Although we use the names Adam, Reed, and Austin within the script, each cast member should use his own real name when performing the show.
There are a number of topical references in the script. The humor and relevance of these will fade over time, so we encourage each production to change these references to keep them as up to date as possible.
The production elements described in the script are from the original production by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Consequently, the scenery, props, and costumes were all "reduced" in both quality and number. You will not be so encumbered, and may be tempted to use real explosions, live animals, and leggy showgirls. This sounds like fun, but may falsely raise audience expectations.
It has been our experience that the script works best when performed seriously. That is to say, if the script is funny, play it straight. But, most of all, have fun and perform the show with energy and pace. To give you a general idea of the pace: when we perform the show the first act runs about fifty minutes and the second act runs about forty five minutes. Sometimes, if the audience actually laughs, the show has been known to run an extra seventeen seconds.
(The set consists of two elements. Against the black upstage drop there is a long illustrated timeline depicting people and events from 1492 2000. It is broken up in the middle by a large American flag, which hangs vertically UC. It is not the American flag with fiftystars currently in use, but the orginal flag with thirteen stars in a circle.)
(The audience hears the following recorded announcement.) AUSTIN: (On tape) Ladies and gentlemen, The Complete History of America (abridged) will begin shortly. The animals used in tonight's performance were tortured under the strict supervision of the American Humane Association. The actors in tonight's performance are proud to wear Nike®, the Official Footwear of The Complete History of America. Nike®. Just do it. And management wishes to remind you that this theater is equipped to provide assistance to the hearing impaired. If you or a member of your party is hearing ...paired... eeze...tact ...nush...for more ...nkyou. And now, for your edification and entertainment, The Complete History of America (abridged).
(The boys enter from the back of the auditorium, singing. They are dressed smartly in slacks and dress shirts and, perhaps, coats and ties. ADAM beats on a toy drum, REED crashes cymbals. They march to the stage, singing in harmony but two counts offthe beat.) ALL: Oh say can you see by
The dawn's early light what
So proudly we hailed at
The twilight's last gleaming whose
Broad stripes and bright stars through
The perilous fight o'er
The ramparts we watched were
So gallantly streaming and
The rockets' red glare the
Bombs bursting in air gave
Proof through the night that
Our flag was still there, oh
Say does that star spangled banner
Yet wave o'er the
Land of the free and the home
Of the brave.
REED: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Reed Martin.
AUSTIN: I'm Austin Tichenor.
ADAM: I'm Adam Long, and welcome to tonight's performance of ....
ALL: ...The Complete History of America (abridged).
REED: Tonight we explore the history of a great nation. But before we do, I'm sure many of you are wondering, "Why? Why the complete history of America?" Well, I'm sure there are as many answers to that question as there are members of tonight's cast. Austin, why don't you start?
AUSTIN: Thank you, Reed, and in the tradition of my white Anglo Saxon Puritan imperialist westwardexpansionist capitalist intellectual forebears I will be brief. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "History is written by the winners." Well, tonight it's our turn. Reed?
REED: Thank you, Austin. Adam?
REED: Well, would you like to explain why we're doing this show?
ADAM: Oh...well, all right. Before we started doing this show I didn't know too much about American history, so I started to read up on it you know, like in books 'n stuff? And I took a ton of notes. I must have written like three pages of notes, front and back. And I found a quote about what history is that I thought was totally cool. It said, "History is the deconstruction of necessary
illusions and the study of emotionally potent oversimplifications." And that still holds true today, because I see this show as about remembering. Remembering the past. Because it's like that old
saying: "Those of us who forget the past are doomed to, you know, forget like other things, like your car keys, or even your own phone number." So I see this show as like a Post It note on the refrigerator of America. A Post It note that says, "Hey, America! Don't forget to rewind your Blockbuster tapes!" 'Cause it's only through remembering our past that we can learn from our mistakes, or at least blame them on somebody else, and then move on, into a better future. An enlightened capitalism, perhaps. Free of all forms of racism, sexism, ageism, weightism, hair colorism, making f unism, and Godism. And you may say thatl'm a moron, and I say to you, yes. But I'm a moron with a dream, and that, my friends, is the most dangerous kind of moron.
REED: Thank you, Adam. That was powerful. Let me see if I can crystallize for you why exactly it is we're doing the Complete History of America. In fact, I think it's very simple. Some time ago we received a letter from a ten year old girl named Amy who lives in Warwickshire, England. Amy writes (He takes out the letter and reads.) "Dear guys, I think it would be fun for you three Americans to condense all of English history because you three are so hysterical and handsome and intelligent and wise. Love and kisses, your fan forever, Amy." Well, Amy, this is the kind of letter that pisses us off! Did it occur to you that maybe we have no interest whatsoever in English history? Why can't Americans do American history? Where do all you English get off with this cultural superiority complex?
ADAM: We've got a culture, too, y'know, and a history.
REED: Yeah, and it may not be as long as yours but it's like my mother always said, "It's not the length of your history, it's what you've done with it."
AUSTIN: And when we looked into it, we realized that many Americans are at best uninformed or at worst embarrassed about our own history.
REED: Well, damn it, we've got nothing to be embarrassed about! We brought the world its first democracy and man on the moon and Mark Twain and...
AUSTIN: And American Gladiators.
REED: Yeah! And American Gladiators! And McDonald's and Coca Cola and Big Bird and Bart Simpson, so don't go telling us we don't have a culture and a history, little smarty pants Amy!
AUSTIN: So hang on, Amy, we got a lot to accomplish in the next ninety minutes.
ADAM: Let's do it!
(They come together for a high five.) ALL: Go ...US!
(Blackout. Lights up on REED.)
REED: We begin at the beginning: 1492 Spain! The first chapter of the history of America is about to be written by that legendary Italian explorer…
(ADAM enters and blows a toy horn fanfare.) REED & ADAM: ...Amerigo Vespucci!
(ADAM exits) REED: We join him now in his humble map shop on the Spanish dockyards.
(REED exits as AUSTIN enters, in the garb of a 15th century Italian, carrying a Chianti bottle and a map. Remember what we said about playing it straight? In this scene we used bad Italian accents and flamboyant stereotypical hand gestures ...but we did it very seriously.) AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: Ring a! Ring a! (Answering his hand) Hello, Maps R Us, Amerigo Vespucci here ... Mat? Have we got maps?! We're the map mavens! What are you looking for? ...A sea route to India? What are you, nuts? I got your sea route to India right here, buddy...
