The Non-Discharge of Captain Towelewska
by: Steve Forrestieri, Playwriting 402 -- Dr. McCabe -- One-Act Play Assignment
CAPT. TOWELEWSKA (white female, age around 28; actress must have trim, toned body and a deep overall tan; part is played in the nude -- if performed outside BSC, recommend the actress live naked for a month beforehand so as to preclude inadvertent hesitations during performance)
COL. MATHEWS (white male, age around 50, balding, kindly)
MAJ. SPINELLI (white male, age around 45, a little overweight, outspoken)
GEN. JOYNER (black male, age around 60, gray hair and mustache, gruff)
SGT. McCOY (male age around 25, black, muscular)
SGT. VAZQUEZ (female age around 25, hispanic, thinner than Sgt. McCoy)
DR. CAMPION (white female, age around 50)
[small military office, palm trees seen through side window, everyone sweating in their full coverage uniforms]
[JOYNER at desk, MATHEWS and SPINELLI seated in front of him]
JOYNER [adjusting glasses as he reads from printout] Kept naked for two years in a Bulgarian prison . . . slept on a hard bench without blankets . . . U.N. inspections of her -- vagina and -- anus?? [hesitates, uncomfortable with language] Interrogation by -- what the f**k -- forced orgasms? This sounds like pornography, for Christ’s sake! [lowers voice] Badly written, too. [clears throat, reads more] Then via informant within the prison, escaped via Chinook by grabbing onto a rope ladder, still naked, and taken to Limnos Base?
MATHEWS All true. That’s only the first part of her story.
JOYNER Yes I know. So she never got back into clothes?
MATHEWS No. During the debriefing we found that R16 was at that prison. The physical description was unmistakable. Her memory is remarkable -- she could describe everyone on the cell block.
JOYNER That debriefing had to have lasted a couple of hours. Didn’t she ask for clothes?
MATHEWS Not at that point.
JOYNER You mean you debriefed this female officer, you five men, with her sitting there naked?
MATHEWS After two years of enforced nudity, around fully clothed people, she no longer had any feelings of modesty. . . She could walk down Fifth Avenue in New York and not feel any urge to cover up. You will find that out soon, sir.
JOYNER And then you whisked her back, without her having put on a stitch.
MATHEWS We couldn’t take the risk of them finding clothing marks on her, or fibers in her pubic hair. We had to make it look like her attempt at escape was unsuccessful.
JOYNER So they found her the next day on the beach . . . I find it hard to believe they were so easily fooled.
SPINELLI Millie roughed herself up, scraping herself with sticks . . . There’s a small island offshore where she had been picked up, and she made it look like she had swum there, not found anything to eat, and given up, and swum back in a state of exhaustion, collapsing on the sand. They found her there the next morning.
JOYNER And that trick worked?
SPINELLI I don’t know if they were really fooled, but they decided to act like it.
JOYNER [sighs] Things are so confusing over there. It was much easier in the Cold War days . . . So back into the prison she went.
SPINELLI And punished her further by taking away the wood bench. She slept on the bare concrete, in a cage in the center hallway, on full view at all times, including eating and . . . excreting. Except of course when out with the chain gang. Or being “interrogated”.
JOYNER Jesus! That girl is tough!
MATHEWS [admiringly] Oh brother . . . she’s the toughest bitch you ever heard of!
JOYNER [reads some more] So they . . . are . . . building a nuclear power plant.
MATHEWS That’s pretty unmistakable. Twenty-seven trips to gather topsoil. With 67 prisoners, they easily gathered a metric ton each time. What else would they need it for?
JOYNER And gathered by prisoners who can’t talk to anyone. That’s pretty slick.
SPINELLI A tribute to Millie’s powers of memory and observation. It’s not like she had any way of taking notes.
JOYNER So . . . R16 got sprung. With our naked soldier to help out.
MATHEWS Yes. That part of the report isn’t printed out yet, but fortunately they had moved him within sight distance of Millie’s cage.
JOYNER So they still had no idea who R16 was.
MATHEWS Lucky for us. I really do think they’re still in the dark about that kid. All they care about is getting information to use against their political opponents. Millie never cracked, during those . . . interrogations.
