Those Blackguard Acts

 

This three-act drama, set in 19th-century London, opens as young Alexis and Mary are sent by their father to the city in order to supplement the farm-familyís wages.In town, they meet Gisela, with whom they share a cramped apartment.Alexis follows Gisela into prostitution to pay the rent, while trying to protect her fragile sister Mary from the ugliness of the city.They later take in Hannah, who has run away from the brothel run by her mother, Mrs. Harcourt.The girls form three strands which gradually entwine themselves inextricably in each otherís futures.

During the second act, Alexis fights to free Mary from the surveillance of the police, who regard all single young women as potential prostitutes who must be registered with the city.At the same time, the women care for Hannah as she struggles to heal from a self-induced abortion.Ladiesí Reform workers attempt to draw Gisela out of prostitution, while young men continue to solicit the women for sex.As Mary prepares to send money to her mother, Alexis must defend the battered Gisela from a violent customer who follows her to the womenís apartment.

In Act III, Mrs. Harcourt brings the police to retrieve Hannah from the womenís apartment.However, seeing Hannahís ill state, Mrs. Harcourt chooses to abandon her.But the police take Alexis and Mary in to verify their registration status.Rejected and alone, Hannah drinks herself into unconsciousness.Gisela resolves to leave London, while Mary and Alexis confront Mrs. Harcourt concerning Hannahís suicide, hoping to save Mrs. Harcourtís young daughter from a similar future.In the Epilogue, Giselaís legacy arrives in the form of the Ladiesí Reform workers, who announce that they have secured a job for Alexisís and Maryís mother, who will also leave the struggling family farm.In response, Alexis takes up a sewing needle, though leaving it ambiguous as to whether she truly intends to change professions.

 

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Play Structure:

3 Acts: Prologue; Act I, 11 scenes; Act II, 8 scenes; Act III, 3 scenes; Epilogue

 

Cast size:

18, plus male/female voices offstage

 

Gender:

9 female (one youth); 9 male (one youth)

Period:

1880

Location:

London, England

Set:

The stage should be set with multiple locations, with most scene changes indicated by lighting and focus, in order to minimize set changes.The apartment of Alexis and Mary is cramped, dirty, crowded with mismatched beds and mats, and has a pail in the center of the room.