New One-Act Play: QUARANTINE

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A fast-paced military drama of roughly 30 minutes, Quarantine is based on the legend of the Black Syphilis during the Vietnam War. In the play, a reporter and a photographer, burnt-out by the war and returning home to the U.S., are forced down on an unknown island in the western Pacific, the site of a secret Army facility. There, a conscience-stricken young officer leads them to discover the island’s terrible truth – a truth the Army does not want revealed.

Cast: 7M. Due to the time period and the content of the play, all roles need to be played by men.

Production requirements of the play are minimal. There are few props, and most scenes are meant to be created by lighting effects.

History: I actually conceived of Quarantine back in the early 1970s. I was active in the anti-war movement, and we all heard the stories about a virulent strain of syphilis that was infecting our guys in ‘Nam and that the Army was covering it up. I did an early draft of the play but wasn’t happy with it and put it aside. Recently I reworked it and that is the new version.

The play should be taken at face value as an entertainment and that’s all. I’m not trying to reveal any hidden secrets or make any accusations against the military. The Black Syphilis was a legend — it was never proved. I simply used it the way other writers have used unproven legends as the basis for a good story — like, say, the Greek tragedians did with the Trojan War. However, if an audience feels the crimes in the play somehow reflect on the greater crime of the Vietnam War, it wouldn’t break my heart.

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