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“The Liebstod”


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Aaron, Hugh (American playwright, writer, 1924-____), “The Liebstod,”

a 15-minute realistic drama in English, set in a private office in a big city, near the end of the work day, 2000,

2m1f;
 •  © 2000 by Hugh Aaron;  •  script/rights available from Hugh Aaron, 71 Congress Street, Belfast, Maine 04915, U.S.A., e-mail haaron@StonesPointPress.com, telephone (home) 207-338-1921, (work) 207-338-1921, fax 207-338-8379.  •  Cited by Hugh Aaron, via ftp December 27, 1999; Aaron says,

  §  Dramatis Personae S. H. Bronstein (m), 58, CEO, a successful businessman; Loretta (f), 25, secretary; Taxi Driver (m offstage voice), any age.

  §  Synopsis “Bronstein, CEO of his company, asks Loretta, an attractive recent employee and his secretary, to takes some notes in his office just before closing time. Trying to put her at ease, he inquires of Loretta’s personal life and learns that she has recently separated and is about to divorce her husband who has beaten her. His own marriage, as revealed during a phone call, is unhappy. He asks her to go out with him, but she hesitates because she feels they have nothing in common. He attempts to prove that they do, but it becomes more and more evident that they are worlds apart. She sees that his interest in her is more than just business. Used to getting his way, Bronstein explains that he is really easy to be with, not so threatening due to his position as Loretta thinks. After finding things they have in common, such as art and music, he offers to take care of her, provide her an elegant place in which to live. He offers a handsome life-style, an apartment; he threatens that her refusal would cost her job. His uncontrollable passion aroused, he comes on aggressively, frightening her. A record of the Liebstod, the love death, is playing. Still in pain from her wrecked marriage, having no desire to become involved with anyone, she flees for her freedom. Realizing his error, his lonliness, his loss of youth, and his current undesirability, he takes comfort in knowing that at least his business needs him.

  §  Comment “One scene, only change is darkness and the lights of office buildings coming on in the window behind Bronstein’s desk. This short drama deals with the vulnerability of young women in a male-dominated world, specifically, a woman’s need to be free of a destructive relationship. It also concerns loss of youth for a successful man. Powerful in business but devastated that he has lost his physical attractiveness, the protagonist seeks solace in all he has left, his business. The play’s closing lines reveal this.”  •  Similarly, Bryan Singer, in directing the 1998 movie Apt Pupil, uses Wagner’s Liebstod to underscore violence.

  §  Themes age, ageing, art, business, CEO, classical music, divorce, dominance, exploitation of women, generational conflict, infidelity, Liebstod, marital unhappiness, music, power, rock music, sexual harassment.

See also Hugh Aaron’s

  • A Topnotch Man,” a 25-minute realistic drama in English, set in a business executive’s office, today, midmorning, 2m
  • Turned Tables,” a 12-minute realistic drama in English, set in Rio de Janiero, 2000, 3m1f







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