Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Case Study No. 1909: Staff of Road's End Branch Library

Night of the Dunce
A play by Frank Gagliano
Tags: librarians broadway night of the dunce
Added: 3 months ago
From: ToonLib
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A small, bitter, apparently personal battle is going on inside a rather deserted public library.
The full-time assistant is falling in love with the girl at the check-out desk.
But there is a part-time assistant prowling about the place, buttering up the Head Librarian and gradually persuading her to sack the chap above him.

Miss Vickers, a lonely widow, is on the point of falling prey to the young interloper's blandishments.
She may sack the really loyal employe at any moment.
The girl at the check-out desk is wiser.
In fact, she is so certain that the soft-soap artist who is on his way up in the world is a fraud, cheat, and braggart ...
That she arranges to leave the library intercom open so that Miss Vickers, in her private office, can hear how he carries on in her absence.



Night of the dunce, a play.
Author: Frank Gagliano
Publisher: [New York] Dramatists Play Service [1967]
Summary: Roads End Branch of the public library is a decaying, ominous place, where no one comes to borrow books any more, despite the efforts of the staff to keep it a going concern. But the tension that hangs in the air affects them too, and they bicker among themselves, egged on by the scheming young temporary staff member who has wormed his way into the head librarian's confidence. Then mysterious phone calls are received, shadowy figures lurk outside, and a pair of unknown young men drop in and prowl aimlessly about the stacks. The head librarian, Mrs. Vickers, is willing to believe that their interest is reading - until the moment of seizure suddenly threatens, and the two young men turn out to be members of a gang of toughs calling themselves the Dunces. Their purpose is to take over the library and destroy it. Surrounded and besieged, Mrs. Vickers and her staff wage a seesaw battle to protect what they have and hold back the tide of ugliness which threatens to engulf them. In the end the night of threatened evil continues unresolved, but the courage and resourcefulness which have come forth to stave off destruction remain resolute as the lights dim and the defenders wait uncertainly for the attack which is sure to come.
Public libraries -- Drama.
Gangs -- Drama.



Night of the Dunce is set one dreadful night in the decrepit old Road's End Branch Library in an anonymous city. Mattie Vickers is the 60-year-old, fashionably dressed branch director. As the play opens, she is determined to sack her assistant librarian, Malcolm Supley. Though a good librarian, Supley has violated one of Vicker's edicts by speaking to the city commissioner.

The play takes a quick, sinister turn with the introduction of David, a young part-time staff member who has manipulated Vickers into firing Supley. He wants Supley's job. Davis is nasty to Supley and another library assistant while toadying reprehensibly to Vickers.

As the unpleasantness continues into the evening, local oddball Max Kupreef takes Vickers aside and tells her what he thinks: "I've seen you change from a driving force in the community to some kind of hesitant, hat-wearing, hair-tinted, carefully made-up widow."

Vickers breaks, then, and pours out her fears for the future of the library. She admits taht she has been falsifying reports to the city commissioner, indicating a larger number of patrons than reality has provided, afraid that the library will not only be closed but demolished should the truth about tis emptiness become known.

Demolition is on order, but from an unexpected source: a gang of punks, the Dunces, terrorize the library staff and threaten to destroy the place. "Christ, we're librarians," shouts Vickers at the punk assault (which the punks dub Project Library Raid), determined to stop it.

It's a frightening vision of society going to hell, with the library crew (at road's end for certain) about to take the rsmparts in a defense of reason that is clearly doomed.

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