FOUR DAYS AFTER TITANIC
by Paul Stewart
[ May 7, 2007:† This is the on-line version.† For a better format I can email you an attachment.]
The play takes place during the senate subcommittee hearings investigating the sinking. Titanic foundered on a Monday morning, the rescue ship arrived in
that Thursday evening to a crowd of 40,000. A colourful trust-busting senator (and former street performer) was given all the power and resources to launch an immediate investigation. He even boarded the rescue ship and served subpoenas to keep key people from slipping away. New York
The very next morning Friday April 19, 1912, survivors testified. (The senate inquiry lasted 17 days. The final report was issued May 28.) The disaster hearings began in
ís Waldorf-Astoria conference room. A lot of the dialogue is from the actual transcripts. There were also reports of lots of the witnesses gossiping and talking to reporters in the corridors. Some of the action takes place in flashback scenes during the night to remember. New York
All characters can play multiple, and non-speaking roles except for Senator Smith.
CAST: (With costume notes)
SENATOR SMITH ††††† 53 Narrator, chairman of investigation, American from Michigan, dresses like a Senator/railroad owner, with derby
CHARLES LIGHTOLLER Ė 38, 2nd officer, highest ranking survivor (refined British accent) regular suit pants, officerís hat and blazer.
BRUCE ISMAY ††††††††† 49, managing director of White Star lines† (upper crust pompous British accent) A fine suit, a thin villain looking moustache.
HAROLD LOWE †††††††† 29, fifth officer, on the one lifeboat that went back (Refined Walsh accent, ladies liked him) Has officerís coat and hat similar to Lightoller.
FREDERICK FLEET † 25, lookout who spotted the iceberg (very thick cockney accent,) beat up clothes and watch cap.
MRS. WHITE††††††††††††† Middle aged, First Class (British very aristocratic old money accent, but likeable, not too snobbish.)
MRS. SHELLEY††††††††† 30s Second class passenger, chronic complainer (American, from
middle class want-a-be) Or she can be generic new money from first class. Montana
HAROLD BRIDE†††††††† 22, Titanicís Wireless operator.† Recovering from frostbite, was born in
Fictional or composite characters who donít testify:
MISS BIDWELL††††††††† 20s, Senator Smithís assistant. Upper-class American, dresses like a progressive business woman.
WANE ††††††††††††††††††††††† 20s American, First class steward/con artist in love. He has a slight but engaging Colorado/cowboy accent.
KATE OíBRAIN†††††††††† 3rd class, Irish suffragette, loves Wane. Wears middle class dress.† Can wears a big immigrantís shawl for lifeboat scene.
MARGO LANE†††††††††† Reporter and Suffragette. American, wears a middle class business skirt suit. Can also wear a big shawl to play a third class passenger for sinking and lifeboat scene.
FIREMAN†††††† †††††††††††Actually named for the crewmen that stoke the furnaces.† Lower class, cockney accent but intelligent.
Also parts for
MARSHAL, NEWSBOY and PHOTOGRAPHERS, REPORTERS, BY STANDERS, PERSON, PASSENGERS, CREWMAN. Sometimes everyone whoís not acting in the foreground sings in the darkened background. The CHORUS is anyone who can sing. US
ADDITIONAL COSTUME NOTES:
To help the audience accept actors quickly switching roles, luckily we have a wide difference in costume, class and accents of the characters. Everyone wore hats and some of the facial hair then was huge. In photos most of the suits were dark and relatively standard to any old fashion looking suits. Itís the collars, scarves, watch chains and headwear that really show the period. They also may have gloves, fancy canes and umbrellas when theyíre coming or going. It was rainy in
when the hearings began. All the males who play multiple roles keep the same generic dark pants and shoes on. New York
Unfortunately the hearings were a very male dominated affair. Only two woman survivors actually testified, another four wrote vividly detailed affidavits the SENATOR read out loud during the hearings.
The good news is there were woman present as spectators inside the hearing room and in the photos they have giant hats they didnít have to take off like the men did. Although the suffragette passenger story is fictional, the womanís rights movement was very present. There were lots of stories and debates from suffragettes in the press about equal rights abolishing the tradition of "woman (and children) first."
The Senate inquiry was a rushed together affair. Most of the furniture was removed from the hotel conference room, leaving a large table and chairs. (The hearings moved to
the next week, but the format remained similar. And the Senator did come back to talk to witnesses.) It is not a trial but an inquiry with people sitting in rows around the table, although at times it seems like a trail. A lot of people had stacks of notes and papers in front of them. Washington
We can perhaps do without the table (or make it small and in the back) and stick to just chairs. A platform in the middle of the stage may act as an informal witness stand. However too many characters have to speak one after another. Sort of a stream of thought montage. Usually getting up and moving before and after testify will be awkward. Perhaps they can be lined up in a panel. Except for maybe moving a few chairs this area doesnít have a set change.
SENATOR is usually the only one standing during the "hearings" scenes. When he addresses the audience he walks towards them and the ďhearings areaĒ goes dark. Since we assume the hearings are always going on with people coming in and out the actors in that area do not have to freeze, (no pun intended.) They just sit still during "hallway," "flash back" and ďwaiting roomĒ scenes. Often they will enter those other scenes. Sometimes they may need to change character, other times not.
Any area in front can pass as a "hallway" or behind-the-scenes area. Example: In the middle of one of the SENATORíS speeches to the audience, ISMAY comes up and asks if he can go back to
now. (Although no one but SENATOR breaks the forth wall.) England
Two benches or chairs could be enough for the ďwaiting area.Ē†† A spotlight is not that important on scenes where SENATOR addresses the audience. However, to achieve the dream-like effect during the ďflash backĒ scenes a spotlight will help hide that thereís no multi-million dollar boat set.
The play can make extensive use of pre-recorded sound and music. All the singing is live. Often the play should have a dream-like quality; the lighting should reflect this. But thereís also bursts of realism.
Section 1: Re-enactment of the sinking
The stage is dark. Slowly we began to hear singing, it gets louder but stays somewhat soft and ominous. Perhaps it should be sung slower than normal to not sound too upbeat. This is a popular camp song dating back to at least the Ď20s with many versions.
[In previewing the tape of the shows original production after four years,
Iíd forgot that the cast decided to sing this song slowly, not like a camp
song. The passengers walk around and greet each other as they sing as if
casually strolling aboard the ship. It was quite effective and their harmony
was excellent.† It was the only slow part of the show after that as they were
trying to keep in to a half hour.]
CHORUS††††††††††††††† IT WAS ON ITS MAIDEN TRIP
WHEN AN ICEBERG HIT THE SHIP.
IT WAS SAD, IT WAS SAD, IT WAS SAD
WHEN THE GREAT SHIP WENT DOWN
TO THE BOTTOM OF THEÖ
HUSBANDíS AND WIVES,
LITTLE CHILDREN LOST THEIR LIVES.
IT WAS SAD WHEN THE GREAT SHIP WENT DOWN.
Spotlight on NEWSBOY who enters from stage left. He has to yell to be heard over the chorus. He speaks out to the audience.
CHORUS††††††††††††††† (overlapping softly)
OH, THEY BUILT THE SHIP TITANIC
TO SAIL THE OCEAN BLUE,
FOR THEY THOUGHT IT WAS A SHIP
THAT WATER WOULD NEVER GO THROUGH.
THE RICH DIDNíT LIKE THE POOR,
SO THEY PUT THE POOR BELOW,
WHERE THEY WERE THE FIRST TO GO.
IT WAS SAD WHEN THE GREAT SHIP WENT DOWN.
NEW YORK STREETSCENE:
NEWSBOY †††††††††††† Extra, extra read all about it! Get your paper, get your paper here!† Latest report confirms Titanic foundered Monday morning off the coast of
Greenland! Over a thousand people are presumed dead!
BYSTANDER††††††††† Millionaires was on that boat, captains of industry all arranging their schedules soís they can take the maiden voyage.† Opps.
BYSTANDER†††††††† Nonsense, a ship that size couldnít sink from hitting ice.
BYSTANDER 2††††† The Post just reported everyoneís been rescued and the Titanic is being towed to
for repairs. Halifax
BYSTANDER†††††††† You canít trust all these wireless reports.† Too new a science.
BYSTANDER 2†††††† Oh, no, you can bet the owners of the ship have received clear reports.† Theyíre stalling for time, thereís a huge mob on the street in the front of the offices of White Star Line.
Perhaps on the opposite side of the stage, SENATOR is standing near by
Mrs. Bidwell is taking notes.
PERSON††††††††††††††† The floor recognizes Senator Smith From
Addressing an imaginary the audience like it is the congress/senate.
SENATOR†††††††††††† (nods hello) I have just met with President Taft.† Iíve introduced a resolution that I spearhead a subcommittee authorized to investigate the causes leading to the wreck of the Titanic. A train is being held for us.††
The SENATOR and MR. BIDWELL, grab suit cases
and or big brief cases rushing off to
on stage or off. Perhaps New York
somewhere towards the middle, away from the
the two bystanders react while reading the news in the paper one is
BYSTANDER†††††††† This Senator Smith is from the wilds of the
BYSTANDER 2†††††† His state is landlocked. He was a railroad lawyer.
BYSTANDER††††††††† Yes, but heís a trust buster, likes to go after big monopolies like the owners of the Titanic.††
Both bystanders nod in agreement and take out their umbrellas as if they know what is coming.† We hear a thunderclap.†
NEW YORK STREETSCENE:†
NEWSBOY †††††††††††† Extra, extra Titanic survivors arrive here in
tonight! Senate investigation begins tomorrow morning! Get your paper, get your paper here! New York
CARPATHIA ARRIVES STREET SCENE:†
The rescue boat arrived during a pitch black drizzling night with rolling thunder.† There were ropes keeping them at bay, dotted with green lanterns.
Rain coats, rain hats and umbrellas can help disguise actors. How about a dozen more umbrellas to give the illusion of more people? Card board cut outs of masses of people. Iím kidding but there may be some convention using lighting or shadows to indicate masses, thought sounds will also be effective.† There was a big traffic jam (one of the worldís first) so horn honking in the distance may help set the mood.†
As many people as possible should be on stage starring out into the harbour.† Restless and struggling to get a better view, but in control. Drawn night sticks.† Flash of cameras.†
Lots of room for adlib crowd comments:† ďWhat about other ships, people trapped in water tight compartments. Survivors clinging to ice bergs.Ē All real questions family members asked. Smith got so much mail he asked his son to take a brief leave from college to help him sort it.