(He takes a swig from the Chianti bottle.) ADAM/SOPHIA: (Offstage) Amerigo!
(AUSTIN spits his wine [actually water] out onto the audience. ADAM bursts into the room dressed as SOPHIA VESPUCCL)
(If your theater is situated so that you can see the audience clearly from the stage, and if latecomers can be seen entering by a majority of the crowd, then now's the time to break through the fourth wall. Arrange it so latecomers aren't seated until after AUSTIN spits on the audience. ADAM and AUSTIN carry on as best you can with the scene until the inevitable distraction in the audience become too much. Then AUSTIN can yell, "Sophia, who are these people you're bringing into my living room?". ADAM can then respond: "That's another thing, Amerigo every time we get into an argument, you have friends over!" AUSTIN: "Oh, no, these are not my friends! My friends would have been on time!" If all goes well, you should get thunderous applause. Then you can ask them where they were land really get an answer it'll pay off later]. You should introduce yourselves, which can bring REED on, angrily demanding, "Where are they?" The bit can end quite nicely by telling them what they missed. ADAM says, "Well, you missed it when I said 'You may say that I'm a moron'. That was pretty funny." REED then says, "And I said, 'It's not the length of your history, it's what you've done with it." Finally, AUSTIN should march right up to the latecomers with his bottle of Chianti, say, "Well, the only thing I did was " and spit spray afine mist of water all over them. [Spit in the air so it cascades gently down, not right at them like some diseased llama.] Then get back onstage, say "Where the hell were we?" and resume the scene. Sure, the people you're picking on won't like it, but the rest of the audience will love it.) ADAM/SOPHIA: Amerigo Vespucci!
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: Shaddup, woman! I'm on the telephone! (Into phone) Look, buddy, I... (He hangs up.) Great! You just lost me a customer. I hope you're happy, Sophia!
ADAM/SOPHIA: You know what would make me happy? If just once when I sent you out for food you didn't come back with fish! (She slaps him with a large stuffed fish.) AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: But Sophia, this is God's food!
ADAM/SOPHIA: Don't give me that line about holy mackerel. I'm sick of it.
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: But I get a good deal on mackerel.
ADAM/SOPHIA: We wouldn't need a good deal on mackerel if you sold a few more maps!
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: Pasta fazule spaghetti bolognese! Are you saying I'm a failure as a map maker?
ADAM/SOPHIA: My parents told me not to marry you. They said, "Marry a nice boy, like that Christopher Columbus. He's going places!"
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: Well, maybe if I had a wife who gave me a little support every now and then.
ADAM/SOPHIA: Oh, no! It's not my fault. Let's face it, Amerigo, nobody buys your maps because they're crap!
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: What do you mean, crap?
ADAM/ SOPHIA: What part of crap don't you understand?
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: I knew you'd say something like that. Here take a look at this.
(AUSTIN claps his hands. REED tosses an inflatable globe from the wings, which AUSTIN catches.) AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: How do you like that, huh? I made it myself.
ADAM/SOPHIA: Well, it might be fun in pools, but you don't know what you're doing. Every time you see a land mass, you name it the same thing.
ADAM/SOPHIA: No?! Alright, let's take a look. (He refers to the inflatable globe.) Now, what's this? North America? Down here you've got South Amerigo? But what about this ...Union of Soviet Socialist Vespucci? No, no, no. Besides, Amerigo, everybody knows that the world is flat.
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: Ha! I'm way ahead of you. Take a look at this.
(REED tosses out aflat globe like a frisbee.) AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: See? I made it shaped like a pizza pie!
ADAM/SOPHIA: Sacro bambino!! You are worthless, Amerigo! Worthless!!
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: I am not worthless! I am trying to make a name for myself, that's all. I have a dream, which is something you will never understand. I'm sorry, Sophia, but I have to go.
(REED enters, wearing his accordion. He hands AUSTIN a ship's wheelfor steering and places a conquistador helmet on AUSTIN's head) AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: I can't stay here any longer. I have to be something! All that I can be!! Harry Verducci, mi amore! I'm off to discover a larger world. You will never see me again. (Handing her the Chianti bottle) When you drink that wine and eat this fish, remember me. ADAM/SOPHIA: (Wailing) Amerigo!!!
(REED vamps on a minor chord as the lights blackout. A spotlight comes up on each of the boys as he begins to sing.) REED: Amerigo!!
REED: Amerigo Vespucci was his name
REED: Charting land masses was his game
ADAM: Poochy woochy!
AUSTIN: Not Scrabble or Parcheesi
ALL: No! Charting land masses was his game!
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: I set sail to chart the seas in 1499
ALL: In a vessel full of dreams Pastrami and cheap wine
REED: The mate was a mighty sailor man
AUSTIN: The skipper brave and sure
ADAM: Amerigo set sail that day For more than a three hour tour
ALL: Much more than a three hour tour
(REED hits three sustained chords while AUSTIN and ADAM hum underneath his following speech.) REED: In 1502, after two long, treacherous voyages, Amerigo concluded that what everyone had thought was India was actually a new world. He named it Mundus Novus--Latin for Giant Nose. Eventually it bore his name: AMERICA. History was made.
(The tune changes to "America the Beautiful.") ALL: Amerigo! Amerigo!
AUSTIN/VESPUCCI: God shed his grace on me!
ADAM & REED: Your name will live forever now
ALL: From sea to shining sea! Amerigo...Amerigo...a hah!
(Blackout. AUSTIN reenters while ADAM rolls out a large flip chart. The top page,facing the audience, says: "AMERICAN.") AUSTIN: And so, the new world was called "America." And we, the people of that land, were called "Americans." But what does it mean to be an American? Reed?
(ADAM and AUSTIN find seats in the audience.) REED: Thank you, Austin. And thank you, Adam. Let's take a moment to look at this word, "American," shall we? It's just eight simple letters. But over the years this word has come to stand for Liberty, Equality, Prosperity, and the sort of gosh darned persnicketiness that has made the U S what it is today. Let's take a closer look, shall we? The first letter couldn't be simpler: just little ol' "A." But "A" is the first letter of the alphabet, isn't it? The first, the beginning, the progenitor of democracy, perhaps? "A" also means one, implying oneness, or unity, so you've got to admit, that "A" is one loaded little letter. Now the second three letters spell out "MER," which is the French word for...anyone?
