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The students put on nine performances to capacity audiences. Their production lasted 50 minutes, but held the attention of audiences ranging in age from kindergartners to parents. Some kids went back to see it as many as four times.
This flexibility makes it possible for relatively young kids to work with this relative long script. (The cast of the Sharon production ranged in age from 5-1/2 to 12.)
The bit characters move on stage, have their piece to say, and move off again. One person could have three or four such bit parts. (The Sharon production involved 16 actors). Or an entire class of 25 or more kids could be involved, all having lines to speak.
For the most effective production, use the whole room, not just the stage. The script assumes a relatively flexible auditorium/gym space. A few scenes that require props (such as classroom and library) take place on stage, but much of the action takes place in front of the stage around "the little green VW" (the Sharon class used cardboard sides cut to shape and painted). Sometimes, as indicated in the script, characters should enter from behind the audience, using the center aisle.
The name of the town could be changed to make it local. The director might also want to add incidental mentions of the school's name and local landmarks and streets at the beginning when the class is in school and at the end when the class returns home.
Donny wears glasses.
The Witch is in a typical Halloween witch costume.
Potheads have cardboard flowerpots completely covering their heads.
Sir Real has a cardboard cereal bowl covering his head.
Eggheads wear costumes that suggest sunny side-up eggs, scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, etc.
Humpty Dumpty looks like a big cracked hard boiled egg.
Mr. Bacon looks like a big piece of bacon.
Mr. Charon wears the rough rags of a ferry-boatman.
Lewis Carroll is in his underwear.
Mr. Plato is in ancient Greek garb.
Mr. Shermin, when he is a teacher, is in modern everyday attire.
Joan of Noah's Ark is dressed in medieval armor with shield and huge toothbrush.
Captain Ahab wears sea captain clothes and has on wooden leg.
The Astronaut is in a space suit.
The Chained Person, Praying Person and Person in Pain could wear ordinary clothes or diverse costumes.
The two fish (Mr. Shermin and Mrs. O'Rourke) and the Little Blue Wallflower should be represented by puppets. These can consist of cardboard cutouts attached to sticks. When speaking, they bob up and down.
A rectangular frame simulating an aquarium
A little green VW (two cardboard sides cut to the shape of an old Volkswagen beetle and painted green)
Witch's broom with bucket for a seat
Sign that reads "Potable Water"
Water fountain with water
Cardboard wall for Wallflower
Bicycle covered with aluminum foil and tinsel to look like icicles and with wheels decorated to look like sunflowers
Interior of library, consisting of rearranged classroom furniture and books
Paper flowers or real ones
Ferry-boatman's long pole
Flashlight decorated like a stick (to serve as "torch")
Slices of bread
Whale's big wide open mouth with one big tooth
Bush with tinsel (to look like burning bush)
Big painted flat of the Lizard of Oz
Ability to make the entire room dark
Colored flashing lights for the final scene.
Plato's long speech in scene 10 should also be pre-recorded.
"Ome" repeated monotonously.
Wild drummer's dance beat, for use at the end.
Location: Winthrop, Massachusetts, and various fantastic realms.
The action is continuous, with no breaks between scenes.
Scene 1. On stage. A classroom in Winthrop, Massachusetts, the morning of a school day.
Scene 2. In front of stage. A VW riding through the streets of Winthrop and falling through a pothole. Encounter with Witch.
Scene 3. In front of stage. Props resembling trees. Flower Pothead Land. Encounter with Empty-Headed Pothead (Paul New Man).
Scene 4. In front of stage. Total darkness, then spotlight in the pot hole. Encounter with Witch.
Scene 5. In front of stage. Encounter with Sir Real.
Scene 6. In front of curtain. Egghead Land with various eggs. A wall with a flower puppet. Encounter with Humpty Dumpty.
Scene 7. On stage. The Library. Encounter with Mr. Bacon.
Scene 8. In front of stage. Traveling in VW to the River. Encounter with Mr. Charon.
Scene 9. In front of stage. In the Underworld. Encounter with Lewis Carroll.
Scene 10. On stage. A cave on Mount Parnassus. Encounter with Plato.
Scene 11. In front of stage. Going up the mountain to Cloud Nine.
Scene 12. In front of stage. At Cloud Nine and the trip in the VW back to the Library.
Scene 13. On stage. The Library.
Scene 14. In front of curtain. In VW on the way to the Mouth of the Nile. Encounter with Joan of Noah's Ark and Captain Ahab.
Scene 15. In front of stage. Total darkness. Inside the belly of the whale.
Scene 16. In front of stage. On the beach in Ome. Encounter with burning bush and Astronaut.
Scene 17. In front of stage and all the way up the aisle to the back of the theater, then onto the stage. On the hill in Ome and encounter with the Lizard of Oz on stage.
Scene 18. In front of stage in VW on the way back to Winthrop, and on stage in front of curtain at the school.
NARRATOR -- Once or twice, long ago, the fire of enchantment burnt low, and children and even grownups found nothing new in the world, nothing worth seeing or doing or bothering about -- nothing, that is, except machines. The disenchantment spread almost everywhere, until it reached the basement classroom in Winthrop, Massachusetts, where a pair of fish -- Mrs. O'Rourke and Mr. Shermin, lived in a fishbowl. It was there that the long adventure began.
MRS. O'ROURKE -- Good morning, everybody! Good morning! (She turns to MR. SHERMIN) Mr. Shermin, just look at them! They're so blank and bored. It's scary.
MR. SHERMIN -- It's the Humbug.
MRS. O'ROURKE -- The Humbug?
MR. SHERMIN -- Yes, the Humbug. He's been flying around, beating on his humdrum and disenchanting everybody. I was afraid we'd start to hear him down here. It was just a matter of time.
MRS. O'ROURKE -- But how do you know?
MR. SHERMIN -- Of course I know. I know almost everything. You know that I used to be a teacher before I decided to be a fish. And then I knew how to make myself a fish -- which not many people, even teachers, know how to do. Yes, Mrs. O'Rourke, I assure you that it's the Humbug who caused all this.
MRS. O'ROURKE -- But where can we go? What can we do?
MR. SHERMIN -- Calm down now, Mrs. O'Rourke. Calm down. The only way to break the disenchantment is to make the Humbug change his tune. But the only person in the whole universe who can make him do that is the Lizard of Oz.
MRS. O'ROURKE -- The Lizard?
MR. SHERMIN -- You've probably heard of the Wizard of Oz. Well, that story was written by the Humbug. He wants everybody to believe that enchantment is just make-believe. He doesn't want anyone to know about the Lizard. So he named his story the "Wizard of Oz," hoping people would confuse it with the Lizard. And he made it a very good story so everybody would remember it and forget the Lizard. And that's just what happened.
(Unnoticed by the fish, EUGENE comes close to the fishbowl and listens.)
MRS. O'ROURKE -- But who is the Lizard of Oz?
MR. SHERMIN -- He lives in the green green grass of Ome.
MRS. O'ROURKE -- Ome?
MR. SHERMIN -- Yes, Ome is the nicest part of Oz, with lakes and trees and lots of green grass for kids to roll in.
MRS. O'ROURKE -- Can we get there on the MBTA?
MR. SHERMIN -- The best way to get there is in a little green VW.
EUGENE -- Can I help?
