All Quiet on the Western Front by John McDonald

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    CAST OF CHARACTERS
     
      PAUL Baumer, nineteen-year-old youth
      TJADEN, nineteen-year-old youth, skinny locksmith
      MULLER, nineteen-year-old youth
      Albert KROPP, nineteen-year-old youth
      KATczinsky, 30-40-year-old, leader of the group
      BOY, 18 to 20-year-old boy
      Franz KEMMERICH, 18 to 20-year-old boy in the hospital with an
      amputated leg, who later dies
      DETERING, 18- to 20-year-old boy in the unit who defects, but is
      later caught
      RECRUIT, 18- to 20-year-old boy
      FRANZ Wachter, 18- to 20-year-old boy
      MAN1, 30- to 60-year-old
      COMMANDER, 30- to 60-year-old commander of the Second Company
      ORDERLY, 30- to 60-year-old
      MAJOR, 30- to 60-year-old
      FATHER, 30- to 60-year-old, Paul’s father
      LEWANDOWSKI 30-60
      MAN2, 30- to 60-year-old
      COOK, 30- to 60-year-old
      KANTOREK, 30- to 60-year-old stern schoolmaster
      HIMMELSTOSS, 30- to 60-year-old corporal of Paul’s platoon, a
      strict disciplinarian
      DOCTOR, 30- to 60-year-old
      GIRL, 18- to 25-year-old
      SISTER, 18- to 25-year-old, Paul’s sister
      WOMAN, 30- to 60-year-old
      MOTHER, 30- to 60-year-old, Paul’s mother
      NURSE, 30- to 60-year-old
     
     
      ASSIGNMENT OF ROLES
     
      Eight (8) Males:
      PAUL
      TJADEN
      KROPP
      MULLER
      KAT
      BOY doubles as KEMMERICH, DETERING, RECRUIT and FRANZ
      MAN1 doubles as COMMANDER, ORDERLY, MAJOR, FATHER and LEWANDOWSKI
      MAN2 doubles as COOK, KANTOREK, HIMMELSTOSS and DOCTOR
     
      Two (2) Females:
      GIRL doubles as SISTER
      WOMAN doubles as MOTHER and NURSE
     
     
      ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
     
      ACT I
     
     
      (It is World War I, not far from the front.  We are at soldier’s
      mess.  MAN1 brings on a table with army grub.  Rest of men are on
      stage at a distance, waiting.  Lights up.)
     
      PAUL:  (Steps forward)  We are at rest five miles behind the front.
     
     
      TJADEN:  (Steps forward and speaks to PAUL)  Yesterday we were
      relieved, and now our bellies are full. 
     
      MULLER:  (Steps forward and speaks to TJADEN)  Each man has another
      mess-tin full and, what is more, there is a double ration of sausage
      and bread. 
     
      PAUL:  We are satisfied and at peace. 
     
      KAT:  (Goes between to TJADEN and MULLER)  Tjaden and Muller have
      produced two washbasins and had them filled up to the brim as a
      reserve. 
     
      MULLER:  (To TJADEN)  In Tjaden this is greed.
     
      TJADEN:  (To MULLER)  In Muller this is foresight. 
     
      PAUL:  Where Tjaden puts it all is a mystery (TJADEN steps forward),
      for he is and always will be as thin as a rake.
     
      KROPP:  (Joins line and says to MULLER)  We have no right to this
      windfall. 
     
      MULLER:  (To KROPP)  It is true.  We have only a miscalculation to
      thank for it.
     
      PAUL:  Fourteen days ago we had to go up to the front.  (Steps
      forward)  It was fairly quiet, so the quartermaster requisitioned the
      usual quantity of rations for our one hundred and fifty men.  (A bomb
      goes off and all duck)  But on the last day an astonishing number of
      English heavies and high explosives opened up on our position, so that
      we came back (PAUL stands) with only eighty men.
     
      KAT:  (To MULLER)  It would not be such a bad war (MULLER stands,
      dusts self off) if one could get a little more sleep.  (MULLER
      crouches)
     
      PAUL:  On the front line we have had next to none, and fourteen days
      is a long time at one stretch.
     
      KAT:  (To TJADEN)  Last night we moved back (TJADEN stands) and
      settled down to get a good night’s sleep.  (KAT and TJADEN crouch
      back down.)
     
      PAUL:  It was noon before the first of us crawled out of our
      quarters.  Half an hour later every man had his mess-tin and we
      gathered (KROPP stands) at the cook-house.
     
      KROPP:  Albert Kropp.
     
      PAUL:  The clearest thinker (MULLER stands) among us.
     
      MULLER:  Muller.
     
      PAUL:  Who still carries his school textbooks with him and dreams
      (TJADEN stands) of examinations.
     
      TJADEN:  Tjaden.
     
