Friday, December 26, 2008

Pantomime At The Apollo: Sleeping Beauty!, or We Had A Dream!

A Merry Christmas to one and all, and a belated return for Brown Eyed & Handsome Blog! essentially, due to pressures of work and a squeeze on funds for new sounds, it simply became impossible to keep to any kind of a schedule. However, I hope to start afresh with more time set aside for what I want to do - listen to and love the music!

We return, as we did last Christmas (see Barefootin', or How Cinderella Got Her Shoes Back), to the Apollo Theater, where they have decided to create a festive pantomime. For those over the pond who do not know, pantomime is a form of fun theater, where a well-known fairy tale is retold, mixed in with a lot of slapstick and broad satire.

It seemed a good idea at the time! On with the show!

Sleeping Beauty!


Ole King Coleman, emcee for the Apollo Theater
Liberty, a Princess and Beauty
Abraham, a kindly old man in a log cabin
Jim Crow, our villain and a master of words
‘Poor Richard` Pryor, who will open the door!
Prince Martin, a hero who has a dream
Prince Malcolm, his brother in arms
A Bush, a piece of scenery that gets in the way
A Fox, who is cunning and a master of
Bill and Hillary, an arguing couple
The Ice Queen, a witch from Alaska
Prince Obama, a hero and everyman
A Fashionable Pig, it wears lipstick
Judge Pigmeat Markham, here come da judge!

The overture music ends, and our host, King Coleman, walks on stage.

KING COLEMAN: Welcome all to the Apollo,
I, Ole King Coleman, say hello.
The Fairy Godfather has granted your wishes,
So Please, Please, Please, ladies, prepare your kisses!
We're gonna make light out of the last election -
Everybody gets fun poked in their direction.
The jokes are bad, I mean they just ain't funny.
But its too late y'all coz I gots your money!
Everybody can shout out, everybody gets to sing
Everybody gets to do their thing!
So what's the jive you've come to see?
Well, we're gonna tell you about a Sleeping Beauty!
And if you think asleep she's great,
you should see her when she's awake!

Liberty, a fair lady, has wandered onto the stage.

KING COLEMAN: Well ain't that form just fine;
if the Prince don't take her, man, she's mine!
This is the story of a fair lady, Liberty
Arriving in a land of the free.
She finds that a spell hangs over us
A vile and inauspicious curse!
One half are chained, while half are free,
but the other half this will not see.
Others still do not want to know,
Thanks to the magic of Jim Crow.

Jim Crow appears! Costume by Disney out of Dumbo.

JIM CROW: I am the villain of this piece,
Although think hard upon what hides beneath.
For all I does is tell you things,
And they listen as I softly sings.
Perhaps I am a kind of wizard,
That gnaws upon this nation’s gizzard.
Jim Crow pecks and caws
As I busily rewrite the laws
And turn what fools do and says
Into ancient inviolable folk ways.

Jim Crow hears Liberty approaching, and hides himself away behind the Bush. Liberty appears, searching for something.

KING COLEMAN: One day Liberty finds a field in spring
Where birds of justice have begun to sing
She taps the door of a log cabin,
And hastily is welcomed in.

Liberty goes inside the cabin, and Jim Crow appears. An old man in a beard and stove-pipe hat comes out of the cabin.

KING COLEMAN: The old man come out into the world,
He spies Jim Crow, and shoos the bird!
ABRAHAM: Go to another door than mine.
You can’t fool all the people all the time!

Jim Crow pecks at Abraham and begins chasing Abraham away. Liberty enters confused…

LIBERTY: Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham? Can you tell me where he’s gone?

The audience holler out warnings, "He's behind you!" and Jim Crow appears. He puts Liberty to sleep and begins to gloat on stage. Boos and hisses! King Coleman, on the stage right, comes back on horrified.

KING COLEMAN: Liberty is put to sleep and dreams,
That all is not as it here seems,
That a better world exists somewhere
But time will pass in getting there.
Another friend Liberty does require
And so with that I do retire,
And introduce Poor Richard - Pryor!

Richard opens the cabin door and enters the scene, while Jim Crow continues to gloat over sleeping Liberty.

