My short stories are usually written without too much planning, although I’ll have a rough idea in my head and maybe some notes scribbled on a paper beside me. However, writing a radio play is another skill set altogether and for this exercise I planned meticulously.
Below is my summary plan of my radio play ‘Sunlight On Her Face’. For those interested in reading the full 15 minute play please click here.
SUNLIGHT ON HER FACE / Summary Plan
The play is called “Sunlight On Her Face” and starts in a prison in 2010s in Buenos Aires as Pedro is shown in by a guard to an interview room. Waiting at a table is the prisoner, a belligerent Carlos who immediately demands cigarettes. The anger and the tension in the room is palpable as the men cannot even start discussions without arguing.
Soon however, Pedro states his reason for coming. He is on a quest to find his sister, Juanita, who vanished 30 years earlier as she was seized off the streets by junta military and is now is one of the 30,000 ‘disappeared’ from the era. Pedro believes Carlos was a soldier at the camp she was held and yes, he does indeed remember the beautiful Juanita from the faded photo Pedro has presented. This is too much for Pedro who threatens to leave. Carlos persuades him to stay.
The next scene cuts to the event shown in the photograph. It is the early 1980s when the family are celebrating Juanita’s 18th birthday. Admist the happy celebrations, conflicts within the family increase as Juanita repeatedly accuses Pedro of causing upset in the family with his illegal activities against the junta. She fears for his life. Tempers are calmed by their mother and the fireworks he brought for her birthday are lit. However, before he leaves for the night the two siblings have a final fraught run-in.
The play returns to the prison and the conflict and bitterness between the Carlos and Pedro develop. Their anger threatens to derail any further talks, however it is Carlos who silences them with his accusation that Pedro is as responsible as the army for Juanita’s fate since Pedro’s actions caused her capture.
Carlos has hit a nerve and the play cuts to the fateful day when on a street, Juanita, who was visiting a friend, runs into Pedro posting leaflets through the letterboxes. She confronts him, shouting and crying, so scared that he is still involved with the student protests. He fails to calm her and then suddenly, brusquely, desperately, he begs her to run. To run for her life. It is too late, two soldiers seize her and bundle her into a truck. Pedro is dragged onto another, all the time screaming her name.
The final scene returns to the prison where drinks are poured, a packet of biscuits opened, both brought in by the embittered guard. Both men know this is the time for the final denouncement.
Carlos starts by saying how lucky Pedro was to be released – an administrative error we learn. Pedro does not feel lucky. Juanita meanwhile was taken to a camp for the women deep in the jungle. There Carlos reveals his admiration for Juanita who courageously started to help the other women.
Then, in shock Pedro learns that Juanita became pregnant and only for that reason was she kept alive until the baby was born. Incandescent Pedro demands more details. All Carlos knows is that a boy was born and then taken over by a couple connected to the top military. There are no records and now Pedro is barely able to talk.
There is a final silence. Carlos declares in justification that he was only following orders. That he had to do what he was told. What did he do? Pedro asks. Uninterrupted Carlos recalls how a group of women were drugged, put on a plane which flew low beneath the radar. It was only one of many such flights. The plane flew east to the Atlantic and the rising sun. As he hauled Juanita to the open door and as she tumbled out the sunlight caught her face, lighting it like an angel.
Pedro leaves Carlos, who is now sobbing, with a chilling message damming him to hell.