The crowd would have contained all classes of people, reporters have cameras, note pads and signs in there hat bands that say ďPress.Ē† U.S. MARSHAL has his knight stick in one hand and a stack of subpoenas in the other.††
The Senatorís security and process servers were sergeant at arms for the senate, not sure how they looked.† But a U.S. Marshal will work, actor simply needs to slip on an arm band that says US Marshal and have a badge, (Google for photos of arm band, they are bright colours with black lettering.)
Another man dressed similarly to him can be on the scene. Or perhaps you have a generic police uniform.
Fog horn blast. Sounds of the crowd as they cheer when they see the ship.††††
BYSTANDER†††††††††† Here she comes, yes, thatís the Carpathia!
MARSHAL†††††††† Everybody stay behind the ropes! US
BYSTANDER††††††††† Watch out here comes the
SENATOR and MRS. BEDWELL arrive, with hats and coats.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Make sure no one except our party is anywhere near the†
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Gangplank!† No reporters yet!††
MRS. BIDWELL††††† It looks like half of
has showed up. And every††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† New York
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† newspaper reporter on the East Coast.† (gazing out) How
††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††many escort boats did the President order?
US MARSHAL††††††† Oh, I heard the big papers chartered boats. Trying to be
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the first to talk to survivors.†
SENATOR†††††††††††† No one is skipping away!† We will board her and quickly†††††††††††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† serve every subpoena before a single soul embarks.†
SENATOR and MRS. BIDWELL push through and disappear behind the people.† (Perhaps Person 1 and 2 can be very poor looking female immigrants.)†
PERSON†††††††††††††† (yelling) Senator, ask about my son, they keep putting his
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† name of the list of those lost then taking it off!
REPORTER†††††††††† Senator, what about Ismay? Canít we have an interview††††††††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† before you arrest him?
PERSON 2†††††††††††† (to reporter) Some of us are holding out hope our love††††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ones are on that boat or another one, but youíd trample
††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††us all for a story!
Several in the crowd loudly agree. Fog horn blows again. Crowd dies down, chorus starts to sing again softly.
CHORUS††††††††††††††† IT WAS SAD, IT WAS SAD, IT WAS SAD
WHEN THE GREAT SHIP WENT DOWN
TO THE BOTTOM OF THEÖ
SENATOR reappears without his coat and addresses the audience.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Hello, perhaps an introduction and some explanation is in order.† (takes off hat) Iím Senator William Alden Smith chairman of the disaster hearings.† Welcome to 1912.
A few people begin to quietly sing some more: "Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives, it was sad when the great ship went down."
SENATOR††††††††††††† May I please talk now! (Singing stops, back to audience) This is a play about life, as it deals with death and responsibility. I can assure you that Iíve been dead since 1932. Iím sort of a ghost brought back through transcripts, notes to bring truth to the legend.
OK, youíve all seen the moving picture shows leading up to and ending right after the whole thing with the big iceberg.†† I can not begin to tell you what a worldwide frenzy of shock and finger pointing went on in the days and months following the sinking.
You see rich socialites filled up the headlines in the days before movie and sports superstars. Now with several of them frozen solid bobbing up and down off the coast of
New Foundland, along with 1,500 other souls, the world wanted answers. This before the world wars numbed us to death tolls.
I, along with others asked the good Lord how He could let 54 children thrash in the freezing water while scores of men sat in tuxedos in half-full lifeboats ignoring their screams.
While the 705 survivors were still steaming home on the rescue ship, Carpathia, I heard the president was too busy running for re-election to do anything.† I decided to organize an immediate investigation.
Sure it took a lot of string pulling, but we served our subpoenas and began these hearings on a Friday morning, just four days after Titanic went to her grave.
During the 17 days of hearings, I gave the press full access. A lot happened off the record in back rooms and these very corridors. I canít give you all the answers only glimpses at the truth behind everyoneís personal agenda. Even my own. God gave me all the resources to find the truth but didnít answer me. Perhaps itís because I Ė Oh, excuse me, the testimony has began.
The lights come up revealing the makeshift senate hearing room. SENATOR rushes over.
SENATOR is standing, he almost always has a folder overflowing with papers in his hand.† (See photo in book.) MRS. BIDWELL is at the table taking notes.
Also at the table is HAROLD BRIDE.† BRIDE has a bandaged leg and is still recovering.† (He was in a wheelchair, but if you donít happen to have an old one handy, perhaps his leg could be propped up.) We enter the scene as if it is midway through. [Actually the room was so crowded he had to be carried to his chair because his wheelchair wouldnít fit.]
Because it is suppose to be the beginning of the hearings, for this scene at least I picture a few members of the street scene standing still listening to BRIDEíS story, hanging on every word.† Like they would have done by reading it in the papers and listening to gossip from those at the hearings.† Updates which spread like wild fire each day to a hungry world.
[Bride became an instant star.† At a time before movies, TV or radio, his tale was one of the most compelling sea stories ever told.† He was well spoken, charming and regarded a hero, but he didnít really testify till the next day.† What he says happened to him on the ship is all accurate but I used some artistic license so the audience can get details about the ice field and the cold.]
SENATOR††††††††††††††† Please continue, Mr. Bride.
BRIDE†††††††††††††††††††† I received that message myself and delivered it to
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Captain Smith. It stated that the freighter, The††††††††††††††††††††††††††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Californian had just past three large ice bergs.
SENATOR††††††††††††††† We are learning that the Titanic did not come upon a†
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† random berg, but a field of ice!?
BRIDE†††††††††††††††††††† Yes, it turned out to be 80 miles wide, sir.† (muted††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† gasp from the crowd)† Such a large occurrence is rare.
SENATOR††††††††††††††† Youíre only 22 and not a trained sailor, but a wireless†
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††††† I was not even an employee of White Star, I work
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† for the Marconi company.† Allow me to say I am a
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† trained listener, a patient observer.† I learned itís been a†
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† particularly warm spring, ice sheers off of
††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††and makes itís way down the Labrador Current and into
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the shipping lanes.
SENATOR††††††††††††††† Agreed. (glancing at notes) Mr. Bride, is the committee
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to understand that by Sunday afternoon the Captain
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† received not two, but three wireless messages warning of
BRIDE†††††††††††††††††††† Actually, it was four sir.† (louder gasps from the crowd)†
†††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††Senior wireless officer Philips was on duty when†
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† one came in from another steamer.
SENATOR†††††††††††††† And how did the night end for you and officer Philips?†
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††† Quite badly sir. (nervous laughter from crowd) Even as we
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† felt Titanic being pulled† down by the nose, we† kept
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† sending† distress calls until Captain Smith himself came††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† into the Marconi cabin and told us nothing more could be
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† done.† As we gathered our things, a man immerged and
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† tried to steal our life-vests.† There was quite a row before
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† we knocked him out.
SENATOR†††††††††††††† And that is the last you saw of the Capitan?
CROWD leans in, hanging on his every word.
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††† No, by the time we made it outside we could hear†
†††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††water rushing over the boat deck.†† I saw Captain Smith
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† dive off the bridge into the sea. The next thing I know
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I was in the icy black water, eventually I made it
†††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††aboard an overturned lifeboat.† It had slid off the deck
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† before it could be launched.† Philips had crawled
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† aboard too.†† 30 or so of us began to shift our†††††††
††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††crumpled bodies to balance the unstable raft.† Icicles†
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† forming on our wet clothes and hair.†
SENATOR†††††††††††††† Yet you lasted the night.††
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††† Several of us did, otherís like my friend Officer Philips
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† died of exposure. Those that didnít slide off in death were
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† gently pushed off to lessen the weight. (crowd gasps)††††††††††††††††††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Though the air was cold and biting, one could keep his
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† heart beating and blood flowing, staying in the much
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† colder water too long spelled certain death.†††††††††††††††
Crowd reaction, reporters eagerly scribble in notepads.
SENATOR†††††††††††††††† Early on wouldnít there have been hundreds of people
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† around you, trying to cling to your overturned lifeboat?†††††††††††††††
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††††† I was the last man invited on board sir. (crowd gasps)
SENATOR†††††††††††††††† That helps explain why your raft contained 27 crew
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† members and only three passengersÖAnd is it true Mr.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Bride, that aboard the rescue ship those crew members††††††††††††††††††††††††††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and the ones who spent the night on dry life boats with
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† blankets were able to rest and recover for a few days
††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††before arriving in
. New York
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††††† Thatís rather obvious sir.
SENATOR†††††††††††††††† And yet you had to go right back to work for the last
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† three days. (crowd gasps)
BRIDE††††††††††††††††† ††††That too is rather obvious sir.† Despite my being ill, my
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† skills were needed, the Carpathia had only one wireless
Crowd reaction, sounds of hushed gossip. During this time the actors have moved away from the street scene and change into their characters, forming a line waiting to be interviewed. Perhaps they can have a slip of paper, the subpoena in their hands. SENATOR moves over as if to process them.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (pacing)† Kindly tell the committee your name and circumstance.
The following is a montage of witness testimony. At first these lines are spoken with no pause as a run-on sentence.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† J. Bruce Ismay, first class passenger and managing director of White Star Shipping Line.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Fredrick Fleet, able seaman and lookoutÖAt just about seven bells I reported an ice berg right ahead, a black mass.
LIGHTOLLER †††††† There was no moon, no wind, the sea was flat calm, smooth as glass so there was no waves to spot breaking around the berg. A night that comes only once every hundred years.
ISMAY †††††††††††††††††† ÖI awoke to a slight grinding noiseÖ
MRS. WHITE†††††††† It was as though we went over a thousand marblesÖ
MRS. SHELLEY†††† Then the engines stoppedÖNo one knocked on our door. There was no alarm. When we walked outside people commenced to appear in life preserversÖ
We start to hear voices of a calm crowd and the band begins to play.
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Then the band moved right outside on the deckÖ
For a moment the dialogue of the witnesses overlaps, and the pace speeds up, although they continue to talk as if theyíre not competing with others. (Just a short line each, then can ad lib something.)
People have began to leave the hearings area and put on life vests and enter to the flash back area to stage right which will serve as Titanicís deck under a spotlight. The mood is calm now, but growing more tense. Everyone is talking (adlibbing) among themselves. The following dialogue should be heard over others adlibbing.
Although the characters may be named in this scene, theyíre not necessary being the same character, only similar. Example: the audience doesnít know ISMAY yet, so heís really just being a generic first class passenger. (But he can change his moustache and hat.) And of course the lighting will be dim.
