Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Down in our Hearts 

(based on the book, Down in My Heart: Peace witness in war time, by William Stafford, Oregon State University Press.



(A small podium is at front right where speaker can address the audience. A large radio is on a small table, back left; occasionally RADIO ANNOUNCER enters and delivers the news, which is always bad. On the main stage, there are cots, or if these are not available, simple chairs, where people sit and talk together. Tools like shovels, work gloves, old boots, etc. lay around.

KIM STAFFORD: (enters and goes to podium)
This, (shows book, if possible, a small red one) Down in My Heart, is my father’s story. My father, William, grew up in Kansas. When he was drafted, he told the draft board that he objected to all war. The head of his draft board was a retired military officer who demanded to know where he’d come up with his objection. My father, an eighteen-year-old, said, “You were my Sunday School teacher, sir, when I was a child. You taught me not to kill. I never forgot.” When he got CO status, he was sent to a camp near Magnolia, Arkansas, where CO’s from various places were held and given two dollars and fifty cents per month, provided by the peace churches (Quakers, Mennonite, Brethren, Amish, Seventh-day Adventist), through the US Forest Service, to do physical work in the national lands. They were despised by their neighbors, and even feared for their life, but they had a common purpose. This is my father’s story.

The Japanese are closing in on the city of Singapore today. They’ve been bombing it heavily and troops are steadily advancing into it. British troops appear to have retreated into Singapore for the final advance. In the US, fears of invasion increase and the government is now considering internment of the Japanese….In Europe, Hitler spoke at the Berlin Sportspalast and threatened the Jews of the world with total annihilation; he blamed the failure of the German offensive in the Soviet Union on the weather. Rommel’s Afrika Korps has recaptured Benghazi, Libya in his drive east.

That’s a terrible war; that Hitler just won’t stop.

All wars are terrible. The first one was terrible; that’s the one that put Germany where it is today.

WILLIAM: Maybe, here, we can show the world how people can live together peacefully.

GEORGE: I would hope so, but we’ll see.

Folks are a little mad at us for not taking up arms, have you noticed?

Have I noticed? You can tell by the way they look at us. Hard as this work is, dirty, backbreaking digging, I’d rather stay out in this camp than go down into that town.

(LARRY enters, brings bags and puts them on floor).

WILLIAM: Welcome! Name’s William. (shakes Larry’s hand)

GEORGE: George. (shakes his hand also).

LARRY: Larry. I’m from Chicago.

WILLIAM: We were just talking about our remote location.

LARRY: They’re all remote, when you are in our position. Seems like the locals are a little hostile, wouldn’t you say?

WILLIAM: That’s an understatement.

(DON enters)


DON: Hello, my name’s Don. I’m from Iowa. (they all shake hands)

WILLIAM: (to audience) The first lesson to learn was that we were all very different. The Peace Churches – Quakers, Brethren, Adventist, Mennonite, and Amish, had arranged for truly conscientious objectors to be placed in camps like this one, near Magnolia, Arkansas, to not only be out of sight of the war effort, but also to make CO’s do actual work on lands that the US needed help developing. Ken was a Quaker. Larry was a socialist – not really from the peace churches, but he refused to fight as well, for his own reasons, so he was put with us.

(RANGER bursts in, making noise by dragging shovels and work tools on stage)

RANGER: Hey, help me out here, will you? (they scramble to pick up shovels and put them in a pile). You men will be woken up at 5 30 am every morning from now on! We’ll be working on the trail about three miles from here; it’s rugged country. Wear good boots! Wear long sleeve shirts too! The bugs are terrible!

GEORGE: This is a hiking trail?

RANGER: None of your business what kind of trail it is, piker! You got an attitude, or what?

GEORGE: No attitude, sir! I’ll be ready at 5:30!

RANGER: That’s what I wanted to hear!

DON, WILLIAM, LARRY: We’ll be ready, sir!

RANGER: (pointing at KEN). Now this here’s your cook. His name is Ken. He’ll show you around.

KEN: Your grub will be done in about an hour. Let me show you the grounds. (KEN leaves, WILLIAM, GEORGE and DON follow)

(RANGER comes to lectern)

RANGER: I’ll be the first to tell you, I didn’t like these guys. I was in the army myself, in the First World War, and here these guys refuse to take up arms. Refuse to fight! I was steaming! But after a while, I got to see their point of view.

