Act One, Scene 8

Image: A depiction of Andrew Jackson as a boy in 1780
defying a British officer.

This is the eighth scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. You can find all the scenes published so far on this page. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la huitième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. Vous pouvez trouver toutes les scènes déjà publiées sur cette page. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 8
(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 35 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 7 years old
ALICE, Francis’s cousin, about 16 years old
FERGUSON, a captain in the British Army
Several British soldiers

The same set as the previous scene, immediately afterwards. Continue reading Act One, Scene 8

Act One, Scene 7

Boone Hall Plantation, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
© Esther Branderhorst

This is the seventh scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. You can find all the scenes published so far on this page. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la septième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. Vous pouvez trouver toutes les scènes déjà publiées sur cette page. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 7
(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 35 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 7 years old
ROBERT, a slave
GILBERT DU MOTIER, the Marquis de Lafayette, about 19 years old

The entry hall of the house, same set as scene 3, two weeks later at dusk. Benjamin is seated at his desk. Gilbert is seated in a chair across from him. The sword in its scabbard, still attached to the blue silk sash, is lying on the desk. The two are talking and smoking their pipes.  Continue reading Act One, Scene 7

Act One, Scene 6

© 2013 Wikipedia, used under Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
Unported license (CC BY-SA 3.0)

This is the sixth scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. You can find all the scenes published so far on this page. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la sixième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. Vous pouvez trouver toutes les scènes déjà publiées sur cette page. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 6
(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

FRANCIS HUGER, about 7 years old
GILBERT DU MOTIER, the Marquis de Lafayette, about 19 years old

The veranda of the house, same as the first scene, several days later. Morning. Francis and Gilbert are standing next to a column. Continue reading Act One, Scene 6

Act One, Scene 5

This is the fifth scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. You can find all the scenes published so far on this page. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la cinquième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. Vous pouvez trouver toutes les scènes déjà publiées sur cette page. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 5
(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

FRANCIS HUGER, about 7 years old
NATHANIEL HUGER, his brother, about 16 years old

The same evening. Francis’s bedroom: a bed stage left, two windows through which we see moonlight, the shadows of trees draped with Spanish moss. A lighted candlestick is on the nightstand beside the bed. Francis is sleeping. A soft, golden light illuminates the bed. Continue reading Act One, Scene 5

Act One, Scene 4

Dining room of The John Marshall House in Richmond, Virginia,
built in 1790 by John Marshall, later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

This is the fourth scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. You can find all the scenes published so far on this page. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la quatrième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. Vous pouvez trouver toutes les scènes déjà publiées sur cette page. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 4
(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 35 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 7 years old
ALICE, Francis’s cousin, about 16 years old
GILBERT DU MOTIER, the Marquis de Lafayette, about 19 years old

The dining room of the house. The same evening. Everyone is seated around a large table, dining, Gilbert in the center, Benjamin to the left, Alice to the right, Francis between Gilbert and Alice. Dishes are spread all along the table. A candelabra. Wine. Continue reading Act One, Scene 4

Act One, Scene 3

This is the third scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. You can find Act One, Scene 2 here. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la troisième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. Vous pouvez trouver Premier Acte, Scène 2 ici. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 3
(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 35 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 7 years old
ROBERT, a slave
GILBERT DU MOTIER, the Marquis de Lafayette, about 19 years old

Return to the year 1777. The entry hall of the house, same set as the previous scene. The sword in its scabbard, still attached to the blue silk sash, is lying on the desk. Benjamin enters stage right (from the terrace in scene 1) with Francis and Robert. Robert is helping Benjamin into his coat.

Continue reading Act One, Scene 3

Act One, Scene 2

Photo used with the permission of Dimitry Gelfand.

This is the second scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la deuxième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 2
(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 34 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 6 years old
NATHANIEL HUGER, his eldest son, about 16 years old
ALICE, Francis and Nathaniel’s cousin, about 15 years old

One year earlier: 1776. The entry hall of the house: the main doors are center stage, with windows on either side. A desk and chair are stage right, a staircase stage left. Benjamin and Nathaniel are standing center stage. Continue reading Act One, Scene 2

Act One, Scene 1

Drayton Hall, Georgian-Palladian style plantation house
constructed in 1738 near Charleston, South Carolina

This is the first scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. At only eleven lines, it’s the shortest scene in the play. Hopefully these first few lines will pique your interest! The original French is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la première scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Ayant seulement onze répliques, c’est la scène la plus brève de la pièce. J’espère que ces premières lignes piqueront votre intérêt ! L’original en français se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

SCENE 1

The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 35 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 7 years old
ROBERT, a slave

The year 1777. A cotton and rice plantation, on the veranda of the plantation house. A summer evening at dusk, hot and humid, chirping cicadas. Benjamin is seated on a rocking chair stage left, smoking his pipe. Francis stands downstage right, looking into the distance. Continue reading Act One, Scene 1

Enter Stage Left

Molière in the role of Caesar in Corneille’s “The Death of Pompey,”
by Nicolas Mignard

If you’re a fan of je parle américain, you’ve probably noticed a recent decline in the frequency of my posts. That’s primarily because I’ve been so busy with what has to be my final semester of French language classes. Instead of writing for je parle américain, I’ve been summarizing French news articles, drafting letters to imaginary newspaper editors about the controversies of the day, outlining arguments for oral presentations, synthesizing multipage French documents into concise 100-word summaries without omitting anything essential … oh, and writing a play in French. Continue reading Enter Stage Left

Circle Unbroken

A few weeks ago, I embarked on what would become one of the most rewarding personal projects I’ve ever undertaken. It was — perhaps surprisingly — something I’d never done before: a translation. Of course, I’ve translated small things from English into French and vice versa, like birthday cards, things Michel and my American family have said to each other, even scenes from American television shows. This time, though, the project involved a book, albeit a short one:

© 2004 Margot Theis Raven (story), © 2004 E.B. Lewis (illustrations)

Back in September, my mother came across this children’s book and decided to give it to my mother-in-law as a gift. Circle Unbroken, by Margot Theis Raven, is a story told by a grandmother to her granddaughter about how she learned to weave the sweetgrass baskets of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. What unfolds on its pages, exquisitely illustrated in watercolor by E.B. Lewis, is not just the story of a basket, but of how that basket holds the history of a people: it’s the story of “old-timey grandfather” and “old-timey grandmother,” who learned to make baskets “across a wide, deep ocean, in faraway Africa” and how their tradition was passed down from generation to generation through slavery and liberation, through sharecropping and war, through economic boom and tourism — through fear and hope. Every “chapter” ends with an inspiring refrain:  “And when his fingers talked just right, his basket held the rain, and he remembered from where he came.” In its poetry and simplicity, Circle Unbroken is a remarkable celebration of the perseverance of an African culture, transplanted, adapted, and preserved against all odds in a foreign land. Continue reading Circle Unbroken