(Someone in the audience yells, "The sea!" Sometimes ADAM or AUSTIN will yell out "The sea!" if the audience won't.) REED: That's right: the sea. In this case, obviously referring to the sea of humanity to which America brings Unity. And don't forget that it was across the sea that the French sent us the Statue of Liberty, the symbol of freedom in the midst of a SEA of oppression. In gratitude, we later sent them Jerry Lewis. Now the last four letters speak for themselves, don't they? They spell out very plainly say it with me now: "I CAN!" Now you've got to admit, that's one plucky word! Not many people know this, but if you rearrange these eight letters just a little bit, they spell out:...
(REED reveals a new sign saying "I CAN REAM," and signs are revealed for each of the following phrases and anagrams.) REED:... "I CAN REAM." Now, if you rearrange the letters in the name of our very first president, (Reveals sign) GEORGE WASHINGTON, you get (Reveals sign) GAGGIN' ON WET HORSE, which was actually the title of a popular song at the time of the Revolution. And, if you rearrange the letters in the name (Reveals sign) SPIRO AGNEW, you get (Reveals sign) say it with me now GROW A PENIS. Ladies and gentlemen, that's what it means to be an "American." I thank you
(During the applause AUSTIN and ADAM come back onstage.) ADAM: Now we know what little Amy is thinking at this point. She's thinking, "Hey, they skipped Christopher Columbus! That's not fair! He discovered the New World and they hardly mentioned him!" Nyah nyah nyah, nenenenene!
REED: Well, his name really wasn't Christopher Columbus, it was Christobal Colon. And he bumped into the New World by mistake. And he wasn't even the first one here because the Vikings, the Japanese, and the Irish were probably here before him, and there was a native population of over ninety million people here before he arrived.
AUSTIN: Yeah, but in fairness to Columbus, though, he was the first man to slaughter and enslave the native population in the name of Christianity, and he became very wealthy in the process. So in that sense, he was the first true American.
(If someone applauds this sentiment, AUSTIN can misinterpret the reaction and say, "Hey, some genocide fans here tonight!")
ADAM: Austin, I'm sorry, but that is so Eurocentric.
AUSTIN: What do you mean?
ADAM: The story of the First People begins long before the European invasion of the native settlements in North America.
AUSTIN: That's true, but it doesn't fit on our timeline.
(REED gets an idea and dashes into the wings.) ADAM: Well, then, the timeline is bogus.
AUSTIN: It's not bogus, it's just incomplete...
(REED reenters, holding a rolled up timeline extension. It depicts world events, real and fictional, between 10,000 B C and 1492.) REED: Hey, guys! Take a look at this.
AUSTIN: What's that?
REED: It's a supplementary timeline which I prepared earlier. (ADAM shakes his head in disgust and exits.) AUSTIN: Good thinking.
REED: It covers all historic events prior to 1492.
AUSTIN: Okay, I'll buy that. Create more of a "Big Picture" sorta thing. (REED starts unflirling the timeline and heads into the audience f he can.) AUSTIN: All right, we're going back in time, ladies and gentlemen. Back to when the first people came to North America. Where are you now, Reed?
REED: Austin, I'm at the Crucifixion of Christ, and I can tell you it's not a pretty sight.
AUSTIN: Well, don't stop there. Keep going. (REED is by now unfurling the timeline up the aisle.) REED: Okay, Ancient Romans, Ancient Greeks
AUSTIN: Toga, toga
REED: Yeah, we're having an ancient kegger. Ancient Egyptians, invention of the written word, birth of Bob Dole ...Austin, it's getting kinda cold back here.
AUSTIN: That's 'cause you're near the Ice Age, man. You better get back up here, you're not really dressed for it. That's far enough anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, we're about twelve thousand years back now, and scientists speculate that the first people came to North America across the Bering Straits between twelve and fifty thousand years ago.
(ADAM reenters with afeat her in his hair and sets a bowl of water, a maraca, and a tom tom on the stage. Then he sits on the stage DC and stares straight at the audience.) ADAM: My people are not so interested in what scientists have to say. We have our own stories of how the world began.
AUSTIN: Ladies and gentlemen, we are indeed fortunate, because Adam is part Crow-Indian. His great grandmother was a full blooded Crow...
REED: ...and had a wing span of eight feet.
ADAM: That is so typical of the white man.
AUSTIN: She was a full blooded Crow Indian, and lived in the Pueblo Indian village of San Juan in the Rio Grande Valley. As his great grandmother told him, Adam will now tell us the story of the First People.
(AUSTIN and REED sit on the stage, on either side of ADAM, REED with the tom tom, AUSTIN with the bowl of water. ADAM attempts to begin his speech three times, but each time he is inadvertently interrupted by REED, who is focused on pounding the tom tom.) ADAM: Cut it out!
(REED now taps lightly on the tom tom.) ADAM: Yonder in the north there is singing on the lake. Cloud maidens dance on the shore. There we take our being. At the beginning of all beginnings all was water. To the North... was water.
(In turn, AUSTIN dips his hand into the bowl of water andflicks it to the four points of the compass, with the last flick directed at the audience.) ADAM: To the South ...was water. To the East ...was water. And to the west ...you guessed it...more water. And so, the water was everywhere, and everything was totally wet.
(AUSTIN tosses the rest of the water out of the bowl and onto the audience. He then sits down and begins to shake the maraca in rhythm.) ADAM: How the water came to be, nobody knows...
(REED and AUSTIN stop playing.) REED: Okay, Adam, we get the water. Just get on with it!
ADAM: Hey, the water's important. It's archetypal. So back off. Okay. (Trying to remember his place in the story) Okay ...okay ...water north, water south, everything wet. Okay, okay, okay! Now, living above the water there was a coyote, a duck, and...umm...another duck, and they walk into a bar!