LIGHTOLLER is the first to lead people over a bit further. He has simply put on his uniform hat and wears no life vest.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Címon, into the lifeboats. Nothing to worry about folks, simply a safety precaution. Youíll row back aboard by morning.
PASSENGER††††††††† Look at the sea, itís so flat and clam.
IMMGRANT†††††††††† But the water is so far down, Iím frightened.
WANE ††††††††††††††††††† Oh, she canít sink, sheís just banged up.
KATE†††††††††††††††††††† (to immigrant) Do you think this vest makes me look fat?
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† Oh, you look lovelyÖHere let me help you.
KATE struggles with the straps of her vest, WANE helps her, there is
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Arenít you the perfect gentleman. Weíre not used to getting waited on in steerage.† You tie that knot like youíre a seaman, but your dress says first class.††
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Oh, Iím just a first class steward, I learned to tie knots because my family owns a small ranch in
. Denver Colorado
CREWMAN†††††††††††††† Iíve just heard from the wireless room, no less than three ships will be here soon!
LIGHTROLLER††††† You heard me, woman and children first! Donít be a coward!†
PASSENGER††††††††† My son is only 13 and needs to be with his mother!
LIGHTROLLER††††† OK, but no more boys!
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Over on the starboard side theyíre letting men leave along with the women.
CREWMAN runs off stage. Gradually the band gets louder, some people
begin to sing "nearer thy God to me."
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Does anyone here have boating experience!?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Sheís starting to list quite badly.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† How bad could it be, the band is still playing.
PASSENGER††††††††† The lifeboats are gone. Letís finish our card game. Drinks are on the house.
PASSENGER††††††††† If we die, we die as gentleman.
IMMIGRANT††††††††† My baby, whereís my baby!
Then we begin to hear hull-twisting noises of the shipís nose going down. We hear a few distant gunshots. The actors begin to lean and jerk, (but not too much as to make it corny.) Some people panic while others, stay calm though terrified. Plenty of room for ad-libbing here. An actor can simply put a collar on to be FATHER BYLES.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!
FATHER BYLES †† PREPARE TO MEET GOD!
Some people huddle around FATHER BYLES and say the Lordís prayer, over the sounds of the singing and boilers exploding and sinking noise.
CHORUS††††††††††††††† Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
Eíen though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee!
Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams Iíd be nearer, my God to Thee.
Section 2: Senator Intro and argument with Ismay (Chairman of White Star Lines) who does not want to give evidence to the hearing
The sounds and music stops. Lights come up on SENATOR. Everyone freezes, stage picture for a moment while he talks. Then they disappear into the shadows.
SENATOR††††††††††††††† (to audience) The truth is the band was playing a rag†††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† time number, not ďNearer my God to TheeĒ But legends
† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††die hard so I leave that part in when I revisit this part of
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the story.
Enter ISMAY, unaware of the audience.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Excuse me Senator SmithÖwho are you talking to?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Ismay, I told you I am not letting you go back to
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Iíve contacted a number of marine architects, company personnel, these experts would be far more valuable than me. I Ė
SENATOR††††††††††††† You are the chairman and manager of White Star Lines! Your father was the founder.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Yes, but I sold the company to J.P. Morgan.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Indirectly.† You are the president of his trust!
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† I was still only a passenger.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Yet with obvious influence.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† I climbed aboard the last lifeboat as it was being lowered because there was plenty of room on board.† I canít be blamed for the deaths of those who would have been far more valuable to your investigation:† The Captain, first officer, and Titanicís main architect.†† JP Morgan designed his own private suite, fit for a king.
SENATOR†††††††††††† And if he hadnít cancelled his trip, or be in hiding now, you might have an easier time, Iíll give you that Ismay.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† The ship may have been owned by Americans but it was registered in Briton and most of the crew are British subjects. How much longer can you keep me here?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Most of the passengers were Americans. And do I need to tell you most of the passengers are dead?! The navy intercepted your wireless reports, we know you were planning to try to sneak back.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† (trying to be intimidating) You donít seem to understand-
SENATOR †††††††††††† (stands toe to toe with Ismay) You know Iím a rich man too, Iíve owned railroads. But I didnít grow up rich and spoiled like you. As a kid we were so poor I had to support my family by performing on street corners. Worked my way through law school, Iím a very resourceful man, Mr. Ismay.
MRS. BIDWELL, has entered at some point.† The Senatorís assistant,
dressed like business woman, some type of brief case and† holding a slip of
ISMAY††††††††††††††††† Oh, Lord, it is another one of those women that liberal newspapers are letting become reporters.
SENATOR†††††††††††† (happy to see her) Good morning Mrs. Bidwell.†
MRS. BIDWELL†††† (handing him the slip of paper) President Taft just send you this telegram.† (not intimated by Ismay she turns to him ) These days they even let a few of us women go to college.
SENATOR wanders off becoming preoccupied with the Telegram and
reading from his notes.† ISMAY remains stone faced and reserved even when
he makes comic insults.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Oh, youíre from the caravan from Washington, I heard he had a female assistant.† Now why donít you tell me how you too grew up poor, without shoes.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† Simply coming from a wealthy family doesnít mean you canít be progressive, enter public service and live modestly.† Not travel with steamer trunks full of dress shoes.†
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Youíre father owns a shoe factory yet you chose to go barefoot!
MRS. BIDWELL†††† I never could understand British humour.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††† Do you know what I think? I think you come from a big family that was forced to live in a shoe.
LIGHTOLLER walks up trying to figure out where on Earth Ismay came up
with that comment.
MRS. BIDWELL††††† Almost a bulls eye, Mr. Ismay.† Our summer yacht was shaped a bit like a shoe.† And my father owns a string of factories.† Heís passing the business to my four brothers and they wonít need to sell it to the House of Morgan to make ends meet.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Youíve done your homework.† I sold the company I inherited because to stay ahead we needed capital to expand into more luxurious ships.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† And still have room for immigrants and bags of mail?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††† You impress me Mrs. Bidwell. Itís no secret that shipping immigrants to
is very lucrative.† As is the mail contracts.† And donít you, who lived summers crammed in a shoe start in about our poor conditions in Steerage.†† America
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Our third class area had spacious lounges, meals on table clothes with silverware.† You see miss, recently the competition among ocean liner companies has been fierce.
(ISMAY is annoyed that LIGHTS put his two cents in.)
MRS. BIDWELL††††† So you built too big, too fast. Cut a corner here-
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Thereís no profit in brand new seven million dollar ships resting on the ocean floor. And why would you and the press think selfish me would be so foolish as to travel on a ship I thought was unsafe?† And Lightoller, I donít remember asking you to join the conversation.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† (she sighs) Mr. Lightoller, I understand you are the highest ranking surviving officer?†
MRS. BIDWELL††††† (glancing at paper work) Senator Smith will be calling you right after the captain of the rescue ship.† And tell your boss there I can see why heís hired so many body guards.††††††††
(Exit MRS. BIDWELL, ISMAY shakes his head in disgust.)
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† The nerve of her and those witch hunters and that cowboy senator.† Have you been asking around like I told you?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† (sighs) Yes.† I spent all morning in the hotel lobby. A couple reporters up from
were loose lipped. That charming woman there may have got the job as one of his assistants because of family connections, but sheís highly qualified.† Washington
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Is it true that the Senator has no experience in nautical affairs?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† None.† Heís a grandstander, very popular but well known in
for overdoing his theatrics.†† He has also been a game warden and owns a successful newspaper.† Washington
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† As a boy he was a street performer?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† (nods) Famous in
Grand Rapidsfor singing and dancing to ď Ladies,Ē accompanied by a friend with a banjo. Camp Town
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Those reporters were pulling your leg!
LIGHTOLLER†††††††† Evidently old timers still talk about how he could command an audience.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† That performing monkey along with the press are turning† me into the scapegoat of the century!
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Sir, itís the disaster of the century.† They need somebody who didnít choose to go down with the ship.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Maybe they had things to feel guilty about. You Mr. Lightoller get to be a hero in the papers.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† I climbed aboard an over-turned lifeboat AFTER your ship was halfway to the bottom of the
Atlantic. You jumped aboard a dry lifeboat.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Iíve done nothing intentionally wrong! May I remind you that if you donít support me, your desire to ever be a captain at White Star will sink to the bottom as well.
Exit ISMAY, LIGHTOLLER follows him like a reluctant dog, they pass MRS
WHITE who strolls by using a cane.† Her upper class appearance is obvious.
By the friendly way ISMAY greets her you know sheís important. She only
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Good day Mrs. White.
From the other direction enter MARGO with notepad and PHOTGRAPHER.†
They fail at getting ISMAY and LIGHTOLLERíS attention.
MARGO†††††††††††††††† Mr. Ismay, do you feel youíre being treated unfairly by the press!?† Mr. Ismay!
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Good Heavens,
Margo Lane? You used to write the society column for the World? New York
MARGO †††††††††††††††† Iím a news reporter now.
When the photographer realizes MRS. WHITE is a survivor, she starts to set
up his camera.
MRS. WHITE††††††††† Splendid, dear girl.† Iíll be testifying in a moment, then
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† weíll chat.† (still friendly but waves her cane) If that man
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† takes a photo of me in this barrowed outfit, I will gladly†
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† replace his camera after I smash it.
The PHOGRAPHER backs off.† [MRS. WHITEíS cane gained some notoriety as
it actually contained a flashlight, most if not all lifeboats didnít even have
Section 4:† Testimony of Mrs White and Mrs Shelley
Lights come up on hearings area, already in progress as MRS WHITE sits
SENATOR††††††† ††††††You heard no alarm what so ever?††††
MRS. SHELLEY ††† No, nothing was said about lifeboats until someone came down and ordered us into life preservers.† We calmly walked on deck and there were so many hoards of people I couldnít see past.
MRS. WHITE†††††††† There was practically no excitement as we thought the Titanic was one big lifeboat. I had to be pushed into a lifeboat.
MRS. SHELLEY ††† As we were being lowered I saw portholes disappearing. When we hit the water I saw where the danger lay. Too perfect a night. We had only starlight, no breeze, the flat sea looked like oil.
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Then when it came time to row, one manís oar was all over the place. I said "why donít you put it in an oarlock." "You mean that little hole?" he said.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Didnít they assign two seaman to your boat?
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Dinning room stewards who escaped with the pretense of being oarsman.
