Auditions for "The Donnellys: Before the
By Christopher Doty
Directed by Jeff Culbert
Sunday, January 22nd, 1 pm to 5pm
Sunday, January 29th, 1 pm to 5 pm
Wolf Performance Hall
Central Library, 251 Dundas Street
Please prepare a monologue and a reading from
part of the script (see below)
No appointment is necessary
We are looking for experienced actors - ages
18 to 60 - 2 women and 6 men - who will be paid an honourarium for their work.
A public reading will be held on the evening of Friday, March 10th. Rehearsals for this event will be held on Wednesday, March 8th and Thursday, March 9 between 6 and 9 p.m.
The production is tentatively scheduled to be performed in Lucan between June 15 and July 2, 2006 with rehearsals being held twice weekly starting April 6th.
For more information, please contact producer
Click here for audition information for The Donnelly Trial.
SAMPLE SCRIPT PAGES
CAST OF CHARACTERS
James Donnelly, 45-60 years of
-a sturdy, vigorous man, well fitted to grapple with the rude conditions of the time
Johannah Donnelly, 45-60 years
-a woman of strong and masculine nature while inheriting many of the generous traits of the Irish character, being stern and aggressive in promoting the interest of her rising family
John Donnelly, 20-30 years of
-the practical joker in the family
-well liked and referred to by his friends and family as "Johnny"
Tom Donnelly, 20-25 years of age
-the brawler in the family
Bridget Donnelly, 20-25 years
-young cousin recently arrived from Tipperary, Ireland
-To be played by three male actors, 20 to 50 years of age
-characters include Father John Connolly, Ned Ryan and Reporter
JAMES, JOHANNAH & BRIDGET
Bridget: Uncle James? Aunt Johannah says its time for supper. What are you looking at?
James: I was looking at our land. Thinking what bush needs to be cleared next year. What crops need to be planted. But mostly, Im looking at our land. I once killed for this land, Bridget - and I would again.
Bridget: Uncle James, youre teasing me
James: Youre new to this country, Bridget. You dont know yet what its like having something to call your own - something that lasts forever. As long as the Donnellys can call this farm theirs, we have a reason to be. Not like the old country where you work someone elses earth just to keep from dying. If you have your own - youre alive.
Bridget: I dont understand
James: The law here doesnt understand what we want - what we need - why we came to this country in the first place. Were sick of starving and were sick of moving like we were doing back in Ireland - of being crushed by the Church of England.
Bridget: Youve done well for yourself, Uncle James -
James: You should have seen this place when we moved here. it was like living at the edge of the world. But I knew anything had to be better than the poverty and rack-rents of Tipperary. It took me months just to scrape together the money for the steerage passage - myself, your aunt, James Junior and poor crippled Will. (Johannah enters) From Ireland across the Atlantic.
Johannah: To the quarantine station on Grosse Isle where we were checked over for typhus.
James: To pest-hole shanties across the Maritimes.
Johannah: To Toronto by lake boat.
James: To London, Ontario the most westerly town in all of Canada.
Johannah: And then by ox-cart over the Proof Line, a corduroy road - I thought my body would shake apart
James: But we made it. We all made it. We made it past every thing that blocked our path - poverty, disease, thieves I could have stayed in the city and made a living there - but I wanted
Bridget: Land, the land you could only rent back in Ireland.
James: We thought it would be different here in Canada - but it wasnt. And I wasnt going to let them run my family off the property the way the lot of them pushed out the blacks so many years earlier.
Bridget: You mean by the Protestants?
James: No, by the laws - the same type of laws that denied a man the profits of his work back in Tipperary.
Johannah: We had no money and James had no prospects.
James: I did the only thing I could - I found a plot of land and I settled my family on it. It belonged to someone else - some landowner that had forgotten about it and that made me smile - after a lifetime of paying someone for a place to live - I was getting it for free.