WILLIAM: (to audience, again) Our first problem was that the work was backbreaking: shoveling, clearing brush, making a trail out in the deep woods, where it was hot, humid and buggy. Our second problem was winning over the Ranger: He was a veteran, and didn’t take kindly to people refusing to serve. But the biggest problem by far was the locals. (he leaves)

(Now we are downtown, and the set is remade to look like it. A single sign that says “McNeil” will do. ARLEN & ROSCOE enter from opposite sides)

RADIO ANNOUNCER: The battle for Bataan rages in the Asian Pacific, specifically the Philippines. President Roosevelt has ordered Douglas MacArthur to evacuate the Philippines as the defense of the nation has collapsed. In Singapore, the surrender to the Japanese forces has been called the worst defeat in British history.

ARLEN: Hey Roscoe, did you see them conchies arrive yesterday?

ROSCOE: Yeah I did. The truck that held ‘em went right up the logging road.

ARLEN: You think they want those conchies to be down here the whole wartime?

ROSCOE: Yeah I reckon they do. They figure we won’t know what they’re doing up there.

ARLEN: Well what ARE they doin’ up there?

ROSCOE: Well heck if I know. They sure ain’t helpin’ the war effort, I can tell you that.

ARLEN: (getting madder) Who do they think they are, coming down here and sittin’ up in the woods while the rest of us toil away, contributing to the war effort?

ROSCOE: Burns me up! There’s nothing good about this at all, I figure!

(VILLAGERS enter – they are children, shouting random slogans)

VILLAGERS: Conchies! Conchies!

(all leave)

(Back to the bunkhouse dorm. KEN appears to be cooking at left, using a pan or making cooking actions. DON, LARRY, GEORGE, WILLIAM, and RANGER enter. All look dirty and tired, hair uncombed, and immediately take off large boots - if possible - and make sighs of tiredness, except for RANGER, who pulls out envelopes and distributes them).

RADIO ANNOUNCER: In Russia, the siege of Leningrad continues, and the Red Army prepares for a Crimean offensive. Jews in Berlin must now clearly identify their houses. The Royal Air Force has invaded Lubeck, Germany, destroying over 80% of its medieval center. Hitler is reportedly outraged…

RANGER: Well boys, I’ll hand it to you, you made good progress on that trail. I can’t fault you for laziness, you worked hard out there. The Chink here will have your grub soon. This is your mail. (Each greedily opens their envelope, dying to hear from home) (KEN is visibly affronted by the racial slur, but the moment passes)(RANGER exits).

WILLIAM: My letter is from my family in Kansas. They miss me dearly. So what do you have? Tell me what your letters say!

DON: Well, I’m from a Quaker community in Iowa, and we have a school, Scattergood School. It seems that we’ve opened up that school to European refugees, fleeing Hitler. This letter tells of one refugee, Marta, and her family, who are trying to come to Iowa, but she’s stuck in a small town in Europe, waiting to be smuggled to a port. This war is hell, I’ll tell you!

GEORGE: Well, I’m a follower of eastern religions, and in particular, I’ve befriended this Japanese fellow, in hopes of finding out more about Buddhism as it’s practiced in Asia. This fellow has lived all his life in San Francisco, but with the outbreak of the war, they’ve rounded up all the Japanese and interred them in camps like this one, only more like prisons.

WILLIAM: So where are these prisons? Where is this fellow?

GEORGE: Well, as it happens, he’s in Arkansas, but not anywhere near here.

LARRY: My letter is from my fiancé in Chicago. Her sink is clogged up, she’s miserable, and she’s figuring on moving here as soon as we get married.

WILLIAM: You can’t get married! How are you going to support her on two dollars and fifty cents a month?

DON: Yeah, that’s crazy. You aren’t in a position to start a family.

LARRY: Well, here’s the problem. She can’t make it by herself in Chicago. She needs to be near me where I can help her on Sundays with setting up a house and raising children.

WILLIAM: Raising children? How do you figure on doing that when you’re out in the woods, digging a path, 48 hours a week?

