Genre: Drama (Musical)
Period: Present day
Place: Suburban Australia (can be localised)
Length: Two Acts
Characters: 6 M; 8 F (plus assorted ensemble)
Warnings: Some coarse language and sexual references
Sarah Newman has suffered abuse at the hands of her own father for years. When it all gets too much, she tries to end things. But even that fails. So she begins self-harming, in an attempt to numb, or at least mask her emotional and psychological pain before it overwhelms her.
Scene Breakdown Edit
Act 1 Edit
Prologue – Sarah speaks lit by a single spot. Sarah's Theme runs in the background.
I – Rev. David is preaching to the students about Psalm 13. However, in Sarah’s perception of what is happening, Rev. David takes on the appearance of her father (O Father).
II – during the lunch break Sarah, still affected by what happened in the chapel, cannot really engage with her friends.
III – in class after lunch, the students discuss rules put in place by parents and other authority figures.
IV – in this scene we see the first overt signs of the abuse and the effect it is having on Sarah. Also in this scene, we see that Peter has progressed to rape, rather than just touching Sarah.
V – Sarah is on the phone with Katie, the one person she could talk to about what is going on but cannot bring herself to do it.
VI – Sarah is so badly shaken by the rape that she decides she has had enough and takes an overdose of her mother’s sleeping pills.
VII – a brief scene in the hospital, after she was found and “saved”. We see here that Peter is still abusing her even after the overdose.
Act 2 Edit
I – Three years later, Sarah is now a boarder at St Catherine’s but she is still feeling the effects of the abuse.
II – A class party to celebrate the final year turns sour when Tyler cheats on Sarah with Alicia.
III – Sarah first discovers that physical pain releases or at least lessens the emotional and psychological pain.
IV – Growing desperate, especially with Tyler now dating Alicia, Sarah cuts with increasing frequency.
V – In a final plea for help, she calls her mother, but rather than helping the situation, the phone call makes Sarah feel worse.
VI – This final sequence, following on the end of the song in the previous scene is meant to leave the audience unclear about whether or not it is a dream Sarah has when she has fallen asleep (after throwing herself down on the bed). In it, she reconciles with her younger self, and moves on, giving the audience the chance to hope that she might have a future.
Sarah Newman – 14-17 (young Sarah is 10-12) – solos
Tyler Greene – 14-17 – sings
Katie Upton – 14-17 – solos
Megan Lacey – 14-17 – sings
Lauren McAullay – 14-17 – sings
Alicia Nielsen – 17 – sings
Daniel O'Brien – 14-17 – sings
Andrew Upton – 14-17 – sings
Michael Leyton – 14-17 – sings
Reverend David – 35+ – solos
Sister Sophia – 25+ – sings
Peter Newman – 40-50 – solos
Angela Newman – 40-45 – sings
- 1. Sarah's Theme – Instrumental
- 2. O Father – All
- 3. XXXX – All Teens
- 4. On the Run – Sarah
- 5. Protest Song – All Teens
- 6. Movement Piece 1 – Peter and Sarah
- 7. Maybe If... (working title) – Sarah 1
- 8. Reflection – Sarah 1, Sarah 2 and Young Sarah
- 9. Make a Difference – All Teens
- 10. Party song – All Teens
- 11. Illusion vs Reality – Sarah and Katie
- 12. Beat poem – Sarah
- 13. Alone – Sarah
- 14. Sarah's Theme (reprise) – Instrumental
I gave a lot of thought to the inclusion of the three different threads of the plotline (sexual abuse, self-harm and suicide). My research suggests that a high proportion of people who self-harm and eventually commit suicide have been sexually abused so these to me are not totally separate but rather they would interact, a bit like a plait as opposed to a plot tapestry. However, I have decided not to include pregnancy as the catalyst for the suicide because what I have read suggests that the self-harming can escalate into suicide, either intentional or accidental, in a lot of cases, regardless of a single triggering event. It will be left up to the director to show the closeness between the teenage characters in Act 2. This would be important to show one aspect of how Sarah attempts to feel normal.
Programme Notes Edit
These notes are designed to be directed to the audience.
Like Sarah, people struggling with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are not to blame. THESE PROBLEMS ARE NOT THEIR FAULT and they cannot just “snap out of it” because they want to or because their friends and family think they should.
These problems are serious health issues. They can lead to self-harm and actions that can be life-threatening. Anxiety can affect even quite young children but early intervention is effective.
If Sarah reminds you of someone you know, we encourage you to get them to seek help, even if at first they feel that people they approach do not hear them, or understand. If the person you know can connect with the appropriate help there is a good chance they will not need to go on feeling so alone and despairing.
Suggested Student Activities Edit
If this script is to be studied in a class setting, I have devised a number of activities that could be used to aid in this process.
- Write a diary entry from Alicia’s perspective. Use it as an opportunity for her to vent all of her thoughts and feelings as if she knows no one else will read it.
- Write a dialogue between Alicia and a therapist after she has started the deliberate cutting, discussing her feelings, and what she could do about them. Alternatively, write a dialogue between Katie and Alicia at the same point. This can be used as a character study if the script is being performed.
Script Analysis Edit
- Design a poster promoting the risks of self-harm, and suggesting other ways to deal with the emotional/psychological issues behind it.
- Design a poster promoting the play. What images would you choose and why?
NOTE: If the play is going to be performed, this activity could be used to design the poster advertising the performance.