      PAUL:  A skinny locksmith of our own age.  And as the fourth (PAUL
      steps back), myself, Paul Baumer.  All four are nineteen years of age,
      and all four joined up (KAT stands) from the same class at school.
     
      KAT:  Katczinsky.  (KAT goes to the head of the line.)
     
      PAUL:  Katczinsky is the leader of our group and the smartest.  We
      couldn’t do without him; he has a sixth sense.  We were growing
      impatient, but the cook paid no attention to us until Katczinsky
      formed the head of the line.
     
      KAT:  Say, Heinrich, open up the soup-kitchen. (MAN2 faces KAT)
      Anyone can see the beans are done.
     
      COOK / MAN2:  You must all be here first.
     
      TJADEN:  (Goes to head of the line)  We are all here.
     
      COOK / MAN2:  Where are the others?
     
      KAT:  They won’t be fed today. 
     
      TJADEN:  They’re either in the dressing-station.
     
      MULLER:  (Goes to head of the line)  Or pushing up daisies.
     
      COOK / MAN2:  I have cooked for one hundred and fifty men.
     
      KROPP:  (Goes to head of the line)  Then for once we’ll have
      enough. 
     
      TJADEN:  So you’ve got bread for one hundred and fifty men?
     
      COOK / MAN2:  Yes.
     
      TJADEN:  And you’ve got sausages for one hundred and fifty men?
     
      COOK / MAN2:  Yes, everything.
     
      KROPP:  That’s all for us! 
     
      MULLER:  Each man gets (figures math on fingers) ... yes, practically
      two issues.
     
      COOK / MAN2:  That won’t do.
     
      KAT:  You old carrot, why won’t that do?  (MAN1 enters and begins
      to cross down to MAN2)
     
      COOK / MAN2:  Eighty men can’t have what is meant for one hundred
      and fifty men.
     
      MULLER:  (Goes to head of the line)  We’ll soon show you.
     
      COOK / MAN2:  I can only issue rations for eighty men.
     
      KAT:  You haven’t drawn food for eighty men.  You’ve drawn it for
      the Second Company.  Good.  We are what’s left of the Second
      Company. 
     
      COMMANDER / MAN1:  Yes, we did have heavy losses yesterday.
     
      KAT:  Let’s have it then. 
     
      COMMANDER / MAN1:  The beans look good. 
     
      COOK / MAN2:  (Shows COMMANDER food)  Cooked with meat and fat.
     
      COMMANDER / MAN1:  Serve out all the rations.  (Crosses behind line)
      We can do with them.  (At end of line and carrying letters)  Bring me
      a plate.
     
      COOK / MAN2:  Yes, sir.
     
      TJADEN:  (To MULLER)  Anyone would think the quartermaster’s store
      belonged to you!
     
      COOK / MAN2:  You be hanged!  (MAN2 rolls food off Stage L)
     
      PAUL:  Today is wonderfully good.  The mail has come.
     
      COMMANDER / MAN1:  (Men go as name is called to get letters and
      gradually go upstage)  Tjaden, Muller, Kropp, Baumer – 
     
      PAUL:  Almost every man has a few letters.  (PAUL consoles KAT, and
      KAT exits.)  We stroll over to the meadow behind the billets.  On the
      right, a large common latrine has been built, but we want something
      better.  Scattered about everywhere there are separate, individual
      boxes for the same purpose.  (All take a box and drop their pants.)
      We move four together in a ring and sit down comfortably. 
     
      TJADEN:  And it will be two hours before we get up again.  (TJADEN
      sits.)
     
      (They all laugh.)
     
      KROPP:  I still remember how embarrassed we were as recruits when we
      had to use the general latrine.  There were no doors and twenty men
      side by side as in a railway carriage, so that they could be reviewed
      at one glance, for soldiers must always be under supervision.
     
      PAUL:  Here in the open air, though, the business is entirely a
      pleasure.  I no longer understand why we should always have shied away
      from all these things before.  They are, in fact, just as natural as
      eating and drinking and sleeping. 
     
      TJADEN:  (To P)  Three quarters of the soldier’s vocabulary is
      derived from these regions. 
     
      MULLER:  (To TJADEN)  It is impossible to express oneself in any
      other way so clearly and so (with great pretension) ... pithily. 
     
      PAUL:  Our families and our teachers will be shocked when we go
      home.
     
      KROPP:  (To PAUL)  But here it is the universal language.  (All look
      up.)
     
      PAUL:  Over us is the blue sky.  On the horizon float the bright
      yellow observation-balloons, and the many little white clouds of the
      anti-aircraft shells.  Often they rise in a sheaf as they follow after
      an airman.  We hear the muffled rumble of the front only as very
      distant thunder, bumblebees (TJADEN shoos bees) drone; white
      butterflies flutter (PAUL tries to catch one) around and float on the
      soft warm wind of the late summer.
     
      KROPP:  Kantorek sends you all his best wishes.
     
      (They all laugh.)
     