JOYNER I’m really glad we got him back. The world’s most accomplished hacker. [pauses, looks at the paper again]
MATHEWS Is there something wrong?
JOYNER You probably figured out that the real reason I’m here is to talk to “Millie” myself. Before the Army decides what to do with her.
MATHEWS The commando leaders are here.
JOYNER I thought they were on assignment in Afghanistan.
SPINELLI They’ve come back. [calls out] Georgine?
[enter SGT. McCOY and SGT. VAZQUEZ; they salute the General]
JOYNER Sit down, Sergeants. I understand you have a story to tell. Give me the brief version.
VAZQUEZ Well, as you know, our double flyby was the signal for Captain Towelewska to create a diversion in exactly five minutes. According to the kid --
VAZQUEZ -- yes -- she climbed up the bars of her cage and lifted off the roof and jumped down and ran for the exit.
JOYNER How did she do that? Wasn’t it fastened on?
McCOY Somehow over the space of two weeks she found a way to loosen all sixteen screws without anyone noticing. R16 thinks she found a couple of little flat stones during an excavation and hid them in her vagina, and somehow at night she was able to wrap her toes around the bars and lift herself to reach, using the stones as pliers.
JOYNER [to himself ] Remarkable.
McCOY With the guards chasing her, we could come in through the entrance the snitch had left unlocked, with our B squad coming in through the broken roof vent she had identified.
VAZQUEZ She was running rings around those guards. We threw her an M-16 and she helped with clearing out the back corridor. That brought our numbers to thirteen. There was some shooting, and the guards must have thought they were outnumbered and fled. Where our snitch went, we don’t know. Possibly she’s a double agent.
JOYNER I think we have to assume that.
McCOY Amid the gunfire, the Warden had disappeared -- with R16. He must have figured out who we were trying to spring, even if he didn’t know the reason.
VAZQUEZ And that’s when the search began. It took two hours. We finally found R16, and the Captain, and the Warden, and his assistant, in a maintenance building on the grounds. She had been holding them at gunpoint almost all that time. And trying to concentrate despite --
McCOY They had strapped her in one of those “interrogation belts” they would use on her. I never saw anyone so wrung out. She was sweating, her eyes were bugged out, she looked like someone who hadn’t slept in three days, and there was a horrible muffled buzzing from her crotch area. And then she had another of what must have been a long series of orgasms.
JOYNER Good God. How did she let herself get -- trapped like that?
McCOY My guess is that at the prison, they heard the slapping of bare feet coming around the corner, and knew it was her, and they jumped her from the sides, the Warden and his assistant. Then they strapped her into that -- thing.
VAZQUEZ And according to R16, they dragged him, and her, out to the building. Once there, she overcame them and grabbed their gun. And held them there until help arrived. As for the -- device -- she couldn’t take it off without dropping the gun. So she had to stay in that little room, being driven out of her mind, all the time having to keep them at bay.
JOYNER Why did that guy strap that -- thing on her? Why didn’t he just shoot her, or knock her out?
MATHEWS As you know, they were careful not to physically injure her. Per the protocol.
JOYNER [rolling his eyes] Yes -- those “inspections”, which never found any sign of injury.
SPINELLI The torture was only sexual.
McCOY Anyway, she was at the point of exhaustion when we finally broke in. As we entered she collapsed in another orgasm.
VAZQUEZ The Warden was cool as a cucumber. He knew we weren’t going to kill him. As she fell to her knees he looked at us and said, “That was number thirty-seven.” I could have strangled him.
JOYNER Well unfortunately Sergeant, we were paying you not to. Thought I suppose I would have felt the same way. You two are commended for a successful mission in the face of much danger.
McCOY I feel, sir, as if it was partly a failure. Because of the delay caused by our inability to find her and -- what it did to her -- it was painful to watch, as we carried her onto the copter.
JOYNER The Army will do all it can for her, Sergeant. That is all.
[exit McCOY and VAZQUEZ]
JOYNER Let’s bring in Dr. Campion.
[enter CAMPION, in uniform, wearing a Major’s gold oak leaf; she salutes and sits down]
JOYNER I’ve read your reports, Doctor. I really don’t see how we can keep Captain Towelewska on active duty.
