After a successful anti-Nazi attack, two co-conspirators meet in prison -
one free and one facing death.

Both have an urgent but opposing plea for the other.
Willem Arondeus- 40s / Man / Dutch, white / member of the Dutch resistance

Lau Mazirel- 30s / Woman / Dutch, white / Attorney


WWII, Amsterdam, Dutch resistance
Publication Anthology - 2023
“A beautiful and moving short play set in WWII Amsterdam, which I was fortunate to see performed recently. It tells a powerful story in its taut ten minutes and explores different types of silence including enforced silence and ultimately, refusal to be silent. Mabey's dialogue is so rich and these characters so vivid that we feel as if we are right there in the prison with them. Powerful and resonant with themes that still matter deeply today.”
(Jennifer O'Grady)

“We are all many things". John Mabey is many things; but for sure he is an accomplished playwright who moves us, educates us and challenges us with his work. A Tragedy of Owls is a story that needed to be told. I will hold these characters in the light and express my gratitude to John for writing about them. Read it, produce it and share their story.”
(Arianna Rose)

“WWII Amsterdam serves as a backdrop for this tragic drama "A Tragedy of Owls." John Mabey uses flowery language to great effect in telling the story of Willem and his coconspirators. It shines an interesting light on the treatment of LGBTQIA+ individuals in Nazi-occupied territories, and on the treatment of Queer people in the recording of history.”
(John Medlin)

“Heart-wrenching and important. An excellent historical piece, full of powerful imagery!”
(Evan Baughfman)

“I am fascinated with dramatizations of historical events, although A TRADGEY OF OWLS is a fictional take on a conversation in a jail, it is so palpable.
Wartime treatment of the LGBT community was abhorrent, so many similar stories come to mind (Alan Turing, for one.)
Thank you John for bringing this story to light in such an impactful way.”
(Christopher Plumridge)

“Mabey has written a tense and emotional story based on fact, that had me holding my breath throughout. Terse writing, every word counting. Reminding us of what could come down the road for all of us in the present, this play is both a historical necessity and cautionary tale. Beautifully done.”
(Bruce Karp)

“This is a vital reclamation of an important part of LGBTQ history. Even as he faces death, Willem refuses to let the truth of his love be suppressed. The courage he brought to resisting the Nazi's extends to affirming his identity. This spare, moving play brings Willem's courage into true focus and leaves us in awe of that courage.”
(Paul Donnelly)

“A spare but unsparing glimpse of heroic action, Mabey has given us a moment of history that should be better known and celebrated. To be able to stand up to such oppression is commendable, to be beaten and unbowed, to be honest in the face of erasure and lies is to inspire us all.”
(Emma Goldman-Sherman)
“I never need to be convinced to read a John Mabey play, but the subject matter hit me. Mabey has written back into history real LGBTQ prisoners during WWII, Amsterdam. Economic writing and dramatic tension from moment one, we relive only one of the hundreds or thousands of Hitler’s LGBTQ victims. Like Anne Frank, we recognize them and their helping hand, as personable losses of this heinous period. Thanks for bringing these lives back, Mr. Mabey.”
(D. Lee Miller)
“"A tiny act of courage." I know why this line jumped out to speak to me. What John Mabey describes in this short moment of finality for Willem speaks to what it was and what it took for humanity to gain a foothold against evil. The battles, be they large or small, are won through the acts of individuals who realize what it means to cradle a dying hope in your hands and then go on to the next and the next, or at the least, pass it along to those who will live on.”
(Philip Middleton Williams)
“Tragic, heroic, and beautifully told. So many stories of individuals or small groups fighting Nazi atrocities that remain largely unknown. Thank you, John Mabey, for shedding light on these particular brave souls with your unique and intelligent writing.”
(Morey Norkin)

“It takes small acts of courage to save a name from obscurity. To tell a story that needs to be heard. To restore the lost heroes to their rightful places. John Mabey has given sound to long silent voices and lets a light of truth flicker in a dark corridor of history.”
(Christopher Soucy)
“In "A Tragedy of Owls," John Mabey shows courage is shown both in grand actions and simple, yet paradoxically difficult, personal ones. This is an excellent historic play -- focusing less on events and more about their impact on people's lives.”
(Steven G. Martin)
“ABSOLUTELY devastating, powerful, and inspirational. If only all of us could be as brave as those who fight for the rights of others over their own self interests. I leave this poignant short play wanting to know more, and that is highest regard I can imagine for a playwright. BRAVO, John Mabey.”
(Debra A. Cole)

“A very powerful and moving play, demonstrating great courage in the face of certain death. Beautifully constructed and based on true historical events and lives. John Mabey pulls on our heart strings.”
(Keith Burridge)
“"Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards." John Mabey lets it be known in this wonderful short docudrama about Willem Arondeus, a gay member of the Dutch anti-Nazi resistance who paid with his life for his heroic participation in the bombing of the Amsterdam public records office and the destruction of Jewish identification records it contained. Denying his homosexual relationships might have helped save him from the firing squad, but instead he uttered his now famous last words. It still takes bravery for gays to come out. This necessary work shows us what real courage looks like.”
(Donald E. Baker)
Dragon Productions Theatre Company, CA - 2022
Rainy Day Artistic Collective, WA - 2022

B3 Productions, AZ - 2023

Thalia Arts Company, London UK - 2023

Rainy Day Artistic Collective

Dragon Productions Theatre Company

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