(REED does a rim shot on his drum. REED and AUSTIN mutter disgustedly at the bad joke.) ADAM: No, I'm just kidding. Anyway, the coyote says to the ducks, "Dive down under the water and see what you can find." So the ducks dive down and come up with mud and roots. And the coyote spread the mud all around. He made the hills, mountains, valleys, hollows. And he planted the roots and up grew grasses, plants, trees. Then Coyote took a handful of mud and blew into it and made male animals and female animals. He made female ducks, which made the two ducks happy, I can tell you. And there was a great quacking and gnashing of feathers. And finally, Coyote made the first man and the first woman out of mud. And there was a great copulation ...and it was good.
(REED and AUSTIN stop playing AUSTIN: Now at this point, doesn't the tribal elder usually perform a dance, Throwing Bull?
ADAM: Right you are, Wears Glasses To Look Smarter. At this point, the tribal elder performs the dance of Hiul Hiu! He! He! He! I!
AUSTIN: What's that?
ADAM: That's a very holy dance. It's the dance of the Antelope's Intestine. As the Elder of this group would you do the honors, Sits Down To Pee?
REED: I'd be delighted.
(You may have actors who, unlike AUSTIN, are not optically challenged. In London, they used the following: AUSTIN: [Who's been drumming a dog/tom tomi ...doesn't the tribal elder perform a ritual dance? ADAM: Right you are, Pounds on Dog... [To REED] ...so, if you'd do the honors, Head Reflects Sunlight? REED: I'd be delighted, Has Strong Right Arm. So, go ahead mix 'em up, or make up your own!)
(REED pulls a long, uninflated balloon out of his pocket. ADAM takes his place at the tom toms. REED performs some sacred gestures with the balloon.) ADAM: Okay, the Elder has his Intestine in hand and the dance is ready to begin. First, the Elder performs a dance of blessing. He asks blessing on the corn, that it might be bountiful. He asks blessing on the rain, that it will be plentiful. He asks blessing on the hunters, that they may be brave and virile...
(REED inflates the balloon. It's upright and phallic.)
REED: (To audience) Eat your heart out
ADAM: Now the Elder performs the Nine Ceremonial Twists of the Antelope's Intestine. The first three twists represent the stars, moon, and sky the constant companions of the antelope; the second three twists represent the father, mother, and child the family of the antelope; and the final three twists represent earth, wind, and fire the favorite band of the antelope. And finally the Elder brings forth the image of the antelope!
REED: (Holding up a balloon dog) Arf! Arf!
ADAM: Give it up for the tribal elder!
(REED presents the balloon animal to a person in the front row. REED and ADAM exit.) AUSTIN: Of course, after 1492 everything changed. In fact, in our research we discovered that the sixteenth century lasted a hundred years. And in that hundred years, America was crawling with famous explorers, mostly Spanish, whose ships could be recognized by the large fuzzy dice hanging from their masts.
(REED reenters.) REED: That's right, Austin. But did you know that it was actually an Englishman, Sebastian Cabot, who first set foot on the continent of North America? He later became very famous as Mr French on T V's Family Affair with Brian Keith. AUSTIN: And although it was the Portuguese Magellan who first circumnavigated the globe, Englishman Sir Francis Drake was the second man to do it when he discovered what is now San Francisco in his ship "The Golden Hind."
BOTH: Coincidence? You decide!
(ADAM enters.) ADAM: Hey, Austin, can I do that poem I wrote?
AUSTIN: Is it the one about Nantucket?
ADAM: No, I'm still working on that.
AUSTIN: Yeah, sure.
(AUSTIN and REED shrug and exit.) ADAM: I wrote a poem about the first English settlement in North America. This is my poem.
'Twas 1607, in the fine month of May,
That three proud ships landed at Chesapeake Bay
And a new life began for God's people that day.
For Jamestown was born, so the story was told,
To spread our Lord's word and for mining of gold.
The livin' was harsh for those brave men and women.
They toiled and they sweated and rarely went swimmin'.
They wheezed and they grunted and soiled their linen.
Their cupboards were bare, but their cesspools were brimmin' with cess.
The new world was tamed by men who were brave
And men who were strong and six million slaves
And indentured servants and the Iroquois nation
Who gave up their land without compensation
'Cause the Indians landed underneath Plymouth rock
John Smith was a rapist, Pocahontas died of smallpox
And that's a fact, Jack! Hunh!
Give it away, give it away, give it away, now!
Give it away, give it away, give it away, now!
So the Pilgrims perfected the art of good livin',
They carved up the land and invented Thanksgivin'
And lickety split, just as quick as you please,
Wham barn ma'am there were thirteen colonies
There was Georgia and Maryland and shut my mouth
Two kinds of Carolina, both North and South.
There was a bunch of colonies that called themselves
So back off buddy 'cause those Quakers were great.
They thought that killing was wrong and intolerance rude,
But try telling that to the Puritans, dude.
(ADAM exits. Lights up on REED/PASTOR)
REED: Hello, and welcome to our dual weekly meetings of Salem's First Church of Tolerance and National Witchhunter's Association. I'm your pastor, the Reverend Feral Orwell. A couple of quick announcements before we get going here. Tuesday is arts and crafts night here at the church. We'll be making nooses and thumb screws. And Thursday is youth night. We'll play "Hangman" and "Pin the Blame on the Warlock," so bring your little demons along and we'll scare the hell out of them. You know, last night the Lord came to me in a vision and He said, "Reverend Feral Orwell, you and your followers need to kill one hundred witches this week or I'm going to call you home." Well, I don't want to go home you know what my wife is like so I urge you to hunt the good hunt. And don't forget that this witch hunt will begin an American tradition that will carry on well into the twentieth century. Now, to avoid tragic cases of mistaken identity like we had last Halloween, here's how you spot a real witch. They melt when you throw water on them, they're surrounded by flying monkeys, and they're the senior Senator from the state of North Carolina.
(REED exits as AUSTIN bursts in with scroll. He is a town crier.) AUSTIN: (Reading the scroll) Hear ye, hear ye! This just in! We interrupt this witch hunt to bring you the French and Indian War! French and British at war again, this time in North America! In sports, the Patriots trounce the Redskins.
(AUSTIN runs off, handing the scroll to ADAM, who has run on.) ADAM: (Reading the scroll) Oh, yea! Oh, yea! British and colonists defeat French and Indians. King George celebrates victory by imposing taxes on tea, stamps, sugar, and anything else he can think of! Colonists are up in arms!
