Fiona’s Gift, Part One

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The curtain rises. Gossipy Mrs. O’Fallon wonders who Mr. Harrison the landlord will evict today. Pawnshop owner Mr. Kline shoos Mary the street child away from his shop.

Shirt factory owner Mr. Curtis tells the shoeshine boy to shine his shoes up good. Mr. Jacobs the street vendor hawks his wares.


Newsboys shout, “Extra! Extra!” Kind Mr. McGrath says, “I’ll buy one, son, if you give me a smile.” He shouts to all who will listen, “Good morning! It’s a brand new day.”


A large crowd gathers and begins to sing their complaints about bugs, thin shoes, frozen pipes, and boring work. Mr. McGrath shouts reminders again and again: “But good morning! It’s still a brand new day!”


The crowd wonders:

Will I be able to smile today?
Will I be able to laugh today?
Will I be able to find my way to a brand new day?

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Mr. McGrath repeatedly encourages them with a smile and the admonition: “Might take some work!”

As the crowd disperses, Mr. McGrath joins his clerks in his butcher shop. Margaret is sarcastic to their first customer, nosy Mrs. O’Fallon, who is greatly offended.


When Doreen Sloan comes in to buy a soup bone, Mr. McGrath tells her, “No charge.” To her protests, he replies, “Have a good day, Doreen.”


In the Sloan apartment, Muriel lies sick in bed. Blind Granny sits nearby. Doreen dashes in to leave the soup bone before rushing to work, afraid that she is late. 


When Nurse Katherine comes by for her weekly visit, she finds Muriel’s lungs no better. The family has cut back on her medicine because they don’t have money to buy more. 


When Nurse Katherine gets into an awkward discussion about the out-of-work family patriarch, she changes the subject by asking Fiona about her special doll. Fiona tells her about receiving it at a neighborhood Christmas party. Her father was mad when he found out she had taken charity, but let her keep the doll, the only real Christmas present she had ever received.


Muriel sends Fiona out to bring in the younger children so they can spend the day inside making flowers to sell. Granny apologizes to Muriel about how things turned out when Muriel married Granny’s son Dugan. The children return and Muriel wishes she could work, too.


Fiona encourages Muriel to sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” while they work, telling her that she can work faster when her mama sings. Muriel sings and the lights go down in the Sloan apartment.


Young girls gather in the street for a game of “A-Tisket, A Tasket.”



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IMG_0317Young boys gather for a game of “Blind Man’s Bluff.”




IMG_0323Mr. Kline gruffly brings a homeless boy to Officer Grady, accusing the boy of stealing from his pawn shop. The kind officer believes the boy’s story and sends Mr. Kline away.


Doreen hurries anxiously into the shirt factory, fearful that her supervisor Miss Connolly will see that she is two minutes late. Miss Connolly stomps in, reprimands Doreen, docks an hour’s pay, and stomps out again.


The factory girls work steadily and chat to the newest girl about their work. They begin to talk about what kind of men will wear the shirts they make.


The girls begin a chorus:

Who is going to wear my shirt?
Perhaps a bankerman, perhaps a barber,
Perhaps a doctor, or a drunk?
Perhaps a fireman, perhaps a lawyer,
Perhaps a teacher, or a monk?
Who is going to wear my shirt?

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Soloists wonder if he is a poor man who has saved up to buy a fine shirt or a traveler who will take it to Paris, London, or Timbuktu. One girl sings her hope: “Maybe he’s a rich man who will want to know what girl can sew such fine seams as these. Maybe he will look ’til he finds me!”


Someone yells, “She’s coming!” and all hurry back to work. Mr. Curtis enters with Miss Connolly and reprimands her in front of the girls.


When he leaves, Miss Connolly tells the girls she has been too easy on them. When she leaves, the girls talk about why they work here. As the scene closes, Dorene says, “Maybe because your mom is sick and your dad is a drunk and there’s no one else to do it.”


I’ll stop there today in the story of the play, Fiona’s Gift. These scenes of New York in 1913 remind me of what Jesus said about Jerusalem. Jesus knows what you feel like as a mother when you want to gather your chicks under your wings. He felt that way about Jerusalem, He felt that way about New York City in 1913, and He still feels that way about New York today. Jesus loves you and your brood like that, too.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!
How often I wanted to gather your children together,
the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
and you were unwilling.”
Matthew 23:37, NASB

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One comment

  1. Hi Charlene,
    That was quite a production! And the props and backgrounds! Does Mev write the script or just direct it? Have you been filming them as well? That’s awesome, even without seeing it played out:o)
    I noticed that your son is planning to be at the homeschool convention in St Louis and was wondering if you will be there too. We actually don’t live near there, but my sister who does, invited us to come over and attend there. Just wondering…it would be a pleasure to meet you in person!:o) Blessings on your day, Krista

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