Ella’s Secret by Harris Freedman


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


  CHARACTERS

      ELLA Schlessinger - mid-50ís; born Cologne,Germany; living in
      England since age 16.

      HELGA Hartmann - mid-50ís; Austrian-born, living in Cologne Germany
      since age 13.

      SETTING: ELLAís Sitting room. London, April 1980

      The play is best presented without an Intermission

      SCENE 1

      (London 1980. April. Sunday 10 a.m. Raining and chilly.)

      (SETTING: Minimum furniture. ELLAís sitting room: Two arm- chairs, a
      coffee table, a writing desk and chair, a hat and coat rack, a table
      with a telephone and stereo or radio)

      (AS HOUSE LIGHTS DIM TO BLACK OUT

      MUSIC BEGINS: ďUNA FURTIVA LAGRIMAĒ FROM ďELISIR DíAMOREĒ

      THEN AS LIGHTS COME UP CROSS FADE OUT UNA FURTIVE LAGRIMA

      AND FADE IN THE MONKS CHORUS FROM THE FORCE OF DESTINYí.)

      (MUSIC CONTINUES AS LIGHTS COME UP on ELLA wearing her house-robe and slippers

      She is sitting at her writing desk putting a ribbon on a present she has just wrapped

      There is a KNOCK ON THE DOOR.)

      ELLA: (Calls out) Wait just one minute!

      (She gets up, turns off the Music, goes to the door.)

      What is it?

      HELGA: (From Offstage) Mrs Schlessinger?

      ELLA: Yes?

      HELGA: (From Offstage) May I please speak with you?

      (ELLA hesitates, then she opens the door, and we see
      HELGA wearing a raincoat and rain hat; she is carrying
      an umbrella.)

      I should have telephoned.

      ELLA: Who are you?

      HELGA: I actually did telephone.

      ELLA: You never called me.

      HELGA: I did call, but I was afraid you would refuse to see me, so I
      hung up.

      ELLA: So it was you who called twice yesterday.

      HELGA: Ya, ya, Iím sorry.

      ELLA: If you were trying to frighten me you didnít succeed.

      (ELLA begins to close the door, but she stops when HELGA speaks.)

      HELGA: Please. Just give me one minute of your time.

      ELLA: Why should I?

      HELGA: Iím sorry for hanging up, but as soon as I heard your voice I
      knew I couldnít explain over the telephone.

      ELLA: I donít like people who telephone and hang up. Now what is
      it?

      HELGA: Iím sorry for coming without warning so early on a Sunday
      morning.

      ELLA: Come to the point.

      HELGA: It couldnít wait.

      ELLA: What couldnít wait? Who are you for heavenís sake?

      HELGA: If I tell you my name, please promise at least to hear me out.

      ELLA: Why should I promise anything?

      (ELLA again begins to close the door.)

      HELGA: Hartmann.

      (ELLA stops.)

      ELLA: I beg your pardon?

      HELGA: Hartmann.

      (ELLA allows the door to open.)

      ELLA: Who?

      HELGA: My name is Helga Hartmann.

      ELLA: (Beat) Hartmann.

      HELGA: Yes.

      ELLA: So?

      HELGA: I am his wife.

      ELLA: Whose wife?

      HELGA: Eric.

      ELLA: (beat) Eric.

      HELGA: Yes.

      ELLA: Iím afraid Iím busy.

      HELGA: He needs your help.

      ELLA: If itís about the letter, I sent it at least three years ago.


      HELGA: Five years ago.

      ELLA: Can it be five years already?

      HELGA: Yes.

      ELLA: Then you know I sent the letter.

      HELGA: Yes, the first one.

      ELLA: Oh, I see.

      HELGA: May I speak with you?

      ELLA: About the second letter?

      HELGA: In a way, and about Eric.

      ELLA: I was very clear in the second letter.

      HELGA: But you didnít write what we asked.

      ELLA: I couldnít.

      HELGA: And you didnít come.

      ELLA: No, I couldnít.

      HELGA: Eric needs your help.

      ELLA: Iíve done what I could.

      HELGA: Iím not sure.

      ELLA: Well, I am. I think I have heard enough.

      (ELLA begins to close door.)

      HELGA: Please, allow me to explain.

      ELLA: There is nothing more to be done.

      HELGA: There is.

      ELLA: Itís not a matter of opinion, itís a matter of fact!

      HELGA: Please, Frau Schlessinger. I was referring to Eric.

      ELLA: He is not my concern.

      HELGA: Eric has changed.

      ELLA: Havenít we all?

      HELGA: Of course, but with Eric it is more - it is extreme.
      I came from Cologne yesterday just to see you. I didnít know where
      else to go.

      (ELLA opens the door wide and steps aside.)

      ELLA: Come in. Itís chilly in the doorway.

      HELGA: I donít want to disturb you or your family.

      ELLA: My husband is away. Come inside.

      HELGA: Only for a moment.

      (HELGA steps inside.)

      ELLA: Let me have your umbrella and your coat. 9

      HELGA: They are wet.

      ELLA: Yes.

      (HELGA hands her umbrella to ELLA.)

      HELGA: Danke schŲn. ELLA: English.

      (ELLA takes umbrella, and places it in the umbrella stand.)

      HELGA: Sorry.

      (HELGA takes off her coat and hands it to ELLA.)

      ELLA: Your hat.

      (HELGA takes off her hat and hands it to ELLA.)

      HELGA: Danke

      (corrects herself)

      Thank you. Itís very wet this morning.

      (ELLA hangs up HELGAís coat and hat as she speaks.)

      ELLA: London is always wet.

      HELGA: Iím sorry to disturb you on a Sunday, but I felt it was my
      best chance to find you at home.

      ELLA: You were correct.

      HELGA: Cologne is also wet and dreary these days. But you know
      Cologne.

      ELLA: It was a long time ago.

      HELGA: You are Cologne-born?

      (ELLA motions to the sitting area.)

      ELLA: Please sit down.

      (HELGA remains standing.)

      HELGA: I came for Ericís sake.

      ELLA: Have a seat. I wonít be a moment.

      (ELLA goes to Exit, but when HELGA speaks she stops and turns to face
      her.)

      HELGA: Iíll wait.

      ELLA: Actually, Iíll be more than a moment - Iíll put on clothing.


      HELGA: Donít go to any bother on my account.

      ELLA: No, of course not. But I do have to dress.

      HELGA: Eric doesnít know I have come here to see you.

      (ELLA looks at HELGA, then EXITS.)

      (HELGA inspects the room. She notices the photo albums on the coffee
      table, sits, opens an album and begins to look at the photos.)

      (AS LIGHTS DIM TO BLACK OUT ó MUSIC FADES IN:
      OVERTURE to MACBETH by Verdi)

      END of Scene 1
      [end of extract]

      Production 2013
      Directed by the Author
      Teatro Millelire, Rome, Italy (in Italian)

      Productions 2012
      Directed by the Author
      Spoleto La Mama Fringe Festival, Italy (in Italian)
      Ridotto Teatro DellíAngelo, Rome, Italy (in Italian)

      Staged readings
      Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre, Nottingham, England Holocaust
      Museum Houston, Texas, USA
      United Nations, NYC, USA

      Workshop Production
      Ethnic Cultural Theatre
      University of Washington
      Seattle, Washington, USA



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