(ADAM runs off. AUSTIN and REED run on.) AUSTIN: Hey, didja hear that?
AUSTIN: King George has raised taxes, and the people are up in arms.
REED: Really! (AUSTIN exits. To ADAM, who has run on) REED: Did you hear?
REED: King George has raised taxes, and the people are arming themselves!
ADAM: No way!
REED: Way! (Exits) ADAM: Wow! (To AUSTIN, who has run on ADAM: Hey! The King has doubled our taxes, and we're putting together a people's army to fight him right now. We're off to throw tea in the harbor!
AUSTIN: Uh, oh! Trouble's brewing!
(AUSTIN and ADAM run off, while REED bursts in reading the scroll.) REED: (Reading the scroll) Oh, yea! Oh, yea! Big tea party in Boston! Dump tea in the harbor to protest taxes! Alice in Wonderland and Mad Hatter slated to attend! (AUSTIN and ADAM run on. All three speak together.) AUSTIN. Peas and carrots, peas and carrots...
ADAM: Harumph, harumph, harumph...
REED: Rutabaga, rutabaga, rutabaga... (ADAM and REED exit.) AUSTIN: (Reading the scroll) Hear ye! Hear ye! British soldier kills Crispus Attucks an African Americanin the Boston Massacre. Four others dead. The colonists are in revolt. (AUSTIN exits as ADAM and REED enter.) REED: Hey! Did you hear?
REED: The colonists are revolting.
ADAM: I know. Did you ever eat with one of 'em?
REED: Doh! (ADAM and REED. exit. AUSTIN runs on, reading the scroll.) AUSTIN: Oh, yea! Oh, yea! British attack at Lexington and Concord. Revolution underway. Paul Revere and the Raiders number one on the charts with "The British Are Coming." (AUSTIN exits. ADAM gallops on, riding an invisible horse.) ADAM: Listen, my children, and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere He said with a grin While wiping his chin If my ear was a(AUSTIN and REED dash on in time to say:) ALL: BANG!
AUSTIN: I hear a shot!
ADAM: (In a French accent) I hear a shot, monsieur!
REED: (In a Mexican accent) I hear a shot, señor!
ADAM: (In a Chinese accent) I hear a shot, grasshopper!
AUSTIN: (In a Russian accent) I hear a shot, comrade!
REED: I ear hay an ot shay, orky Pay!
ALL It Was the Shot Heard 'Round The World.
REED: But the shot that started the American Revolution remains shrouded in mystery to this day. Nobody knows who pulled the trigger or why, but at the end of the day seventy three people lay dead. Let's recreate for you now what happened on that fateful day at Lexington and Concord. Adam?
(ADAM moves the flip chart and reveals a large diagram, complete with buildings, arrows, and marching soldiers.) ADAM: Thanks, Reed. Now, according to the Official Benedict Arnold Committee Report, a single bullet was fired from the Fourth Floor window of the Lexington and Concord Scroll Depository.
(ADAM pulls an oversized bullet out of his coat pocket and moves it across the diagram in the way he describes.) ADAM: We have a mock up of the bullet here. The bullet followed this trajectory, killing seventeen soldiers who were marching in formation, then it pulled a U turn, then turned right up Main Street. Austin?
(ADAM hands the bullet to AUSTIN.)
AUSTIN: Thanks, Adam. Now, at this point the bullet, which we have marked with an 'X', (He turns the bullet to reveal that it is marked on one side with a red 'X'.) killed four colonists before stopping here at the Tar and Feathers Tavern for lunch, where it killed an additional six people, smashed through a table, knocking it back and to the left back and to the left and took off in a white Ford Bronco without tipping the waitress. The bullet has never been recovered.
ALL: Coincidence? You decide!
(ADAM and REED exit.)
AUSTIN: And a full fledged revolution was under way. The colonists wanted to stop the British government from imposing unfair and exorbitant taxes so that the American government could impose unfair and exorbitant taxes. The commander in chief of the colonial army was George Washington, who commanded a tiny contingent of fighters known as the Minute Men: volunteer soldiers ready to do battle with a minute's notice. The Minute Men: brave patriots fighting for American liberty. The Minute Men: better lovers than you might think. It was the whole British Empire versus George Washington and his small army.
(Lights up on ADAM and REED kneeling as two Minute Men. They wear trench coats, which conceal the fact that they are each holding two sticks with shoes at the ends. They appear to be four feet tall.) REED & ADAM: (Singing)
We represent the Lexington League
The Lexington League
The Lexington League
And in the name of the Lexington League...
We wish to welcome you to Valley Forge!
(They curtsy. AUSTIN enters in powdered wig, aviator glasses, and corncob pipe, becoming George Washington but also looking a bit like General Douglas MacArthur.) AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Gentlemen, gentlemen! I want to thank you for volunteering your services to this great cause, but I'm afraid I have some bad news. The road ahead is fraught with hardship, and you are simply not what I had in mind.
REED/MINUTE MAN #2: Look, I hate to burst your bubble, mahogany mouth, but we're exactly what you asked for.
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Are not.
ADAM & REED: Are too.
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Are not.
ADAM & REED: Are too.
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Stop it!
ADAM & REED: Stop it!
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: And that's an order.
ADAM & REED: And that's an order.
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: I'm a stupid little soldier, and I'm acting like a child.
(REED and ADAM smile at each other.) ADAM & REED: (Gleefully) We know you are, but what are we?!
ADAM/MINUTE MAN #1: Low five.
(ADAM and REED slap hands.) ADAM/MINUTE MAN #1: Look, Cherry tree Choppers, let's cut to the chase here. Do you recognize this piece of paper?
(ADAM hands AUSTIN a piece of parchment, which he has pulled out of the inside of his tricorn hat.) AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Uh huh.
ADAM/MINUTE MAN #1: Is that your signature?
ADAM/MINUTE MAN #1: Would you mind reading it to the audience?
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: All right. (Reading) "Uncle Sam needs you. Wanted: Mine yoot Men to form colonial " (Beat) I could've sworn I said "minute men."
ADAM/MINUTE MAN #1: (To the audience) Even in its early days, America had a problem with literacy.