CAMPION Being put out to pasture would crush her. The Army has been the center of her life. I don’t think you know her full story. Born in Poland, her parents brought her here, then when she was ten they were killed in an automobile accident. Bounced from foster home to foster home, she enlisted at age 18. It’s been eleven years. To her, the Army is stability, order, it gives her life meaning. That’s why she has been such a star.
JOYNER Oh I know she has been. Her record is stellar. But what about what I’ve read here [pointing to notebook]? The only time she doesn’t have these -- seizures -- is when she’s asleep! She simply cannot function as an officer.
CAMPION [quietly] They’re not “seizures”, General.
JOYNER Yes, Major, I know what they are. Anyway, I don’t want to make a final determination without seeing her.
MATHEWS She’s been waiting in my office. I’ll bring her in.
[TOWELEWSKA enters, walking a little unsteadily; her breasts jiggle as she turns tightly to salute the General]
JOYNER You don’t have to salute me, Captain; you’re, uh, not in uniform. [TOWELEWSKA turns to display Captain’s bars pinned to her hair] Oh I see you are, sorry. Sit down.
[TOWELEWSKA takes a chair, legs quivering; her breasts jut out as she sits bolt upright]
JOYNER How are you today, Captain? I hope the officers here are giving leeway to your . . . lack of clothing.
TOWELEWSKA I have been t - treated with the utmost respect here, G - General. I only w - wish t - to be -- [squeezes eyes shut] g - g - given -- OHH! -- kcchkk! [choking sounds] [her bare feet slap on the floor, she jerks around in her chair -- it is obvious that she is experiencing a volcanic orgasm and violently trying to suppress it] [JOYNER, MATHEWS and SPINELLI try to look away; CAMPION looks on in sorrow and understanding]
[the orgasm runs its course; TOWELEWSKA, sweating, catches her breath]
TOWELWESKA S - sorry s - sir.
JOYNER Captain, you were going to say something.
TOWELEWSKA Yes, s - sir. I wish to be g - given another assignment. [catches breath, swallows] I b - believe I s - still can be of s - service . . . ohhh . . .
JOYNER We are looking into that, Captain.
TOWELEWSKA Th - thank you s - sir. [softly, to herself] Oh n - no. [another orgasm begins, as violent as the last one, with equally determined efforts to smother it; she grits her teeth and her eyes bug out as she emits a series of strangled screams]
JOYNER [flustered] Y - you may go, Captain.
TOWELEWSKYA Th - thank you sir. [gets up, tries to stand, tries to salute, her hand hits her eye instead; she staggers out, the slapping of her bare feet fading away down the hall]
JOYNER Jesus. Can’t that -- condition -- be cured?
CAMPION I believe it can be cured by therapy, but my attempts have been defeated by the same iron determination that has made her such a success in her Army career. She ferociously fights each orgasm -- you saw that just now -- which just makes them stronger. Whereas if she just, so to speak, let them come, the causes can be investigated and possibly worked with.
JOYNER I’m no psychologist, but would talking therapy work anyway? This is about, uh, body reactions.
CAMPION The usual seizure medications don’t work. Another option, which I hesitate to endorse, is exhaustion therapy.
JOYNER Exhaustion therapy?
CAMPION A machine has been developed, by a medical institute in Vermont, which elicits female orgasms apparently without limit. Whether the woman wants them or not.
SPINELLI [disbelieving] What?
CAMPION It combines -- artificial penises and suction pumps and -- I don’t want to get too graphic about its design, but it was tried on one teenage girl who was brought to two hundred orgasms in the space of a few hours.
SPINELLI Two hundred??
CAMPION Yes. Unfortunately the poor child was not exactly a willing participant. I can’t say more about that. But someone of Millie’s strength and endurance -- the idea being that she will finally run out of orgasms, so to speak. Get sick of them, create an aversion.
MATHEWS That sounds like it would really mess up her mind. Turn her off to sex for life.
JOYNER But would she be any worse off than she is now?
CAMPION That would not be my decision. Just know that this is an option I would not endorse.
JOYNER [pauses, takes deep breath] What if for the sake of argument she does get cured? She’s still allergic to clothing.
