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“The Daphne Massacre”

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Abela, Donna Therese (Australian playwright, 1964-____), “The Daphne Massacre,”

a 70-minute black comedy in English in 30 scenes, set without fixed scenery—in a waiting room, near a river, in an orphanage, and in the main character’s imagination and memory, now and then,


  •  © 2001 by Donna Therese Abela;  •  in Donna Therese Abela’s The Daphne Massacre (Petersham, New South Wales, Australia: The Author, 2001);  •  script/rights available from Donna Therese Abela, 3/41 Shaw Street, Petersham, New South Wales 2049 Australia, e-mail dabela@aol.com, telephone (home) (02) 9569-6686.  •  Cited by Donna Therese Abela via ftp August 11, 2002; Abela says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Isabella (f), dental patient; Isabella’s Mother Figures (f), _____; Nurse (f), _____; Daphne (f), dental patient, a toothless bride-to-be.

  §  Synopsis “Isabella’s just been sacked from the orphanage. Well, not sacked, not really, it wasn’t a real job. Just minding the boys mostly, ’cause they were in shock when that teacher died. But never mind, just move on, think of the future. That's why she’s at the Dentist’s to have all of her perfectly good teeth extracted. It’s her wedding present, but early. In the waiting room, Isabella’s Mother Figures, a Nurse, and a toothless bride-to-be called ‘Daphne’, are all trying to persuade her to go through with this procedure. If she does, they promise, she’ll have men’s respect, women’s envy, domestic bliss, God’s blessing; and her pick of a high fashion set of choppers. Women’s teeth are weaker, darl, so rip them out before the rots sets in, like we did. However, when Isabella encounters the Cook and her world of abundance and appetite, she begins to reconsider the events surrounding her sacking and the teacher’s death. Isabella comes to her senses, sees the origin of this custom, and decides to keep her bite.
  §  Comment “‘The Daphne Massacre’ is an absurd work about a custom that requires brides-to-be to have their teeth extracted. It is a robust black comedy for an ensemble of four physically imaginative women, who between them, transform into nine diverse characters. Since the cast continually transform into other characters in various locations, the play would be hampered by a fixed set. The narrative is fluid and nonlinear, comprised of 30 scenes. The play explores ways in which women help to perpetuate customs that diminish and silence them. It is darkly funny, often grotesque, and sometimes disturbing.

 §  Themes absurdity, female bonding, gender, grotesquerie, nontraditional structure, social custom, women.


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