LARRY: What else can I do? I love her. She can’t make it in Chicago. Down here, at least she’ll have someone to fix the kitchen sink. Maybe she can get work somewhere, or have a garden…

SONG (optional – see below)

(they exit. Set is changed to downtown again as RADIO ANNOUNCER talks)

RADIO ANNOUNCER: Over 24,000 sick and starving troops, Americans and Filipino, are now trapped on the Bataan Peninsula as Japanese troops are starting an all-out assault. The Japanese also appear to be attacking Ceylon and Burma. In Europe, the Germans have started the so-called “Baedecker Raids” on touristy British towns, in retaliation for the Lubeck bombing that destroyed that ancient German city. 

(ARLEN sits whittling)(ROSCOE enters)

ROSCOE: Hey Arlen, those conchies are still here. I can’t abide it.

ARLEN: Me neither. I’m madder than a hog in a bucket.

ROSCOE: I figure we ought to take matters into our own hands.

ARLEN: Yeah, I agree. The go’ment sure ain’t gonna do nothing.


VILLAGERS: Conchies! Conchies! Yellow! Yellow! (this can be pronounced “yeller” or “yellah” if you want)

(RANGER enters)

ROSCOE: Hey Ranger! What are those conchies doing up there?

RANGER: They’re doing hard work all day, clearing out a path through the woods.

ARLEN: Is that path going to be for the enemy to invade our town? If they aren’t fighting on our side, then they’re working for the enemy, wouldn’t you say?

RANGER: No, it’s a path we were directed to make by authorities of the US Forest Service. It cuts through the woods over by McNeil.

ROSCOE: US Forest Service my foot! You and them conchies are planning something, and we know it!

RANGER: We’re doing what we were told to do! Now you boys mind your own business and leave us alone. Good day! (he leaves) (everyone leaves)

(set changes back to bunkhouse)(KEN, LARRY, GEORGE, and WILLIAM enter, followed by RANGER. Again, all four are tired, put down shovels, take off shoes, etc.)

RANGER: Well boys, I gotta tell you, I took you for slackers at first, but now I admire your hard work and diligence. You’ve done a good job on that trail.

GEORGE: Well, sir, just because we don’t believe in killing people, doesn’t mean we don’t believe in work.

RANGER: I can see that. By the way, I ought to warn you, the townspeople are getting a little unfriendly. Just stay away from them, if you can. (he leaves)

DON: Say, what do you think we should do if they come at us?

GEORGE: When the mob comes, I think we should try surprising them with a friendly reaction – taking coffee and cookies out to them.

WILLIAM: I intend to run right out that back door and hide in the bushes, ‘cause I don’t want my death on anyone’s conscience.

LARRY: As for me, I’ll take a stout piece of stove wood, and deal out many a lumpy head – that’s what they need!

DON: Larry! I thought we were a non-violent bunch! Do you mean that?

LARRY: Of course! I object to the war – to the capitalist empire taking up arms in a situation it created – but I don’t object to giving a wake-up call to a crowd of idiots!

DON: Reason I asked, is, I’ve never been in this situation before. Growing up Quaker in Iowa, we were against wars, and against taking up arms to kill someone for any reason. But not all the Quakers ended up in camps like this. Some decided to go and fight. The main thing I learned was not to do violence just for the sake of violence. If those guys come up here, nothing good will come of it.

(all leave. WILLIAM comes to front)

WILLIAM: The camp was really a place where very different and strong-minded people had to work out our difference over a wide variety of things. The work was backbreaking, but just working out how to split up camp chores or establish minimal respect was a challenge.

(DON, GEORGE, and LARRY enter, followed by RANGER. Ken is at left, cooking with a pan.)

RANGER: You boys are done for the day. You can ask the Chink if the grub is ready.
(KEN is visibly affronted again, by the racial slur).

GEORGE: Excuse me, sir. You repeatedly refer to Ken as the Chink.

RANGER: That’s right.

GEORGE: Well, he’s offended by it. Our food will taste better, if you will kindly refer to him as Ken.

RANGER: Listen here, I fought years in the US Army. We put our lives on the line for American freedom. Now every day I hear about American troops dying out there, Bataan, you name it, and I’ll call him whatever I want.

GEORGE: I wasn’t questioning whether you had the right to say it. I’m merely pointing out, that when you live on beans alone, they taste better when they’re made with a smile, than when they’re made with anger.

