ACT 2, Scene 3 – TOM: Birth of a Legend. Jan.2020

by admin on January 6, 2020

Autumn, Algonquin park Autumn, Algonquin park

Here’s the final scene of my new play about TOM THOMSON,  the iconic Canadian painter whose tragically premature  death led to a still unsolved mystery and continuing fascination with his work.




(The platform structure is now the hotel veranda again, decorated with lanterns and candles. WW1 music is playing from inside the Lodge – ‘Keep the home fires burning.’ HARRIS and AGNES are dancing. FITZ enters on crutches from the Lodge bar followed by EDIE carrying two drinks. She sets them down, then takes one of FITZ’s crutches and puts it down so she can take his hand. He stands still while she dances around him.)

FITZ:                                                                                        Where do you suppose Winnie disappeared to, Edie? Not like her to miss a party.

EDIE:                                                                                        I think she’s deliberately punishing Tom.

HARRIS:                                                                                      What for?

EDIE:                                                                           For embarrassing her in front of you and Agnes.

HARRIS:                                                                                 But I never said anything, did I, Aggie?

AGNES:                                                                                           You didn’t have to. I suspect she was a little intimidated by us city slickers. And looking at the nude painting of her.

HARRIS:                                                                    Tom can be a bit cavalier in his treatment of her. And Winnie dotes on him. Anyone can see that. I must say I was surprised that she agreed to pose nude for him. Quite risqué for a small-town girl.

AGNES:                                                                                      Hardly a girl. She’s thirty-five if she’s a day, Lawren.

FITZ:                                                                                            I know what he means, though. Winnie is easily shocked by our ‘Toronto ways’, as she calls them.

EDIE:                                                                                            She likes us, but she doesn’t approve of us, entirely.

HARRIS:                                                                                     Well, Tom has worn the rough edges off her. She’s a different person when she comes to see him in Toronto.

(A loud blast of singing from the bar as TOM staggers through the door with a tray of drinks. He sways round them, handing them glasses.)

TOM:                                                                                    Champagne everyone. A toast. To Millie Wallace. Long may she prosper. Where’s Winnie? I thought she’d be here by now.

HARRIS:                                                                                      Edie says she’s punishing you, but Aggie thinks it’s our fault.

TOM:                                                                                                             Quick to take offence is our Winnie. But tonight, if she wants me to grovel, I’ll grovel. Cheers, everyone. How about a dance, Edie, while I wait for her to show up?

HARRIS:                                                       Don’t step on her toes, you drunken backwoodsman.

TOM:                                                                                               I always treat Edie like a queen. Fitz will vouch for me. At her command. Painting lessons, canoe trips, you name it…

EDIE:                                                                         Alright, Tom, alright. Let’s go inside and dance.

TOM:                                                                                         At your service.

(EDIE leads TOM inside to the Lodge bar.)

AGNES:                                                                                      Does he always drink this much?

HARRIS:                                                                                                 He likes to tie one on. I’ve been on more than one all-night bender with him.

FITZ:                                                                                    So have I – it’s the war. The local people up here can be damn cruel to any man not in uniform.

AGNES:                                                                                              The longer Tom can stay out of it, the better. That’s why I want him to go out west with Lawren.

HARRIS:                                                                                            His flat feet won’t save him if this war continues. Sooner or later they’ll get him.

FITZ:                                                                                                      I hear they’ve finally drawn the Americans into it. The woods will be crawling with Yank draft-dodgers up here.

HARRIS:                                                                                               Like that Bockmann character I saw prowling around the station when we arrived.

FITZ:                                                                                            I warned Edie to stay away from him, if she sees him around. He’s drunk most of the time.

AGNES:                                                                                                           It seems we can’t escape from the war, even away up north in the wilderness.

FITZ:                                                                                                      Tom complains it’s becoming too much like a country club around here. He’ll be glad to get away out to the Rockies with you, Lawren. Wish I could join you, but I wouldn’t get far in the mountains on these sticks.

AGNES:                                                                                    Shall we go inside and join the dancers?

