“Break the Chain,” by Nancy Wyatt
A One Act Play About the Subtleties of Domestic Violence
The Best Audience – What A Surprise!
When I first posted this blog years ago, 12 million people (including men, women, and children) were known to be victims of domestic violence in America each year. My intent in publishing the Break the Chain script again today is to raise awareness about the problem and to suggest potential sources of help for both the abused and the abuser.
I created, staged, copyrighted, produced, directed, and performed in Break the Chain, in 1990. Volunteers of America booked the performance at a homeless shelter which they operated.
Both batterers and victims of domestic violence were in the audience, unbeknown to me. Happily, as they “looked at themselves in the mirror,” metaphorically speaking, all of them gave me a hugely positive response about how the play helped them understand the issues. For the first time, perpetrators and victims thought they could see what needed to be done to correct their own behaviors.
Their responses were more meaningful to me than any performing or literary arts awards could have been.
Break the Chain is Easy to Mount as a Production
As a short play, Break the Chain provides a great introduction to a panel discussion, an interview, or question and answers sessions as part of the program. It has a small cast in which the roles of children and counselor are not gender-dependent, thus giving the producer flexibility. It uses simple language and simple sets.
You may purchase copies which will be sent to you via electronic mail or in hard copies, as you prefer. See the details about Break The Chain below: Script Summary, Cast of Characters, Scene Setting, and Payment Options.
“Break the Chain” Script Summary
The title of this play refers to the chain of violence transmitted from generation to generation. It features a mother, whose son appears at school with bruises and who has many absences. The school counselor sees this pattern and believes there is domestic violence in the household, so she tries to intervene.
As the mother struggles with feelings of being trapped and having no way out, she starts to overcome her denial that the situation is dangerous.
One also can see the cycle is being perpetuated because her daughter begins to “act out” on a doll.
The action among actors is followed by a narrator, who provides more education about the cycle of violence. The narrator describes when, in the cycle, it is most likely that people can Break The Chain.
The Script Includes Resources for Help with Domestic Violence
The script is designed to mention actual locations in Virginia and nationally where help can be found for “battered women” and their children. However, the current list is the one which was up-to-date when the script was created. Please replace it with current statistics and the names and contact information pertinent to the local area where your cast will be performing. For that purpose, I have included some links at the end of the script, where current additional information can be found to get you started on that research.
The script is copyrighted, with all rights reserved. Please do not otherwise alter it without advance, written permission, other than to incorporate helpful resources for domestic violence issues in your area. Copyright licensing details accompany the scripts upon purchase.
Break the Chain ~ Dramatis Personae – Cast of Characters
(Again, note that the children and counselor could be of different genders than those depicted in the original script.)
MRS. SMITH: A mother, who is experiencing domestic violence, but is in denial
SCENES ~ All four scenes: her home (living room); counselor’s office; her living room (with a phone)
CHRIS: MRS. SMITH’s son (grade school or junior high school age)
SCENES ~ All four scenes: living room; counselor’s office; living room
MS. BROWN Teacher/Counselor at CHRIS’s school. She suspects he is a victim of domestic violence.
SCENES ~ Scenes 2 and 3 – in her counseling office (desk, chairs, phone)
Patty: MRS. SMITH’s young daughter (young enough to play with dolls)
SCENE ~ Scene 4 – living room with doll.
Narrator: The Narrator comes in after the actors are finished and speaks directly to the audience. The narration provides more information about domestic violence.
Break The Chain ~ Scene Settings
The scenes are minimal.
- Scenes 1 & 3 take place in the family’s living room;
- Scene 2 takes place in a school counselor’s office, with a phone and two chairs facing the counselor’s desk/chair.
- Scene 4: can be on a bare stage (preferably with a podium) or with the narrator standing in front of the darkened last scene.
Break The Chain Script & Payment Options
- If you do not use PayPal, I can email or snail mail the scripts, upon receipt and clearance of your payment (by cash, Cashier’s Check, or check). I do not accept credit card payments other than through PayPal.
- The minimum number of copies you may order is six (6): (for 5 cast members and the Director). You may need more to include copies for a Stage Manager, Production Assistants, etc.
- The price is $10 per script above the minimum order of 6/$60 for commercial enterprises. A 10% discount is given for proven non-profit organizations.
- Under copyright law, you may not copy or otherwise reproduce the material; so you need to purchase the number of scripts you will need for a performance.
- There are 5 characters in the play (2 women; 1 boy; 1 younger girl; and a narrator). Keep in mind the need for the Director, Stage Manager, and any Production Assistants, Lighting, and other staff to have scripts.
- There is a $20 charge for shipping and handling if hard copies are ordered. Note: the cost may be more if I’m shipping more than 10 copies or shipping outside the USA.
- A 10% discount may be given to non-profit organizations. To qualify, you must provide a copy of the IRS letter confirming non-profit status and the current business license.
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