RANGER: I’ll take it under advisement. (he leaves)(GEORGE gets a very sad face. LARRY enters)

LARRY: Why the long face, George?

GEORGE: I can’t take it anymore. It’s just too much.

LARRY: Don’t take kindly to imprisonment, is it?

GEORGE: Well, on the one hand, I feel like the war is wrong. Everything that led up to it was wrong. So I did this to resist the war. But then, they put us out here in the woods, and make us do hard labor, for two dollars and fifty cents a week, and that feels wrong too.

LARRY: So what can you do about it?

GEORGE: Leave. I feel like, if they threw me in jail, it couldn’t be much worse.

LARRY: (thinks about it for a minute) Guess not. (they leave)(ANNAMARIE enters, goes to podium).

ANNAMARIE (she can be holding a baby or a babydoll): I am Larry’s wife. I came down to be here with Larry. I feel like our story is untold, so I am here to tell it. Our men were unable to fight, for conscience and other reasons. They were put here to be put out of sight and to do hard physical labor instead of serve on the battlefields. I’m not complaining here. But we’ve been unable to live on two dollars and fifty cents a month. I tried hiring out to the townspeople, as I am capable of sewing and doing other jobs, but they’d have nothing to do with me. I grew a garden and became good at it, but it wasn’t enough. My baby is hungry all the time. I just want out!

(set changes back to McNeil)

RADIO ANNOUNCER: Hitler continues his drive to capture the oil fields in the Caucasus and is reportedly planning an offensive on Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Hitler is speaking with Mussolini about getting more troops committed to the war effort.

(In McNeil, GEORGE is set up painting with a large easel, and DON is sitting at a chair with a notebook, writing poetry. WILLIAM is reading Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Suddenly, ROSCOE and ARLEN enter.)

ROSCOE (grabbing DON’s poem): What’s the idea of writing things like this? If you don’t like the town, you don’t have the right to come around here!

DON: Here (he reaches for the poem, but ROSCOE keeps it out of his reach), I’ll throw away the poem. I don’t need it.

ROSCOE: Not so fast! You call this a poem, but it doesn’t even rhyme!

ARLEN: Save that for evidence! (to GEORGE) And what’s this a picture of?

GEORGE: The train station.

ROSCOE: (reading the poem slowly). Looky here. “And loaded freighters grumble through at night”

ARLEN: That’s information! You are collecting information! It must be for a foreign power.

GEORGE: I don’t think a foreign power could use a picture of this train station.

ARLEN: That’s where you’re wrong, Bub. It’s the little towns like McNeil that are the backbone of the country, and Hitler knows it!

(VILLAGERS have entered, and are now shouting)

VILLAGERS: Conchies! Conchies! Yellow! Yellow!


POLICEMAN: All right, everyone step aside. Now what is the problem here?

ROSCOE: We were minding our own business, and these men came and took notes about the activities of downtown McNeil.

ARLEN: We figure they are being paid by a foreign power to collect information about the activities of our town!

POLICEMAN: (to GEORGE): Is that your work?

GEORGE: Yes, sir.

POLICEMAN: Impressive art. OK this is what’s going to happen. We are taking these as evidence to be inspected, to see if it is in fact of any use to a foreign power. (grabs Ken’s poetry, and the picture from the easel). You will be able to see for yourselves, because they will be on display at the police station. If we believe that these men are in fact serving a foreign power, we will prosecute them immediately. And you boys, Roscoe and Arlen, you leave them alone. We appreciate your vigilance. Now get going! (all leave, WILLIAM comes to front)

WILLIAM: It takes such an intricate succession of misfortunes and blunders to be mobbed by your own countrymen – and such a close balancing of good fortune to survive – that I consider myself a rarity. I felt like we were quite close to being lynched that day, but we had no other violent encounters, and within a month most of us were transferred to the west to fight fires along the dry coast. We did learn, in this and other encounters, that the tormentors are often at a loss unless they can provoke a belligerent reaction as an excuse for further pressure or violence.

