The Cross And The Switchblade
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The SCENARIO

ACT 1

  • Scene 1: It’s the 1960's. A park in New York City. A gang of seven seek out a victim. They find a fifteen year old polio victim named Michael Farmer. They corner him, surround him and proceed to stab him seven times with their knives in the back as he seeks to escape. They leave the body and the scene laughing.
     
  • Scene 2: The Reverend David Wilkerson (Davie) is sitting in his study 350 miles away from New York City and while flicking through the pages of Life Magazine he is confronted with the story of the trial of the seven boys who had committed murder. It is in this setting that he makes the decision to go to New York City to help those boys.
     
  • Scene 3: One Hundred Court Street. Davie has travelled to New York to be at the trial. He is seated in a crowded courtroom. A very negative atmosphere where the people around him interject negative comments about those on trial. Davie wants to speak to the judge and at the conclusion of the days proceedings gets up out of his seat and approaches the bench. Davie is apprehended by the court officials. The police interrogate him. On the discovery of his true identity he is freed but warned not to return. The press take advantage of this drama by taking Davie’s photograph.
     
  • Scene 4: A few days later. Street scene. Davie is still recovering from the humiliation he experienced at the Courthouse. He is in a phone booth talking to his wife, Gwen who is at home, about the disastrous event that occurred in the Court House.
     
  • Scene 5: On the same day, Nicky Cruz and his girl, Lydia, pass by the rebel territory to harass and collect monies owed by Tommy. Nicky leaves the scene. Lydia waits behind to see her drug dealer when Davie passes by. He is recognized by the gang members who see his picture in the newspaper. They identify with Davie because, like them, he’s had trouble with the police. Some of the gang members still treat him with caution because he’s an outsider. Davie wants to meet other gangs. He is introduced to Lydia who will take him to the Mau Maus.
     
  • Scene 6: Lydia leads Davie to the Brooklyn Bridge and explains that until he crosses the bridge and visits the Bedford-Stuyvesant area he hasn’t seen New York at its worst. He goes with her and sees the ghetto in its reality.
     
  • Scene 7: Lydia and Davie arrive at the Mau Maus clubroom. Davie meets Nicky (Lydia’s boyfriend). He is received positively by the President, Israel but is totally rejected by Nicky Cruz who tries to turn the gang against him. Davie leaves dejected and on leaving finds out that Lydia is a heroin addict.
     
  • Scene 8: In the alley outside the clubroom he meets Jo-Jo, a young bum and a member of Tommy’s gang. Davie shows the young gang member that he is not just talk when he gives the teenager his own shoes and then walks off in his stocking feet to the jeers and laughs of the locals. Jo-Jo though has been touched and follows the preacher earnestly.
     
  • Scene 9: The street people come out of their ghetto to share their view of the city which contrasts with the view seen up to this point. Nicky and Lydia are spending time together in the park when they are suddenly set upon by the Chaplains. Nicky and Lydia are lucky to escape with their lives when the attack is unexpectedly foiled by two policemen on their beat.
     
  • Scene 10: The streets come alive as a trumpet is played on the streets. Davie has set himself up with his trumpeter near a lamp post preparing to preach. A crowd gathers around to hear what he has to say. Two policemen arrive on the scene to break up the crowd and on hearing that Davie wants to preach they tell him to stop. One gang member says that it’s Davie’s constitutional right to speak. The policeman says that it’s only allowed under the American Flag. Another gang member happens to have a small flag stitched on the back of his leather jacket. With this solved the policemen back off. Davie challenges the Presidents and vice Presidents of the gangs to shake his hand. The Chaplain leaders come forward and on Davies directions drop to their knees and ‘get religion’. The Mau Mau leaders meet the preacher again but Nicky again shows how much he despises the preacher.

ACT 2

  • Scene 1: The air is filled with the sound of Spanish music. Davie is high with excitement from the experience of the street meeting a few days before. As he is again combing the streets he recognizes that the Spanish music is coming from a nearby building. He is directed by a youth to an upstairs apartment. He knocks on the door and is received with open arms by the Spanish congregation led by Vincente and Delia Ortez. They want to hear all the news as they were familiar with his face from the newspaper story. After hearing his account they challenge him to conduct a mass rally for youth at the St Nicholas Arena, a prize fight centre in New York. All the gangs could be invited to meet at the one place.
     
  • Scene 2: Lydia is desperate for love and is with Nicky in the alley outside the Mau Maus Clubroom. She tries to get the attention she wants from him but he is obsessed with the preacher. He is angry, violent and outraged that the preacher is going to break up the gang. Lydia realizes that the preacher even threatens the relationship she has with Nicky. Nicky leaves. Lydia resolves that she will put an end to this preacher.
  • Scene 3: Delia and Vincente Ortez are in their apartment. Delia is getting dinner ready and Vincente is reading a paper. A knock is heard at the door. Delia puts down the knife with which she had been slicing meat and walks to the door. There stands Lydia. She is high on heroin. She asks for the preacher. On finding out he’s not in she begins to abuse them for trying to break up the gangs. She sees the knife and lunges forward to grab it and then threatens to commit suicide then and there. One of Delia’s children enters the room. Delia moves in front of him to protect him. After a very tense moment and through Delia’s dialogue Lydia begins to settle. The knife is lowered until it is held limply in her hand. Finally Delia knocks it out of her hand onto the floor and Lydia makes no effort to get it again. She stands in the centre of the room, the most forlorn bundle of dejection. She finally straightens up, shrugs her shoulders and walks out.
  • Scene 4: Israel is in love with his girl, Nancy and Nicky notices that the President of the Mau Maus has softened. It is more than love. Israel starts sharing about what the preachers been telling him. This provokes Nicky to attack Israel verbally at first and then physically. Another relationship is threatened by the preacher. Nicky, though, is visibly moved by this encounter.
  • Scene 5: The arena is a big room with a stage. Davie nervously waits on the stage. Other members of the team are also nervous as the gangs make their way in. Davie steps onto the stage and invites six gang members to take up the collection. Nicky Cruz and five other Mau Maus step forward. As they collect the offering the teenagers are threatened to give more than usual. Once the collection is taken the six boys walk around the back of the stage. At the back of the stage there is an exit sign and all the teenagers are laughing and jeering knowing that the inevitable is about to happen. They’re certain that the six boys and the collection will never be seen again. To everyone’s surprise Nicky leads them all on to the stage and gives the cardboard containers to Davie. A change has begun.