince Barry to come home.

DORA: I'll do my best.

ANDREA: He should lead a normal life. He shouldn't be repairing

DORA: I'll talk to him.

ZACH: How will you approach him?

DORA: I'll find a way.

ANDREA: Barry graduated from University with honours.

DORA: You've told me.

ZACH: More than once.

ANDREA: Barry is a good boy.

ZACH: He is not a boy; he is 30 years old.

(DORA extends her hand to ANDREA who takes it.)

DORA: Goodbye, Mrs. Morgan.

(ANDREA holds onto DORA'S hand as she speaks.)

ANDREA: You will help us, won't you?

DORA: I'll do my best. I'll find a way to see him tomorrow.
(DORA retrieves her hand from ANDREA'S grip and extends her hand to
ZACH who shakes it.) Mr. Morgan. And don't worry

ANDREA: Thank you Dr. Sterling.

DORA: I'll let you know how it goes.

(DORA walks away deep in thought and EXITS DSR; PLAYER-1 EXITS with

ZACH: Why didn't you tell her?

ANDREA: I told her what she needed to know.

ZACH: She can't help without knowing the facts.

ANDREA: She comes highly recommended.

ZACH: The last thing he needs is another psychologist.

ANDREA: You're only worried about the money.

ZACH: Barry does not need de-programming!

ANDREA: How do you know what he needs?! You were never around!


(SOUND OVER: MUSIC of a CALLIOPE fades in as PLAYERS-4 and 5 begin to
move CTR and . . .)



(TIME: 8 a.m. the next morning.)
(SETTING: Practice tent in the circus.)

(SOUND OVER: MUSIC of a Calliope continues as)

(BARRY is at his workbench SL engrossed in polishing an oversized
clown shoe.)

(SHEM joins PLAYERS 4 &5 and they look DSR..)

(DORA ENTERS from DSR, takes a step toward BARRY and
freezes-PLAYER-1 is right behind her. BARRY will not notice DORA
until she taps him on his shoulder.)

(SHEM will speak and PLAYERS-4 &5 will Sign for him.)

(SOUND OVER: Music reduces in volume)

SHEM: (Speaking to the Audience.) One day a beautiful woman came. Has
she a mission? Has she a name? Will she or his quiet ever be the


(SHEM &PLAYER-1 can see each other, but they are INVISIBLE TO BOTH
DORA AND BARRY unless otherwise indicated.)

(PLAYER-1 will mimic DORA'S actions.)

DORA: (Taps BARRY on the shoulder.)

BARRY: (His reflex is to throw the shoe up into the air.)

DORA: (Runs to catch the shoe.)

(DORA throws the shoe back to BARRY who catches it.)
(SOUND OVER: Music fades out.)

BARRY: (Using Sign Language. SHEM speaks for him.)
Thank you.

(PLAYER-1 will Sign for DORA.)

(DORA tends to subtly slow her speech and raise her voice as she
speaks. DORA doesn't let on that she understands Sign language, but
she understands BARRY perfectly as if he speaks.)

DORA: I didn't mean to startle you.

BARRY: You didn't.

DORA: But you threw the shoe.

BARRY: You spoke too quickly.

(DORA slows her speech and raises her voice.)

DORA: I said, why did you throw the shoe?

BARRY: I can't understand you, come closer.

DORA: Why are you throwing the shoe?

BARRY: Come again?

DORA: Why are you throwing the shoe?!

BARRY: Your beauty makes me speechless.

DORA: You shouldn't joke about such serious matters.

BARRY: I'm not joking, you are beautiful.

DORA: Stop it. You know what I mean.

BARRY: What's so serious?

DORA: Your condition.

(BARRY winds up and swings his arm as if to really throw the shoe
hard and then feigns throwing it. DORA ducks. BARRY puts the shoe
down and runs past her and taps her and waits for her to look.)

BARRY: Do I look ill?

(DORA is stretching her vowels and almost shouting.)

DORA: I don't think so.

BARRY: You've slowed your speech.

(DORA is still speaking at the same high pitch and slow speed.)

DORA: I have not.

BARRY: It always happens at first.

(DORA tries to speak normally, but is still loud and slow.)

DORA: I didn't realise.

BARRY: And I'm sure you've raised your voice.

DORA: How did you know?

BARRY: Your facial muscles were straining and your eyes were

(DORA partially shields her eyes as she tries to normalise her speech
PLAYER-1 mimics her.)

DORA: You're making me feel uncomfortable.

BARRY: If you cover your eyes I can't read your lips.

DORA: Nonsense.

BARRY: The eyes are very important.

DORA: You're serious.

BARRY: Of course.

DORA: I feel like a fool. I'm sorry.

BARRY: Don't be. It happens to everyone.

DORA: You pretended not to understand.

BARRY: I was blinded by your radiance.

DORA: I thought you were speechless.

BARRY: I'm dumbfounded by your wit.