MRS. SHELLEY†††† Oh, some of the crew were gentleman. Others took out cigarettes and began smoking, joking about not having to work for a while.
MRS. WHITE†††††††† A marvel of mechanism couldnít avoid a chunk of ice. Who would allow something so unbearable to happen?
Wealthy, what have youÖ
Section 3: Wane, Kate (sweethearts Ė met during disaster) and intrusive journalists asking awkward questions
FLEET is sitting on a bench reading the newspaper, LIGHTOLLER is pacing about, he stares at his pocket watch. On the other side of the bench is KATE reading a book.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Lights, ya atta read some of these bloody lies. Like they was in the crowís nest with me.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Reporters are trying to find answers like everyone else. What they donít find they invent.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Says I claimed the berg was so big, I saw a polar bear on it! A bloominí bloody po-
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Donít talk like that with a woman present.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† She donít mind, she told people in the lifeboat she wishes she was a man. Came to
for it. America
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† I beg your pardon.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Ya want rights just like a man, donít ya? A suffer-somethiní I seen her type in marches down the street.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Iím a suffragette. Iím already an American citizen. I was just visiting family back in
. (gets in his face) Fighting for equal rights and for the vote does not make me wish I was a man. Ireland
FLEET †††††††††††††††††† (gives her a dirty look) Molly Brown and her hens took charge of me lifeboat, and I didnít like it.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Although if I were I would use my fist to make your nose even more crooked.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† (ushering Fleet away) You canít be serious. His nose couldnít be any worse.
Enter WANE, wearing a derby, he his arm in a sling.
FLEET and LIGHTOLLER move several feet away, both parties can have private conversations but still hear each other. WANE and KATE greet and kiss, you can tell new love is in the air.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† (tipping hat) Iím back darling.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Donít you look handsome in that new hat.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† They subpoenaed that Yankee first class Steward?
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† No, Iím just here to be with my future wife.††
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Known each other all of a week have you?
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Weíre not officially engaged.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Oh, yes, those two became lovebirds on the boat deck.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Sir, I was third class, he made sure I had a seat. Never once thought of himself.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Worst sea disaster on record, and they begin a courtship.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Well, we all had a lot of free time the last few days aboard the Carpathia, didnít we?
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† Kate, Iíve got some wonderful newsÖ
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Look at you twos. An army of charities greets us last night. Giviní the pilgrims food, clothes, homes to stay in. (to Lights) You gets a new uniform and pocket watch, I get a crummy bunk and broken down shoes. You Mr. Romeo find a wife in your lifeboat.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† No, was in boat eight.† I helped man it.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Ha, busted up his wrist climbiní in, he did.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† Officer Murdoch called out for any men with sailing experience, by the time he asked me to jump in, the boat was ten feet down. Winged, I manned the tiller.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Youíre no seaman.
KATE†††††††††††††††††††† No heís a rancher, who decided to see the world.
WANE††††††††††††††††††† My family owns a small sail boat, we have big lakes in†
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† Ha, look at his hands. Smooth as a babyís bottom.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† (touching his hands) I guess it has been a while since youíve roped cattle?
WANE†††††††††††††††††† To be honest, a number of women in first class are always leaving behind small bottles of the finest hand cream, I decided to try some.
FLEET and LIGHTOLLER laugh.
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† I know that the Countess of Rothes never took her hands off the tiller in boat eight, not you.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† You werenít in my boat!
FLEET †††††††††††††††††† (smirking to Lights) No, but I read about it in the Times this morning, I did.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† You mean Mr. Lightoller had to read it to you?
FLEET †††††††††††††††††† (mad) You claiminí I canít read?
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Oh, no.† Iím claiming you canít see past your nose!
LIGHTOLLER††††††† (pulling Fleet away) Fleet, stay back. We see a lot of con artists work first class. He could be a dangerous sharper.
FLEET††††††††††††††††† His name is Wane Wheelwright.† Donít that sound like a phoney name?
WANE†††††††††††††††††† Itís an English name.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† A sharper indeed.
Enter an aggressive PHOTOGRAPHER (maybe same actor as Ismay) and reporter MARGO. While the cameraman tries unsuccessfully to set his camera up to get a good shot, MARGO jots in at note pad. WANE and KATE are off to the side.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† Mr. Lightoller, can you answer a few questions?
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Who let them in!? Look another one a them bloominí free thinking women!
KATE and MARGO wave like they know each other well.
MARGO †††††††††††††††† (talking rabidly) Mr. Lightoller, why were there no life boat drills? Was an American Ship registered in Briton because their safety rules are more relaxed?
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† You donít care about all them families broken up. You just wanna sell papers.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† Our readers want the truth! Your company sent us press releases raving about new luxuries and safety features.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Yes, but no one from White Star ever claimed the ship unsinkable, you reporters invented that. It was no secret that modern liners had too few lifeboats. It was our own arrogance, perhaps criminal negligence, but there is no big secret the Senator is dancing around looking for.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† Do you think Senator Smithís grandstanding has anything to do with the rumour he plans to run for president in 1916?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Perhaps. OK, thatís enough for now, good day.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† I would be the first to vote for Senator Smith.
LIGHTOLLER gently forces them off stage. As he turns thinking they are gone the PHOTGRAPHER burst back in and takes a flash photo of FLEET and LIGHTOLLER and exits. (Old flashes made a "poof" noise.)
FLEET †††††††††††††††††† (rubbing eyes) All these flashesÖIíll go blind.
WANE ††††††††††††††††††† (polite as can be) Donít you think itís a little too late for that?
Infuriated FLEET makes a lunge at WANE whoís several feet away. LIGHTOLLER pulls him away and has to practically carry him offstage.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Easy, mate, the hearings are about ready to start up again.
(As he exits FLEET still wants a piece of WANE.)
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† If it werenít for my broken handÖ
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† What is the exciting news?
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† Early this morning, the wire from my brother arrived, heís got the money to buyout my share of our ranch. It will be on itís way by
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† So quickly?
WANE†††††††††††††††††† Seems Iíve become a celebrity in our small town, the bank was suddenly eager to issue my brother a loan.†
KATE††††††††††††††††††† Wonderful.† How did they learn so much about you?††
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Remember how I had to stay and help the doctor before we disembarked the Carpathia? (she nods)† Well, he figured since I had one good arm and no luggage or family waiting, I might as well help him.† I met a reporter, who once lived in
, but I assured him I was no hero, turns out he ended up sending a story about me by telegraph to my hometown paper The Daily Express.† Now weíll be able to get married and start our new life!†† Denver
KATE††††††††††††††††††† Oh, you are so wonderful!
She hugs him, they both beam with happiness, unaware Margo has been
eavesdropping and takes notes.
Section 5: Clash of Senator and Ismay over lifeboat numbers, pressure on the captain etc..
For now MRS. WHITE and MRS. SHELLY can be seated in the hearings area or not.† Ismay is being grilled.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Mr. Ismay, is it true that when you commissioned the building of Titanic you made no limitations as to her cost?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† None whatsoever. We wanted the biggest, most luxurious, yet safest ship, regardless of cost.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Yes, weíve learned about chandeliers and one way trips costing four thousand dollars, and even for 35 dollars your steerage accommodations were the best afloat. We know about double hulls, water tight compartments that failed. But-
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† It was inconceivable. An iceberg had never taken down a big ship.
SENATOR††††††††††††† But there have been ship wrecks caused by ice bergs.† They were a known hazard! So why so few lifeboats?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† We had over the number required by the British Board and Trade.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (referring to file) All we hear is how you complied with The British Board and Tradeís hopelessly outdated regulations that defy common sense.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† The regulations were developed at a time when you could reasonably calculate passenger capacity based on the tonnage of the vessel.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Then in just a few years ships began to be built much biggerÖBut can you explain to me why the lifeboats you did have were only half-filled?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† That was a tragedy. Something you need to take up with the crew.
SENATOR††††††††††††† You dined with the Captain, did you see him receive ice warnings Sunday night?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† I did sir. He didnít seem too concerned.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Did you urge him to light up more boilers, increase the speed to get out of the ice floes?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† No. I was a passenger first. The captain is in complete control and responsible for whatever happens on his ship. Regardless of a company representative. Is that not true?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Yes. Yet a captain can later be demoted for not following the wishes of the owners.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Captain Smith was retiring! I could not have bullied him.
†††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††The captain of the rescue ship has backed me up on this!
SENATOR††††††††††††† You claimed to have helped load the boats. Witnesses say you barked orders.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† I was present when Mr. Andrews, the shipís architect told the captain Titanic was only hours away from sinking. A sense of urgency was necessary.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Why did you get into a lifeboat when the call was for woman and children only?
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† It was what I believed to be the last boat. I looked around, seeing no woman or children on the deck, I then stepped into the boat after it was already being lowered.
Crowd gasps, they donít believe him.
SENATOR†††††††††††† When itís convenient, youíre a representative of the company, the president. But later when itís convenient to be just a passenger, you become one and donít look back! (glances at watch) Letís take a recess.
SENATOR steps out to hallway followed by MRS. BIDWELL: He is slowly showing fatigue.
SENATOR††††††††††††† This whole affair is maddening. †No one claims to have done anything wrong! For days now all we hear is a dozen minor things that led to major deaths.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† (glancing at notes) Senator hereís the facts we know for sure: Captain E.J. Smith allowed extra boilers to be fired up that day and drove his monstrous ship full speed ahead, with no extra lookouts with no binoculars when there had been repeated ice warnings! It stands to reason the other things the Captain did after the collision would make no sense.
He was told the ship wouldnít make it till morning, so to not cause a panic he told his officers "casually load a few life boats here and there as a safety precaution."
SENATOR††††††††††††† Yet Iíve been advised itís career suicide to harshly
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† criticize the Captain publicly!
MRS. BIDWELL†††† All these years we hear how Ďgoing down with the shipí is
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† noble, to do any less is cowardly. Now I know itís to avoid
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† having cartoons drawn of you in the paper. Mean cartoons.
As they exit, attention is drawn elsewhere as NEWSBOY makes a pass at an area where BRIDE and LOWE are standing.
NEWSBOY †††††††††††† Extra, extra, Titanicís water proof compartments werenít designed to hold water passed the upper decks! (faintly as he exits) Get your paper, get your paper here.†
Officer BRIDE is now walking, but still has a bandage on his foot and
perhaps a crutch.† Officer LOWE, is pacing about. He hasnít testified yet so
he is sort of a generic officer.† Lowe is reading a newspaper.