POOR RICHARD: Good God! Boy, a lot of brothers here today, and some white folks too … come in a bunch didn't y’all? - 'Stick with me, don't worry about a thing.’ Hey, who's this, Big Bird's ugly mother? Hey, where do you think you are?

Jim Crow looks startled.

POOR RICHARD: I may be Poor Richard in this thing, but you are hard of hearing!

JIM CROW: I'm terribly sorry, but I believe that you are standing in my place.

POOR RICHARD: Well you ain't standing there right now, motherf*****!

JIM CROW: Ok, now, that's nice, it's like that is it, ok, you want a piece of this, peckerhead!
He shakes his feathers, menacingly.

POOR RICHARD: I ain't the one standing there dressed like Woody Woodpecker! Come on, shake a tailfeather!

Jim Crow is about to challenge Richard, when he spies two handsome princes appearing. Jim Crow runs for it, and Richard chases him away for now...

KING COLEMAN: Two brothers, Prince Martin and Prince Malcolm, come,
And discover Liberty undone. They try to wake her from the curse,
But despite their efforts things get worse.

PRINCE MALCOLM: What happens to a dream deferred
Does it ripen like a raisin in the sun?
Or sag like a heavy load?
Or does it explode?

PRINCE MARTIN: Wait, I think she is giving me a dream.
I wonder about what it could mean…

Visions - Stevie Wonder
PRINCE MALCOLM: Then quickly now, here is the hour,
Let’s stop Jim Crow and fight the power!

Fight the Power - Isley Brothers

Jim Crow sneaks up upon the Princes.

JIM CROW: Like the raven at Poe’s door,
I will caw, Nevermore!

Prince Martin and Prince Malcolm fight with Jim Crow. But he tricks them both, and they fall to his spells and bullets. The audience are horrified!

KING COLEMAN: Liberty stirs and looks
For the princes whom bullets took.

LIBERTY: Has anybody seen my old friends Martin Luther and Malcolm? You know they freed a lot of people, but it seems the good die young.

Jim Crow puts Liberty to sleep once more. He laughs and comes to the center stage.

JIM CROW: Old Abraham used to say this line:
“You can fool all of the people some of the time”
This has the ring of truth to me
But Jim Crow sees things differently.
I have set it as my aim to make a very different claim.
I put together this daring rhyme,
“You CAN fool all the people all of the time.”

JIM CROW: I’ll begin to tell people things
That make them fear what changes bring,
That makes them shun their neighbours hall,
And turns them against the victims’ call.
I put to sleep your Liberty,
So that the powerful should be free,
To take your money to give back to you,
To bend round lies and make them true!

A Bush is placed upon the stage. It does nothing for eight years. Ho ho ho.

KING COLEMAN: All this is done in a state of hush -
Our Jim Crow has hidden in a Bush!
Here he hides and he can watch,
His words come out of a cunning Fox!
In this way none shall know,
The dangers of the way they go!

Crow and Fox reenact scenes of chaos and mayhem, TV soaps and action movies, in puppet form, from behind the Bush. Richard returns, sees what has happened to Liberty, and watches what Crow and Fox are doing. Then he tears his gaze away in anger.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - Gil Scott Heron

POOR RICHARD: One week of truth on TV could just straighten out everything. One hundred and twenty-seven million people watch television every night; that's why they use it to sell stuff. They've misused it a long time so now it's just a business, that's all. They're not going to write shows about how to revolutionize America. The top rated shows are for retarded people.

Act 2: We now tune in to Court TV

OFFICER OF THE COURT: Hear ye, hear ye, this court is now in session - Judge Pigmeat Markham presidin’!

Pigmeat Markham - Here come da judge!

POOR RICHARD: They give brothers time like it's lunch down there. You go down there looking for justice, and that's what you find - just us.

DEFENDANT: Knock Knock!
JUDGE: Who’s there?
DEFENDANT: Your neighbor!
JUDGE: Not any more, I’m repossessin’ your house!”

KING COLEMAN: Jim Crow thinks it would be awful funny,
If he were to steal our money!
Next of all he cancels our loans,
And then he takes away our homes!

