The Frozen Grail
Winner of the Sprenger-Lang Award 2001

Cast: minimum cast of 9M,1W (with doubling), One set

SCENE ONE: August 11, 1908. Aboard The Roosevelt at Etah, Greenland. The sound of water beating against the side of the boat, dogs barking, lines squealing as crates are pulled into place. Men yell out to one another as they transfer three hundred tons of coal and fifty tons of walrus and whale meat aboard. All of the bustle and excitement of a voyage about to begin. Several Eskimo, dressed in fur, can be seen listening as a man gestures toward them angrily.

CREW MEMBER
Kissa Tikeri-Unga! Kissa Tikeri-Unga! What's the matter with you damn people, don't you understand your own language?!! Jesus H. Christ, you're gonna make me lose my god damn voice!

Men continue moving supplies across the ship. Robert Peary, 52, weathered, clearly in charge, enters dressed for Arctic travel. He carries papers to check the delivery of supplies. Noticing the Eskimos, he crosses over to them.

PEARY
Send them back on shore - Pearyaksoah! Nah-muck-to! (Translation: Peary, allright!) Rule number one: never let your Eskimos get away from you.

There is a disturbance offstage, with yelling. A man dressed in furs, his teeth blackened, his hair dirty, long and matted, pushes his way through the crowd. In a fury he grabs Peary by the arm.

FRANKE
(Sobbing hysterically)
You can't leave me here! Bitte, um Gotteswillen! Sie durfen mir hier nicht bleiben lassen! Das geht nicht! Versprechen sie, mir, sie werden mir hier nicht im stich lassen. (Translation: Please, for God's sake, you can't leave me here! That won't happen! Promise me you won't leave me here!)

PEARY
Get - off - of - me!

FRANKE
Nehmen sie mir mit! Ich kann es nicht ertragen! (Take me with you! I can't stand it!)

PEARY
Someone - get this man off of me!!!

FRANKE
Nooo! Please, please, by all that's sacred, don't leave me here another winter!

PEARY
Who are you? Where did you come from?

FRANKE
Look! I have permission. I can go home now. Doktor Cook hat das geschrieben - Dr Cook wrote this, he said it=s okay for me to leave - Dr. Cook -

Peary snatches the note. Franke bursts out into convulsive sobs.

PEARY
This man is Rudolph Franke. Cook left him here in charge of a cache of supplies, with permission to go home on the first boat.

FRANKE
See, I told you the truth, I was telling the truth, so wahre mir Gott helfen, God knows I'm many things, but I'm not a liar.

BARTLETT
Captain Peary, with your permission, sir, let me have Dr. Goodsell examine the poor fellow. He looks to be suffering from a bad case of scurvy.

PEARY
Take him. Get him out of my sight.

BARTLETT
Come with me, Mr. Franke. Here, give me your arm, you're going to be all right. My god, man, have you been here all by yourself? What did you see out there?

FRANKE
Nothing....nothing but white! Blinded by it!

PEARY
Gentlemen, a warning. Take a good look. That's what can happen to a white man in the Arctic.