Johannah: And you gave that land value. No one could say the Donnellys were lazy.
James: I cleared that land. I threw up a log shanty and planted crops in soil that had never held anything but wilderness.
Johannah: I worked along side of you - and bore you four more sons in our new home: Patrick, Michael, Robert and Thomas.
James: We had worked that land for over a year and then the law said I had to split it. How do you split a year of hard work and struggle? Farrell wanted all of it - my land and work. I would kill rather than give that all away. Thats what makes me so dangerous - so they say.
You know, Bridget, a lot of people would like to use the fact I got off with seven years as an excuse to kill me. Farrells children wont have their satisfaction until Im in the grave. Does that frighten you?
Bridget: A bit. I hear talk when I go into Lucan. People saying you had better clear out or it will be the worse for all of us. Im not afraid when Im here with you - are you afraid, Uncle James?
James: Theyll never force us off this land, Bridget. The only way Johannah and I are leaving is if they carrying us all off in a pine box.
Bridget: Uncle James, you wouldnt go to prison again? You wouldnt leave Aunt Johannah alone again?
James: I left her behind once - and with seven young boys and a baby daughter when I went to prison.
Johannah: The next year the crop failed and I couldnt pay the taxes on the farm.
James: But she borrowed the money - at 24 per cent interest - and kept the farm in the Donnelly name.
Johannah: Times were so rough there were times I didnt have enough clothes to send out boys to school in.
James: Will - who was the brightest of the lot - had to stay home and vented his energies on a borrowed fiddle because he was too ashamed to go to school in rags. Thats what bothered me the most that someone as bright as Will couldnt go to the very school I let them build on the edge of my land.
Johannah: You helped give almost everyone else a learning, Jim. The Ryders, the McLaughlins, the Cains, the Caseys young boys who would one day turn against us.
Bridget: What about the rest of my cousins? What happened to them while you were away?
James: No one was a keen as Will. Young James and Robert couldnt have cared less about book-learning. The rest of my children fell somewhere in between.
Johannah: Their pride was so hurt, Jim. That they couldnt go to the school that bore their names - the Donnelly School. Damn, that wasnt right.
James: I wanted to give my boys something I never had - land and a future in a new country. I supposed thats what made me so mad that I killed Farrell.
Johannah: I taught them to resent those insults and never to let them pass.
JOHANNAH, TOM & FATHER CONNOLLY
Connolly: Is Mr. Donnelly home?
Johannah: No. Who are you and what do you want?
Connolly: I am the new pastor of St. Patricks and I am ashamed of the way I am greeted here! First, Im half-devoured by your dogs and then Im not accorded the proper respect. Can you be so ignorant not to recognize me as a priest?
Johannah: Forgive me, father. I didnt see your collar through your coat.
Connolly: I am Father John Connolly, Father Girards replacement. You would have known that if you had been in mass on Sunday. Mrs. Donnelly - is that who you are? (she nods) I havent been long here in this forsaken wilderness but nearly every one of my parishoners has told me about about your boys bad doings, and that theyre hard cases. Thats why Im paying you a visit.
Johannah: Father, there are no worse than boys in the neighbourhood. But the biggest crowd is against us and sure its myself and me boys who are persecuted.
Connolly: That is no excuse for avoiding
mass. It is a failing of all Irishmen that they have no faith. No man is anything
without a character, but with it he is everything, and if he doesnt respect
that character we have no peace whatever.
Johannah: Father, this is my youngest son, Tom.
Tom: (to Johannah) Oh, Father Girards replacement - yet another trying to save our souls
Johannah: Hush up.
Tom: I wish him luck.
Connolly: Tom Donnelly - Ive heard about you. A Mr. George Swartz has told me you were in a bar the other day and that you pulled out a revolver out of your pocket and then fired it over your shoulder, regardless of the consequences. Is that true?
