Issue Forty-One - Winter 2023

Pamela, Shamela, and Me: A modern take on Richardson’s Pamela and Fielding’s Shamela

By Beth Ford

Cast of Characters
MR. B., a wealthy local politician who has helped a lot of people in the area and has a sterling reputation; fortyish

PAM, a young woman who worked on Mr. B’s latest reelection campaign




PAM’S MOM (voice)

MARCHERs, four diverse women who join Pam’s protest march

Act I, Scene 1

(The stage is dark. MR. B and PAM struggle. PAM is trying to get away and MR. B. is holding onto her.)

PAM: No!

(They continue to struggle. MR. B strikes PAM, then there is the sound of clothing ripping. Both exit.)


Act I, Scene 2
(A small table with two chairs. A TV, newspaper, phone, and a stack of papers are on the table. PAMELA enters wearing an 18th century dress. She sits at the table and turns on the TV.)

TELEVISION ANNOUNCER 1 (From offstage.) Let’s talk about the accusations coming out against Mr. B. Everyone around here knows him and loves him. I find it hard to believe that after being in the public eye for so long, that if he were out there preying on young women who worked for his office and for his campaigns, that it wouldn’t have come out before now.

TELEVISION ANNOUNCER 2 (From offstage.) And what I don’t understand is everyone being offended at the term “sauce box” all of a sudden. Mr. B. says that to everybody. It doesn’t mean anything. In fact, most people find it funny. I know I do.

TELEVISION ANNOUNCER 1: We all know what happened here. This Pamela character got a little too infatuated with Mr. B. I mean, who wouldn’t? He’s handsome and wealthy and powerful. Not to mention unmarried. I think she was too innocent for the cutthroat world of politics.

TELEVISION ANNOUNCER 2: Exactly. No one who was at all worldly would take a simple comment as destructive of her virtue.

TELEVISION ANNOUNCER 1: I find that letter that she wrote to her mother that was published yesterday heartbreaking. She may have been in love with him, but she had to know that no man like that would love a woman like her. If she couldn’t see that, well, I feel sorry for her.

(PAMELA sighs and angrily turns off the TV. She picks up the newspaper instead and reads it silently as the newspaper reporter speaks.)

NEWSPAPER REPORTER (From offstage.) No one is looking closely enough at the woman making these accusations. This whole thing is such a sham, we might as well call her Shamela. And this Shamela has manipulated the situation from the entire start. She went to work for Mr. B. hoping to reel him in and get some of his money. We know that because of that letter she sent to her mother claiming she loved him. When her plan didn’t work, she turned tail—pun intended—and started badmouthing him. But the people around here won’t stand for it. Shamela will never work in this town again.

(PAM throws down the newspaper. She picks up the phone and dials.)

PAM: Mom, how did the press get hold of those letters I sent you?

PAM’S MOM (From offstage.) They asked me for them. I wasn’t going to lie and say I didn’t have them. Look, something like this doesn’t just happen out of the blue. You must have said or done something to make him think you wanted this.

(PAM hangs up the phone abruptly. She is visibly upset and agitated. A knock comes at the door. She gets up to answer it. MR. B. pushes past her and comes inside. He is also wearing 18th century style dress. He looks around the room, then gestures at the TV and newspaper.)

MR. B.: Enjoying your 15 minutes, are you?

PAM: Not a single person has asked to interview me. If anyone is enjoying their 15 minutes, it’s you.

(MR. B scoffs.)

PAM: Why are you here, Mr. B.?

MR. B.: I’m trying to talk some sense into you, that’s what, Pamela.

(PAM tries to interrupt him, but he keeps talking.)

You need to get over this nonsense about what I supposedly did to you. All I did was love you and try to make you see that. But now…now I see you were always beneath me anyway. I shouldn’t have let my heart get in the way of my head.

PAM: First of all, I go by Pam, and you know that. Yet you insist on calling me Pamela in all of your interviews.

MR. B: Maybe this new moniker Shamela that editorialist gave you is more to your taste? I kind of like it.

PAM (Clenches her fists and gives a little scream.)

I am so sick of everyone making up these stories about me and about what happened. Don’t you want to know what really happened?

MR. B: I was there.

PAM: No, you weren’t. Not really. Let me tell you what I saw.

(From offstage, a sound of a tape rewinding plays. PAM and MR. B take a few steps backward to emphasize the flashback. They mime action while a recording of Pam’s voice narrates.)

PAM (A recording played from offstage.)

When I first came to work for your campaign, I was flattered you would even talk to me. But then the unwanted advances and touches started.

(PAM goes to the table and works collating and straightening the stack papers. MR. B comes up behind her and rubs her back. She brushes him off several times.)

PAM: You said you loved me, but you never did, not really.

(MR. B caresses PAM’s chin and pulls her against his chest. PAM keeps her arms crossed, clearly not wanting the attention.)

PAM: Anytime I said anything to contradict you, I was suddenly a horrible person.

(MR. B silently yells at PAM, towering over her and jabbing his finger at her.)

PAM: And remember that time you had the campaign manager bring me to your office when I was trying to go home for the weekend, and you didn’t let me leave for hours?

(MR. B follows PAM around the stage, occasionally trying to grab her arm but she pulls away. She is on the verge of tears.)

PAM: I was scared of you. Scared! Did that ever even occur to you? Or did you care? The worst part is, you somehow convinced me that I loved you, too.

(MR. B manages to grab PAM’s hand. This time she turns slowly to him, looks deep in his eyes, and allows him to pull her toward him.)

PAM: I was a fool for a long time.

(MR. B and PAM kiss.)

Let’s not even talk about that final night. The one you claim was mutually consensual.

(The stage cuts to black for a second. When the lights come back up, the recording has ended and Mr. B and Pam return to their speaking roles and the present moment.)

PAM: I’ve woken up now. I’ve seen you for what you are. And I want everyone to know it.

MR. B (Chuckles.)

That’s all well and good, but no one will ever believe you. They’ll always think you’re either Pamela or Shamela. Never Pam. So I’ll be leaving now, if that’s all right with you.

(MR. B exits. PAM watches the door he exited through for a moment, then sits at the table and picks up the paper again. Stage goes dark.)


Act I, Scene 3

(PAM marches slowly around the stage holding a protest sign. A stack of other signs leans against one wall.)

PAM: We say it’s time for us to take back power!

(As PAM marches, a woman walks on wearing 19th century dress, slowly picks up a sign, and starts marching behind Pam.)

PAM AND MARCHER: It’s time for us to take back power!

(A woman walks on dressed as a 1920s flapper. She also picks up a sign and joins the march.)


(A woman wearing 1960s mod clothes picks up a sign and joins the march.)

PAM AND MARCHERS: Down with Mr. B and all his friends!

(A woman wearing modern clothes joins the march.)

PAM AND MARCHERS: Say our names! You’ll need to know them from now on.

(PAM and the woman walk off stage single file. As the last one leaves, the stage goes dark.)


Copyright Ford 2023