CAMPION Yes unfortunately. Nothing we’ve tried works. She has an anaphylactic reaction when the slightest scrap is put on her. Not that she minds. She’s so used to nudity . . .
JOYNER Yes I know. That was obvious. No sign of modesty, no attempt to cover any part of herself. Yet never giving any sense that she was showing off.
SPINELLI She has a lot to show off.
JOYNER I don’t consider that an inappropriate observation, in the circumstances, Major. Her bodily -- pulchritude -- is an unavoidable factor here. Still -- what can the Army do with an officer who is always naked?
MATHEWS We have looked into it, sir.
JOYNER [astonished] What?? That was supposed to be a rhetorical question!
MATHEWS [to SPINELLI] Tony? I’ll let you do the honors.
SPINELLI We’ve done some research. In northern Idaho there is a defunct nudist camp right next to a known separatist militia property. Perhaps Captain Towelewska can pose as a lifelong nudist who is opening the camp back up.
JOYNER I can’t believe I'm hearing this. . . A nudist camp? Well, crazy as that idea is -- but northern Idaho? How is she going to go out and about when it's below zero?
MATHEWS It got cold at times in Bulgaria, during the winter. Millie got used to it. As for below zero, she can probably withstand walking through the snow for a short time.
SPINELLI And in the act of introducing herself to her new neighbors, she can keep an eye on them and report back to us. I think militia types would probably be quite forthcoming with her.
MATHEWS [smiling] Can’t you see it? From our research militia men tend to suffer from feelings of sexual inferiority. A beautiful woman who is always naked moves in next door. It would be like catnip. Given a few beers they will probably tell her everything.
JOYNER I’m glad I have something to smile about today. . . Well . . . we’ll see.
SPINELLI We also located a college in California where female students must be naked at all times.
JOYNER Are you serious? This sounds like a sex fantasy.
SPINELLI Not at all. There’s no more sex there than at any other college. The men can look but can’t touch. The idea is to mold strong young women, and men who respect them. It seems to be working. Anyway, we were thinking Millie could go there posing as a returning student, or maybe an assistant instructor. Unfortunately there is nothing in the area to keep an eye on. Hard to think of how she would be serving the Army there.
JOYNER Unless she wants to train a squad of nude commandos. Any other ideas?
SPINELLI There are women in Korea who dive for oysters, and we understand that they used to do it naked. Perhaps setting her up on a beach near the border with North Korea will allow her to observe things, or act as a relay. However a lot of prep work has to be done before that can happen. The Koreans will think we’re just leering Westerners.
JOYNER [pauses, looks at notebook again, exhales] You’ve given me some things to think about. I’ll hold off on a decision for now. But I want a written report on all options. I’d hate to put her on medical leave, but you know how the Army is. Put in as much detail as you can. I might have to take this to I-Corps.
CAMPION This is much appreciated, sir.
[JOYNER looks out window]
JOYNER There she goes. [they all look out with him] Good thing this is a secure facility filled with grownups; we don’t have many places where she can walk around like that. Can you imagine the scene she would make at Fort Rucker? . . . Look at that. In bare feet she still walks like she’s wearing combat boots. Oh no -- there she goes again! It’s amazing she can still walk during one of those -- or try to walk. She can’t go more than a hundred yards without --
MATHEWS She deserves a Purple Heart, sir.
JOYNER Hell -- a Silver Star. If only there was a place we could pin it.
P.S. Dr. McCabe:
This play of course is another adaptation of the Towelewska character. As you probably know the original story was written by donnylaja in 2003. The plot of which is summarized here in dialog.
I know you wanted a one-act centering on a strong female character. The title character has only a short appearance but the play is all about her.
I hope this isn’t “over the top” and in violation of the BSC rule against sexualizing nudity. I tried to make the sex aspect separate from the nudity aspect. The title role is really tailor-made (to use an inappropriate term) for BSC because the women in our class, having lived without clothes for three years, at least on campus, are as unconcerned about nudity as Capt. Towelewska is.
The other two female characters obviously have to be understood as being clothed. I thought about adding references to their clothing in the dialog but it seemed awkward in this formal military setting. In an off-campus production, of course, real clothing can be used, with only the actress playing Towelewska being naked.