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† Another drawing of Ismay. (shows it to Bride)
BRIDE†††††††††††††††††††† Is he trying to drown Uncle Sam?† In full view of the
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Statue of
LOWE††††††††††††††††††††† (reading another headline) Blast it all! There was nothing†
†††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††wrong with the shipís construction. It was a marvel of
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† engineering that took years to design and build!† Blame
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† us for not slowing down or having more lookouts, not
†††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††thicker hulls. The crew was assembled too fast, but all
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the officers were first rate.
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††††† I beg to differ. Captain Smith and the First Officer were
††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††lucky to climb up the ranks on smaller vessels without†
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††††† How dare you.† Youíre a wireless officer, not a seaman!
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††††† I am an observer! The fact that you still defend these
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† menísí arrogance is blind loyalty. And itís why the
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Captain never gained the experience he needed with
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† longer sea trials. And heaven forbid a life boat drill!
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††††† As Fifth Officer I shall take some of the blame for that!
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††††† A fifth of the blame?... I will concede that Titanic was
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† sound, a true wonder.† Some act as if the wireless
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† equipment on board was as primitive as smoke signals.†
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† It was the best.† Nearby ships got our signals, their
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† officers had simply gone to bed.
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††††† Ever ponder how so many ships made the crossing for†
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† four centuries powered by the wind, made out of wood?
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ÖBecause they didnít have to listen to annoying
††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††wireless officers!
BRIDE††††††††††††††††††††† It wasnít that long ago ships simply disappeared without
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† a trace.† Thatís better?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††††† Man can always conquer nature in the end.
Section 6: Suffragettes Ė conflict of that and ĎWomen and children firstí philosophy
Black out. Lights come up on the waiting area.
KATE is sitting on a bench holding hands with WANE. At first WANE is reading the paper not paying much attention to what the others are saying.
The lights stay up in the hearings area, for a few minutes action will happen in both places, to create a sort of split-screen effect. While there is action in the hallway area, SENATOR and others can slowly move and talk silently among themselves as if their scene is still going on. The audience will be directed toward the hallway and vice-versa.
MARGO enters hallway area looking like she has just walked in from a womanís rights march. She has on a colourful banner under her arm and around her shoulder and carries a protest sign. She eventually sets it down, removes banner and takes out her note pad.
FIREMAN† is also sitting in the waiting area reading.† For
balance he should be a little rough around the edges with a
cockney accent like Fleet. Though he may be from the very lower classes he
is intelligent and wise.
[Based on actual fireman† Frederick Barrett who made it up in time and was
put in charge of boat 13.]†
MRS. White remains standing is only passing by.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Hello, Margo, how did it go?
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Good heaven, and they let you march on your lunch hour?
MARGO †††††††††††††††† (nods) We went all the way up to Wall Street this time. My feet hurt!
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† I wished Iíd been able to march with you. I donít think they are ever going to call me as a witness.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† Thatís a shame Kate, a story about it could help our cause of suffrage.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† How? When they find out I lobby for female emancipation, theyíd ask if I questioned the life saving policy. Without thinking twice I climbed right on to a boat of all female passengers, just three male crewmembers.
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Oh, my dear, we all have selfish survival instincts, even subconsciously. And these stories of bravery among men? They didnít think sheíd go down, they made jokes of us needing a pass to get back on in the morning.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† After she was gone, I donít hear many stories of men wanting to row back and save anyone.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Men or women.
MRS. WHITE ††††††† Equal rights doesnít have to mean equal risk.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† I would have chosen to meet my fate along side my husband as a few first class women did.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Better death than dishonor? What if you had young children?
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Titanic was conceived, built and destroyed by manís hands. Let them die first until women are treated equally.†
FIREMAN††††††††††††† (sets down paper) I work in the belly of the ship, shovelling coal and breathing soot.† Weíll hire women, any takers?
MRS. WHITE†††††††† You have a point young man.
MRS. WHITE goes back to hearings area.
MARGO†††††††††††††††† Oh, you were you the lead stoker. (begins to scribble notes) Is it true that three new boilers were lit the day of the sinking?
FIREMAN††††††††††††† Yes, sheíd never gone faster.† The sooner we were past the ice the better I say.† Well, except for the part about most of me pals drowning like trapped rats.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† How did you make it up in time?
FIREMAN††††††††††††† Blind luck.† I stayed helping the engineers until the water rushed in, I scrambled up an escape ladder.† By the time I made it to the Promenade deck I saw two boats left.
MARGO†††††††††††††††† What officer was in charge?†
FIREMAN††††††††††††† No officers, I was put in charge.† The woman just seemed to appear up from aft.† We were filled to capacity, almost 70 people.† I learned the horrors later.† From where I was there is no story of half full boats of men dressed in velvet.† Our boat had one first class passenger, only a few crewman or men and all.† Mostly steerage passengers dressed like rag dolls, plenty who spoke no English, yet treated with a certain respect.††
KATE††††††††††††††††††† By being full you were spared having to consider going back?
FIREMAN††††††††††††† I suppose.† Iíll testify, best I can.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† I wish Iíd been given pass inside the hearing room today.
FIREMAN†††††††††††††† Aw, lassie. The truth ainít in there. All week Iíve been at the port listening to crewman gabbing to other seaman.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† But each one seems to have a different version of the same story.
FIREMAN††††††††††††† Well, thereís greed and saving face, but it ainít always dishonesty, the mind plays tricks.† And not just by time passing.† On me boat, some swear they heard the band playing almost till the end. Others said no.† The minute after she went down, some people say they saw her snap apart in two.†
WANE†††††††††††††††††† (sets paper down briefly) My dear fellow, I saw Titanic break in half.† Too much weight on her stern.
FIREMAN††††††††††††† A bloody myth.† I know that ship and where the power turbines are.† Her lights couldnít have stayed on that long if she broke apart.
SENATOR††††††††††††† I call lookout Fredrick Fleet!
Section 7: Senator and Fleet on the sighting of the iceberg
Lights come up in the hearings area.
WANE goes back to glancing at his paper. The lights stay up in the waiting area. Action resumes in hearings area. Unlike most witnesses FLEET is nervous and uncomfortable, clutching his cap.
SENATOR††††††††††††† How far off was this "black mass" when you saw it?
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Donít know.
SENATOR††††††††††††† I understand youíre not good at estimating distances.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Not good with numbers, but I see plenty good.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Why were there no binoculars in the crowís nest?
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Donít know, they were there, then after we left
South Hamptonthey wasnít there.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Whatís missing was a chain of communication.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Glasses are not always used. They can narrow the view. Itís a matter of opinion.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (holding up paper) Admiral Peary was just interviewed. The very discoverer of the North Pole says on a clear night, such as the night the Titanic foundered, binoculars would have been very valuable at seeing the berg earlier.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (to Fleet) And when you rung up the bridge by phone in the crowís nest and after you told the officer about the berg what did he say?
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† He said "thank you."
The spectators moan at such a travesty. ["Thank you" became a headline in many of that dayís stories.]
Section 8: Comments regarding the evacuation procedures
While the characters in the waiting area make comments those in the hearings area do not freeze and the lights stay up. They just talk softly or look at paper work while the action is directed back to the hallway area.
SENATOR††††††††††††† What we see is a ship rushed into its maiden voyage. No general alarm given. No chain of command, no organized routine of evacuationÖ Mr. Lightoller, you put people aboard the lifeboats regardless of class, nationality or pedigree?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Do you know of gates being locked to prevent steerage passengers from going up top?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† From the beginning I saw some second and third cabin passengers entering lifeboats. Language was a barrier. And no one was there to give proper instructions of which boat deck to go to.
FIREMAN†††††††††††††† I heard several gates were locked after the collision, I believe it, but Iíll deny saying it.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† A group of us were escorted up without a problem.
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Thatís just it, you had to stay below until escorted.
MARGO†††††††††††††††† Wasnít the way the was ship designed one of the barriers to going to the boat decks?
FIREMAN††††††††††††† Yes, but the biggest barrier is class. The poorest of people often accept their fates with no hope.† After years of second class conditioning.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† I agree, some of the people I met in steerage told me this was the first time they had ever had running water or indoor plumbing.
WANE†††††††††††††††††† Thatís why they come here in droves, plenty of poor Americans would have stormed through those gates same as a rich man would have.
FIREMAN†††††††††††††† Unless you were a first class woman or child, surviving the night was the luck of the draw. Standing in the right place at the right time.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Did you see families separated?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† I did.
SENATOR †††††††††††† 25 percent of steerage survived. 42 percent of second class and 60 percent of first class! More men from first class survived then children from steerage!
LIGHTOLLER††††††† I was in charge of the port side. Only later did I learn First Officer Murdoch was starboard letting couples on and often single men.
FIREMAN†††††††††††††† They wonít tell you how Officer Murdoch must have panicked.† Not just because he didnít have enough lookouts.† Murdoch tried to turn a ship big as a city sharply to miss the berg. That left the vulnerable side of the ship open. He ended up shooting himself in the head, you know.
MARGO†††††††††††††††† That is hearsay.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Why, would Officer Murdoch let so many men on?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Scores of woman looked down and didnít want to go down ropes into a cold black sea. It seemed safer on the ship. We were led to believe the lifeboats were only a precaution. Captain Smith didnít want a panic.
SENATOR††††††††††††† So when no one else near seemed willing to go, you simply lowered a half-full boat? One boat only had 12 passengers!
LIGHTOLLER††††††† It was a confusing night sir.
FIREMAN†††††††††††††† Sure we come up with our own versions, but look at the consistent agreed upon facts on how unorganized things were that night.
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Itís no rumour Captain Smith lost his mind.
FIREMAN††††††††††††† But the big shots will look harsh if they attack the dead.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The biggest curse of the Titanic is that the Captain was the most popular of any captain on any steam line. Yet his wits had never been tested.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Then when the ship was listing and people began to crowd the boats you still didnít fill them to capacityÖYes, yes, no one thought sheíd founder.
LIGHTOLLER†††††† Towards the end boats were filled up, sir.
SENATOR†††††††††††† We hear of so many passengers being asked to help man boats. Yet you say it took only two crewmen to man a boat. Out of 20 boats that would be 40 saved. Why were 214 members of the crew saved and put before children!
LIGHTOLLER shrugs and says nothing.
FLEET †††††††††††††††††† I was ordered onto boat six!
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Could it be true survival often simply meant which side of the boat deck you chose to walk up?