MR. SHERMIN -- (Startled to see EUGENE standing so close.) Maybe you can. I hope you can. (To MRS. O'ROURKE.) Those kids have been down here in the basement at school, so they haven't heard much of the Humbug, and they're nowhere near as disenchanted as everybody else -- though it's sad to say that some of them are pretty far gone.
(In the background, pre-recorded sounds of the Humbug get closer and louder -- "Humdrum Humbug, beating on his humdrum..." monotonously repeated.)
MR. SHERMIN -- Quick, Eugene. Put cotton in your ears and get everybody to put cotton in theirs. Maybe it's not too late. Maybe you're all just enchanted enough to get to Oz and roll through the green green grass of Ome and find the Lizard and get him to change the Humbug's tune.
EUGENE -- (Goes to the closet and gets cotton) Hey, everybody! Here! Put this cotton in your ears so you can't hear the humdrum of the Humbug.
REST OF THE KIDS -- Sit on it, Eugene.
EUGENE -- Look. I'm serious. Mr. Shermin said it's important. We have to get to Oz and roll in the green green grass of Ome and find the Lizard and get him to change the Humbug's tune.
(Some of the kids take the cotton and put it in their ears.)
REST OF THE KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) --Well, if Mr. Shermin said it's important. -- Okay, Eugene. -- Give some to me, Eugene. -- Don't forget me.
MISS MORGAN -- (Takes the cotton and puts it in her ears. She thinks this is a great joke and is willing to play along.) Oh, it's such a beautiful spring day. I had wanted to you all on a field trip, but I couldn't think of any place to go. Now, with this cotton in my ears. I think it's a great idea to go to Ome and find the Lizard. What a great trip.
(Others take cotton and put it in their ears.)
KEVIN -- I don't want to go. That's kid's stuff.
MISS PRYSBY -- (Smiles and puts cotton in her ears.) The fresh air will do you good. (To MISS MORGAN.) What a great idea, Judy. This could be very educational. Let's go.
EUGENE -- Miss Morgan, you're the only one we know who has a little green VW. And that's what Mr. Shermin said we should ride in to get to Oz and to Ome.
MISS MORGAN -- (Smiles.) With this cotton in my ears, that sounds like a great idea. Come on, everybody -- pile in.
(They all go to the VW and pile in. It's very crowded. Kathy carries the frame that represents the fishbowl, with the fish puppets of MR. SHERMIN and MRS. O'ROURKE.)
KATHY -- I've got the fishbowl, Miss Morgan. We can't leave Mr. Shermin and Mrs. O'Rourke behind.
KIDS -- (Typical comments from various kids. Improvise. These are examples.) -- This is going to be fun. -- Boy, there's a lot of people in this car. -- Gosh, I can hardly move. -- I think my knees are going to touch the ceiling. -- I have to go to the bathroom.
MISS MORGAN -- Everybody ready? I'm starting it up.
(Everybody starts bouncing and swaying; exaggerated motions.)
MISS MORGAN -- Which way is Oz?
DONNY -- Just follow the yellow brick road.
(Most of the kids laugh.)
KEVIN -- There is no yellow brick road, silly.
EUGENE -- Maybe Mr. Shermin knows how to get there.
MR. SHERMIN -- Of course I know. I know everything. I'll just flip my magic coin. Heads means turn right. Tails means turn left. And if it stands on end, that means go straight ahead.
KIDS -- (They are still bouncing and swaying. Typical comments. These are examples.) --We're getting far from school. -- Let's count telephone poles. -- (Whining.) I want to go home.
MR. SHERMIN -- Turn left, Miss Morgan. (Pause.) Turn right, Miss Morgan. (Pause.) Go straight ahead, Miss Morgan.
(Kids improvise typical comments and behavior.)
KATHY -- Let's sing.
(Everybody starts singing "The ants are marching one by one...")
MISS MORGAN -- Watch out, everybody. I'm stepping on the brakes.
(Singing stops. All lurch forward. The bouncing and swaying stops.)
KEVIN -- Look at that! There's a huge pothole stretching all the way across the road. It's big enough for three VWs.
DONNY -- (He jumps out and looks down.) Gosh, this hole doesn't have a bottom.
MISS MORGAN -- With those glasses, Donny has remarkable eyesight. If Donny can't see a bottom to that hole, there just isn't one. And it's so wide there's no way we can get around it. I guess this means the road to Oz is closed. Maybe we should go to the Children's Museum instead.
MR. SHERMIN -- No, Miss Morgan. We're right on course. Straight ahead. Straight ahead. Drive straight ahead. The magic coin just stood on end, and the magic coin is never wrong.
(Everyone looks nervous and upset.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I've been to the Children's Museum before, and it's a really nice place. -- (Whining.) I want to go home. -- (Whining.) I have to go to the bathroom.
MISS PRYSBY -- I don't think driving into a bottomless pothole would be very educational. We all know perfectly well it would be awful.
MISS MORGAN -- Miss Prysby is right. I'm turning around.
(She turns the steering wheel. GAYNELL falls onto MISS MORGAN's lap. Everyone lurches like the car is suddenly moving forward).
MISS MORGAN -- The car is going forward! How did that happen! Hold tight everyone! We're going into the pothole!
(Everyone screams as the lights go out. Complete darkness.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I'm on the bottom of the pile. -- Hey, watch what you're doing with your foot. -- I can't see a thing. -- I still have to go to the bathroom. -- (Whining.) I want to go home.
DONNY -- The whole car rolled over.
MISS PRYSBY -- No, Donny you see, we're falling very fast, and it just seems like we're up-side-down.
MISS MORGAN -- (Very annoyed.) Which way should we go now, Mr. Shermin?
MR. SHERMIN -- Ask the next witch you see.
MISS MORGAN -- Witch?
MR. SHERMIN -- Down here, where there aren't any streets to turn left or right or straight ahead on, my magic coin isn't much good. But any witch can show us the witch way to Oz.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I can't see anything but black. -- I'm going to look anyway. -- I want to get out of here. -- Get your foot off me!
DONNY -- I see her! Over there!
(Spotlight reveals WITCH, sitting on a bucket, driving a broomstick.)
WITCH -- So you want to go to Oz?
MISS MORGAN -- How did you know that?
WITCH -- What else would you be doing, flying down a pothole in a little green VW stuffed with 16 people?
MARK -- Why are you sitting on a bucket? It looks awfully uncomfortable.
WITCH -- All the latest models come equipped with bucket seats. You don't have much choice. (Then she leans back and speaks formally to them all.) You'll get ahead, if you get a head; so go straight ahead, and get an empty head that's gone to pot; then go behind, and you will find the spot you have in mind.
MISS MORGAN -- What do you mean?
(The spotlight goes off.)
MISS MORGAN -- She's gone already. What could she mean by that?
MR. SHERMIN -- Hurry up! Do like she said. Drive straight ahead, or we'll miss the intersection.
MISS MORGAN -- Hold tight, everybody. I'm hitting the gas.
LINDA -- (She screams.) The water is spilling out of the fishbowl!
KATHY -- (She screams.) Ewh! Mr. Shermin and Mrs. O'Rourke are squirming all over my belly.
MARK -- Look at all the crazy people. They don't have heads. They have pots instead. We fell down a pothole. Maybe this is Pothead Land.