Tom: (laughing) Well, I might have Father. But I was too drunk to have hit anything
Connolly: (unamused) You nearly missed Mr. Swartzs head - and then you fired your revolver again - into the ceiling
Tom: Looks like some of our friends in town got to you first.
Connolly: Ill have none of your insolence! In coming to Biddulph I left a quiet place - a Christian place - and a place where the laws of God and man were observed and respected. I have come to a district where neither the laws of God or man have been observed - and this family are the worse perpetrators.
Johannah: Father Connolly, I dont know who has been talking to you - but you cant believe all those stories about my family.
Connolly: When people have a hard name, as a priest, having the charge of souls, I must set my face against their deeds. I expect you and your family to be in church next Sunday - my sermon will be all about this family and your behaviour over the past few years.
Tom: Now look here -
Connolly: (backing off a bit) You may terrorize your neighbours and intimidate what few friends you have but remember this: I am not afraid of any of you. I am ready to do my spiritual duty come what may.
TOM DONNELLY & NED RYAN
Tom: (to John) You know, Ive had about all I can take of this. Carroll is just a brainless dog - Ned Ryan should know better than lay that old charge against me.
John: So what are you going to do? Carroll wont be happy until he sees you in the lock-up in Lucan.
Tom: Im thinking Ryan can be talked out of pressing the charge. (John exits, Ned Ryan enters) Hello Ryan
Ryan: (startled) Oh, hello Tom. I havent seen much of you lately.
Tom: Oh, thats likely because Ive been busy running away from Carroll on that trumped-up charge of robbery youve got against me.
Ryan: Now look, Tom. I didnt have any choice in that matter. Carrolls a sworn constable of the law and he told me if I didnt press charges Id be just as guilty of these depradations as
Tom: As the Donnellys, right. You know, Ryan, not only are you a liar but youre a gutless liar. And pretty soon youre gonna be a pretty poor one.
Ryan: What are you talking about?
Tom: Youre waiting for someone, arent you? (silence) A fellow named Martin Curtin the fellow thats gonna thresh your crops for you.
Ryan: I dont understand what youre getting at.
Tom: Its just this, Ryan. Curtin isnt coming to thresh. No ones coming to thresh. Your crops can rot in the fields this fall as long as the Donnellys live in Biddulph Township. Next time you feel like talking to Carroll, remember that.
Ryan: You cant do that, Tom. Ill talk to Father Connolly and the committee about this, theyll make you
Tom: (grabbing Ryan) Theyll make the Donnellys do nothing. Were about afraid of you vigilence committee as were afraid of you Ryan. You can tell that to them or anyone else who is fool enough to thresh for you this year. (letting him go) Better luck next seasons crop, Ryan. (Ryan exits, John enters carrying a box full of horse shoes and spikes)
JAMES, JOHANNAH, JOHN, TOM & BRIDGET
James: They thought it would be easier to scare Will. What a lot of fools.
Johannah: (hitching up her petticoats, and rushing off the porch) I wasnt going to let Will be taken by surprise so I went off to warn him.
John: Across twenty five acres of our farm, across the seventh and eight concessions
Tom: though Michael Powes bush, across the fields of Thomas Lamphier
James: down the sideroad to to the Swamp Line
Johannah: and then north to Whalens Corners where Will and his wife Norah were sitting peaceful on their front porch. I had gotten their first. I told Will what happenned and, unlike Tom and John he didnt get angry. He just went inside, loaded his gun and waiting inside the front door for Carroll and his lot. When they arrived, Will called out "Here comes the Black Militia!" Everyone thought that was funny - except the vigilantes. They stopped about two hundred feet away when they saw Will holding a pistol and standing guard on his front porch.
Finally, two of them came out of the crowd toward Will.
Bridget: Did they threaten him?
Johannah: No, they sat on a log an waited for someone else to act. A fine bunch of vigilanttes. Will finally called out "What are you going to do now, Sitting Bull?" and they shrank from his words. Will didnt need a gun to take care of them and the clubs. He put down his pistol and picked up
James: his fiddle.