REED/MINUTE MAN #2: (Grabbing the paper and reading) "Expel the Evil Empire from North America and meet chicks. High frostbite tolerance a plus. No tea drinkers, please. Be all that you can be. Apply in person Valley Forge."
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Well, I'll be damned.
ADAM/MINUTE MAN #1: This is a clear case of Vertical Discrimination.
ADAM & REED: (Various) We'll sue! We'll sue! You can talk to my attorney. I'll see you in court!
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Oh, all right, all right, you have the job
REED & ADAM: Yay! (In unison, they wave their right fists in a circle five times) Whoop, whooop, whoop, whoop, whoop!
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Now, gentlemen, here's the situation:
(REED and ADAM lean in to listen, each lifting one stick leg off the ground.) AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Thousands of well trained British soldiers using the most advanced weapons versus a ragtag band of undertrained colonists.
(REED and ADAM lean back to upright.) ADAM/MINUTE MAN #1: Are we that ragtag band?
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Uh huh.
ADAM/ MINUTE MAN #1: That don't sound so good.
REED/MINUTE MAN #2: Why. don't w e just surrender now and save time and energy?
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Look, I'm tired... (AUSTIN stomps his foot for emphasis. The two MINUTE-MEN lift their false fret briefly off the floor as if they are bounced into the air. AUSTIN doesn't pause, though; he goes right on.) AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: ...of all this sniping and insinuendo that our war effort is anything less than positively...
(AUSTIN stomps again. MINUTE MEN bounce again.) AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: ...impacting on the British defensive entrenchment situation. It is very difficult .... (AUSTIN lifts his foot off the ground as f to stomp, but instead stands on one foot. As AUSTIN lifts his one foot, the MINUTE MEN both lift both of their feet off the ground and hold them there.) AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: ...to enumerate quantitatively at thisjunctive in time just how offensive our capabilities are. But I'll tell you one thing:
(AUSTIN sets his foot down. The MINUTE MEN set their feet down.) AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: ...contraceptive to your popular belief, we're taking precautions at every penetration and by the grace of God, our upcoming thrust will break through the last membrane of British defense and into Virginia!
REED/MINUTE MAN #2: Will this make you the father of our country?
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Well, I have cut through some cherry trees in my time, to be sure. (If the audience groans or boos at this, he should stare them down and say "I can not tell a lie!") Now gentlemen, all we need now is a flag to rally 'round. Any ideas?
REED: Well, not many people know this, but when we aren't Mine yoot men we enjoy working with fabric, colors, and design...
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: What the hell?!
(During the previous two lines, REED and ADAM have stepped up and out of their midget attire, revealing fancy dresses or aprons underneath.) REED/BETSY: Hi, I'm Betsy Ross, and this here's my brother Marion.
ADAM/MARION: We'd like to share with you our designs for the new American flag.
AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Carry on.
REED/BETSY: (Putting a bonnet on his head. He indicates the American flag that is part of the set.) Now, I'm sure all of you know that this is the flag we finally settled on. But along the way, a number of flags were rejected for various reasons, and we'd like to share some of those with you.
(ADAM/MARION reveals the flags one by one on the flip chart. The first is the British Union Jack.) REED/BETSY: Rejected for obvious reasons. I'm sure many of you are also familiar with the "Don't Tread On Me."
(ADAM reveals "Don't Tread On Me.")
REED/BETSY: The first design I came up with I really liked, but it turned out to be a little ahead of its time.
(Something vaguely patriotic, but abstract and Picassoesque) REED/BETSY: Then I struck upon an idea which I loved, that captured the heart, the very essence of what America is all about, but the founding fathers rejected it as too commercial. Here it is.
(This one reads "I $. ") AUSTIN/WASHINGTON: Enough shilly shally, ladies! Let's get out there and kick some British butt!
(The boys march in rhythm.) ADAM: Left! Left!
(All three hop on their left leg three times as they say:) ALL: Left left left!
ADAM: So the rebel troops brought the Brits to their knees By hiding themselves behind rocks, behind trees In formation the British lined up to attack They marched neatly in rows and got shot in the back And finally in Yorktown in Fall, '81 The British surrendered the Yankees had won!
ALL: Gimme an M! Gimme an E! Gimme an R! I! C! Gimme an A! Gimme an N! Watzzat spell? 'MURRICAN! !!!
(REED exits. AUSTIN and ADAM take pipes out of their pockets.) AUSTIN/JEFFERSON: Madison! Madison!
ADAM/MADISON: Jefferson! Jefferson!
AUSTIN/JEFFERSON: Madison, how about this as the beginning of our new Bill of Rights? "Got a problem? Throw money at it."
ADAM/MADISON: No, no, too liberal. How about this? "Screw the poor. Let's party!"
AUSTIN/JEFFERSON: No, too conservative, I think. Here's what it should be: "Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother, you're staying alive, staying alive."
ADAM/MADISON: No, that's too seventies.
AUSTIN/JEFFERSON: I suppose you're right...
(REED/FRANKLIN enters wearing bald cap with long hair at the edges and glasses.) REED/FRANKLIN: No, no, gentlemen, focus, please. (If the audience laughs at his absurd wig, he can say, "Yeah, I know. I look like Bozo.") How about this: "All men are created equal."
(Beat. Then they laugh themselves silly and take a large toke off their pipes.) ADAM/MADISON: This is great tobacco, Jefferson. Grow this yourself?
AUSTIN/JEFFERSON: (High pitched voice) YesssMonticello Gold. Do you suppose Dolley Madison has any more of those cakes?
ADAM/MADISON: I can't believe the Bill of Rights is due tomorrow.
REED/FRANKLIN: Now, as the world's first democracy, I think we should guarantee Freedom of Religion, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Speech.
ADAM/MADISON: If you guarantee all those rights, people are going to be saying all kinds of crazy stuff and pissing each other off.
REED/FRANKLIN: Well, then, let's give everyone the right to carry a gun to shoot each other, and the right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury of their peers after they do. Are we in agreement?
REED/FRANKLIN: Cool. Now, I would also propose that we draw up a Bill of Wrongs as a companion piece to the Bill of Rights. As I see it, Article One could forbid leaving toilet seats up. Article Two could forbid plumbers from wearing their trousers in such a manner that their crack shows. Article Three could forbid flatulence in elevators, once they're invented, and so on. Are we in agreement?
