Exchange of Prisoners


This five-act play opens as 21-year-old Adolf Thuring arrives home on his five-day furlough following injury on the front lines during World War I.  His mother Annaliese greets him warmly, but dreads his inevitable return to the war.  Renate, Adolf’s 20-year-old look-alike sister, craves to escape the restrictions normally placed on women and serve the German military machine, and immediately tries to draw Adolf into her struggle against their mother’s more traditional beliefs.  When, on the first night of Adolf’s furlough, Renate discovers that Adolf secretly craves to take on the more feminine identity that she herself despises, they team up to convince each other and Annaliese that they should trade places.  The remainder of the play takes place over the course of Adolf’s five-day furlough.

Adolf and Renate attempt to convince Annaliese to approve their idea in a straightforward manner, but her shock and disgust soon motivates them to prove to her that Adolf could be a convincing young woman, and that Renate could be a competent and convincing soldier.  They engage in costuming and role-playing exercises, and Adolf turns Renate’s bedroom into a battle zone, drilling her in a variety of war scenarios.  In between training sessions, Adolf and Renate try ever more desperate arguments to convince Annaliese of the correctness of their plan, but after much struggle, her only change of heart is toward pacifism.  Throughout the play, an anonymous, non-speaking graffiti artist haunts them by periodically scrawling graffiti sayings on the external walls next to the Thuring home.

Annaliese’s doubts and fears about Renate’s war-hunger rub off on Adolf, and toward the end of the play, he comes to mistrust his own enthusiasm for their initial plan.  But Renate remains steadfast, and Annaliese’s pacifism leads her to be unable to send either child back to the war.  She can only stand back and let them decide on their own futures.




Play Structure:

5 Acts: Act I, 4 scenes;  Act II, 4 scenes;  Act III, 5 scenes; Act IV, 2 scenes; 

Act V, 4 scenes


Cast size:




2 female, 1 male

1 open gender (non-speaking)



June, 1917  (World War I)


Interior of the Thuring home.


Rooms include the kitchen/dining area, Renate’s bedroom, and Adolf’s bedroom.



Stark lighting and special effects should accompany the surreal military training sessions.






Production History


Exchange of Prisoners received its premiere production by White Cat Productions at the Odd Duck Studio in Seattle, Washington, on September 17 – 26, 2004.  The play was directed by Lauren E. Appel, and was performed by the following cast and crew:




Therese Henning


Karen Milling


Eric Inman

Graffiti Artist

Craig Anders



Jeannine Clarke


Corrine Davis

Set Designer

Jason Simms

Lighting Designer

Steven Studer

Sound Operator

Ann Marie Caldwell

Stage Manager

Ann Marie Caldwell

Set Construction

Katie Boyd

Kristina Lockard

Reed Nakayama

Peter Sawicki

Set Painting

Dawn Cline

Jeffrey Netz

Dialect Coach

Dana Boggs

House Manager

Katie Boyd