The Metamorphosis
A Play

Act I: An Awakening from Disturbing Dreams

Act II: A Breaking Out

Act III: The Removal


Gregor Samsa
Grete Samsa
Mr. Samsa
Mrs. Samsa
Office Manager
First Maid
Cleaning Woman
First Boarder
Second Boarder
Third Boarder
Stage Manager
The Fiddler
A dung beetle/or believes self to be, age late twenties
Gregor's sister, age late teens
Gregor's Father, age mid fifties
Gregor's Mother, age early fifties

The play is written in a modified Cinquain verse form. If spoken with end-stopped lines, it approximates the cadence of middle European speech in American English even without accents.


(This is a dreamscape scene. The stage is divided into two rooms. Stage left is Gregor's bedroom, stage right a turn of the century parlor with a small round dining table covered with a long, lace cloth and set with dishes for breakfast. At the table are Gregor's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Samsa, and his sister Grete. There is a grandfather clock in one corner, also two settees and a buffet with drawers. The furniture is all slightly askew. There is a door in the back wall. To the far left of the parlor, downstage, is a passage to the kitchen, upstage left a door to the bedroom of Mr. and Mrs. Samsa. In Gregor's bedroom there is a bed, a desk, a chest of drawers, and beside his bed a hard wooden chair. The wall between the two rooms is suggested rather than real, so Gregor can react to what he overhears from the Parlor.

The play opens with a spotlight on the
Stage Manager speaking his lines and only Gregor's room is fully illuminated. The cast freezes in place whenever Gregor moves).

Stage Manager.

Gregor awoke
From disturbing dreams.
Gregor awoke
From shocking screams,
In his head,
Thought he was dead,
Into an Insect,
For all to Inspect,
And Reject!
Left Derelict.
The prospect,
Of what to expect,
From the schemes
In his dreams,
Whether substance or smoke,
Is here performed
For our Gregor,
The Traveler
And Seller,
And you folk!

(The clock ticks loudly. Gregor tosses in bed under the covers. On the chair beside his bed sits a musician in Hasidic dress who plays Klezmer music, alternatingly wildly rapturous and poignantly sad. Finally, Gregor tosses off the comforter and emerges on his back, wriggling arms and legs on top of his bed. He has a large painted tear under his upstage eye. The audience must be made more aware of the man in the bug, than of the bug in the man. The light in Gregor's room dims and that in the parlor comes up.)

Mr. Samsa.

The eggs
were a little
over cooked this morning,
and not exactly to my taste,
please tell the maid,
And pass,
please, the coffee.
Grete, please pass the marmalade.

Grete Samsa.

Yes, yes
Father, I will.

Mrs. Samsa.

I shall
say something to
the maid about the eggs.
But don't you think that Gregor works
too hard?

Mr. Samsa.

He is
a good boy, they
take advantage of him.
His boss has a very hard heart,
like flint.
He gets up at
Four to catch the train at
Five o'clock and if a salesman
is not
on it by then
a person from the firm
reports it to the manager
and he
could be finished!

(Gregor turns over onto his hands and knees and holds his head with both hands while the fiddler plays "groaning" music.)

Traveling salesmen of
other firms live like Harem girls,
up at
ten and having
breakfast when Gregor
is writing down his morning sales.
He has
told it to me,
That very thing, himself!