The Third Ascent by Frank Moher

Drama/ 7 characters, 6 Men, 1 male child / Full Length, Two Acts

Synopsis (from Southam News): “Henry Lewis Stimson was U.S. Secretary of War to presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. He was also a pivotal figure in the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

“But these facts make up only one crucial strand in The Third Ascent . . . . What also fascinates Moher — and this provides the provocative philosophical basis for his play — is the fact that Stimson was the first white man to climb Chief Mountain, a foreboding and mythic peak on the Alberta-Montana border . . . . On the mountain, Stimson finds himself forced to confront the truth of his own role in the Hiroshima bombings. And if he hopes that the climb to the top of Chief Mountain will provide a kind of absolution, of spiritual cleansing, he is tragically mistaken.

The Third Ascent is first and foremost a character study, a compassionate examination of moral fallibility. ‘I am not the government incarnate,’ protests the aging Stimson at one critical point. ‘I am only one man.’ But Stimson’s long-time Indian guide, Thomas Whitefeather, also makes compromises. At one point, he bitterly denounces the aging statesman for his complicity in the Hiroshima bombing . . . . At the next, he ruefully confesses he now guides ordinary people to the summit in order to make money.

“Various concerns surface in this richly textured and absorbing play — the immorality of war, obviously, but also such matters as human guilt and expiation, the sinister workings of racism, the mysterious influence of legend on even the most pragmatic of civilizations, and the fragility of human certainty.”

“An unusually powerful play . . . heartfelt, intelligent . . . Frank Moher is a playwright to be treasured.”
– Southam News

“Moher’s most flamboyantly theatrical show yet . . . thoughtful and touching.”
– The Edmonton Sun

“Taut and funny and wrenching . . . The best Moher yet. Don’t miss it.”
– The Edmonton Journal

“A challenging work about major issues . . . It shows that the singular maturity and unique viewpoint of Odd Jobs were not a flash in the pan.”
– The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“Stimulates the heart and mind . . . a satisfying, powerful play.”
– Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

“Extraordinary . . . riveting.”
– CHEZ-FM (Ottawa)“Theatricality and thought are the Siamese twins of good theatre and The Third Ascent is rich in both. A must see.”
– The Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay)

“Frank Moher’s plays are always highly imaginative, skillfully crafted, thought-provoking . . . . The Third Ascent is [his] most ambitious and powerful.”
– Canadian Theatre Review

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Performance rights must be secured before production
Contact information:
Amateur and professional rights:
Single Lane Entertainment,
650 Little Blvd.,
Gabriola Island, B.C.,
V0R 1X3.
Ph.: (in North America) 1-855-757-9216 or 250-247-9216
Playwright’s website:

About the Playwright: Frank Moher’s plays have been produced internationally, at theatres including South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, Calif.), Detroit Repertory Theatre, Round House Theatre (Silver Spring, Maryland), the Canadian Stage Company (Toronto), the Wellington Repertory Theatre (Wellington, New Zealand), Workshop West Theatre (Edmonton, Alta.), the Asolo Theater (Sarasota, Fla.), Alberta Theatre Projects (Calgary), Dodona Theatre (Prishtina, Kosova), The Mingei Theatre (Tokyo), and OmaDa Theatre (Athens, Greece). He has won a Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award for Writing (for Odd Jobs), the Edmonton Sterling Award for Outstanding New Play (for both The Third Ascent and Prairie Report,), and is published by both ProPlay and the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Frank has taught at the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta (where he was a Distinguished Visiting Artist), and is currently an instructor in scriptwriting and journalism at Vancouver Island University. He has also worked professionally as a literary manager and dramaturg, and written for publications including The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Saturday Night magazine, The Georgia Straight, and

The Third Ascent was premiered by Theatre Network, Edmonton, Alberta, in January, 1988.

Also by Frank Moher on ProPlay: