Front

by  Robert Caisley

Full Length Play, Drama  /  5m, 13f

Winner! 1996 Kennedy Center/Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award

Set in England during the Blitz, a number of struggling individuals and families come to terms with war and the horrors and tragedies it provides.

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    5m, 13f
  • Duration

    Duration

    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Docudrama/Historic
  • Suggested Use

    Suggested Use

    • Monologues
    • Competition or audition material
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

Set in England during the Blitz, a number of struggling individuals and families come to terms with war and the horrors and tragedies it provides. This includes Judith, a proud matriarch, who works in a factory that makes bomb detonators, her missing husband, Frank, and their two children, Sheila and John, who are forced to grow up much too quickly. A number of other war-torn individuals are also profiled, each butting heads with the raging war.

A poignant account of female perseverance, Front is appropriate for all audiences.

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Accolades

  • Winner! 1996 Kennedy Center/Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award

Reviews

"As a dramatic evening of theater, Front by Robert Caisley proved to be a huge success with our HS cast and our audience. Set during the London blitz, and focusing mainly on the women left behind during WWII, the play provides wonderful opportunities for character development. Moving, without being sentimental, the play explores the horrors, ambivalence, confusion and humor that people face when confronted with war on their own turf. We doubled roles out of necessity, so actors portrayed multiple characters; and students researched the time period thoroughly. Perhaps one of the best "characters" in our production was the incredibly realistic set that we built. The irony of trying to continue a daily routine amidst total chaos and rubble helped make the production a visual stunner. I highly recommend this play to all HS theater departments." - Laura Hicks, Theater Department, Poughkeepsie Day School

"I think it is a great piece for high school, colleges, community theaters in that it gives opportunities for female actors.  It explores a part of World War II that we don't often see portrayed." -- April Olt, Grandview HS.

“The show was fantastic … my family members, colleagues and students were moved to tears (especially with the ‘Interviews with the Dead’ scene, but also the final monologues of Joan and Judith.)”  -- Doug Grove, Lower Dauphin School District

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Large Stage

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1940s / WWII
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: The story moves between various locations, in and around London; however, no attempt should be made to define each location fully. The author envisions the entire set as a bombed-out section of the city, piles of rubble and debris strewn widely about. The action amidst the chaos; the characters forced to make room for the scene about the take place. Everything used in the play—chairs, tables, props, articles of clothing— can be found hidden in the debris.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Casting

5m, 13f
JUDITH GENTLY
FRANK - her husband
ANGIE - her teenage daughter
TOM - her young son
SIR CHARLES - an M.P., can be played by actor playing Mr. Briggs
LUCY - his wife
OWEN - his son, can be played by actor playing Brian
NELLY - his daughter
JOAN JUSTICE
BRIAN - her son
J.C. SMUTS - an ARP Controller
MR. MANN - a local warden, can be played by actor playing Tom
MRS. HILYARD - an older woman, can be played by actor playing Lucy
MRS. BRIGGS
MR. BRIGGS - her husband
ALISTER - her son, can be played by actor playing Brian
FRAKKER - a weapons manufacturer, can be played by actor playing Frank
FOREMAN - his employee
A PHOTOGRAPHER - can be played by actor playing J.C. Smuts
MIRA - a young girl, can be played by actor playing Nelly
MR. KYME - a schoolmaster, can be played by actor playing J.C. Smuts
SHEILA - can be played by actor playing Mrs. Briggs
BELA - can be played by actor playing Lucy
VIV - can be played by actor playing Nelly
A BODY - can be played by actor playing Angie
A MOTHER - can be played by actor playing Angie
A YOUNG WOMAN - can be played by actor playing Mrs. Briggs
A SISTER - can be played by actor playing Nelly
AN OLD WOMAN - can be played by actor playing Lucy
SCHOOLCHILD - can be played by actor playing Lucy
AUSTRALIAN SOLDIER - can be played by actor playing Tom
A MAN - can be played by actor playing Tom
A STUDENT can be played by actor playing Joan Justice
ANGIE’S SOLDIER - can be played by actor playing Brian
BELA'S SOLDIER - can be played by actor playing Mr. Briggs
GERMAN PILOT - can be played by actor playing Brian
BUS DRIVER - can be played by actor playing Brian
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Cast Attributes

  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)

Casting Notes

Originally written for a cast of 7F and 4M, with doubling detailed in the script; however, the play can and should be cast in a variety of ways, to meet the needs of any production. Cross-gender casting is also possible. The roles of J.C. Smut, Photographer, and Mr. Kyme were originally played by a woman.

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Authors

Robert Caisley

Robert Caisley is Associate Professor of Theatre & Film, and Head of the Dramatic Writing Program at the University of Idaho. He was named the 2011 Blaine Quarnstrom Visiting Playwright at the University of Southern Mississippi. His play Happy, presented at the 2011 National New Play Network (NNPN) Annual Showcase of ...

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Front premiered at Illinois Wesleyan University School of Theatre in April of 1995. The production was directed by Lori Adams. Front in its current version was produced by the University of Idaho Department of Theatre in October of 2002. It was directed by the author

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