JUDGE: Who we got here today?
OFFICER: There’s a man here, he’s a nudist.
JUDGE: How long you been in your house, son?
DEFENDANT: Three years, your honour.
JUDGE: Three years. And how much of your mortgage have you paid?
DEFENDANT: Nine years, your honour.
JUDGE: Nine years? Officer, release this man.
OFFICER: But sir, he’s a nudist!
JUDGE: No he’s not.
OFFICER: Yes, sir, he’s a nudist! He‘s isn‘t wearing any pants!
JUDGE: No he ain’t. Paying those loans, he can’t afford to buy any pants!

JUDGE: Well now comes election time - you’ll vote your way, and I’ll vote mine.
This is the time the money gets spent - will they notice it’s the government?

Everybody in the cast puts in the vote. Some votes are snatched away by Jim Crow, some are pecked full of extra holes by Jim Crow. Some people can’t get to the voting booth.

JIM CROW: All these people in such a rush,
But one vote in here is worth two in the Bush!

He throws a whole bunch of ballot papers into the Bush, which rustles appreciatively.

JUDGE: Some of the people are getting shifty;
But the votes for Liberty are 50:50! 4 MORE YEARS!

The audience groan! The cast are reduced to poverty

ACT 3: The Prince Appears

KING COLEMAN: Now the setting of Act Three,
The window where lies Liberty -
Under the care of fair Hillary…
But lo, does now our hero return?
From our troubles have we learned?

Bill appears, with partygoers in tow.

BILL: Here I is, Hillary, drunk again! Open the door Hillary!

Hillary appears at the window, and shakes her head. She throws a shoe at him to chase him away. Come on, it’s tradition to throw a shoe at a president … I think? Bill slinks off!

KING COLEMAN: But wait, at last our hero comes,
Is he one of Martin or Malcolm’s sons?
Here to complete our saga,
Comes the young prince Barack Obama!

PRINCE OBAMA: Here I is, Hillary, drunk again!

He climbs up a precarious ladder to lean to a window…

PRINCE OBAMA: Open the door Hillary!

Hillary leans out the window but she shakes her head. Obama waves a letter offering her the Secretary of State post, and she climbs out the window after it. Richard climbs up the ladder and to the window.

PRINCE OBAMA: Open the door Richard!

Jack McVea - Open The Door Richard!

Richard Pryor tries to let the Prince in, but someone is shooting at him in the backside. It is the Ice Queen!

POOR RICHARD: What you doing there, Ice Queen? You act like one of them police that ain't never arrested nobody before!

KING COLEMAN: But now to interrupt our scene,
Rides in the indestructible Snow Queen
She can thrill you with icy shivers,
And reflect you in her many mirrors.
Smiling smiling, she begins to stare,
And catches Obama in her glare!
The mirror darkly obscures our sight
And reflects him in many different lights!

The prince is frozen by the Ice Queen's spells. Each time she shoots him with her rifle, he is transformed into another costume.

ICE QUEEN: Here is the sinister Hussein,
Subverting us for Arab gain!
Or is he in reality a Brit,
Who should have nothing to do with it!
He talks to the poor? Now what is this?
He must be some kind of Communist!
And to top off all the drama,
He stands clothed as dread Osama!

Meanwhile, Richard has casually gone into to the house, opened the door, walked outside, stood at the Ice Queen’s shoulder, looked with puzzlement at the scene, and then approaches the Prince.

POOR RICHARD: Hey man! Say brother! What you doing peeping in them people's window? What's your name boy? Obama? What kind of name is that for a brother? What you mean, your grandma is white? Like my dad, your grandpa must have sure loved the pussy! Where you from fool? Hawaii! Brothers don’t need to go to Hawaii to surf - we got the all over tan going on, leave that to the white dudes to get sunburnt and shit! What? Where’s that, now - Indonesia? Now you don’t know if you wanna be seen with the Reverend Wright or with the Nation of Islam! I know where it is - you ain't the smartest mother in the world, you know!

The Ice Queen is about to pounce on the hapless Prince, when Richard stops the action for an announcement. The Prince is able to make an escape.

POOR RICHARD: For an ice queen, she is kinda hot! Now, ladies and gentlemen, at this trying time, there now will be a short sermon from the one and only Reverend Jeremiah ... James! The Reverend James L Wright! White! James L White! Don't reckon some folks can tell the difference, anyhow!

