The Red Death
There should be a choreographed dance sequence illustrating the theme of each of the ballrooms at the masquerade.
The play opens at evening time in the upstairs library of the "Reader" as he puts down a worn volume that he had just been perusing. As he relates the story, the action of the play takes place below. He continues to provide commentary from time to time. Music and dance are integral to relating this tale.
In the olden days of yore,
In a book of ancient lore,
Writ here in the long ago
(holding up the book)
By the flick'ring candle's glow
In a trembling, shaking hand,
Mentions of a green and favored land
Where there dwelt a clement prince
Whose like we've not seen since.
And his gardens and his palace,
Were most fair of form, all faultless.
From the turrets, from the towers
Sunlit pennants danced o'er golden hours,
Through the windows, past the doors
Flowed sweet harmonies, and their encores.
The good spirits that within abided
By those harmonies were guided.
All his subjects sang his praises,
In rich, rare and fulsome phrases,
Even family and his friends
Echoed such sweet favors without ends.
He did travel forth quite freely
Making those long trips so gaily,
To obscure outposts of his dominions
To inform his good opinions.
Thus he passed his days,
In peace, and in pleasant ways.
Then, came into his land a woe
And, once it came, it would not go.
* * * *
Lords and Ladies, Thank you all
For here gathering despite this pall
That o'er lays our land,
And bows us down when ere we stand.
But I hope to make you glad,
And hope you will not think me mad,
As a plan to you I now unfold
Which may, yet, the balance in our minds uphold.
Plague, that started with one or two,
Has killed many, and is not through.
Steadily it marches toward us here,
And, with open gates, it is quite clear,
It will not stop 'til all have been stricken,
Not 'til each of us does die, or sicken.
I propose these gates to close,
That within these walls we take repose.
For our people we've done all we could,
And tried to help, and do what's good.
But such grief that now is ours
Our will and our judgment over powers.
We must quickly the bright laughter here restore,
Lest the heavy grief becomes our Minotaur.
I shall fill spare bins with grain,
Cisterns are all gorged from rain,
We shall stack the cellars high with wine,
Sheds with cattle, chickens and with swine.
Fruited orchards are most heavy laden
'Tis as fair as Eden in this garden.
Bees have stored sweet honey fast away
For us to enjoy another day.
Every earthly wish will here be met,
All the sorrows from outside we'll soon forget.
We'll spend our days pursuing arts
And through it try to heal our hearts,
We will not forget the mind,
Rather dwell upon the Good and Fair and Kind.
Only hymns of joy in church we'll sing
Funeral bells, for us, will no longer ring.
We will no more cower as a wraith
But, instead, affirm our faith.
And when we reach the end of this year,
Then we'll celebrate a victory gained over fear.
We will hold a Masquerade in the Great Hall
And invite just those within the wall.
When he finished all applauded,
And, each, the Prince's wisdom lauded.
The Prince, so encouraged, he did hasten
To command the heavy muscled mason
To seal every gate and passage way
That might give a stranger entrée;
Nor could any now get out
If they should, untimely, have a doubt.
The Prince was as good as his word,
No complaint was ever heard.
When the year rolled round to its end,
He urged everyone attend
The Masked Ball he had planned.
And sent invitations writ by hand.