Dramatic, by Ken Bradbury, 1998

A dying mother takes her young, mute daughter to a homeless shelter.

The number and gender of characters can be changed to accommodate available participants. Price is for a master script. Make as many copies as is required for your ensemble.


8 - 10 minutes

    Cast Options

  • 3 Females

Product Id: #702

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An excerpt …

(a woman and her deaf daughter go to a homeless shelter)

MRS. ROATE: Come. No, don't dawdle there. Wipe your shoes and come in. Come in here, child. This is your girl? What's the matter? Can't she speak? Can she even hear? You're not sure? Good Lord, what sort of mother are you?

NARRATOR: St. Louis, Missouri, 1929. The Good Shepherd Mission was the only salvation for thousands during the Depression and the only hope for hundreds of children, including Mara. The Catholic Church shuffled whatever funds they could to this storefront shelter, and through these doors came the city's helpless and hopeless, the bitter refuse of bad times.  Tonight, Emma Willard, a young mother stricken with consumption, and her 10-year-old daughter Mara appear on the doorstep. From A Word for Mara, by Ken Bradbury.

MRS. ROATE: (a rough matron and manager of the shelter, overworked and therefore often lacking in social graces) Give me that coat. (pulling it away from Emma) Give it to me. (looking at Emma in disgust) Lord girl, you need a bath ... and your child ... Do you ever wash her?

EMMA: (a very frail woman of twenty-five, sick and exhausted to the point of collapse) I ... we've come upon hard times, ma'am.

(the mother is ill but must be interviewed)

MRS. ROATE: Indigent report. How old is she?

EMMA: Mara's ten. Please, if we could just have some food. It's been days since ...

MRS. ROATE: Ten ... that's under the legal, you know. 

EMMA: What are you talking about?

MRS. ROATE: And she's deaf and dumb?

EMMA: She can't hear. But I can tell everything she wants to say.

MRS. ROATE: (writing) Deaf and dumb. I got one cot for you, ma'am, and there's the floor upstairs for the deafy.

EMMA: We ... we can't stay apart, Mrs. Roate.

(the dramatic conflict heightens)

MRS. ROATE: She can't even hear you! And I ain't gonna let you die with nothin' to help you but a deaf idiot! Get off her, girl!

MARA: (cries out)

EMMA: Help me! Help me! Oh, dear mother of God, help me! Mara! Mara! (this time her coughing completely depletes her breath)

MRS. ROATE: (calming a bit) She's going, girl. Step back now. There's nothin' either one of us can do.

EMMA: (barely audible) Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God ... (a silence, then) Mara? Mara?

(there is a moving conclusion)


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