Foundlings

Written by:

Kathleen McDonnell

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:

D/deaf, Disabled, and/or Mad

Cast Size:
16

Roles For:

  • Indigenous Peoples: 16
  • LGBTQ+: 16
  • Men: 8
  • People of Colour: 16
  • People with Disabilities: 16
  • Women: 8

Genre:

Historical

Themes:

Children
Democracy
Women

Length:

90 min.

Year Written:

2000

Synopsis:

Foundlings is a coming-of-age tale set in Greece in the 5th century BCE. The action takes place in the fictional city-state of Argenopolis, during a period of upheaval, with the rise of democracy and changing ideas about the gods and their role in human affairs.The story is a mixture of history and fiction. Female babies were known to have been abandoned more than males, but the story of Alecto, a girl nursed and raised by a bear, is inspired by a well-known myth about the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

The play employs other borrowings from myth, such as the old couple Baucis and Philemon, and the one-eyed Graeae. But the main storyline is the fight for democratic rule by the young people, led by Diagoras and Alecto, against Cleon, the tyrannical ruler of Argenopolis. The story reflects contemporary issues of power and class, and the characters’ speech is in a modern, colloquial style. There are elements of comedy and farce, and the non-realistic setting easily lends itself to colour-blind, gender-blind, and ability-blind casting Foundlings is an excellent large-cast play for high school and junior-high drama classes.

Characters:

MORTALS: Cleon, leader of Argenopolis; Diagoras, age 17, champion athlete; Philemon, a teacher, father of Diagoras; Baucis, potter, mother of Diagoras; Alecto, age 17, an abandoned “wild child”; Zoe, age 13, a household slave; Thyestes, a student; A woman; a Foreman, a She-Bear.

GODS: Artemis, the huntress, daughter of Zeus; Zeus, king of the gods; Athene, patroness of Athens, daughter of Zeus; Hermes, the messenger, son of Zeus; Ion, a half-god, half-mortal youth; The Graeae (“gray ones”) ancient hag-goddesses; Nymph.

With players taking on multiple roles, Foundlings can be performed with a minimum cast of 8.

Resources:

Foundlings was published 2011 by Second Story Press in play collection Putting on a Show: Theater for Young People.

To view other works by this playwright, click here.

Notes:

Play was written on commission by Young People‚Äôs Theatre during Kathleen McDonnell’s tenure as playwright in residence in 1999-2000.

The play had a workshop and showcase production at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta in May 2001, directed by Annie Szamosi.