A POT-BELLIED POTHEAD falls in front of the VW).
MISS MORGAN -- Hold tight, everybody. I'm hitting the brakes!
(Everybody lurches forward.)
GAYNELL -- What happened? What happened?
MARK -- I guess that pot-bellied pothead tripped. And it's no wonder. With a pot instead of a head, he can't see where he's going.
DONNY -- Gosh, he's covered with mud.
POT-BELLIED POTHEAD -- We're down-to-earth people. Earthenware is our natural dress. That and wonderwhere.
KIDS -- Wonderwhere?
POT-BELLIED POTHEAD -- Yes, I wonder where my heads's at.
EUGENE -- Look, Miss Prysby. There's a water fountain. Maybe we can get water for the fishbowl.
MISS PRYSBY -- (She reads the sign) Potable water. Potable. That's a good word for you to learn today. It means it's clean enough to drink and clean enough for Mr. Shermin and Mrs. O'Rourke.
(Kathy gets out of the VW, carrying the fishbowl.)
POT-BELLIED POTHEAD -- Not so fast. That's a potable water fountain.
KATHY -- Yes, I know.
(She goes and tries to fill the fish bowl. Water splashes all over her.)
POT-BELLIED POTHEAD -- I told you so. That's a potable water fountain. It'll only pour water into pots.
MISS MORGAN -- But that's ridiculous. What can we do?
POT-BELLIED POTHEAD -- You'll just have to find somebody empty-headed enough to help you.
MISS MORGAN -- But...
EUGENE -- (Pointing.) There's one!
(EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD enters riding a bicycle from the back of the theater down the center aisle. The bicycle is covered wtih aluminum foil and tinsel, to simulate icicles, and the wheels are decorated like big sunflowers.)
KEVIN -- He's riding an icicle bicycle.
MARK -- And the wheels are sunflowers.
EUGENE -- Why doesn't the icicle melt?
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- It's cool, man, cool.
KATHY -- How do you get it to go so fast?
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- That's flower-power, man, real flower-power.
MISS MORGAN -- Pardon me, sir. I notice that your pot, I mean your head is empty and...
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- Yes, it's empty. And don't go making fun of it either. Some of these guys'll put anything in their head just to have something there. But I've been waiting till I find something worth putting in it.
MISS MORGAN -- Well, if it wouldn't inconvenience you, we'd greatly appreciate it if you'd help us fill our fishbowl.
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- You mean to say that fish are drowning because they don't have any water to breath? Why didn't you say so?
(KIDS help as EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD pretends to fill his empty head with water and to transfer the water to the fishbowl.)
LINDA -- (She recites from memory.) You'll get ahead, if you get a head; so go straight ahead and get an empty head that's gone to pot; then go behind, and you will find the spot you have in mind.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Hey, that's what the witch said. -- Gosh, how'd you remember all that?
MR.SHERMIN -- That's the one.
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- The what?
MR. SHERMIN -- The empty head that's gone to pot. You're the one the witch told us to find and take back.
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- Witch? You mean one of those old ladies that ride around on broomsticks? You've got to be kidding, man. You've got to be kidding. That's just too far out.
MISS MORGAN -- Well, come on. Let's go. Maybe the witch did know what she was talking about.
(KIDS and TEACHERS all get back into the VW. EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD gets in, too.)
MISS MORGAN -- I'm stepping on the gas.
(Everyone lurches backward. Exaggerated bouncing and swaying. Lights go out again. Everyone screams.)
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- Man, this is some trip.
DONNY -- Hey, look!
(Spotlight reveals WITCH.)
DONNY -- It's the witch again.
WITCH -- (Running across in front of the curtain. Spotlight stays on her as she goes. She is carrying her broomstick with its attached bucket.) For a real meal, see Sir Real; then egghead south to the mouth of the Nile, and find the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth, for smiles and smiles, till suffertime.
(Spotlight goes off, leaving the theater in darkness again.)
MISS MORGAN -- Now, what's she talking about? She just comes and goes before you have a chance to ask her anything. Well, I'm stepping on the gas again. Hold tight everybody. Oops! I'm hitting the brakes!
Everyone lurches forward, as if MISS MORGAN had just hit the brakes.
MISS MORGAN -- What's that standing in the middle of the road?
DONNY -- Gosh, that must be the cereal, like the Witch said. He's got a bowl of raisin bran instead of a head.
SIR REAL -- The name is Sir Real. And that's raisin "brain."
MISS MORGAN -- Certainly, sir, certainly. Donny didn't mean to insult you. He just sees things the way they are. I mean, he sees them the way he's used to seeing them, and he's got a lot to learn. Yes, all of us have a lot to learn. But could you please tell us where we could find a restaurant? You see, we're going to Oz, and it's a rather long trip, and we're all very hungry.
SIR REAL -- Well, you can get plenty of food for thought in the Library, just on the other side of the block.
DONNY -- What block? I don't see any block.
SIR REAL -- Naturally. It's a mental block. Just do as I say, and we'll be there in a minute.
(SIR REAL climbs on the back of the VW.)
MISS MORGAN -- I'm hitting the gas.
(Everyone lurches back, then starts bouncing and swaying.)
DONNY -- Gosh, we must be getting near the restaurant. I see food walking all over the place.
SIR REAL -- That's not food, young man. Those are eggheads.
(Off to the side, at the base of a wall appears HUMPTY DUMPTY, a hardboiled egg with a big crack. At the top of the wall, appears the puppet WALLFLOWER.)
EUGENE -- (Pointing at HUMPTY.) That must be the saddest egghead in the world.
SIR REAL -- Indeed, he is. That's Humpty Dumpty. He's in the dumps right now. Really depressed. You see, he's in love with a wallflower -- that light blue one right up there on top of the wall. He and she had been sitting up there for years, never paying attention to one another. Then one day, they got to talking, and Humpty fell for her -- fell all the way down to the ground. And when he saw that he couldn't climb back up, he was all broken up about it. And here he's sat ever since.
GAYNELL -- (She climbs up the wall and reaches out to pick the WALLFLOWER.) Can I pick it and take it home?
MISS PRYSBY -- (Gently, but firmly.) No, Gaynell. This is a very special flower. She has thoughts and feelings just like you and me. It wouldn't be right to hurt her.
WALLFLOWER -- (She's very sad.) You're so nice to protect me. But what's the use? I was just a quiet little flower before I met Humpty. All I wanted was just for nobody to pick me or step on me. And since I was on top of a wall, not many people walked near me. And since I was so homely, not many people would want to pick me. Every day was just the same as another. But at least I was safe. Then I got to know Humpty, and everything was different, and I came to life. More than anything in the world, I wanted him to pick me, even if it would be the death of me. But, just as he started to reach for me, he tottered and fell. And I've been so alone and miserable that I just can't go on. And I'd be glad if anybody, just anybody would pick me and end it all.
(Everyone is sad. The kids and teachers look at one another, not knowing what to do. Then LINDA has an idea and whispers it to EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD.)
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- Yeah, man, cool. What's a head for but to make a flowerchild happy.
(The kids fill the EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD's pot with dirt and dig the flower up, and plant her in that pot. KATHY pours in water from the fishbowl. EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD starts staggering. HUMPTY DUMPTY gets up to help him.)
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- Heavy, man, heavy. Where's my head at?
(EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD suddenly yanks the flowerpot right off. Most of the kids scream and hide their eyes. They are standing so close that the audience can't EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD very well.)
DONNY -- (He kept watching and knows what's going on.) Gosh, he's got another head. Can you do that again, mister?
(Everybody steps back and takes a good look.)
MISS PRYSBY -- What beautiful blue eyes he has.
EMPTY-HEADED POTHEAD -- Man, I feel like a new man.
(He hands the pot with the WALLFLOWER to HUMPTY DUMPTY.)
MISS MORGAN -- Well, that's what we'll call you then -- Mr. New Man.
MISS PRYSBY -- He looks just like the actor -- Paul Newman.
NEWMAN -- Well, whatever you call me -- man, am I ever hungry.
SIR REAL -- No problem at all. Right this way folks. Just open this door, and here's the restaurant.
GAYNELL -- I don't remember seeing that door before.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I'm starving. -- Let's go. -- Yeah. -- Do you think they have a bathroom here?
DONNY -- Gosh, this isn't a restaurant. There's nothing but books.
(Everybody goes onto the stage and starts looking around.)
KATHY -- (Going over to the desk.) Miss Prysby, do you have any salt and pepper? I just found the biggest, most perfectly delicious looking piece of bacon in the world.
MR. BACON -- Cannibals! Barbarians! Whoever let this horde of ruffians into my library?
SIR REAL -- This is Mr. Bacon, Mr. Francis Bacon, the librarian.
MISS PRYSBY -- Excuse us, Mr. Bacon. We didn't mean any harm. We're just a class on a field trip to Oz, a very educational trip. We're all very hungry, and when we asked the way to a restaurant, this gentelman directed us here. Apparently, there's been some mistake.
MR. BACON -- No mistake. No mistake at all. The Library is the best place to get food for thught. Help yourself. We have a wide selection. Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few chewed and digested.
EUGENE -- (He grabs a book, rips out a page, and starts chewing it.) This doesn't taste much like food.
MR. BACON -- Barbarians! Absolute barbarians! Didn't anyone ever teach you how to eat a book! (He picks up a book and reads.) "Once upon a space, there was a time, a cute little time. Her name was Now." That's how to eat a book.
MISS PRYSBY -- But that's just reading. That could never satisfy these hungry children.
MR. BACON -- And why not? I myself find it very satisfying.
NEWMAN -- Miss Prysby, I couldn't see when I was a pothead, so I never learned to read. Could you teach me how?
(Kids pick up books and wander off in ones and twos. They quickly get involved in reading. MISS PRYSBY starts teaching NEWMAN. At the other side of the Library, MR. BACON, SIR REAL, and MISS MORGAN talk together.)
MR. BACON -- Have you eaten today's news?
SIR REAL -- Yes, and I'm fed up with it. Things just keep getting wars and wars and more wars.
MISS MORGAN -- It's hard to say just what it'll lead to. Only time will tell.
MR. BACON -- Now, where did you get that silly notion? You should tell time, not wait for it to tell you. What do you go to school for but to learn to tell time?
(MISS MORGAN looks puzzled. Then she looks at her watch.)
MISS MORGAN -- Come along now, children! Children! We have to go! It's nearly three o'clock, and I'm sure your parents are all wondering what became of you. (To MR. BACON and SIR REAL.) Thank you very much, Mr. Bacon and Sir Real. It was so nice of you to show us around. And we all had such a good time that I'm sure we'll be coming back again soon.
EUGENE -- Going? But, Miss Morgan, Mr. Shermin said this is very important. We have to get to Ome to save the world.
MISS MORGAN -- Let's go. All of you. Into the car this instant.
(The curtain closes as soon as everybody, except MISS PRYSBY, NEWMAN, MR. BACON, and SIR REAL are off the stage and at the VW).
KIDS -- (A lot of grumbling. Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I was just getting into it. -- That was fun. -- Why did we have to stop? -- Why do we have to leave so soon?
MISS MORGAN -- Hold on tight. I'm hitting the gas.
(Everybody lurches backward, then starts bouncing and swaying.)
MARK -- But, Miss Morgan, we forgot Miss Prysby and Paul Newman.
MISS MORGAN -- There's no time to turn around. I have to get you kids home. I'll worry about them later.
(The lights slowly dim.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I wonder where we're going? -- This doesn't look like Winthrop to me. -- I've got to go to the bathroom. -- The road is getting narrow and bumpy. -- It's getting dark. -- Where are we, Miss Morgan?
MISS MORGAN -- I'm hitting the brakes.
(Everyone lurches forward. The bouncing and swaying stops.)
MISS MORGAN -- The road seems to end here. There are just these two paths, just wide enough for one little car, like ours. I wonder which way we should go?
EUGENE -- Mr. Shermin isn't saying anything anymore. I think he's sick. I don't think he knows where we are.
(LINDA and KATHY get out of the VW and wander down to the left, closer to the audience.)
LINDA -- There's a clearing down here, Miss Morgan.
KATHY -- And there's a full moon and loads of flowers. It's just beautiful.
(More kids get out of the VW and start to play and pick up flowers off the ground. Some of them carry these flowers with them all the way until Scene 17, when they encounter The Lizard of Oz.)
MISS MORGAN -- (She's the only one still in the car.) I'm just too tired to chase everybody. (She bounces and sways and turns the steering wheel now and them to indicate the car is moving over a rough path.)
KEVIN -- (He goes back toward the curtain.) I wonder what's over there?
MARK -- I think I see a river.
KATHY -- Oh! Mrs. O'Rourke just jumped out of the fishbowl into the river. She's swimming away, and she looks like she's having a great time.
(The kids all watch. MISS MORGAN gets out of the VW to join them.)
LINDA -- Mr. Shermin hasn't said much lately.
KATHY -- Yeah, he looks pretty sick.
EUGENE -- Look! A man on a raft is coming down the river.
(Enter MR. CHARON, leaning on a pole used for pushing rafts.)
KEVIN -- Are you Huckleberry Finn?
MR. CHARON -- No. Charon's the name -- Mr. Charon, the ferryboatman. Where do you want to go?
MISS MORGAN -- We want to go home.
EUGENE -- But, Miss Morgan, we have to get to Ome. Mr. Shermin said so. He's too sick to say anything himself now. But we have to get there and save the world.
MR. CHARON -- Home or Ome, I wouldn't want to go either place myself, but everyone to his own taste; and either way, it's quite an undertaking; so I guess you'll need me to take you under.
MISS MORGAN -- Under where?
MR. CHARON -- Under the world, of course. I'm the under-taker -- Mr. Charon's the name.
MISS MORGAN -- But why should we go under the world just to get home?
MR. CHARON -- Do you know where you are or how you got here or where to go next?
MISS MORGAN -- No. That's why I asked you.
MR. CHARON -- Yes, yes, the same old story. But if I understand, it doesn't do you any good. You've got to understand yourself; so I've got to take you down under the wold; so you can stand under it and understand it. That's my job. Let's get on with it. But first you'll have to pay the toll.
MISS MORGAN -- Toll?
MR. CHARON -- Yes, of course. Do you think I work for nothing? One magic coin, please.
