Ellen Harvey Showell

Selected Works

Children's Fiction: Ghost Stories and Mysteries
A realistic tale set in Appalachian hill country. 12-year old Willy and his sister dare to befriend a wild child of the woods--even though she is said to have drowned years ago. They take separate paths to discover the truth about her--just in time to prevent another tragedy. An Authors' Guild Backinprint edition.
History of American Women In Science: Inventors
True to the author's bent, this non-fiction book starts with an original fairy tale. Otherwise, it presents real stories of fascinating women inventors from colonial days to outstanding scientists of present time. Co-authored with Fred M.B. Amram. Ideal for homeschoolers.
Musical Plays for Children to Perform
A young girl who loves to dance finds a fiddle-playing boy on magical Blue Mountain. An Appalachian fairy tale with traditional and original songs. Based on the novel by the same name.
A musical play on words, ideal for elementary or middle school productions. Six syllables become a word that has to find its meaning -- a hilarious exploration of language. Fun, jazzy songs and dances. Could complement a poetry or creative writing unit.
Death Penalty
In this one-act play described as "Powerful," "Deeply moving,", Men and women with opposite feelings about the death penalty confront condemned persons and each other--and a medical technician confronts his own soul. "It makes you think." Especially suitable for death penalty focus groups. Feel free to downloadthe script.
THE SCRIPT is found below. Please feel free to download and perform. I would like to know who is performing the play, and would appreciate a $50 fee to cover costs if produced. Thanks! EHS

video available


A video of the dramatic presentation of the play at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Sunday service in December 2000, directed by Vera Tilson, featuring the Rev. Michael McGee and church members, may be ordered. Copies are $18.25 including mailing costs. Write to UUCA, 4444 Arlington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22204, attn: The Executioners Video. Or contact E. H. Showell as above.

Format of Play


A dialogue takes place between a Questioner and Condemned persons-- each prisoner's last chance to talk with others before he or she dies--a final opportunity to be truthful to self and others. The dialogue then opens up to Respondents (who are sitting as though part of the audience) and to Relatives of the prisoners and their victims (also sitting as though part of the audience).



Interested in performing the play?


For permission to perform, for more information or to order scripts, Write Ellen H. Showell, 7452 Apring Village Dr., Apt. 214, Springfield, VA 22150. Or email me at the link provided below.

PLAY SCRIPTS are $7.25 each including shipping. (Make checks out to Ellen H. Showell). Cost: $18.25 including shipping. To order script and the video together: $25.50.

The Executioners

WHEN PEOPLE KILL EACH OTHER IN CRUEL, COLD- BLOODED MURDER, SHOULD WE ALLOW THEM TO LIVE?

IS DEATH A PUNISHMENT?

WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO? WHAT BAD DOES IT DO?


These and other questions are debated...and looked at from a dramatic viewpoint in the play, "The Executioners," by Ellen H. Showell.

It is especially suitable for death-penalty focus groups, as a means to get people to think more about what we are doing when we allow, or demand, executions in our name.

The play is suitable for various kinds of presentations including full theatrical production; dramatic presentation as part of a church service; dramatic reading. About 35 minutes in length, there are parts for as many as 20 people, although it can be done with fewer.

COMMENTS:
"This is an exceptional piece of work and should find strong and warm response from many Unitarian and other church-group audiences, as well as action-task-force groups opposed to the penalty in the US. It is very moving...and persuasive. It deserves a broad audience." Barbara Beach

"Seeing this has changed my mind about the death penalty." "People around me were crying...and so was I." "It showed both sides of the issue very well." "It makes you think." Members of the audience who saw the presentation at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Arlington, VA.


Author's Notes


If the death penalty is for punishment,then how is it effective, except for the pain it causes a person who knows he or she is going to die? This is psychological pain, which may well be described as "cruel and unusual." But death itself may be a reward to a person, if it's not just the end of a person's being. We have no way of knowing. Is the death penalty mainly for the effect it will have on the person who is to die--to make this person suffer--or is it handed out as a deterrent to keep others from committing murder, rape, torture? Is killing to make an example really justice?

What do we really want to kill when we kill a murderer? Another human being? Most people would not accept that they would argue that the murderer, while admittedly of the human race, has gone beyond the bounds of common humanity has stepped over the threshold. Such as these can no longer be given the same consideration as other human beings. In effect, they have become something less than human.

The logical conclusion is that we don't want to kill or have a state employee kill another human; we do want to kill, stamp out, destroy the things this person stands for: malicious disregard for the lives of others; cruelty; contempt for the common standards of human behavior that make possible a peaceful society. In our support for the death penalty, we project our hatred for these transgressions onto the person who has committed them. We do not allow ourselves to see the transgressor as someone like ourselves -- one of us.

Killing transgressors does nothing to erase the pain caused. For victims and their survivors, it may give grim satisfaction in seeing someone suffer who has made you suffer. But nobody claims this is good for the soul. Are we not, in the name of justice, perpetuating the very things we reject?