ADAM: Now, before we go on, I want to say something about the Bill of Rights.
REED/FRANKLIN: What's that, Madison?
ADAM: No, not as Madison, as me, Adam. I've been doing some thinking about this Bill of Rights thing and I find it problematic.
AUSTIN: What do you mean?
ADAM: I mean, they say we have free speech in this country, right?
ADAM: So can I say anything I want?
ADAM: No! Did you know the Supreme Court says I can't say ANYTHING I want?
AUSTIN: Like what?
ADAM: Classic example: You can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, right?
ADAM: Well, what if there is a fire in a crowded theater?
AUSTIN: Adam, that's not the point.
ADAM: What is the point?
AUSTIN: The point is that the First Amendment guarantees all Americans the full freedom of expression.
ADAM: Freedom of expression?! What is that, a joke?
AUSTIN: No... (ADAM works himself into a frenzy.) ADAM: Could I go on television and advocate the overthrow of the government?! No! In an R rated movie, could I show a pair of lips kissing a nipple? No! You can show that same nipple being lopped off with a chainsaw, but you can't kiss it!
AUSTIN: That's gross!
ADAM: It's not gross! It's what I'm talking about! Oh! Okay, perfect what'd you say, freedom of expression? (Indicating the American flag upstage) Suppose I wanted to light this flag on fire right now. Could I?
ADAM & AUSTIN: No!
AUSTIN: Because it would be a fire in a crowded theater!
(Beat. ADAM considers this.) ADAM: That's not the point.
AUSTIN: What is the point?
ADAM: The point is, the system is suppressing my right to say what I want, when I want...
AUSTIN: You're saying exactly what you want right now and nobody's stopping you.
ADAM: Yeah ...well ...that's because I'm white and a male when I'd rather be black and a woman and feel my belly swollen with my baby, and be able to sing like Aretha Franklin! That's what I'm talking about, man. R E S P E C T! Oh, forget it... (ADAM exits, crying. Beat) REED: You hurt his feelings.
AUSTIN: No, I didn't.
REED: Yes, you did.
AUSTIN: Well ...I don't care.
REED: Austin, you should apologize.
AUSTIN: Forget it! I'm not going to apologize. He was overacting.
(ADAM pokes his head onstage.) ADAM: No, he's right, Reed. I was overacting.
REED: Great! Get ready for the next scene I'll introduce it. (ADAM and AUSTIN exit.) REED: Let's see, we've covered about fifty thousand years of American history in thirty minutes. Are there any questions? No? Okay, well, think about it, save them up, and in the second act we'll give you the chance to ask us any serious question about American history. But right now let's get back to the new country, which more than doubled in size in 1803 when President Thomas Jefferson by this time soberpurchased the Louisiana Territory from France for about fifteen million dollars, or roughly three cents an acre. He then sent Lewis and Clark west to explore this vast and uncharted area. Ladies and gentlemen, we are indeed fortunate tonight to have that fabulous team back with us. Just returned from their hugely successful tour of the western circuit all the way from Bismarck, Boise, Clatskanie, Walla Walla, and Cucamonga here they are! You know them, you love them, please bang your hands together for ...Lewis and Clark!
(REED leads the applause and exits. ADAM/LEWIS and AUSTIN/CLARK enter doing a vaudeville two step. They wear loud coats and carry canes. AUSTIN wears a coonskin cap. ADAM wears a skunkskin cap with an arrow through it. They sing.) AUSTIN & ADAM: Hello, everybody, boy we're glad to be here
AUSTIN/CLARK: Just me
AUSTIN & ADAM: And we!
(They turn upstage.) AUSTIN & ADAM: We're glad to be back
(They turn downstage.) AUSTIN & ADAM: We're glad to be front We're glad to tell you facts about this wonderful country! Hello, everybody, boy we're glad to be here We're gonna turn your dark skies blue
ADAM/LEWIS: I'm wacky, I'm antic
AUSTIN/CLARK: I'm dashing and romantic
AUSTIN & ADAM: And we're glad to be with
AUSTIN/CLARK: (Stops singing) You know, Lewis, it's great to be here in...(Insert name of actual city here). Isn't this a beautiful audience?
(REED has reentered LI R with a table full of sound making devices: cymbals, slide whistle, and bike horn. He uses them as indicated throughout.) ADAM/LEWIS: Yeah. 'Specially that guy there. (ADAM points at a man in the audience. AUSTIN hits ADAM with a large foam rubber hammer. SFX: cymbal crash)
AUSTIN/CLARK: Get back here. Settle down. Ladies and gentlemen, we just rode in from Oregon
ADAM/LEWIS: And boy, are our butts tired!
(SFX: three horn honks, as ADAM grabs his own behind and hops three times) AUSTIN/CLARK: We were sent out to explore the vast, uncharted American wilderness.
ADAM/LEWIS: We traveled across deep mountains and high valleys, all the way to the ocean.
AUSTIN/CLARK: Be specific.
ADAM/LEWIS: Okay. The Specific Ocean. (AUSTIN hits him again with the hammer. SFX: cymbals) AUSTIN/CLARK: C'mon, these people want details. We spent the winter of 1805 in North Dakota...
ADAM/LEWIS: Hey, Clark, what's the capital of North Dakota?
AUSTIN/CLARK: I don't know, Lewis. What is the capitol of North Dakota?
ADAM/LEWIS: About forty three cents!
(ADAM grabs the hammer from AUSTIN and hits himself. SFX: cymbals. The audience inevitably responds poorly to this terrible joke.) AUSTIN/CLARK: Hmm, tough room. Anyway, we determined that the whole Louisiana Territory is ripe for plunder and penetration. The trick is knowing how to negotiate with the Indians.
(ADAM hops into AUSTIN'S arms.) AUSTIN/CLARK: No no, settle down. There are no Indians here.
(AUSTIN sets ADAM down.) AUSTIN/CLARK: But in North Dakota we were fortunate enough to meet Sacajawea, our Indian guide and interpreter. She went all the way with us...
ADAM/LEWIS: Well, she didn't go all the way with all of us...
(SFX: slide whistle as ADAM makes a crude pelvic thrust gesture) AUSTIN/CLARK: Stop it. That's disgusting. She was married to that French Canadian trapper.