EUGENE -- (He takes the coin from Mr. Shermin.) Here's Mr. Shermin's magic coin. We don't need it anymore.
MR. CHARON -- (He takes the coin.) Come on board. Easy now. Drive that thing slowly. Don't tip my raft.
(Pantomime driving the VW onto the raft.)
MR. CHARON -- Steady, steady. Right on. All right, everybody, here we go down the river.
(MR. CHARON pushes hard on his pole again and again. KATHY, GAYNELL, and LINDA whisper and giggle. All the kids pantomime watching the shore, and swaying with the motion of the raft doing down the river.)
MR. CHARON -- All ashore. Here we are in the underworld.
(KIDS pile out of VW. Enter LEWIS CARROLL in underwear.)
KATHY -- Mister, why are you walking around in your underwear?
(Lots of kids giggle.)
MR. CARROLL -- Of course I'm in underwear. What else would you wear in the underworld?
KATHY -- That just doesn't seem right.
MR. CARROLL -- But of course it's right. Everybody here writes. Perhaps you've heard of me. I'm Lewis Carroll.
LINDA -- Yes, I remember. You wrote Alice in Wonderland.
MR. CARROLL -- That's right. And the gentleman over there is William Shakespeare. And the one fishing on the riverbank is Mark Twain.
MISS MORGAN -- Mr. Carroll, I'm sure all these people are very interesting, but we really don't have any time to stop and talk. Could you please tell us how to get home from here?
EUGENE -- Could you tell us how to get to Ome instead?
MR. CARROLL -- Well, I don't know how to get to either place myself, and I've heard some pretty bad things about both of them. But, if you like, I can take you down to the next underworld. Maybe somebody there can help you.
MISS MORGAN -- The next underworld?
MR. CARROLL -- Of course. I stand under the world, but there are others much lower who stand under me. Yes, there are many levels of understanding.
MISS MORGAN -- What?
MR. CARROLL -- We have to go down again. It's quite simple, really. Come on, everyone. Back on the ferry. I've got a pocketful of magic coins.
(KIDS all pile back onto raft and into VW. Pantomime pushing off from shore and motion on raft going down river.)
MR. CARROLL -- I can't see why anyone, much less a bunch of kids, would want to go to Ome. I hear it's an awful place. Why that's the land of the Great Dragon of Ome, the famous, firebreathing Lizard of Oz, the Leaping Lizard himself.
EUGENE -- Firebreathing dragon? Mr. Shermin never said anything about that. (He turns to the fishbowl.) Mr. Shermin. Mr. Shermin! Miss Morgan, Mr. Shermin looks awfully sick.
MR. CARROLL -- (To CHARON.) Could you direct us to the home of the muses?
MR. CHARON -- Right over there, on Mount Parnassus.
(MR. CHARON points toward the stage. Exit MR. CHARON. Everybody else moves toward the stage.)
MR. CARROLL -- Okay, Miss Morgan, it's up to you to invoke the muses.
MISS MORGAN -- But what should I say?
MR. CARROLL -- Whatever you feel.
MISS MORGAN -- Please, Muse, we're very lost and very confused; and we don't know how we'll ever find our way out of here if you don't help us.
MR. PLATO -- (He cannot be seen. His voice comes from behind the curtain.) Which muse do you want?
MISS MORGAN -- A muse. Just a muse.
MR. PLATO -- Yes, the A-muse is my favorite too. Right this way.
(The curtain opens partway, revealing Mr. Plato. KIDS go up on stage.)
MR. CARROLL -- That's Mr. Plato. He's the speaker of the house. He helps the muses talk to strangers. He interprets their signs and strange words so people can understand them.
PLATO -- Come in here and sit down.
(KIDS sit on edge of the stage and watch a show while PLATO tells his story to MISS MORGAN. The show could be slides, a short film or a creative movement skit with kids dressed in black tights. The words of PLATO's long speech should be tape recorded.)
MISS MORGAN -- Please, sir, please tell us what you mean. We're lost, very lost, and it's been such a long time since these children were home. I'm sure their parents are worried sick.
PLATO -- (Pre-recorded voice.) Once upon a time, there was a world and an unworld. People lived in the world, and unpeople lived in the unworld. The world was very much like the unworld. And the people were very much like the unpeople. The sun spent half its time in each place, and everyone lived and grew and died and was happy.
The name of the world was Home. And the name of the unworld was Ome.
In the middle of Home was a huge machine. It could wash your dishes and your clothes. It could cook your food or keep it cold. It could do all sorts of things. And the people of Home were very happy with their machine. It saved them so much time.
And it could be made to do many more things. So people worked on the machine and worked on it, and soon it could move you from one part of Home to another at great speeds; and it could even tell you how great it was and show you pictures of how much everybody loved it and depended on it; and that made it easier for people to work harder for the machine so it could give them all the things they'd ever dreamed of.
The only trouble was the atmosphere. The machine gave off fumes. You got used to it after a while; so you hardly noticed it except on what would have been bright sunshiny days. But the fumes were always there. It was a deadening atmosphere. Plants and animals started dying. But man adapted. He learned to use machine light instead of sunlight. And he learned to breath machine air instead of plant air. And he came to depend more and more on the machine.
Back when the sun could be seen, plants and animals and men used to grow up toward the sunlight. Now, instaed, they grew toward the machine light. And the machine built them houses, much warmer and more comfortable than caves; and there men sat night after night, watching the moving shadows that the machine's light cast on the walls. And they were very pleased.
Meanwhile, without anyone noticing it, the sun left. It wasn't just behind the clouds anymore. Now it stayed all the time in the unworld named Ome. And strange things started happening in the unworld. The unanimals and unplants and unpeople who lived there weren't used to all that light. They started growing and growing, and soon there were all sorts of monsters. Little lizards grew to the size of dinosaurs and dragons, and strange beasts of all kinds filled the unworld.
The people feared that if the sun kept shining that way, the monsters would soon get out of control and kill them. So the unpeople captured and tamed the biggest dragon they could find. And they taught him to jump until he could jump all the way up to the sun. And he did. And he swallowed the sun and came back down to the ground with the sun in his belly.
As the unpeople had hoped, the monsters couldn't stand the change in climate -- the paltns they needed to survive stopped growing. Soon the only monster left was the dragon with the sun in his belly that somehow the sun had made deathless.
The sunlight shone through the dragon's skin like a light through a shade; but still the light was so intense that many unpeople were blinded, all but those who put on green sunglasses. Everyone was drawn to this light. As they got close, they were awestruck and spellbound by the sight. They just chanted over and over -- "Ome, Ome, Ome," as an expression of their awe and perhaps of their joy at being in this place and seeing this sight.
I've heard that things are changing fast at Home, that a Humbug has been flying around beating on his humdrum and most everyone has been picking up the beat, getting into the rhythm of the machine. But the Humbug is hardly the cause of it all. He's just part of a long, long process. He's just speeding things up a little. And nothing will really change the direction of things, unless somebody brings back fire from Ome to Home.
MISS MORGAN -- I really don't understand. I've never seen a machine like that at home. And I'm sure that if there is such a thing, it's very expensive and not may people can afford it. And the sun hasn't left. It shines in Winthrop sometimes. I saw it just yesterday, before we fell down that pothole.
MR. PLATO -- (His live voice.) Are you sure that was the sun you saw and not something the machine made?
MISS MORGAN -- I don't know what's real anymore. But I do know that I must get this class home right away. Even if it would be nice to bring back fire to the world, we simply must get home as soon as we can.
MR. PLATO -- Well, the shadow show is over. Come with me to the top of the mountain. From there you should be able to see clearly which way to go.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- We're getting so high. -- It's so clear up here. -- This is great fun, Miss Morgan. It's better than the Children's Museum. -- I bet you can see all the way to China from way up here.
MISS MORGAN -- We're at the top. Hold tight. I'm stepping on the brakes.
(Everybody lurches forward, then gets out and runs around.)
DONNY -- Gosh, Miss Morgan, take a look inside this cloud. It's all silvery in there.
MR. PLATO -- Yes, every cloud has a silver lining. But the best of them is the one with the big amusement park -- Cloud Number Nine -- right over there.
(PLATO points. KIDS rush off to Cloud Nine off stage, with much talk and excitement.)
MR. PLATO -- (To MISS MORGAN and MR. CARROLL.) The path to the right leads to Ome. That to the left leads to Home.
(MISS MORGAN hesitates.)
MR. PLATO -- Or, if you prefer, you can stay at the amusement park in Cloud Nine forever and ever. But, here, take this package. If you do decide to go to Ome, you will need this.
MISS MORGAN -- (She looks first one way, then the other. Then she talks to MR. CARROLL) Well, the children are already inside. I might as well join them. I can make up my mind later.
(MISS MORGAN and MR. CARROLL go offstage, following the kids.)
MISS MORGAN -- What fun. I'm feeling tired and wonderful.
MR. CARROLL -- It's a great place, with none of the cares of the world or the unworld. The cloud just floats here, there and everywhere. It doesn't matter where it is, because things are always the same inside -- always wonderful, protected from sadness by the silver lining.
MISS MORGAN -- Oh, let's look at the package Mr. Plato gave me. (She opens the package.) A whole pile of sunglasses and, look, a big stick.
MR. CARROLL -- (Picks up items and explains what they are.) The green glass of these sunglasses will protect your eyes from the strange magical light in Ome. And that big stick is a torch. It catches fire easily. It would come in handy if you ever went to Ome. But there' no reason to go to Ome or to go Home either. The kids are having the time of their lives right here. There's no point in trying to change the world. Most people are happy with it just as it is. Those who aren't happy can just drop out, like you did on this trip, and like the potheads and the eggheads. There's no reason to worry about other people.
(Pause. MISS MORGAN is puzzled and indecisive.)
MR. CARROLL -- You look like you're in another world.
MISS MORGAN -- Or unworld. I'm sorry.
MR. CARROLL -- I guess we're both tired. I think I'll catch a few winks.
(MR. CARROLL lies down to sleep.)
MISS MORGAN -- (She sits, looks down both paths, and talks to herself, remembering.) The path to Ome is on the right, and the path to Home is on the left. (She leans one way, then the other, then back again. Then stands up decisively.) It's something I simply must do. The world needs it. (She pushes aside the curtain and calls in a loud whisper, so as not to wake MR. CARROLL.) Children! Children! Come quickly!
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Do we have to go, Miss Morgan? We were having a blast. -- You're always spoiling our fun. -- Gosh, Miss Morgan, can't we stay? -- I don't want to go home.
MISS MORGAN -- It's time for us to go, and that's that. Quiet down now, everyone. We don't want to wake Mr. Carroll.
LINDA -- Isn't he coming with us, Miss Morgan?
MISS MORGAN -- No, Linda. He's decided to stay, but we have something we simply have to do. Here, everyone, put on these sunglasses, and let's go.
(MISS MORGAN and the KIDS pile into the VW. They pantomime the car starting and a bumpy ride. In the background, MR. CARROLL exists, unnoticed.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Hey, neat! Green sunglasses. Just like in the Wizard of Oz. -- Wonder what these are for? -- Hey, we're sure going down fast. -- Look! There's the Library. We're back at the Library. -- How did we get back here?
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Hey, Miss Prysby, you missed the greatest time. -- Yeah, we were in this neat park inside a cloud with a silver lining. -- And we went down to the underworld on a raft, and even went under the underworld. -- It's sure good to see you again.
MISS MORGAN -- Here are sunglasses for both of you. (She gives them to MISS PRYSBY and PAUL NEWMAN.) You'll need them where we're going.
MISS PRYSBY -- (She takes the sunglasses, but is puzzled.) Then where are we going?
KATHY -- (She runs toward MISS MORGAN and interrupts.) Miss Morgan, come quick! Mr. Shermin is swimming around very fast and the water around his head is boiling.
(Everybody crowds around the fishbowl, so the audience can't see it).
EUGENE -- He's been sick. And for the longest time, he hasn't said anything.
MR. SHERMIN -- (Faintly, but clearly audible.) I don't know most everything. I've just been living in a fishbowl.
KEVIN -- He looks really depressed. He's knocking his head against the wall.
MISS MORGAN -- I'm afraid he'll crack up.
(KIDS huddle closer to fishbowl. Sound of cracking glass, splashing water, feet landing on the ground. KIDS scream and fall back. Out steps MR. SHERMIN the teacher.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Oh, Mr. Shermin, it's really you. -- You're a teacher again. -- It's great to have you back.
MR. SHERMIN -- Well, I'm not going back with you to Winthrop. No, not right away, at least. I want to find my way back to the Underworld and maybe talk to Mr. Plato. There's lots to understand. It made me sick to think of all I didn't understand. And after I thought I knew everything... I's hard to say for sure, but you may be seeing me again soon. It all depends. But for now, I'll need a backpack... Yes, and some books so I'll have lots to eat on my way. Mr. Bacon, can you help?
MR. BACON -- Yes, certainly, sir. Right here -- a backpack, and, yes, book. Here's one by Mr. Plato about caves and shadows and things, and one by Mr. Carroll, and a journal for you to write your own book. Good luck, sir.
KIDS and MISS MORGAN -- Goodbye, Mr. Shermin. Hope we'll see you soon.
(Exit MR. SHERMIN.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- What a time to leave us. --Just when we need him most. -- He's deserting us, that's what.
MISS PRYSBY -- We sure will miss him.
MISS MORGAN -- Well, we can't let that stop us. Everybody, gather round the VW, and I'll tell you what we're going to do.
(All except SIR REAL and Mr. BACON gather round the VW. MISS MORGAN gets set to speak, then stops, scared; then starts again.)
MISS MORGAN -- Well, here we are -- the knights of the little green VW. And together we're supposed to change the world? We've got a stick and some sunglasses, and that's it. Mr. Bacon, could you come and help us? It seems that the Lizard of Oz is a great fire-breathing dragon, and we don't have any experience fighting firebreathing dragons.
MR. BACON -- I'm sorry, miss, sorry, but I can't leave my library. there's no telling what would happen if I were to leave. Barbarians are everywhere. They'd destroy these books,a nd the world would starve. No. I can't go with you.
MISS MORGAN -- Then, Sir Real. Please. We have to bring back fire to the world. Can you help us?
SIR REAL -- I don't think I should be going on any dangerous expeditions. You see, I don't ahve a son, and if anything should happen to me, no one would be real anymore. It's my duty to stay behind and protect myself. But maybe you can find some help along the way. After all, it's a long way to the Nile.