Richard distracts the Ice Queen and offers to 'guide' her to the Prince...

Act 3a - The Snowy Wilderness of Alaska

The Ice Queen and Richard are searching for the Prince, or anything, to shoot, in the snowy wilds of Alaska.

RICHARD: Illinois, right up ahead, Governor! (To the audience) I know I told her we found Chicago first, but this is too damn cold for any brother!

They spy something. Could it be her prey?

ICE QUEEN: There he is! Quick Richard, hand me the rifle...
RICHARD: The what? (He smirks)
ICE QUEEN: Now quit playing around. Give me the rifle!
RICHARD: I don't have it. I thought you had it. And if you don't, you're screwed.
ICE QUEEN: And why is that? He's just a Junior Senator, and I'm a Governor!

RICHARD: Yeah, but there's a whole lot of Republicans behind you who look like they wanna kill you!

A mob of enraged Republicans, ravenous and hungry, chase the Ice Queen away, as Richard dusts himself down, and goes to find the Prince once more.

Act 4: The Ending

As the Prince gets to his feet, a crowd of people gather around to help him up. The Prince thanks them and talks to them all.

PRINCE OBAMA: I may be a mystery
I have an enchanting history
Where am I from, none can tell
Which for most voters is just as well!
Try to classify me if you can,
But I will stand for everyman!

KING COLEMAN: What the Ice Queen does not expect,
Is her spell to have the opposite effect!
It does not toe the party line,
It transforms her into a swine!

The Ice Queen's spells reflect upon her, and she becomes a well-groomed pig.

PRINCE OBAMA: Through her distortions the people see,
What Liberty means to you and me.
As they look upon the maiden more,
An end they want to hate and war
To poverty and repossession,
And most of all to the recession!

Can You Read Between The Lines - Charles Whitehead (Raw Spitt)

The Republicans try to grab a pile of cash, but the Prince steps forward and takes it from her hands.

PRINCE OBAMA: Drop that money before it’s too late!
Help us all, let the dollar circulate!

The Prince throws our money around! Hey, it’s a satire, everybody gets a go!

Billy Paul - Let the Dollar Circulate

Liberty begins to awaken.

LIBERTY: The Ice Queen’s fractures divide us forever,
What we must do is come together!
Then We The People will finally be -
And we will remember:
This is our country!

We The People - Staple Singers

PRINCE OBAMA: Sleeping beauty is awoken
Now at last is the spell broken?
Can we finally give a damn?
You know the answer: “Yes We Can!”

Everybody gets to sing!

Yes We Can

ACT 5: The Epilogue

RICHARD: I think it's time we heard from our new President!

Cheers! The Prince steps forward, but then Richard pushes the Prince out of the way, ties his tie and puts on his suit jacket.

JUDGE: All is well and done,
Now is the time to have some fun
The is just one thing that does not jig -
Who put lipstick on that pig?

The pig in makeup oinks. It sings to the Prince, a lament of love.

Tina Britt - Hawg for You (Minit 32082 - Hawg For You / My Lover's Prayer – 1969)
Richard is standing solemnly, worrying about the pig.

JIM CROW: Hello there, Richard
RICHARD: Hi there, Crow
JIM CROW: Congratulations on winning that election thing, there
RICHARD: Oh, thanks, thanks a lot. Hey, my pig, it’s got lipstick on it!
JIM CROW: Oh yeah, sorry about that, won’t happen again. I'll pick somebody else for 2012.
RICHARD: I appreciate it.
JIM CROW: Just so you know - I will be trying to bite your ass off again tomorrow morning, ok?
RICHARD: Well, now then we might have to use Plan B

KING COLEMAN: And so we end this festive tale, and the moral of it be:

"What once is told to you in jest, maybe the future you can see!" Pay attention now!

Jokes adapted from Richard Pryor, Pigmeat Markham, Langston Hughes, Open The Door Richard, and Malcolm X. All statements attributed to King Coleman et al are I think all pure invention (didn't spend enough time on research this year, last year I did better!) Happy Holidays!

No comments: