Children of the Blitz
For evaluation purposes, you can find an extract from the opening of the play below.
If you would like to read more then you can click the button below to download the full script of Act 1 in pdf format.
If you are still uncertain after that then you can always purchase an evaluaion version of the whole play for £3.00 via the purchasing pages!
Scene One: Before the War.
An empty stage. Lights up on Helen. Centre Stage
Helen I'm not particularly special -not special at all. There's no real reason why this story should have been about me - it could have been about any one of thousands - millions even - of children just like me. Perhaps it's because I'm so ordinary that I was chosen. But in the war, even ordinary people did the most extra-ordinary things.
Helen Fisher. In 1938 I was eleven years old. Like most children I didn't take
much notice of the news. We all knew about Hitler of course: we'd seen him on the newsreels at the
cinema. It seemed stupid that people
should be afraid of him - the way he danced about and shouted all the time,
waving his arm up and down. He always reminded me of Mr Punch from a show I'd
seen on the beach at
had been talking about war for ages but it didn't really mean anything to
me. It all seemed so far away - it was
something for grown-ups to worry about.
I was more worried about passing my exams and getting into Grammar
School. But in the months from January 1938 to September 1939 so many things
happened that I couldn't ignore it all together. We talked about War as if it was a game - and
to us it was. At playtime in school
playgrounds all over
A school handbell rings. the rest of the stage is illuminated and children run on as if for school break. They gather in small groups playing games. Two newspaper sellers stand each side of the stage next to billboards. As they call out they turn the boards to show the appropriate headline and date.
Standard. Get your Evening Standard!
As he finishes, attention shifts to one group of children playing.
Child1 'ere, where's
Child4 What does Hitler want wiv Kangaroos?
Child5 My dad's volunteered for the ARP's.
Child1 What - like the angels.
Child5 No A.R.P. Y' know - Air Raid Precautions. He showed me how to put out an incendiary bomb.
Child4 Show us then.
Child5 Can't - you need a stirrup pump and a fire bucket.
Child1 What if you ain't got 'em then?
Child5 You just get blown up!
They carry on playing.
Mirror. Get your Mirror 'ere.
Highlight on the next group of children.
Child1 You seen what they're doin' in the park?
Child2 No. What?
Child3 What for?
Child1 They said it was for air-raids. Great big trench it was.
Child4 What are you supposed to do then?
Child1 Jump in it and put your hands over your head.
Child5 That's daft. You won't be able to see anything.
Child2 Yeah. You won’t catch me in a stupid ditch. I wanna watch.
The children start a mock dog-fight.
Child5 Anyway, my brothers in the army and 'e says there won't be a war.
Child4 No - worse luck.
They move off and continue to play.
Newseller1 Evening Standard. Get your Evening Standard. Munich Pact agreed. Chamberlain announces "Peace in our Time!"
Focus in on next group of children.
Child1 Ere, if there aint gonna be a war, why we still got to have stupid gas masks?
Child2 I hate 'em. The smell makes me sick.
Child3 I was sick after gas drill yesterday!
Child1 Sir looks really stupid waving that rattle around, doesn't he.
Child4 Not 'arf. And he really gets annoyed when you breathe out and it makes that farting noise.
Child5 Yeah (Blows a raspberry and the rest giggle)
Child2 Yesterday was like a real gas attack though.
Child5 Yeah no wonder sir was so angry.
Child4 Well because of the noise the masks make, half the kids in the class had been passing wind during the drill.
Child2 Stupid thing was we only found out when we took the masks off!
Their expressions show the effect of a rotten smell as the move off.
Newseller2 Mirror. Get your Daily Mirror.
Focus on next group of children.
Child1 My big brother got a letter today saying he'd been called up.
Child2 My brother got one yesterday. Mum was really upset but dad told her not to be stupid because there wasn't going to be a war.
Child3 I'm sick of Hitler. I hate him.
Child4 My dad's joined the civil defence. He says we’ve all got to do our bit.
Child5 We put sticky tape on our windows last night. It told us to do it in that book that came.
Child1 What for?
Child5 In case there's an air raid.
Child1 Sticky tape won't keep the bombs out!
They act out a bomb falling and blowing up.
Newseller1 Standard. Evening Standard.
Focus on next group of children.
Child1 I’m fed up of all this stuff about war. It's boring.
Child2 My teacher said that if there’s a war they’re going to send us all to live in the country.
Child3 I don't want to go to the country. That would be like running away. We should stand and fight.
Child4 Yeah, if there's going to be a war I don't want to miss it.
Child1 I was helping mum make blackout curtains last night.
Child2 That's easy. I had to help dig up our garden for an air raid shelter. Dad and me brother have been building it.
Child3 We've cleared out under the stairs just in case.
Child5 My dad says that there won't be a war. He says that in the paper only one out of five people thinks there will be a war.
Child4 Which five people?
Child5 Dunno - he didn't say.
Child1 I think they should have the war and get it over with!
They move off.
Mirror. read all about it.
From off stage comes the cry.
Warden Oi! Turn those lights out!
There is a blackout on stage. A flashlight flashes across the stage.
Warden You kids. Get off home. Clear the streets.
The children leave the stage. As they do so the light comes up on Helen.
Lights down on Helen. She exits. Lights up on the two officials either side of the stage.
Official 1 The need for evacuation was first discussed in 1924.
Official 2 By
the end of the First World War in 1918, there had been 103 air-raids on
Official 1 Evidence suggested that with advances in the design of aircraft the role of bombing in any future conflict would be considerable.
Official 2 Obvious
targets would be areas of dense population and manufacturing centres.
Official1 In the event of war, such areas would need to be cleared of superfluous civilians whose presence would merely hinder the war effort. Children, pregnant women and the blind were identified as falling into this category.
Official 2 We
expressed concern at the time that some of the small children who come from
Official 1 Through the 1930's we continued to develop our strategies. In 1933 we made the plans for an evacuation known to the public for the first time.
Official 2 We decided that evacuation would take place prior to the outbreak of war. Our proposals indicated that we would move some million people within the scheduled time limit of 72 hours.
Official 1 Relying almost totally on the railways of course.
Official 2 As the crisis worsened we divided the country up into “danger”, “neutral” and “reception” areas.
Official 1 Children would be evacuated from the danger areas and moved to billets in their reception areas. Where possible schools would be kept together and the children would be accompanied by their teachers.
Official 2 Children under five would be accompanied by their mothers.
Official 1 In June 1939 war was felt to be likely. Messages were broadcast on the radio recalling children and their teachers to school.
Official 2 To avoid panic, regular evacuation practices held.
Official 1 On
Official 2 With war now inevitable the plans for evacuation were put into operation.
The lights dim and the two officials exit. As they do so the school children, carrying assorted suitcases, bags and boxes, enter and move into position.
Scene Two: Evacuation.
Carol 'ere, 'ow many times 'ave we done this now?
Carol It must be at least three times this week.
Fay Four! We done it twice on Tuesday.
Carol Oh yeah.
Claire Waste of time if you ask me. We never go anywhere.
Kitty I know, it's stupid in'it. I've said goodbye to my mum every day this week thinking that I would be evacuated.
Asha Yeah, my mum made a real fuss on Monday. She was crying an' everything. Today she said "Ta ra then" and just got on with me dad's breakfast.
Audrey Last night when I got in my mum just said "Oh you're still 'ere then are ya" and sent me off to get some chips.
Gas Mask I live wiv me auntie. I reckon she’ll be glad when I’ve gone!
Carol Do you reckon there really will be a war?
Freeze. Action switches to the North London Group.
says that if Hitler invades
Sarah But Miss said that everything would be alright.
Pamela Well she has to say that doesn't she. She's just trying to keep our spirits up.
Sheila She's not doing a very good job then. She always seems terrified when we go down to the station.
Pamela Well you know why that is don't you.
Sheila She doesn't want to get blown up?
Pamela No silly. How can she get blown up. She'll be going into the country with us to avoid the bombing.
Helen What's she worried about then?
Pamela Well, her boyfriend is in the RAF. She'll have to leave him behind.
Sarah Miss has got a boyfriend! How do you know?
Pamela I saw them kissing when we went to the station on Wednesday. He drove up in a little sports car - I think she telephoned him. They went into a little room by the ticket office and they thought no one could see.
Veronica Are you sure it was her boyfriend. Couldn’t it have been her brother?
Pamela Not by the way they were kissing!
They all giggle.
Veronica How were they kissing then?
Pamela You know...
Helen Was it like this?
She turns her back to the audience and wraps her arms round her back to make it look like she is in embrace.
Oh my darling, How can I live without you. The minutes will seem like hours with you gone. Mmmmm... .
They all giggle.
Pamela A bit like that yes.
Veronica Miss was doing that! But she's a teacher.
Helen A teacher and (with emphasis) a woman!
Sarah It’s disgusting. She’s really old. Thirty at least.
Sheila What was he like.
Pamela Actually he was scrumptious. He looked really handsome in his uniform. He was an officer. He had a little moustache like Clarke Gable.
Helen Clarke Gable! Aaaahh! (She swoons into the arms of one of the girls)
Back to the
Peter Spitfires are best.
Robert No they're not Hurricanes are better.
Peter Don't be daft. Spitfires are miles quicker.
Robert 'Ow do you know?
Peter My dad told me.
Robert 'Ow does he know!
Peter He just does.
Fay Shut up you two.
Vicky I hope we don't 'ave to wait much longer. This is boring.
Kitty It's better than doing sums. They're too hard.
Fay We haven't had to wait this long before.
Asha Perhaps they’re really going to evacuate us this time.
Vicky You really think so? I was going to have fish and chips tonight.
Fay I've already eaten my sandwiches.
Vicky They don't have fish and chips in the country.
Audrey They don’t have anything in the country - just trees and animals.
Peter We won't go today. They haven't even declared war yet.
Robert My dad says "the sooner, the better. It’s about time we gave Hitler a bloody nose"
Peter My dad could give Hitler a bloody nose on his own.
Robert My dad could duff him up good and proper.
Fay He's only little though.
Robert No he isn't he's huge.
Fay But I saw him on the newsreel at the cinema. He didn't look very big.
Robert You saw my dad on the newsreel?
Fay No not your dad - Hitler!
Robert Oh yeah - Hitler's a little squirt. I could duff him up.
Robert Cou... 'ere what's that smell?
Kitty Oh no, it's Gas Mask - he's farted.
Gas Mask Sorry!
Peter Blimey, that's horrible even by your standards Gas Mask.
should parachute Gas Mask into
Audrey Hang on - one of the teachers is coming. It must be our turn now.
Freeze. Change to