MARGO †††††††††††††††† (looking at notes) A single man in third class got aboard one crowded boat while a famous millionaire with a pregnant wife was refused a seat in another boat lowered with plenty of room.
[The pregnant bride and soon to be widow of Col. John Jacob Astor, ended up covering a crying 21 year old Irish immigrant with her shawl to keep him from being pulled out.]
FIREMAN††††††††††††† White Star ainít the problem, itís all of civilization, thatís whatís on trail here.
End of the two scenes going back and forth.
Section 9:† What the band played and differing accounts.
The lights go down on stage left as WANE, FIREMAN, MARGO and KATE exit.
SENATOR can make transitions in whom heís questioning by pausing, finding a note in his file, then pacing over to the different witness.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Mrs. Shelley, youíve written an affidavit that states Mr. Ismay showed you the Marconigram warning of ice. And rather than slowing down he said "weíll put on more boilers to speed out of it"?
MRS. SHELLEY†††† No, I said thatís what Mrs. Ryerson told me.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (reading) Yet, in her sworn affidavit she makes no mention of it. Only of how the band kept playing and how the ship broke in half.
MRS. WHITE†††††††† I say the ship went down intact, because the funnel toppled over some say she broke in two.
SENATOR is frustrated at how casually they change subjects, he is about to interrupt, but lets them talk as this is an informal inquiry, not a trial.
MRS. SHELLEY†††† She broke in two as if cut like a knife, I swear. And the band did keep playing. "Nearer my God to thee."
LIGHTOLLER †††††† (a bit upset) I disagree. Wireless officer Harold Bride was in the water close by.† He claims they were playing "Autumn."
MRS. WHITE†††††††† No, it was a ragtime number.
MRS. SHELLEY†††† Ragtime, at a time like that?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Every Marconigram of ice warnings should have been
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† posted on the bridge, not passed around. Weíll reconvene†††††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† after lunch.†††††
SENATOR rushes out for lunch, probably with MRS. BIDWELL.† Then MRS. WHITE and SHELLEY can have a debate.
[Perhaps need to add a few more lines here for MRS. SHELLEY: class distinctions, how poor people have to know their place. How quickly the newly rich abandon their class. Something like that. Part for the playís message and to give the actress playing MRS. SHELLEY more lines.]
As lights go down in hearing area,† PHOTOGRAPHER and, MARGO, walk into the hallway area where a slick looking REPORTER is standing.
PHOTOGRAPHER†††††††† Oh, not another slippery Times reporter.
MARGO††††††††††††††††††††††† They breed like rabbits.
REPORTER††††††††††††††††† Our circulation has sky rocketed since
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the sinking. (to photographer) Can we hire you away†
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† for a handsome raise?
PHOTOGRAPHER††††††††† Iíve always admired the Times reporters.
MARGO†††††††††††††††††††††††† What about me?
REPORTER††††††††††††††††††† Margo, now I can afford to marry you and you can
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† quit working.
He is kidding, but puts his arm around her, minor sexual harassment.† She
nudges him away.
MARGO††††††††††††††††††††††††† Anything to beat the competition.†† I know you††††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† made a deal with Marconi to buy the exclusive
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† stories from his wireless officers.
World is not a bunch of angels either. New York
MARGO†††††††††††††††††††††††††† The press was banned from boarding the Carpathia.†††
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Yet we know your managing editor slipped on and
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† went straight to the wireless room.
REPORTER ††††††††††††††††††††Having Guglielmo Marconi at your side opens
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† doors.† Thatís yesterdayís scandal, today itís the
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† mystery ship everybodyís talking about.
PHOTOGRAPHER†††††††††† †Itís no mystery. The freighter the Californian was
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† nearby, they sent the Titanic one of the ice
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† warnings. Like sane men they stopped their ship
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††for the night.
MARGO†††††††††††††††††††††††††† Button up your mouth!
Margo is fuming and remains upset her photographer for sharing
Information but thereís nothing she can do. [The New York Times really did
have a deal with 37 year old Marconi, the Bill Gates of his day. The
paper rose to prominence that still continues generally as a result of
having the most complete Titanic coverage.]
REPORTER††††††††††††††††††††† So you think the captain of the Californian saw
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††the distress rockets and still didnít wake up their
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† wireless officer?
PHOTOGRAPHER††††††††††††† He didnít want to risk his ship, how was he to†
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† know it wasnít a beat up fishing vessel nobodyíd
MARGO†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Careers begin and end thanks to the Titanicís long
As they exit SENATOR† rushes out to the hall followed by MRS. BIDWELL.
SENATOR†††††††††††† I want you to get Marconi back on the stand.††††††††††
MRS. BIDWELL†††† William Alden, you canít.† Go after Taft, Roosevelt, King
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† George perhaps, but not him.
SENATOR††† †††††††††Those just getting on duty in the bridge were only aware of
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† two ice warnings, under-paid, over-worked Marconi
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† employees were forced to put† commercial traffic above
††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††navigational.† And often the operators were so busy
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† sending birthday wishes, they couldnít leave the cabin to
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† deliver messages to the bridge!
MRS. BIDWELL†††† But ultimately the SOS on his equipment saved 705
SENATOR†††††††††††† Yes, but itís a monopoly and I am a trust buster.† They
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† stalled messages after the rescue, they made a deal with
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the Times so Officer Bride would be paid a small fortune
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† for his story.† Shares of Marconi Company stock have
MRS. BIDWELL†††† There will now be regulations. The monopoly will die off
††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††soon when radio waves are perfected and any
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† crew member can use a wireless.
SENATOR†††††††††††† (sighs) I canít help taking swings at handmade hallos.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† Perhaps you could call the Pope as a witness?
SENATOR††††††††††††† I wonít be happy until God testifies. (walking away)
MRS. BIDWELL†††† And under oath at that.† ďI now call God as my witness!Ē
(They laugh, as SENATOR exits, LOWE comes up to MRS BIDWELL.)
LOWE††††††††††††††††††† I donít care for you sense of humour, Mrs. Bidwell. Itís†††††
MRS. BIDWELL†††† Officer Lowe, I respect that your boat was the only one to†
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† go back for survivors. And I realize you are a
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† religious man, but no type of God would want you
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† preach to me.
LOWE††††††††††††††††††† I beg your pardon!
MRS. BIDWELL†††† God created the ďLatinsĒ and ďItaliansĒ you bad mouthed†
††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††for rushing the boats.†† You almost didnít pick up that††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Japanese business man floating on wreckage because there
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† might be others more worthy of rescue.†
LOWE†††††††††††††††††† †Itís 1912, one can be excused of such minor character
MRS. BIDWELL†††† Senator Smith has defended black men in criminal court,†
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† made sacrifices to his career by supporting people from
† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††races you may not approve of!††††
LOWE††††††††††††††††††† You Americans have slave owners portraits printed on
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† your moneyÖMiss, I am a hero this month, I promise to
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† try to change later.
[In the movie the wreckage Rose is floating on is supposed to be based on
the one the Japanese businessman used.]
Section 10:†† Lowes testimony (the only lifeboat to go back to look for survivors)
Lights come up on hearings area.
SENATOR††††††††††††† I call Fifth Officer Harold Lowe.
LOWE enters and takes his seat on the panel.
SENATOR††††††††††††† I understand you were the skipper of the only lifeboat to go back and look for surviving swimmers?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† Yes, I transferred the passengers from my boat into other boats to make room for up to 60.† But we waited too long. Only saved three.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Prior to that you were lowering lifeboats on the starboard side. Did Mr. Ismay assist you?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† I did not know who he was at the time. When it comes to doing the right thing I answer only to God. Unlike some other members of the crew, I will not twist the truth to protect the company.
SENATOR††††††††††††† You finally demanded Mr. Ismay stand back?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† Yes, though he was trying to help, I found him overanxious, waving his hands sayingÖ"lower away! lower away! Lower away!"
LOWEíS imitation of pompous ISMAY is superb, the ladies who are already smitten with Lowe giggle.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Did you fire shots from your revolver while your boat was being lowered?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† Yes, as we passed the lower deck a mob of people began swarming the boat, it would have pitched us all over into the sea.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Witnesses say you fired into a crowd of immigrants.
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† No, only to either side of the ship.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Do you believe reports that First Officer Murdoch shot himself dead after killing a passenger?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† Yes. And he realized heíd be blamed for letting too many men aboard the lifeboats.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Why didnít you load the boats to capacity?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† At first few wanted to leave the ship. Then we were of the understanding that too many people would cause the lifeboats to buckle in the middle.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (waving file) Those boats were designed to hold up to 65 men. They were lowered from davits in
with 65 burley Irishman. Why was there never a boat drill as scheduled? Belfast
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† It was another failure in the chain of command and information. The morning of the drill was at the same time Captain Smith liked to conduct Sunday mass.
SENATOR††††††††††††† You who only answer to God could have made it your business to learn more. Men were resting on their oars while there was room for 500 more people on those boats!
Section 11:†† Lightrollerís survival
MRS. WHITE ††††††† (an outburst) The officers should have left the ship last.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† I didnít leave the ship, the ship left me. I was washed off the plunging bow. I eventually swam until I found a collapsible lifeboat floating upside down.
SENATOR††††††††††††† OK, back to you Mr. Lightoller, did any other swimmers try to climb on board?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Yes. Once the crewmembers recognized me, they pulled me up. Wireless officer Bride was the last man invited on board.
SENATOR††††††††††††† One more man after that and youíd have capsized?
LIGHTOLLER††††††† I didnít see anyone whack any swimmers with an oar like Iíve heard. So many people were in the water.
MRS. SHELLEY†††† You couldnít hear anything but the boat break-up, then all those people in the water crying for help.
MRS. WHITE†††††††† Such a roar. The mass of screams were dreadful.
Lights go down in hearings and hallway areas. CHORUS softly sings or hums "near, my God to Thee"
Section 12: † Renactment of the lifeboats not turning back
Several actors move to two rows of benches under a spotlight. A couple oars and a lantern should help. Not all passengers had life vests and some were in pajamas and blankets. We hear faint sounds those still on board and sounds of the ship breaking up.
PASSENGER††††††††† Sheís gone under! Pointed right up in the air!
Several lifeboat passengers begin to sob in terror. Those in the boats say they didnít hear loud screams of those left behind until they were swimming. So the mass of screams start now.† Passenger, may also be crewmen, and Lowe could just be a generic crewman.
PASSENGER††††††††† Our husbands!
PASSENGER††††††††† If all those men standing near the boat had been better dressed, youíd have let them on too.