Johannah: His fiddle and serenaded them with a military march.
Tom: I never did get why he did that.
Bridget: It was a song about Napolean Bonaparte, Tom. He was making fun of them for acting like a regular army.
Johannah: It didnt matter what the tune was. It showed that he wasnt afraid of any of them - and they knew it.
John: It was uncanny. Some said Will must have been in league with the devil to thwart the lot of them with fiddle music. After listening to the music for ten minutes they had had enough. They packed back into their wagon and went back to Biddulph.
Johannah: Where they found Thompsons cow over at Jim Quigleys the next day. So much for the vigilance committee and James Carroll!
Reporter: (reading from note pad) "I did not feel like leaving the house, but started. I then drove on, and this was the last interview I had with those members of my family in this life." Thats what he told me this afternoon.
Lucanite: One thing I have to say for Will Donnelly, he can spin a good story. Is your editor going to print that sentimental blather?
Reporter: Every word. The public cant get enough of The Donnelly Tragedy these days.
Lucanite: The Donnelly Tragedy? Is that what you townies call this? The only thing tragic about it is that it didnt happen sooner.
Reporter: What do you mean by that? Do you have some theory of how the Donnellys were taken off?
Lucanite: Theories are cheap. You reporters could probably invent sixty of them in as many minutes.
Reporter: But as a neighbour of the Donnellys you should be in a better position to give a likely reason for the murders.
Lucanite: Theories are one thing. Facts are another. Theories dont convict anybody. What the use of me giving you one if theres nothing to back it up?
Reporter: There are about three thousand people who live in this township - and I havent been able to get a straight answer from one of them about where they were on the evening of February 3rd. Now, where were you?
Lucanite: Ill tell you this - but dont use my name. Okay? I have no doubt that the murderers are well known to this community.
Reporter: Can you prove that?
Lucanite: No, but theres no doubt in my mind that the Vigilance Committee is in the secret and that theyll keep it under raps.
Reporter: Suppose they can. Lucans a small community. People will talk
Reporter: The people in the neighbourhood are under a debt of gratitude to the committee for ridding this place of the Donnellys.
Reporter: But how can anyone justify such a course?
Lucanite: It was necessary. Our barns were burnt, our horses tongues cut out, our cattle disembowelled - and no one was safe who ever said a word against the Donnellys.
Reporter: Dont you suppose people who would plan and execute such a horrible crime would be as bad as the Donnellys.
Lucanite: No siree! If the truth were known, youd find that the murderers are the most respectable people in the township - good farmers and honest men. They had to do it. There was no other way.
Reporter: Was there no law?
Lucanite: Law! Well, Ill be damned. Where did anybody ever get the best of the Donnellys in law! Why, we never saw them up and get their deserts.
Reporter: How do the people here in the township regard it?
Lucanite: Well, they felt that it had to be. There was no other course. The Donnellys had to be killed. They were a bad family. The only difference between them and a dog was in the shape.
Reporter: But the women!
Lucanite: There need be no sympathy for Mrs. Donnelly. She had a wicked mind. Why, she prayed on her knees that the souls of her sons might forever and ever frizzle in hell if they ever forgave an enemy or railed to take revenge.
Reporter: Then you think the murderers wont be found guilty?
Lucanite: The murderers - if you want to call them that - are respectable men who wouldnt harm a fly, but they had to kill the Donnellys just as they would a mad dog. People cant live in a state of terror forever.
Reporter: But still all that does not alter the legal liability of the murderers.
Lucanite: Well, perhaps not. But they aint caught yet.
the Murders" is Copyright 2006 by Doty Docs. All rights reserved. No part
of this work may be performed, reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any
means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without prior written
permission of the author.
Address inquiries to Christopher Doty, 43 Trevithen Street, London, Ontario, N6C 4S6.