(SONG – optional) ALL: I’ve got an opposition to conscription, down in my heart! Down in my heart! Down in my heart! Down in my heart to stay! (this can be sung to the popular tune of joy, joy, joy; there are several versions online and several more easily available)

KIM: My father remained at McNeil until late 1943, when all the men were transferred out west to fight fires. He remained close friends with the men he’d met in the camp, and occasionally they’d visit each other when they had the chance. When the war ended, in 1945, the men felt a little alienated from the effort, and alienated from the victory celebration. They were forced to remain in the camps for several years after the war ended, much to their consternation, as they, like everyone, were eager to get on with their lives.

Going through his papers, I learned that George did, in fact, leave camp early; he was then thrown in jail and forced to serve a sentence. Don, however, lived out his term, went back to Iowa, and married Marta, who had resettled in Iowa as a refugee from the war. My father himself went back to school, became the Poet Emeritus of Oregon, and lived a long life of successful teaching and writing, publishing many other bookssk besides this one, which in fact was drawn from his dissertation. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Silly Poor Gospel: Life and Times of Margaret Fell 

Silly Poor Gospel: Life and Times of Margaret Fell

The following play was written for the QREC Conference in Richmond IN, June 2016. It was based on several web sources.

In order of appearance:


SUSAN FELL: Margaret Askew was born in 1614, in Marsh Grange, Lancashire; she became Margaret Fell when she married Thomas Fell in 1632. She was known as the mother of Quakerism, or the nursing mother of Quakerism, but I knew her as my mother-in-law, since I married her son, George Fell. George was not a Quaker; neither was I.

(she exits right. A table is set in the middle of the stage and Margaret/O is seen walking around the kitchen. SUSAN re-enters from the right and now MARGARET/O greets her. A sign on the wall reads “1694”)

MARGARET/O Oh, Susan, come in! How are you, dear? (Hugs her)
SUSAN: Why I’m fine, how are you, Mrs. Fell?
MARGARET/O: Margaret, please. Call me Margaret.
SUSAN: Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot. How are you, Margaret? I hope you’re having a good birthday!
MARGARET/O: I’m fine, and I’m grateful to be alive and free, in any case! I understand you will have a baby?
SUSAN: Yes, the baby is due in about four months.
MARGARET/O: Oh, congratulations! That’s about the best birthday gift you could give me!
SUSAN: It makes me want to know about his ancestors.
MARGARET/O: Or hers, as the case may be? Do you think it’s a boy, or a girl?
SUSAN: Well, he kicks a lot already.
MARGARET/O: So it’s a girl! And does she speak?
SUSAN: Not yet. Though sometimes, when things are very quiet….
MARGARET/O: Quite seriously, now, Susan, I don’t think you can expect this baby to speak. I don’t think this baby is even ready to listen, so how can it speak? And it is just as likely to speak if it’s a boy, as if it’s a girl. Boys and girls are quite equal in that regard.
SUSAN: I know that that’s what you wrote about.
MARGARET/O: Oh, yes. The Quakers in my time were trying to decide whether women could speak at meeting, and I said, of course they can, we are all God’s children, and we all receive messages from the Almighty God. And if we were not to speak them, what should we do, just hang onto them? Try to say them later, so that only our husbands can hear them? I think not! (she waves her hand grandly) Would you like some tea?
SUSAN: Sure, I would like tea. Can you tell me that story? I’d especially like to know about Thomas Fell, my father-in-law. You rarely talk about him.
(MARGARET brings out a tea kettle and pours water into two different tea cups, on the table. They both sit at the table).
MARGARET/O: Why yes, surely. I married Thomas Fell in 1632. He was a Justice of the Peace in Lancashire, and would often be away from Swarthmoor, where we lived. He did not approve of Oliver Cromwell, so we were not especially in with the political establishment, for many years.
SUSAN: Was he a good father?
MARGARET/O: Oh yes, and we had nine children, so we needed him.
SUSAN: Did you attend any kind of church before you became a Quaker?
MARGARET/O: Oh, yes, we went to the local church in Ulverston. In fact, when I met George Fox, we were regular attenders there, and I took George Fox to the place. That was a problem! (They leave; table is removed as well. 1694 sign is removed, and replaced with 1652 sign.) The set looks like woods, though there is a sign that says Ulverston, and an arrow to stage left).
(MARGARET/Y arrives from left. GEORGE FOX and ROBERT NAYLOR arrive from right.)
GEORGE FOX: Excuse me, is this the way to Swarthmoor, near Ulverston?
MARGARET/Y: Yes it is, in fact, I am the lady of the house, at Swarthmoor.
GEORGE FOX: Well, I understand that at Swarthmoor, they will board a traveler such as myself, who goes about the countryside preaching the Gospel.
MARGARET/Y: Indeed, we board countryside preachers such as yourself. May I ask you, do you partake in alcohol, or tobacco, as some of the other traveling preachers do?
GEORGE FOX: In fact I do not, for I seek simplicity in my ways, and I seek communion with all that is holy, and I do not find solace in those things. (he shifts on his feet, and, sensing the opportunity to preach, addresses her and audience at the same time). At one time I sought out the priests, that they would speak to my condition. But, after a while, I came to understand that it was only my understanding of the Lord, that would speak to my condition. And thus I travel the countryside, showing others the way.
MARGARET/Y: I believe I should take you to my church.

