The Father, who, during preparations for the rehearsal of a play, appears on stage with five members of his family, in search of an author who will put them, already living characters, into a drama. The manager finally agrees to hear their story and allows them all to rehearse their parts as their illusions cause them to believe them to be.
The Mother, who years ago was provided with a lover by her husband. After the lover tires of her, she returns, destitute, with her three illegitimate children and is again received into her husband’s home. She watches, sorrowing, as she sees her husband act out his visit to Madame Pace, from whom he attempts to purchase a replacement for his wife. Unknown to him, the girl he desires is the illegitimate daughter of his own wife.
The Stepdaughter, who, while playing her part in Madame Pace’s establishment, is approached by her stepfather, who does not recognize her. She is abruptly pulled from him by her horrified mother, who rushes in from offstage.
The Son, who, when urged by the manager to play his part, insists that he simply walked in the garden. He violently accuses the father of displaying the family shame to the world and of dragging him onstage. He finally admits finding the body of the little girl in the fountain.
The Little Girl
The Little Girl, who, placed by the stage manager beside a fountain, is found dead in its waters.
The Boy, who is placed by the stage manager behind some bushes, from which comes the sound of a pistol shot. In the resulting confusion, the rehearsal ends in a frantic discussion about whether or not the boy’s death is real or pretended.
Madame Pace, a procuress. Scandalized at having to play her part before the mother, she leaves the stage.
The Stage Manager
The Stage Manager,
the Leading Lady
the Leading Lady, and
the Leading Man
the Leading Man, the professional company interrupted in rehearsal by the six characters in search of an author.