      PAUL:  (To audience)  Kantorek had been our schoolmaster, a stern
      little man in a grey tail-coat, with a face like a shrew mouse.  I
      have always taken good care to keep out of sections with small company
      commanders. 
     
      MULLER:  I wish Kantorek was here now. 
     
      (All laugh again.  MAN2 stands on crate center.)
     
      PAUL:  (To audience)  It is very strange that the unhappiness of the
      world is so often brought on by small men.  I can see him now, as he
      used to glare at us through his spectacles.
     
      KANTOREK / MAN2:  Won’t you join up, Comrades?  (BOY enters, goes
      down left with back to audience, and looks at group)  (To BOY)
      Won’t you fall in line?  You are the Iron Youth. You stand on the
      threshold of life.  (KANTOREK gets off box.)
     
      PAUL:  Threshold of life, indeed.  (BOY looks at audience)  There was
      one of us who hesitated and did not want to fall into line – Joseph
      Behm (PAUL crosses to BOY). But he did allow himself to be persuaded.
      Perhaps more of us thought as he did, but no one could very well stand
      out, because at that time even one’s parents were ready with the
      word
     
      ALL:  Coward.
     
      PAUL:  Behm was one of the first to fall.  (BOY touches eye and falls
      to ground)  He got hit in the eye during an attack and left for dead.
      In the afternoon suddenly we heard him call, and saw him crawling
      about in No Man’s Land.  (BOY struggles to get up, then exits off
      Stage L)  He had only been knocked unconscious.  He could not see, mad
      with pain.  He failed to keep under cover, and so was shot down before
      anyone could go and fetch him.  There were thousands of Kantoreks, all
      of whom were convinced that they were acting for the best (PAUL
      crosses back to box) – in a way that cost them nothing.
     
      KROPP:  (To PAUL) While they continued to write and talk.
     
      PAUL:  (To KROPP)  We saw the wounded and the dying. 
     
     
      KROPP:  While they taught that duty to one’s country is the
      greatest thing.
     
      PAUL:  We already knew that death-throes are stronger. 
     
      TJADEN:  (TJADEN puts on pants)  But for all that, we were no
      mutineers.
     
      MULLER:  (MULLER puts on pants)  Nor deserters.
     
      PAUL:  Nor cowards.  (PAUL pulls on pants and takes box back.)
     
      KANTOREK / MAN2:  Comrades, you are the Iron Youth.  (KANTOREK
      exits.)
     
      KROPP:  (KROPP puts on pants) They were very free with all these
      expressions. 
     
      PAUL:  We loved our country as much as they did.  (PAUL crosses down
      center)
     
      TJADEN:  We went courageously into every action.  (TJADEN takes box
      back)
     
      KROPP:  But we also distinguished the false from the true.  (KROPP
      takes box back)
     
      MULLER:  We had suddenly learned to see.  (MULLER takes box back)
     
      PAUL:  And we saw that there was nothing of their world left.  We
      were all at once terribly alone; and alone we must see it through.
      (Rest walk downstage to join PAUL)
     
      (MAN1 wheels on KEMMERICH.)
     
      KROPP:  Anyone seen Kemmerich lately?  (Everyone nods positive or
      negative answers)
     
      PAUL:  He’s at St. Joseph’s.
     
      MULLER:  A wound in his thigh.
     
      PAUL:  We decide to go and see him. 
     
      KROPP:  Before going over to see Kemmerich (KROPP kneels and packs
      items, which are preset downstage), we packed up the things he would
      need.
     
      PAUL:  In the dressing station there is great activity.  (Cross up
      right.  TJADEN and MULLER are right of bed.  PAUL and KROPP are left
      of bed.)
     
      KEMMERICH / BOY:  ... My watch!
     
      (Next three lines are to the side, stage L of bed)
     
      PAUL:  It reeks as ever of carbolic acid, pus and sweat. 
     
      KROPP:  We are accustomed to the dead and dying.
     
      PAUL:  But this, this makes us feel faint.
     
      KEMMERICH / BOY:  Someone has stolen my watch.
     
      MULLER:  (MULLER steps in) I always told you that nobody should carry
      as good a watch as that. 
     
      PAUL:  Muller is rather crude and tactless. 
     
      MULLER:  (To TJADEN)  Anybody can see that Kemmerich will never come
      out of this place again.
     
      KROPP:  (KROPP kneels)  How goes it, Franz?
     
      KEMMERICH / BOY:  Not so bad ... but I have such a horrible pain in
      my foot.
     
      PAUL:  (PAUL crosses to feet of bed and KROPP helps, while looking at
      bed-covering)  We look at his bed covering.  His leg lies under a wire
      basket.  The bed covering arches over it. 
     
      MULLER:  (MULLER crosses him)  But that can’t be ...
     
      PAUL:  I kick Muller, for he is just about to tell Kemmerich that his
      leg is amputated.

[end of extract]

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