ACT THREE: (Parish church, Ulverston – can be decorated as a typical English church might – a single picture of Jesus or a cross would be appropriate…there is a lectern on the left, and the PRIEST stands at it, facing right. A number of CONGREGANTS (children) squirm in the seats.
PRIEST: My good people, it is known that the King demands complete loyalty, and as we know from scripture, Christ sayeth, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” And as Matthew says, “Jesus said to us, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” And it appears, that, as I am the priest of the Church of England, and a representative of the King himself, that, it is my general responsibility…
MARGARET: Excuse me, pastor?
PRIEST: Yes, Mrs. Fell?
MARGARET: I have a visitor who might have some questions.
PRIEST: Yes, please let me finish. It is my responsibility that the good people of Ulverston attend services, and I am happy to see some of you here, among you Mrs. Fell…and if there are no further questions…
GEORGE FOX: Excuse me, kind sir, but I am quite stricken by your speech, and you speak as though your words come from Christ himself.  Christ may in fact speak through you, or through the King, or the Deacon. But you will say Christ saith this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?"
(there is great unease in the congregation, and CONGREGANTS are talking to each other, and pretty soon they raise their voices.)
PRIEST: What can I say? I say, it is time we get on with our business. I bid you good day, Mr. Fox! (everyone scatters to either left or right)

(back in the woods. NEIGHBOR appears in center stage. JAMES NAYLOR enters from left)
NEIGHBOR: Hey you! Aren’t you the one who came through here before with that Fox fellow? That guy with the shaggy locks? And the leather britches?
JAMES NAYLOR: That was us. Why?
NEIGHBOR: Is he the one that’s gathering crowds? At the church for example?
JAMES NAYLOR: Yes, that’s true. He’s gathered a following everywhere he spoke. It is clear that the priests of the Church of England are not always speaking to the hearts of the people, and George Fox speaks to their hearts.
NEIGHBOR: But the priests are approved and ordained by the King.
JAMES NAYLOR: So, they defend an unpopular King. A King who blusters, and brags, whose court is drunk, and who always has another lady at night.
NEIGHBOR: You follow Fox and others like him, you will become political enemies of the King, and so, the King will send his soldiers to harass you. George Fox is not popular with the King. If Margaret Fell starts following him, she will become unpopular as well.
NAYLOR: She will be following her conscience.
NEIGHBOR: She’s always wearing red, did you notice that?
JAMES NAYLOR: If you speak from the heart, it shouldn’t matter what you wear, or rather, you shouldn’t need finery, like buttons, and lace, and such. That’s why we Quakers prefer plain dress.
NEIGHBOR: Does red count as plain dress?
JAMES NAYLOR: I’d say, she speaks from the heart. Good day my friend!
(he exits)
(THOMAS FELL enters from left)
THOMAS FELL: Hello Neighbor!
NEIGHBOR: Thomas Fell! You have returned from the Welsh circuit?
THOMAS FELL: Indeed I have just returned.
NEIGHBOR: And have you heard what has happened?
THOMAS FELL: No, what?
NEIGHBOR: The lady, Margaret, who wears red shoes…
NEIGHBOR: She has fallen under the influence of George Fox. Are you aware of who George Fox is?
THOMAS FELL: Correct me if I’m wrong. George Fox is a traveling preacher, and a leader of the Quakers. Are you telling me that she has come to believe in him?
NEIGHBOR: Yes, yes, that’s right. She has indeed. But that is not what bothers me. The lady, she can believe as she likes. But, here is the problem. The government does not like this George Fox fellow. He is not a popular fellow. He is a persuasive speaker, yes. She took him to speak at the church, and he was quite persuasive. But they were ready to have him removed! I warn you, my friend, this could be trouble!
THOMAS FELL: Ah, yes, my friend, I thank thee for the warning.
(NEIGHBOR leaves, THOMAS FELL hesitates.  MARGARET/Y enters from left)
Ah, my fair wife! How are thee?
MARGARET/Y: I am walking in the glory of God Almighty!
THOMAS FELL: And what is this all about?
MARGARET/Y: I have met George Fox, and he has revealed to me the Divine truth of the Almighty God! Oh Thomas, you must believe me! He spoke at our church. He asked us if we walked in the Light, and if we had received the Spirit. You know, the Pastor, he is a little bit false, in the way he presents the scripture. And this opened me so, that it cut me to the heart, and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again and cried bitterly: and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, 'We are all thieves; we have taken the Scripture in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves.'
THOMAS FELL: I see that you are sincere in your heart, and I will support you.
(they exit)(table is returned to center of stage; SUSAN and MARGARET/O return to sit at the table. 1694 sign replaces the other one.