DORA: Now you're making fun of yourself and I feel like crying.
(BARRY takes out a huge handkerchief and blows his nose loudly.
BARRY throws the handkerchief to DORA - she automatically catches it
and gives a short scream as she holds it away from herself for BARRY
to take it.)
Ahh!! Take it.

(BARRY refuses to take the handkerchief.)

BARRY: Everything I have is yours.

(DORA is still holding the handkerchief between two fingers.)

DORA: Take it.

(BARRY takes it.)

BARRY: Thank you.

(DORA takes out a tissue and wipes her hands, PLAYER-1 mimes what Dora

DORA: You're welcome.
(BARRY mocks blowing his nose loudly again, feigns throwing it to her.
She jumps back.)

(BARRY smiles and puts the handkerchief in his pocket.)

BARRY: Why have you come here?

DORA: For my shoes.

(SHEM &PLAYER-1 blow Whistles and in a hullabaloo of MUSIC, sirens,
bells, fire-engines and horns, ALL OTHER PLAYERS ENTER as cowboy
Bandits. BARRY and DORA can see the PLAYERS now. PLAYERS
'hold-up' the audience and go through some mock antics ending with
a big BURP from PLAYER-4 after which SHEM, blows a WHISTLE and BARRY &
DORA Freeze. PLAYERS kneel to watch and listen. MUSIC ENDS.)

(PLAYER-4 will Sign for SHEM.)

SHEM: (Speaking to the Audience.) Ladies and Gentlemen. Nobody moves!
Indeed she came to retrieve her shoes! But why would she come here?
Is it a trick? There must be a liar in our midst! A deceiver tells
lies with truth intermixed. But that lovely face could never tell
lies. It must be the quiet one's secretive eyes. It must be him!
Oh my! Let's see what develops. I hope a surprise.

(BARRY and DORA resume their action.)

BARRY: You never brought me your shoes.

DORA: I left them for you to repair.

BARRY: Ah, yes.
(Holds up an oversized clown shoe.)

DORA: Not those.

BARRY: Who knows?

(MUSIC as)

(BARRY runs around putting the shoe in front of the faces of the
PLAYERS and each holds his/her nose and one by one they run to exit as
they produce fumigation pumps to spray the shoe.)

(After PLAYERS 2,3,4,5 have EXITED BARRY reaches DORA and she recoils
and runs from him.)


DORA: Stay away!

(BARRY stalks DORA with the shoe.)

BARRY: They're yours! You'll be a sensation at the office. Are you
a happy or sad clown?

DORA: I'm not a clown, yet.

BARRY: Happy or sad?

DORA: I tend to like happy faces on clowns.

BARRY: Laughing on the outside and crying underneath.

DORA: What else is there?

(SOUND OVER: MUSIC - Aria from Pagliacci. SHEM, PLAYER-1 &BARRY
lip-sync. Then…)

BARRY: Although your heart is breaking, laugh clown laugh.

DORA: I know, it's a cliché.

BARRY: At least tell me your name.

DORA: Dora.

BARRY: I'm Baruch.

DORA: Hello, Baruch.

BARRY: Baruch means blessed.

DORA: Are you?

BARRY: Everyone calls me Barry.

(DORA and BARRY shake hands.)

DORA: Hello, Barry.

BARRY: Everyone tells me everything.

DORA: Do they?


(BARRY produces a stool for DORA to sit on. He takes out his
handkerchief and dusts it off. DORA hesitates because it is the same
handkerchief BARRY had used to blow his nose. BARRY realises this and
takes a rag from the workbench and dusts off the stool seat. DORA
sits on the stool.)

(BARRY now begins to move in a semi-circle from SL to UPSCTR to SR of
DORA as he speaks.)

DORA: Thank you.

BARRY: Are you lonely?

DORA: Certainly not.

BARRY: Husband cheating?

DORA: I'm not married.

BARRY: Never.


BARRY: Want to be?

DORA: I'm not sure.

BARRY: So you're confused.

DORA: No, I am not!

BARRY: Boy friend cheating?

DORA: I don't have any.

BARRY: Someone betrayed you.


BARRY: It happens.

DORA: Not to me.

BARRY: Cheated out of money?


BARRY: You're misunderstood.

DORA: Usually.

BARRY: Your boss.


BARRY: Your parents.

DORA: Stop.

(BARRY has reached SR of DORA, stops and reverses direction.)

BARRY: The man you love.

DORA: I don't.

BARRY: You've stopped loving him.

DORA: I never did.

BARRY: That is a problem.

DORA: It is not.

BARRY: So, what is it? Talk. Tell all. Spill the beans. Let it all
hang out. Don't burst, let it flow. Let it go. It's free. So?

DORA: You're really something.

(BARRY has reached SL of DORA.)

BARRY: Because I'm deaf and dumb.

DORA: You're certainly not dumb.

BARRY: Don't be so sure.

(DORA gets up and moves SR. She gestures for BARRY to sit on the
stool - he does. DORA will now move in a wide semi-circle moving
from SR to DSR.)

DORA: Are you bitter?

BARRY: About what?

DORA: Your condition.

[end of extract]


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