MISS MORGAN -- The Nile?
LINDA -- Oh, yes, that's what the witch said, remember? "Egghead south to the mouth of the Nile, and find the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth for smiles and smiles till suffertime."
MISS MORGAN -- Well, which way is the Nile?
SIR REAL -- (He points.) That way, of course.
MISS MORGAN -- Come on, everyone. Pile in the VW. We're getting no help here. We'll just have to save the world by ourselves.
(Everyone -- including NEWMAN and MISS PRYSBY, but not including SIR REAL and MR. BACON -- piles into the VW.)
MISS MORGAN -- Everybody in? I'm stepping on the gas.
(Pantomime start, and bouncing swaying movement as car moves. Curtain shuts with SIR REAL and MR. BACON behind it.)
MISS PRYSBY -- I certainly hope you know where you're going. Miss Morgan. I must admit that I'm confused.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- This certainly is an unusual field trip. -- We'd better stop to eat. -- I have to go to the bathroom. -- I'm starving. -- Me, too. -- Me, too. -- I want to go home. -- I want to eat.
(Slices of bread are thrown at the VW from off-stage.)
NEWMAN -- Man alive!
DONNY -- Gosh! It's raining bread.
MISS PRYSBY -- (She catches some of the bread.) It's like manna from heaven. Miss Morgan, stop the car!
(Everybody lurches forward.)
MISS PRYSBY -- Everybody out! Grab some bread, get back in, and I'll tell you a story about manna.
(Everybody gathers up slices of bread, climbs back into the car, and starts eating.)
MISS MORGAN -- I'm stepping on the gas.
(Pantomime car start and bouncy ride.)
KIDS -- Tell us about manna, Miss Prysby.
MISS PRYSBY -- You see, long ago there was a man name Moses, who led the children of Israel out of Egypt.
MARK -- How many kids did Israel have?
MISS PRYSBY -- Oh, many, many.
GAYNELL -- As many as our class?
MISS PRYSBY -- Oh, more, many more that that.
DONNY -- Gosh.
MISS PRYSBY -- And while they were in the wilderness, a bread-like substance they called "manna" rained on them, and that was what kept them alive through their long journey.
KEVIN -- That's a good story, Miss Prysby.
MISS PRYSBY -- I thought you'd enjoy it. History is full of good stories. We should all read the stories from history. When we get back to school...
DONNY -- (He interrupts MISS PRYSBY.) Gosh, what a big mouth!
MISS PRYSBY -- (She is shocked that DONNY would say that to her.) Donny!
(The curtain opens just far enough to show the big open mouth of a whale with one huge tooth. JOAN of NOAH's ARK is standing inside the whale's mouth. She wears medieval armor, with a shield in one hand and a huge toothbrush in the other hand. MISS PRYSBY suddenly sees the mouth.)
MISS PRYSBY -- Oh! That must be the mouth of the Nile.
DONNY -- It's a whale's mouth, and there's someone inside.
MISS PRYSBY -- Oh, that must be Jonah.
JOAN -- No, my name is Joan, and this is the Ark. Haven't you ever heard of Joan of Noah's Ark?
KATHY -- Oh, yes, that was when the big flood came and two of every kind of animal went for a boatride with Noah.
EUGENE -- And when the flood waters went down, they went ashore and started the world all over again.
JOAN -- If you'll just step aside, I'll let down the gangplank and let the gang out. It's supper time, and they're all very hungry.
(Pantomime that animals are coming out of the Ark, or children dressed as animals could come out of the Ark and pick up slices of bread.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Look at the tigers. -- The lions. -- Ewh! Snakes and creepy crawly things. -- Owls. -- What a neat pair of mice.
(Kids pretend to pet animals, coax them to come close, play with them.)
JOAN -- The whale comes here every time he and his firends get hungry. And they get hungry often, so often that some people call him the "Mouth of the Nile."
LINDA -- "Egghead south to the Mouth of the Nile, and find the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth, for smiles and smiles till suffertime."
MARK -- I bet this is the mouth the Witch was talking about.
MISS MORGAN -- Then we must be right on course.
KEVIN -- What's suffertime?
MISS PRYSBY -- I'm sure that's jsuta mistake. The witch must have meant "suppertime." And she said "tooth" when she must have meant "truth."
JOAN -- (She is brushing the whale's big tooth with her big toothbrush.) Well, supper's over. And you have to brush up on the tooth every once in a while. Otherwise, it'll decay. And there's nothing worse than having to go around with a false tooth.
MISS PRYSBY -- How did you get here?
JOAN -- Well, I meant to go to Ome, but when I stopped off here on the way, it was such a terrible shambles -- all these animals rambling about, and no one to clean up after them. And the whale's tooth hadn't been brushed since Noah left. So I decided to stay here. I know my place. There's work to be done. And if it weren't for the Captain, this wouldn't be such a bad place. But. ... Well, speak of the devil, the very devil himself -- here comes the ancient mariner, old Captian Ahab. There are those who like his talk, who think it's good for the soul. But I'm not one of those.
(Enter CAPTAIN AHAB from the whale's mouth. Exit JOAN.)
DONNY -- Gosh, he's got a false leg. Did he forget to brush it or something?
AHAB -- (He scowls as everyone stares at him.) All right, ye landlubbers. Enough of fun and games. It's suffertime.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Look, all the animals are running back into the whale's mouth. -- What's suffertime? -- I don't konw, and I don't want to find out. -- I want to go home.
MISS PRYSBY -- What's the meaning of this?
AHAB -- It means it's time to suffer, missy. All my life I was weeping and whaling and weeping and whaling. Then a voice cried out to me -- "suffer the little children," and I discovered the joys of suffering and making children suffer. It's good for the soul, I tell ye. Now, all aboard. Children first. I'm here to usher ye into the very jaws of hell. All aboard, I tell ye.
(KIDS scream and cower behind TEACHERS.)
MISS MORGAN -- I'm sorry, sir. Apparently, there's been some mistake. We're on our way to Ome. I'm afraid we'll have to miss this boatride.
AHAB -- If ye be feared of yonder whale, as well ye might, then ye should be a thousand times more feared of the fires of Ome. They'll burn your very soul.
MISS MORGAN -- Everyone in the car!
(All except CAPTAIN AHAB, clamber into the car.)
AHAB -- Run if ye like, if ye think ye can. But ye'll never escape the darkness within ye. The wise stay and pay penance.
EUGENE -- I've got a few pennies.
MISS MORGAN -- Hold on tight. I'm hitting the gas.
(Everyone lurches now one way, now the other.)
MISS PRYSBY -- What are you doing? What's the matter?
MISS MORGAN -- I don't know. I don't know what's wrong. I can't control the car. It's driving itself, and we're going right into the whale's mouth. I can't stop it!
(Lights go out. Total darkness. KIDS screams. In the dark, the curtain closes.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- This is scary, Miss Morgan. -- It's so dark in here. -- I want to go home. -- Is there a bathroom in here? I have to go to the bathroom. -- I'm scared. -- I've never been this scared before, not even in the fun house. -- The fun house? You thought that was scary? That was nothing. I saw this Dracula movie once... -- Maybe if we sing, we won't be so scared. -- Good idea.