SUSAN: So, he was not jealous of George Fox?
MARGARET/O: No, he was never converted to Quakerism, but we remained happily married, as long as he lived. He understood that I had come to support the Quakers, and he allowed me to use the house to support them.
SUSAN: At great cost to both of you!
MARGARET/O: Oh yes. At first I bailed the Quakers out of jail, and that attracted the King’s attention. But then, they demanded that I take the oath, and I couldn’t do that.
SUSAN: That’s why you went to jail?
MARGARET/O: Oh, yes. That’s why I went to jail. That’s why I was kept in jail. That’s why I lost our Swarthmoor. All because of that oath!
SUSAN: Margaret, I was just a child when that happened. Can you explain to me? Why NOT simply say an oath, of allegiance to the Crown?
MARGARET: To a dishonest King? To say you will be loyal forever to a King who says and does as he pleases, according to his whim? I’m sorry, but I couldn’t do it.

(back to the woods. NEIGHBOR comes out and confronts GEORGE FELL as he is walking by).
NEIGHBOR: Well, George, young lad, it’s good to see you. My guess is, you’re going to town?
GEORGE: Indeed. To get supplies for my mother.
NEIGHBOR: And how is your mother?
GEORGE: She is well, thank you.
NEIGHBOR: I am so sorry to hear of your father’s death!
GEORGE: Oh thank you, but I believe we will be alright.
NEIGHBOR: Have you heard of the oath?
GEORGE: Oh yes, I have heard about that.
NEIGHBOR: I know that the King is pompous. He’s a tyrant. He’s shallow and ignorant, and knows not what his ministers are doing!
GEORGE: Yes, I would agree.
NEIGHBOR: But the King has all the soldiers! If she doesn’t say the oath, he can put her in jail!

(they leave)(Now, we are in Swarthmoor, with the table in the center of the room again. MARGARET/Y is alone, but hears a knock off stage. She goes to the corner of the stage and lets the SOLDIERS in.
SOLDIER 1: Under orders of the King, we must know if you declare allegiance to the King.
MARGARET/Y: I shall not.
SOLDIER 1: You are not loyal to the King?
MARGARET/Y: This I shall say, as for my allegiance, I love, own, and honor the King and desire his peace and welfare; and that we may live a peaceable, a quiet and a godly life under his government, according to the Scriptures; and this is my allegiance to the King. And as for the oath itself, Christ Jesus, the King of Kings, hath commanded me not to swear at all, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other Oath.
SOLDIER 1: You are under arrest. Come with us! (All leave).