(They all exit into the Lodge as the music of ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’ swells with voices singing along to it. After a few bars of the song, WINNIE runs on downstage right, out of the dark, followed by BOCKMANN staggering after her. She stops and turns on him.)

WINNIE:                                                             I’ve told you to stop bothering me, Walter. Go away.

BOCKMANN:                                                           Just one dance, Winnie. Lemme buy you a drink.

WINNIE:                                                                                              No. You’ve had too many already. Go home. (She goes up steps onto veranda)

BOCKMANN:                                                                             It’sa public bar. I can go in if I like. (He follows her, stumbling up the steps.)

WINNIE:                                                                   Tom’s in there. You’ll cause a fight again, Walter.

BOCKMANN:                                                                                                  To hell with Thomson. What about us and our cabin I’m gonna build for you? (Grabs her arm and tries to kiss her.) I want you, Winnie. I know you like me.

(They struggle for a minute, with him pawing her until she breaks free.)

WINNIE:                                                                                                   (crying in fright) No, no. Stop it, Walter. Let me go. Tom! (She runs inside Lodge as music swells.)

(BOCKMANN stands swaying, uncertain whether to follow her inside or not. Loud voices come from inside and TOM bursts outside to confront him. They stand for a moment, both drunk and eyeing each other up.)

TOM:                                                                                      Whaddya doing here, Bockmann. I warned you to stop pestering Winnie or I’d settle with you once and for all.

(Music swells again as the others crowd outside, HARRIS, EDIE, AGNES, with FITZ following behind.)

BOCKMANN:                                                                                                   Always make sure you’ve got a bunch of your city pals to back you up, don’t you Thomson? Typical conchie coward.

HARRIS:                                                                                     (intervening) Take it easy, lads. You’ve both had too much to drink.

TOM:                                                                                        No use talking to him. He only understands one thing. (Takes a wild swing at BOCKMANN who ducks out of the way.)

FITZ:                                                                                 (Steps between them and raises one crutch at BOCKMANN.) Get out of here, Bockmann, or I’ll flatten you with one of these.

BOCKMANN:                                                                                     (Grabs the crutch and gives FITZ  a shove, knocking him down the steps.)  Piss off. No bloody cripple tells me what to do.

EDIE:                                                                                                 (screams and runs down the steps to FITZ lying on the ground.)  Fitz … Fitz! You bastard, Bockmann, what have you done? (EDIE runs back up the steps and throws herself at BOCKMANN, who tries to fend her off.)

(AGNES and WINNIE try to pull her off him, while HARRIS and TOM help FITZ to his feet.)

TOM:                                                                                   You son of a bitch… (He goes for BOCKMANN who backs away and WINNIE blocks TOM).

WINNIE:                                                                                                              No, Tom. He’s got a knife. (Turns to BOCKMANN) Go home, Walter. I told you, you’d only cause trouble.

BOCKMANN:                                                                                   He’sa one started it, but I’ll finish it when I catch him on his own. (He stumbles down the steps and disappears into the darkness.)

(HARRIS and EDIE help FITZ onto the veranda and seat him on a chair. FITZ cries out in pain and TOM and WINNIE rush over to him.)

FITZ:                                                                                        My ankle… I think it’s broken.

TOM:                                                                                         Goddam Bockmann. I’ll get him for this…

(WINNIE tries to stop him but TOM stumbles down the steps after BOCKMANN, calling his name. Indistinct voices and shouting from the gloom.  A loud cry is heard and then a big splash. Everyone turns from FITZ to peer out at the lake. In a repeat of the opening scene, light fades on the deck as moonlight reveals the blue lake rippling across the stage. TOM’s silver canoe floats upside down, as light fades to silhouette everyone.)

WINNIE:                                                                                     Tom!

EDIE:                                                                                                        Tom!

(Other voices call out from the darkening stage)

FITZ:                                                                                          Tom?

AGNES:                                                                                Tom?

HARRIS:                                                                              Tom!



15,260 words


Act 1 – 1 hour

Act 2 – 55 minutes.


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