(Everyone starts singing "The worms crawl in, the worms carwl out...")
MR. NEWMAN -- Music is mighty strong medicine.
KEVIN -- Hey, the whale's belly is moving. It's twisting and turning. Hang on, everybody. I think he's going to throw up.
MR. NEWMAN -- Man, I feel like a new man.
MISS MORGAN -- I have a feeling that we're in Ome. Put on your sunglasses, everyone. It looks like the VW is okay. We'll get the dragon's fire, and soon we'll be home again.
DONNY -- Gosh, that bush over there is on fire.
(Everybody runs over to see the bush -- tinsel dangling from the bush and shining in spotlight simulates fire.)
MISS PRYSBY -- Watch out! Don't get too close. You'll get burnt.
GAYNELL -- But it isn't burning.
MISS PRYSBY -- Of course, it's burning. Can't you see that it's on fire?
GAYNELL -- But it's not burning. It's just on fire.
MISS MORGAN -- Why, that's the fire that doesn't burn.
ASTRONAUT -- (A booming voice from behind the stage.) Beware!
MISS PRYSBY -- (She screams.) The bush is talking!
DONNY -- Gosh, no, Miss Prysby. It's that astronaut over there.
(Enter ASTRONAUT in space suit.)
ASTRONAUT -- Stand back from that bush. Return to the water. This area is contaminated. Radioactive material.
MISS MORGAN -- What's wrong? Did somebody drop a bomb or something?
ASTRONAUT -- (He is coming closer.) No, but there are strange cosmic rays here. We are studying them now.
MISS MORGAN -- Are these children in danger here? Where did all this radiation come from?
ASTRONAUT -- We really don't know. The sun is the main source of these rays, and it's quite puzzling to find such a strong source here.
MISS MORGAN -- Oh, then it's perfectly natural. Yo see, the Dragon of Ome -- sometimes called the Lizard of Oz -- swallowed the sun. It's in his belly. Have you seen the dragon?
ASTRONAUT -- Can't say that I have. But that doesn't mean he's not around. I can't see much in this outfit. But there seems to be a very strong source of that radiation up over that hill. It acts on people like a giant magnet. It pulls people toward it, and they stand glued to a single spot, mumbling "Ome" over and over again. It's very strange. I'll have to tell my partners about this dragon busienss. From what we've seen so far, I'd almost be willing to believe anything.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I've never been so high, except on Mount Parnassus. -- Everything's so green. -- The green green grass of Ome.
(Curtain opens, revealing the painted flat representing the Lizard of Oz.)
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- Look! Way over there! It's the dragon. -- The Great Dragon of Ome. -- The Lizard of Oz. -- The Leaping Lizard himself.
LINDA -- The zoo's a really nice place to see strange animals. There are bars and everything, and everything's safe.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I'm scared. -- I want to go home.
(Someone starts singing "Puff the Magic Dragon," and everybody joins in. KIDS laugh and start to play. TEACHERS watch, not knowing what to do. In the background, from on-stage they start to hear the chant "Ome, Ome, Ome..." over and over.)
MARK -- What's that noise?
MISS PRYSBY -- It must be a football game or something. They're chanting the name of the home team. But it's funny. If I shut my eyes, I could think I was in the Far East, listening to some religious chant.
MARK -- Where's the Far East? Is it in Maine somewhere?
MISS PRYSBY -- No, it's on the other side of the world.
DONNY -- Miss Prysby, come quick! There's somebody over here in chains.
CHAINED PERSON -- (Appears in the center aisle; perhaps was planted in the audience.) Don't free me. I don't trust myself. I'm drawn to it. It can't be that good. They're just trying to get me to crack up.
PRAYING PERSON -- (This one also appears in the center aisle, bowing and praying.) Oh, radiant being, light of lights, very god of very gods...
PERSON IN PAIN -- (Also appears in the center aisle.) Stop. It hurts. Please don't pull me there. Please. I don't think I can stop myself. It feels too good.
MISS MORGAN -- Everyone back to the top of the hill. We shouldn't expose the children to this. I'll run ahead and get that special fire we came for. (She holds up the stick/torch.) If I go fast, I think I'll be all right. (She starts running down the center aisle toward the stage.)
MR. NEWMAN -- Man, she can't fight that dragon all by herself.
(MR. NEWMAN follows MISS MORGAN. MISS PRYSBY holds back the children, as best she can. DONNY breaks away, then KATHY, then MARK, the MISS PRYSBY and the rest of the kids follow, running toward the stage. Those who have flowers carry them prominently. When they arrive on stage with the Lizard, there's lots of wild movement. LINDA starts singing "Joshua at the Battle of Jericho." Everyone joins in for the chorus, and dances around. As they sing the chorus for the second time, the kids who have flowers throw them at the Lizard.)
MISS MORGAN -- Hold his mouth open! ... I've got it!
(She reaches toward the Lizard's mouth and turns on the flashligh/torch. Spotlight shines on the torch-holding hand.)
MISS MORGAN -- We'll bring back fire to the world!
(Kids stand on stage cheering. Curtain closes.)
MISS MORGAN -- I'm stepping on the gas.
(Pantomime starting, then riding on bumpy road.)
MISS MORGAN -- We'll be home soon.
KIDS -- (Typical comments. Improvise. These are examples.) -- I'm starving. I hope we'll be home in time for supper. -- I've still got to go to the bathroom. -- What a great field trip. -- Can we go again next week, Miss Morgan? Can we?
MISS PRYSBY -- Look! We're back in Winthrop. Here's Washington Street and we're turning onto Shirley Street. There's Irwin, and Ocean and Cutler. We're home! There's the school!
(Everyone lurches forward as MISS MORGAN hits the brakes. Then everyone piles out. MISS MORGAN goes up the steps to the stage with the torch in hand. Sound of airplanes, then "Humdrum humbug, beating on his humdrum..." repeated monotonously. MISS MORGAN trips. The torch hits the curtain. There's a great splash of kaleidoscopic, ever-changing colored light that continues until the end of the scene.)
MR. NEWMAN -- Out of sight.
DONNY -- Gosh, everything's beautiful.
KEVIN -- Miss Morgan, why wasn't it always this way?
MR. NEWMAN -- You mean it wasn't always this way?
(The "Humdrum Humbug" recording switches to a drummer's dance beat. Enter MR. SHERMIN, running down the center aisle toward the stage. KIDS greet him.)
MR. SHERMIN -- Marvelous, simply marvelous. I never really believed it could be this way. I came rushing back thinking you'd all be depressed and run-down after going through tht whole trip with all its adventures for nothing. I hoped that what I had learned would cheer you up a bit, and maybe give you some hope. And now I'm greeted with this. It makes my head swim, like when I turned myself into a fish.
MISS PRYSBY -- What did you learn, Mr. Shermin?
MR. SHERMIN -- It suddenly struck me that this class was enchanted. Regardless of what was going on in the world around them, these children were enchanted. Enchantment is in you. It's a spark in you that glows and fades and maybe never totally goes out. I hope it never totally goes out. But it's in you. You don't have to go chasing to the ends of the earth -- it's in you. But now I see this.
(Everyone stares at the colored lights playing on the curtain. Then they start to cheer and dance to the wild drum music. The curtain opens about three feet. They all dance through. Then the curtain closes.)