(Back in the woods. Sign says: ).(GEORGE FOX is walking by, carrying a red sweater). NEIGHBOR approaches him).
NEIGHBOR: Hello! I see you are going up to Swarthmoor.
GEORGE FOX: Indeed I am.
NEIGHBOR: And you are carrying a fine red sweater?
GEORGE FOX: The lady, Margaret Fell, is quite fond of red. Have you noticed?
NEIGHBOR: Yes, in fact, I knew that.
GEORGE FOX: And, I thought she would like this as a gift.
NEIGHBOR: I should warn you.
NEIGHBOR: Have you heard of the Conventicle Act? That, if five or more people worship together, and are not following the ways of the Church of England…
GEORGE FOX: Look, my young fellow. I am not afraid of the King. He can tell us not to worship together. He can throw us in jail. We have all been in jail, for not saying that oath, and we may go to jail again. We will do as we believe is right. Good day!

(GEORGE FOX leaves, GEORGE FELL enters from the opposite side).
NEIGHBOR: Young George! How are thee?
GEORGE FELL: I am well, thank you!
NEIGHBOR: I see that George Fox is on his way to visit your mother!
GEORGE FELL: Yes, and this would not be the first time.
NEIGHBOR: I should warn you about the Conventicle Act! You see, if you have five people, who worship outside of the confines of the Divine Church of England, that is against the law. Now correct me if I’m wrong. You have your mother, and this George Fox fellow, and then there’s your sister, and you….
GEORGE FELL: I, sir, am not a Quaker.
NEIGHBOR: Ha ha ha ha! Do you think the King’s soldiers will believe that, when they throw you in jail? Just wait, and see if I’m right! You can count your way, and they will count their way! Listen, my boy, those soldiers will throw your mother in jail again, mark my words!
GEORGE FELL: Do you think I can have any influence over my mother’s actions? I think not! She’ll do as she wants!  (they leave)

Back to the kitchen. Sign says 1694 again. At the table, MARGARET/O and SUSAN are still talking.
SUSAN: So you married George Fox in 1669?
MARGARET/O: That’s right. We had a happy marriage, though we were both busy, and he was gone a lot. He just died, as you know, three years ago.
SUSAN: And you were in prison part of that time?
MARGARET/O: Ten years altogether, and mostly for stupid things, like the oath. It wasn’t easy.
SUSAN: But that’s when you did most of your writing, like Women’s Speaking Justified?
MARGARET/O: Oh yes, that’s when I did almost all my writing.
SUSAN: Now it seems to me you’ve played a pretty strong role in the beginning of Quakerism…
(GEORGE FELL enters from left)
GEORGE FELL: Mother! Susan! Time for Quaker Meeting!
SUSAN: We are ready! (They get up and all exit to left).

At Quaker Meeting
(sign still says 1694)(There are benches. No pictures, crosses, etc. Kids squirm. QUAKER WOMAN tries to control them. MARGARET, SUSAN and THOMAS FELL enter from left).

QUAKER WOMAN: Good morning, Margaret! Good morning, Thomas and Susan!
QUAKER WOMAN: We Quakers have been discussing the importance of showing the world that we are a group and that we follow our own conscience, and don’t adjust our clothing to the newest styles.
MARGARET/O: I agree with that.
QUAKER WOMAN: But we have come to agree that plain colors are best.
QUAKER WOMAN: So we are thinking that wearing red is to be discouraged.
MARGARET/O: That’s silly poor gospel! I’ll not abide it!
(they leave)(SUSAN returns)

SUSAN: Margaret Fell lived in a tumultuous time, and wrote prolifically about her beliefs. She went on to write about that experience, and many more, in the few years before she died, in 1702. She had lived a rich, full life, had had nine children, and along with George Fox, founded Quakerism as we know it today. (exits)

MARGARET/O: (enters and speaks to audience)
Away with these whimsical, narrow imaginations, and let the spirit of God which he hath given us, lead us and guide us; and let us stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. . .This narrowness and strictness is entering in, that many cannot tell what to do, or not to do. Poor Friends is mangled in their minds, that they know not what to do; for one Friend says one way, and another, another. But Christ Jesus saith, that we must take no thought what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or what we shall put on; but bids us consider the lilies how they grow in more royalty than Solomon. But contrary to this, they say we must look at no colours, nor make anything that is changeable colours as the hills are, nor sell them nor wear them. But we must be all in one dress, and one colour. This is a silly poor Gospel. It is more fit for us to be covered with God's eternal spirit, and clothed with his eternal Light, which leads us and guides us into righteousness and to live righteously and justly and holily in this present evil world.


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