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PROLOGUE
(Excerpt)


Time: the Past. Place: An Inn in England. Action: One performer is singing for others gathered in an ale room.


The Tavern: “TO DRIVE THE COLD WINTER AWAY”

PERFORMER

ALL HAYLE TO THE DAYS THAT MERITE MORE PRAISE
THAN ALL THE REST OF THE YEAR;
AND WELCOME THE NIGHTS THAT DOUBLE DELIGHTS
AS WELL FOR THE POOR AS THE PEER!
GOOD FORTUNE ATTEND EACH MERRY MAN’S FRIEND
THAT DOTH BUT THE BEST THAT HE MAY;
FORGETTING OLD WRONGS WITH CAROLS AND SONGS,
TO DRIVE THE COLD WINTER AWAY.

(ETC. repeat of the first verse – then applause)


MANAGER
(acting company)

Innkeeper, Sir, may we have some ale?
Or, if you have it, a cup of wassail?

INNKEEPER

My dear man, for better or worse,
I must first see your purse!

MANAGER

Sir, we are an acting troupe
We’ve not a farthing for soup
Nor pence for a pint of fine stout
Please, Sir, don’t throw us out.

INNKEEPER

If you can’t pay in the coin of the realm
Then you must turn aweather your helm.
You know, Sir, this is not an almshouse,
We are a hostelry and a roadhouse.

MANAGER

We have traveled all day
From a place far away
We are famished and tired and cold.
In our billfold is barter, not gold.

INNKEEPER

Then what have you to offer,
Sir, that I can put in my coffer?

MANAGER

Tis better than gold, my man, ‘tis art,
Which is food and drink for the heart!
We will entertain you and your guests…
A story with some tears and some jests.
We are an acting company for hire
If you agree you must let us stay by the fire
Give us some food and some beer
And let us stay overnight here.
So, Innkeeper, is it a trade?
You will not, Sir, not be underpaid!
(cheers from some of the patrons)

INNKEEPER

Well it seems that I haven’t much choice
So let your merry company give voice
To whatever it is they perform
I shall feed them and see they are warm.
But I tell you by tomorrow they must be gone
Only so much can I listen to prattle and song.

MANAGER

Aye, Sir, tomorrow we shall disappear like the mist
Only in your thoughts still exist.
Actors, let us see who you are
While I set the stage from afar!

                                                 *        *        *        *

(fragment)

READER

So did the Great Ball begin,
And the mummers all did whirl and spin.
As the notes swelled and raced
So these phantasms writhed and chased.
But the windows that lit the room
Lent their color to the player’s loom.

TRAVELER

In this chamber of an azure hue,
Is suggested a soft morning view;
When birds sing with such sweet skill,
When plants push out each new tendril,
Where the quiet waves lap at the shore
Far away from the storms mad roar.
Mists lift slowly from the lake,
And retreat from the woods at daybreak.
Then all in the world is fresh,
And the soul is rested, and the flesh,
Nothing has yet gone awry,
Everybody’s still a wise ally.
By dews are all dangers now dissolved
And all problems can be solved,
So the dancers moves are very sprightly,
And they skip to this made music lightly.
(The first music and dance begins, very softly)

Blue – Morning: Johann Pachelbel      Canon in D


COURTESAN

I do find these dances rather boring,
I would fancy something more risqué…and roaring.

FIRST COQUETTE

I prefer this light…and decoration,
And enjoy the airy orchestration.
Buoyant, blithe, unsullied morn,
‘Tis a span to which I’m drawn.
I like this stage of day and life,
Time before a woman banns, becomes a wife.

BELLE

Don’t enjoy it over much
Or you’ll soon be in a husband’s clutch.
(A strolling performer enters singing: “BLOW AWAY THE MORNING DEW”).


MALE SINGER

THERE WAS A FARMER’S SON,
KEPT SHEEP ALL ON THE HILL;
AND HE WALKED OUT ONE MAY MORNING
TO SEE WHAT HE SHOULD TILL.

CHORUS:
AND SING BLOW AWAY THE MORNING DEW
THE DEW, AND THE DEW,
BLOW AWAY THE MORNING DEW,
HOW SWEET THE WINDS DO BLOW.

(ETC. The musicians and dancers take up the tune. When the Reader speaks the music stops but the dancers continue to dance until the chimes toll the hour.)


READER

But when the next hour was struck,
All souls were, alike, dumbstruck!
(The clock strikes seven and the events described are enacted)
After which there was low laughter
And firm pledges not to stop again thereafter.

JESTER

To halt our fun like this is quite foolish!

COURTESAN

The sound of those chimes is ghoulish!

BELLE

The next time it deigns to happen
We will not our dances slacken!

SECOND COQUETTE

Let the next hour and the next return
It will not cause our heads to turn!

PRIEST

The chimes of that clock are in a minor key
And it chimes most ominously.
Its strike is both brash and bold
But its somber sound leaves listeners cold.

TRAVELLER

Let us take the clock as our cue
And move from this room of azure hue,
From this space of morning light
We will follow the sun in its midday flight.
And, thereby, through such terse travels,
We’ll continue on our costumed revels.
(The light now changes to orange)

COUNSELOR

This is to my leisured liking,
For in midday who pays heed to a clock striking

ETC.