PASSENGER††††††††† Listen to them. Letís row back, weíve plenty room to save a dozen lives or more.
PASSENGER††††††††† Weíll all die! No one touch those oars!
PASSENGER††††††††† I say we take vote!
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† Itís suicide to go back now, we will wait.
PASSENGER††††††††† I canít stand the sound.
PASSENGER††††††††† Can you tell what some of them are saying? Itís ďsave one life.Ē
PASSENGER††††††††† Our boat would be swamped and sink for sure.† That would be less lives, not more.
PASSENGER††††††††† Thereís other life boats out here with more room, and it wonít be long until a rescue ship or two will be here, first theyíll save those in the water.†
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† We will sing.
PASSENGER††††††††† Are you mad!?
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† Were going to sing to block out the screams. Everybody, itís an order.
Lowe begins to sing, though in obvious sorrow, but with a sense of duty. Slowly some of the others join him as the screams of swimmers get louder.
LOWE THEN CHORUS
Pull for the shore, sailor, and pull for the shore!
Heed not the rolling waves, but bend to the oar;
Safe in the lifeboat, sailor, cling to self no more!
Leave the poor stranded wreck, and pull for the shore.
NOTE: Survivors really did sing this song in boat 13. The song Lowe actually had them sing was "Throw out the life-line" Screams stop, lights come back up on SENATOR as he talks to the audience.
Section 13: † Senator comments on lifeboats not returning and Ismay wants to go home to
SENATOR††††††††††††† (to audience) Yes, several boats really sang to do anything to block out the bone chilling screams. There are reports crewman made threats to anyone who wanted to row near the crowd.
We begin to hear faint sounds of screams again. Generic crewman walks
up, he looks haggard, nervous about taking the Senatorís time. He is
treated kindly. (Senator Smith was on first name bases with all the
crewman by the end of the hearings.)† The scene could have brief crowd
cheers/screams in the back ground.
CREWMAN††††††††††† Senator Smith?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Yes, sir.
CREWMAN††††††††††† I still hear the screams and canít block Ďem out.† I have all this time to think.†† You see I never had no more than a few days off working me whole life till now. You set us up in a hotel and I thank you for making them gave us an extra dollar a day spending money.
SENATOR††††††††††††† I try to treat all men equally.
CREWMAN†††††††††††† You ever seen a baseball game?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Of course.† I follow the
CREWMAN†††††††††††† Ya know that big Stadium park up Broadway?
SENATOR††††† ††††††††Why Iíve seen Ty Cob hit a home run there.
CREWMAN††††††††††† Well, thatís what it sounds like.† Me mate and me was walking a ways by it, and when something big happens, the crowd roars.† From a distance, it sounds like the cries for help we heard from the swimmers that night.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Are you a religious man?
CREWMAN†††††††††††† I voted for our boat to stay away from the swimmers, donít know if God will have me now.† (begins to walk away seeming lost) Back home I lives near a football field in
MRS. BIDWELL has walked up.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† He looks like a ghost.† Yet it was mostly the woman majority in the boats that collectively voted not to go back.† Woman soon to be widows.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Right as she was going down the closest life boats did pick up several swimmers. What we keep seeing is stories of gallantry while the ship was sinking.† Such personal sacrifice. "Sit right here, take my blanket. Let me row."
MRS. BIDWELL††††† It seems God was there during the final hours till Titanic vanished. Then when it comes to these half full boats at least trying to pick up swimmers, only one boat went back!
SENATOR††††††††††††† But the screams are gone in an hour or so. Dead silence. Then God and gallantry is back. "Here take my jacket, oh, no, you board the rescue ship first. Oh, no hot soup for me until everyone else has had some."
Slowly the sound of hushed screams begin again while he talks, they get louder, like voices in his head. So he talks louder.
Where was God during that hour!? When he was needed most! The boats could have let a few of the nearest swimmers on and rowed off before being swamped. But I wasnít there.
In the end I believe some men willingly gave their lives, I believe plenty of people wanted to go back. But the numbers and the reality are: one boat out of 20 went back and saved three!
ISMAY calmly enters, unaware of the screams.† The SENATOR is looking overworked and weary.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Excuse me Senator?!
ISMAY says this loud enough for SENATOR to hear when heís still several feet away. The minute he speaks, the screams stop instantly. SENATOR turns to talk to him.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† The hearings are all but over now. No one has been able to prove any of the charges against me. May I go home?
SENATOR††††††††††††† No. (rubbing eyes)
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† May I ask you something that has been gnawing at me?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Only if it doesnít involve big ships.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† As a boy I went to only the finest boarding school in
ÖI preformed in the annual light opera. London
SENATOR††††††††††††† I believe half of that.
†ISMAY††††††††††††††††† How could a boy even begin to support a family simply by singing in the street?!
SENATOR††††††††††††† At 12 I made double what the average family earned! My popularity lead to me being hired as a newspaper reporter at age 19.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† I am not doubting you, since childhood Iíve only been surrounded by people with old money. I am dying to know how you did it.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Popcorn.† Iíd jump into the crowd singing and dancing with a bag of pop corn in each hand.† Sold one bag after another.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† (impressed) Ah, you would buy it in bulk and pop it your self.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Only because our butler was gone.† Off playing golf with his butler.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Popcorn does have an enormous profit margin.
Ismay walks away satisfied.† Suddenly SENATOR has a brief flash back to
40 years ago.† Perhaps only in his mind.†† I have included the entire lyrics,
so if you use them, you can trim them as you see fit.†
Instead of a boy dancing, or maybe the shadow of a dancing boy in the back
ground, I picture tired SENATOR lost in thought for a moment as he
reminisces of his boy hood while the CHORUS softly sings.
During this time the rest of the characters can be going about their business
in little groups as the hearings dominate their lives.† They silently chat or
read, or point at another group and gossip.† Crewman can pantomime a
sea story, reports pester people.† Arguments, debates etc.
This song does sort of fit in as there is so much talk about money and what
with the next section being about Wane being a con artist gambler.
De Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
De Camptown race-track five miles long, Oh, doo-dah day!
I come down dah wid my hat caved in, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home wid a pocket full of tin, Oh, doo-dah day!
Gwine to run all night!
Gwine to run all day!
I'll bet my money on de bob-tail nag,
Somebody bet on de bay.
De long tail filly and de big black hoss, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Dey fly de track and dey both cut across, Oh, doo-dah-day!
De blind hoss sticken in a big mud hole, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Can't touch bottom wid a ten foot pole, Oh, doo-dah-day!
Old muley cow come on to de track, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
De bob-tail fling her ober his back, Oh, doo-dah-day!
Den fly along like a rail-road car, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Runnin' a race wid a shootin' star, Oh, doo-dah-day!
See dem flyin' on a ten mile heat, Doo-dah doo-dah!
Round de race track, den repeat, Oh, doo-dah-day!
I win my money on de bob-tail nag, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I keep my money in an old tow-bag, Oh, doo-dah-day!
Section 14:†† Kate finds out that Wane is a conman
Stage goes black. Lights back on as action quickly moves to the waiting
area. KATE is alone with WANE.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† Darling, we really need to get away from all this. By Wednesday Iíd hoped we could take the train to
and get married. Niagara Falls
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† I told you I have a rally to go to on Wednesday.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† Theyíll be other rallies.† I want you to be Mrs. Wane Wheelwright.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Yes, but itís so soon.
Enter FLEET with a MARGO.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Hold it right there, Mr. baby bottom hands, I asked around at the port about you.† Then I talked to this newsman woman, happens she was turning over rocks same as me looking for information about just what bloominí rock you crawled out from under.
MARGO†††††††††††††††† You said a reporter wrote a story about you and sent it to the
Daily Express. I found out there is no such paper! Denver
WANE††††††††††††††††††† I am actually from a small hamlet outside
MARGO†††††††††††††††† With a bank and a daily paper!?
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† Lies!† Youíre a gambler, a card sharp you is.† You cleaned out several sailors just last night.
WANE††††††††††††††††††† A small poker game among bored crewman waiting for the investigation to release them.
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† (To Kate) His hands are smooth and fast.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† You cheat at cards?
WANE††††††††††††††††††† No, Iím just a very good player.† As if sailors are loaded with money for me to take.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† Kate, Iím afraid your fiancťe made the big killing by selling his story to the
Globe. New York
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Itís nonsense.
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† Heís a con artist, little lady.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† Why would he want to marry me, he knows Iím poor.
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Because I love you.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Even a man who cheats at everything can still fall in love. What could be a better wife for a travelling card sharp then a pretty girl whoís always off busy protesting?
MARGO†††††††††††††††† A tug boat rented by the Globe pulled alongside the Carpathia and yelled for Titanic crewman to jump in the harbour, that theyíd be fished out right away and given money for their stories.† They were careful to make sure the men had identification that could be verified.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† Is that where you went, you didnít help the doctor!† (to Kate)† But his name wasnít in the newspaper!
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† Stole a dead manís work papers he did!
MARGO†††††††††††††††† Mr. Fleet, I told you he must have used his papers to forge new ones for the papers of a first class Steward who was on the crewmanís list but cancelled at the last minute.
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† Because he killed him back in Queenstown!
MARGO†††††††††††††††† No, why does everything have to be exaggerated?††
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† Couldnít use Wheelwright Ďcause he made it up!
WANE††††††††††††††††††† If it seemed real enough to be hired by White Star, why not use it to sell a story?!
(Fleet is trying to figure that one out)
KATE††††††††††††††††††† How could you do this to me!
WANE†††††††††††††††††† Itís not how it looks, darling.
MARGO††††††††††††††† You were hoping to get out of town before you got caught.††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† We know youíre wanted by the
police.† But we wonít say a word to the police for 24 hours. New York
WANE††††††††††††††††††† And whyíd would you do that?!
MARGO††††††††††† †††††Before you disappear into a new life with a new name I want you to give me an exclusive story about being a con artist who works on board luxury liners.
KATE††††††††††††††††††† (upset at Margo) Bribery, extortion.† Oh, is that how you got promoted, by being more of an aggressive immoral, cut throat than a man!† Is that equality!?
MARGO†††††††††††††††† Iím also protecting you from a con man!
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Kate, I love you.† My real name is Wane Wheelwright and I am not wanted by the police.† Youíre using an old reporters trick.† And The Globe would get in trouble ratting me out. Yes, I sometimes am a liar but I do not cheat at cards.† My family does own a ranch, I grew up cleaning out ignorant ranch hands, and found crewmen on ocean liners made them look like geniuses.
FLEET attacks WANE.† WANEíS hand comes out of the sling. He grabs Fleet by the collar and practically lifts him up. Heís about ready to punch him. MARGO tries to pull WANE off.
FLEET†††††††††††††††††† You sniffling swineÖHey, your hand was never hurt!†
KATE†††††††††††††††††††† You were so smart and charming, why do all this?
WANE††††††††††††††††††† Because I am the laziest man alive!† I didnít want to row.† I was so charming no one noticed I did nothing as a Steward.†† My brother kicked me off the ranch because I faked injury so often.† But that is in the past.†† Meeting you and almost dying made me want to change.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Almost dying? How about if I kill you right now! (looking at Margo) Everybody is thirsty for blood!
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† But I love you.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Iím chokiní up itís so romantic.
KATE †††††††††††††††††††† (to Wane) Iím a modern independent woman, I always end up calling off my weddings anyway!
WANE is truly heartbroken, he begins to leave.
MARGO††††††††††††††††† Canít you give me just a few quotes?
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† Howís this, drown me right now!
WANE exits. †††††††††
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Good bye whatever your real name is!
WANE pops back in.
WANE†††††††††††††††††††† ITíS WANE WHEELWRIGHT!
MARGO††††††††††††††††† Will I see you at the rally on Wednesday?
KATE††††††††††††††††††† I thank you for your help, but I am not happy about the price you are paying, you canít be equal by cheating using your sexuality or vulnerability as a woman.††††††††††††††††
KATE †††††††††††††††††††† I owe you a lot of thanks Mr. Fleet.
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Least I did somethiní good, maybe the old man upstairs will give me some repentance.
KATE††††††††††††††††††††† Donít worry, God loves you, wherever she may be.
Section 15:†† Senator with a defiant Ismay
Lights go down as KATE and FLEET exit. Lights come back up on SENATOR and ISMAY.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (shakes his head) By the way, women were given the vote in 1920. And there were two real marriages by survivors who started their courtships about the rescue ship.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Why tell me that? Are you tired?
SENATOR††††††††††††† Exhausted.† Iíve worked non-stop. Mr. Ismay, Iím a man used to finding answers!
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Iím used to having anything I want! Now Iím ruined. But Iím numb. I donít have the nightmares or hear the screams like everyone else. Why canít the dead and the era of building too big too fast be to blame? Did you have to put on a show?!
SENATOR††††††††††††† To make it easier to get new safety legislation!
LIGHTOLLER††††††† That would have taken care of its self. Last week the crew of the Olympic staged a minor mutiny by refusing to go back out to sea until White Star provided lifeboats for everyone on board. Senator, you and your wife crossed the
Atlanticon White Star a few years ago.† Captain Smith gave you a tour.† Did you scream and shout when you saw they didnít have a full compliment of lifeboats?
SENATOR††††††††††††† The fact that weíre all guilty of complacency will be in my final report!† This inquiry may ruin my political career, but I held nothing back!
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Except you were afraid to publicly criticize Captain Smith or Gulielmo Marconi etcÖ
SENATOR†††††† †††††††I had to do what is right beyond my personal beliefs.
LIGHTOLLER steps back and doesnít involve himself in the conversation for
a while. Perhaps Ismay motions him to step back.
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Assume Iím greedy with no soul. I proved I want to live! I am worth 40 millions dollars in 1912! Why would I cut corners on a ship with an unlimited budget, a ship I was going to be a regular passenger on!ÖThe three men who were directly responsible for the safety of the ship that night perished without answering your questions. Then since God isnít returning your phone calls, you turn me into the devil!
SENATOR††††††††††††† Watch your mouth!
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† Senator, perhaps there is a God. But have you considered that maybe I donít think thereís such things as ghosts?
MRS. BIDWELL walks by and hands a slip of paper to SENATOR.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Oh, Mrs. Bidwell, letís hear your latest rant.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† This goes beyond Marine legislation.† The scope of this disaster has brought attention to the gap between the classes.† Congress is considering investigation into working conditions of the poor, such as in factories that claim to be safe and modern.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Are you saying we wonít always see the rich travelling with maids, man servants and steamer trunks?†
MRS. BIDWELL††††† Maybe. And word has it in a few years theyíll be an income tax to take a bite.† Theyíll always be the super rich, but they will try to hide it better.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Oh, yes Senator, you are a social doctor whoís preformed the first autopsy of the Gilded age.
MRS. BIDWELL††††† And you English will have to recognize the womanís right movement.
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† We have suffragettes in
!† You may have heard that until 10 years ago we had a queen with some degree of power for 63 years! England
MRS. BIDWELL†††† Queen Victory was for show.†
will have a female President before you have a female Prime Minister!††† America
SENATOR††††††††††††† (laughs) I will believe God is a woman, before Iíll believe a woman could ever be elected president.
MRS. BIDWELL gives SENATOR a fuming look.
SENATOR†††††††††††† Not that I wouldnít personally approve of either.
MRS. BIDWELL†††† I have to leave now.
SENATOR†††††††††††† Arenít you going to stay till the end?
MRS. BIDWELL†††† I was never real, you two are real.
SENATOR†††††††††††† You are a composite of real people!
MRS. BIDWELL†††† But I change as the story keeps being retold, you are†
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† always a hero with faults and Ismay is always a villain with
†††††††† †††††††††††††††††††no redeeming qualities.†
SENATOR†††††††††††† Will I see you again?†
MRS. BIDWELL†††† Maybe next time Iíll be a boy, dancing beside you on the
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† streets of
. Grand Rapids
ISMAY†††††††††††††††† ††Did you hear that?†† Iím always a villain with no†
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† redeeming qualities.† Why donít you ever mention how
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† much I donated to the widowís fund? A scapegoat trapped
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in eternity.† And why do I always have
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to look so sinister? Every movie, every mini-series.†
SENATOR††††††††††††† Iíve never even made it that far. Iím largely forgotten
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† even in
.† Ever since Henry Ford became the Michigan
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† favourite son.† And why donít you do something about
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† your personality!
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Many photos exist of me smiling, yet you always make
†††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††me dark and brooding.
SENATOR†††††††††††††† If life isnít fair why should death be?
ISMAY†††††††††††††††††† Can I go back to
ISMAY motions LIGHTOLLER to follow. They exit. Puppy dog.
SENATOR†††††††††††† †††(to audience) What Ismay had waiting for him was the
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† British inquiry which lasted longer and cost much more
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† than the American investigation.
Section 16:††††††††† Senator and Lowe Ė Hero or as guilty as the others?
as LOWE enters.
SENATOR††††††††††††† (nodding) Officer Lowe.
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† You know I hate Ismay. But he is innocent of every major crime heís charged with. If heíd perished or if the top brass had lived, his name wouldnít be ruined.
SENATOR††††††††††††† After the wireless operator, you seem to be the only hero.
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† No, thereís no legends of self-sacrifice among the living. I believe my entering a lifeboat saved lives. The shots I fired may have accidentally killed someone. I was aware when boat drills were ignored. I too was complacent, wanted to be promoted. We all have to find peace with GodÖ Titanic was simply too big. Youíre methods of finding answers were too big. When we donít have all the answers we ask "where was God?"
SENATOR††††††††††††† And then more and more these days we expect the government to solve our problems.
LOWE†††††††††††††††††††† The Lord would never leave us. Perhaps God canít be everywhere at once, but the love for our fellow man can be. (exits)
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† (pops his head back in). Senator, may I Ė
SENATOR††††††††††††† YES, YOU CAN GO HOME! (pause)
SENATOR †††††††††††† (to audience) Ismay never returned to the U.S. JP Morgan died less than a year later. No criminal charges were ever filed against the company or any individual.† Any strain on
relations with Great Briton dissolved as we fought alongside each other during War One. U.S.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† As for Titanicís passengers, very little insurance money was ever paid out. The carefree spirit of the times was blamed.
Naturally there was sweeping marine legislation to avoid future sea catastrophes. A year after Titanic, major investigations began in working and living conditions of the poor. Then just two years later income tax and World War One brought an end to the super rich ruling supreme.
Section 17: †††††††††† Fate of the others
ISMAY, LIGHTOLLER, LOWE and FLEET have lined up single file behind
SENATOR††††††††††††† As soon as I let J. Bruce Ismay go back to
he was called to testify at the British Titanic inquiry. He was raked through the coals there and in the press. Though for the second time he was cleared of wrong doing, he was forced out of White Star lines and retired from public life forever the scapegoat. England
ISMAY††††††††††††††††††† At least I outlived you by five years.†††
ISMAY exits with nose in the air, BRIDE was behind him. Unless the
doubling up of characters makes this impractical.
SENATOR††††††††††††† Harold Bride, became a valuable wireless officer during World War One, then became a salesman and raised a family, staying out of the limelight. He died in 1956.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Charles Lightoller served in World War One and returned to White Star but never was promoted to captain because heíd chosen to support Ismay. He died in 1952.
LIGHTOLLER††††††† Tell them.
SENATOR †††††††††††† (sighs) During World War Two while almost 70 years old he took his familyís yacht to
and rescued 130 men. The overcrowded boat was bombed and machine-gunned along the way, but because of his skill as a seaman no hands were lost. Dunkirk
(Exit LIGHTOLLER, Lowe was behind him.)
Harold Lowe, after becoming a commander in World War One he returned home to
and worked in local politics. He died in 1944, rarely talking of the Titanic but always recognized for his selfless duty. Wales
(whispers to audience while LOWE exits)
He had the best funeral of any of usÖ
Fleet stayed at sea for 24 more years, but was never forgiven for revealing that the binoculars were missing. Shortly after his wifeís death in 1965 he hung himself from the clothesline in his back yard. Frederick
FLEET††††††††††††††††††† Do you have to tell everyone that! (exit Fleet)
SENATOR††††††††††††† As for me. My state got more conservative. My liberal stunts wore thin, I didnít run for president but stayed effective in the senate for seven more years then went back to being a businessman. I slowly lost my spark and grew isolated. Now Iím a tiny footnote, but in my day I was a tiger.
And did God ever answer me? In some ways the world woke up and changed for the better, lives were saved with improved safety standards only a catastrophe like the Titanic could have brought. And how could God have not been at a place where in the face of death the band played on?
Slowly everyone comes back out and sings, "nearer thy God to thee." When they start bowing it becomes a liveler "It was sad when the great ship went down." SENATOR is encouraged to sing, he finally joins in maybe does a jig or two.