Serious - Duet, by Robert L. Crowe, 2017

The fiery abolitionist, John Brown, is schedule to hang tomorrow. A reporter for the New York Herald visits him on the eve of his execution and in this dramatic duet for two males or a male and female, the seeds are planted for the American Civil War. History is brought to life in this brief, dramatic exchange focusing on slavery and its most violent opponent.

Price includes 2 scripts.


10 - 13 minutes

    Cast Options

  • 1 Female, 1 Male
  • 2 Males

Product Id: #337

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An excerpt …

(At open, two chairs are on stage. They are used as appropriate by the actors. Brown is standing with his back to the audience.)

GALLAGER: (to audience) It is December 1, 1859. My name is Henry Gallager. I’m a reporter for the New York Herald newspaper. I am about to enter the prison cell of Mr. John Brown. Mr. Brown has been sentenced to hang for the crime of treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has granted my request for a final interview. His execution is set for December 2 — tomorrow morning. (turns to Brown) Hello, Mr. Brown. I’m Henry Gallager of the New York Herald. Thanks for giving me the time.

BROWN: (turns) Yes. I know who you are. I am curious as to why you asked for this meeting. There was abundant information at my trial.

GALLAGER: Do you believe it was a fair trial?

BROWN: (pause) Fair? I was charged with treason against the State of Virginia when I am not a resident of Virginia. I was tried in a state court when the arsenal is federal property. I was convicted of murder when there was no evidence that I directly killed anyone. Did you hear the judge’s biased instruction to the jury? It is hardly a legitimate trial when a jury takes only 45 minutes of deliberation to consider the sum of my life and the issue of slavery.

GALLAGER: There were slave owners on the jury.

BROWN: The jury was composed of men all from Virginia, a slave state. There were slave owners and sympathizers. If the trial had been in the state of New York, it may have had a different result.

GALLAGER: Perhaps so, sir. Perhaps so. But the charges against you were treason and murder and inciting an insurrection. You did not deny the charges.

BROWN: The wrong issues were on trial. Is it a crime to oppose the practice of slavery? The scourge of slavery and mistreatment of human beings should have been the discussion. That was the injustice. I was arrested on October 18; my trial was on November 1, and I am to be executed on December 2. Never has injustice been so swift. But … all that is a matter of record. What is it you want to know, sir?

GALLAGER: I want to tell your story to everyone, both north and south. I want people to see John Brown, the person … not just the facts. Facts don’t always tell the story.

BROWN: (pause, slight smile) How true.

GALLAGER: You said at your trial …

BROWN: I saw you there.

GALLAGER: Yes, I was. You said that your hatred of slavery was a life-long belief. Even when you were a child?

BROWN: Yes. Ever since I can remember. My father was an out-spoken abolitionist with a loud voice against slavery but even more, he was a man of action. When I was 10 years old, he physically took a slave from his owner and set him free. My crusade against slavery started then and has been “life-long.”

GALLAGER: Tell me about the years preceding Harpers Ferry, specifically the years in Kansas. The press called it “Bleeding Kansas.”

BROWN: Five of my sons moved to Kansas to farm. The Kansas-Nebraska Act is the devil’s instrument that allows residents within those borders to choose slavery … or not. My sons were outspoken against slavery. They were attacked because of their beliefs. I went to Kansas to help my family.


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