ADAM/LEWIS: I know, I know (As Jimmy Durante)
Everybody's a Canadian!
(SFX: two horn honks. The audience groans or makes no noise at all.) ADAM/LEWIS: Well, they love that joke in Quebec.
AUSTIN/CLARK: But not in...(Name of state) ...apparently. Sacajawea traveled with us all the way to the West Coast and back.
ADAM/LEWIS: She saved our lives more than once, our faithful Indian squaw.
(AUSTIN hits ADAM with hammer. SFX: cymbal crash) ADAM/LEWIS: Hey! What's the matter?
AUSTIN/CLARK: I don't like that word.
ADAM/LEWIS: What word? Squaw?
(AUSTIN hits him again. SFX: cymbal crash) ADAM/LEWIS: What's wrong with sq that word?
AUSTIN/CLARK: It's demeaning and offensive. Don't you watch Oprah?
ADAM/LEWIS: No, I don't. What's it mean?
AUSTIN/CLARK: It's a Native American word, which Anglo culture has appropriated and applied generically to all Indian women. It refers to a woman's ...nether regions.
ADAM/LEWIS: I didn't know the Indians were Dutch.
AUSTIN/CLARK: No, not the Netherlands, the nether regions.
ADAM/LEWIS: So I shouldn't put my finger in a dyke?
(Audience groans. Even REED and AUSTIN shake their heads in disgust.) ADAM/LEWIS: (To audience) Just wanted to make sure you're all paying attention out there.
AUSTIN/CLARK: I think you owe these good people an apology.
ADAM/LEWIS: I think we owe them their money back. All right, all right, I'm sorry. I promise I will never use that word again.
AUSTIN/CLARK: What word?
(AUSTIN hits him again. SFX: cymbal crash) AUSTIN/CLARK: I'm sorry about that. But we were also on a scientific expedition. We took extensive notes of the flora and fauna and sighted many wild animals. We saw rattlesnakes ....
ADAM/LEWIS: They go, "Ssssss!"
AUSTIN/CLARK: We saw grizzly bears...
ADAM/LEWIS: They go, "Grrrr!"
AUSTIN/CLARK: We saw wild geese ....
ADAM/LEWIS: They go, "Squawk!" (AUSTIN hits ADAM again. SFX: cymbal crash) AUSTIN/CLARK: What's the matter with you? Can't you learn anything? Didn't you ever go to college, stupid?
ADAM/LEWIS: Yeah, but I came out the same way.
(SFX: slide whistle. Audience generally reacts negatively.) AUSTIN/CLARK: Come on, people, these are the best jokes of 1805! They don't get any better than this. Anyway, we were out on the trail for twenty eight months, relying only on the Providence of God and our native wit.
ADAM/LEWIS: Oh! Clark, Clark! Wait! (Leaps D C) Man goes into a doctor's office. Says, "Doc, you gotta help me. I'm a teepee, I'm a wigwam. I'm a teepee, I'm a wigwam." Doc says, "Sit down, you're two tents."
(SFX: two horn honks)
AUSTIN/CLARK: What was that?
ADAM/LEWIS: Native wit.
(SFX: three cymbal crashes) AUSTIN and ADAM turn to REED.) AUSTIN/CLARK: What was that?
REED: Heavy cymbalism
(SFX: cymbal crash!) ADAM/AUSTIN: Goodnight, everybody! (They sing.) Goodbye, everybody, boy we're glad to be gone...
(They pull themselves into opposite wings with their canes, as REED quickly strikes the table to the wings and reenters.) REED: Ladies and gentlemen, Lewis and Clark! Well, the explorations of Lewis and Clark bring us to the year 1814, known of course for the War of 1812, remembered chiefly for the British burning of the White House, and for the birth of our nation's National Anthem. Francis Scott Key witnessed the siege of Baltimore from a neutral ship's cell, where he penned the immortal words to "The Star Spangled Banner."
(AUSTIN enters for a semiaudible conference.) AUSTIN: Wait, Reed I have some problems with "The Star Spangled Banner."
REED: Well, you should explain. (Exits) AUSTIN: Okay. You're right. Look, don't get me wrong. "The Star Spangled Banner" was a perfectly fine song in its day, but it's completely out of touch with modern sensibilities. It's militaristic, it's patriarchal, and it's impossible to sing. Take a look at the musical range.
(He turns a new page on the flipchart. "The Star Spangled Banner" is graphed out with no regard for musical accuracy.) AUSTIN: I mean, it's all over the place. It goes from a low B minus all the way up here to an H above high C. And still, Francis Scott Key expects fat guys at ball games to sing a song written in the key of Q.
(ADAM and REED [with accordion] reenter.) ALL: We need a new national anthem!
REED: And I think it should be "God Bless America" or possibly "Born in the U S A."
AUSTIN: Those are both good.
ADAM: Yeah, or "Freebird."
AUSTIN: Well, not "Freebird." "Freebird" was written by a Canadian, so it's not really appropriate...
ADAM: A Canadian? "Freebird" was written by Lynyrd Skynyrd. They're from Alabama. (Realizing) No, you're thinking of "Snowbird" by Anne Murray.
AUSTIN: How does that go?
ADAM: You know...
ALL: (Singing) "Spread your tiny wings and fly away..."
(They all stare into space and sigh at the thought of the song's beauty.) AUSTIN: Anyway...as we're all agreed that we should have a different national anthem, I've written my own modest example. Could I get a G?
(REED hits an extremely sour note on the accordion.) AUSTIN: Thank you. Now this is a song which some of you may recognize. Maestro?
(REED plays and ADAM flips the chart while AUSTIN sings to the tune of "America the Beautiful. ")
AUSTIN: Oh, beautiful for spacious skies
And nonexploited waves of botanical companions
For mounted majesties of color and free roaming nonhuman beings
Beside the differently harvested plain
Oh non Eurocentric bio region
God shed ambigenic grace on thee
And made you more
Of a nonspeciesistic multicultural eco warrior
From chronologically gifted anthropomorphized river
To cosmetically enhanced sea
(ADAM turns pages on the flip chart, displaying the most egregiously multisyllabic phrases from the song as AUSTIN sings them. The final three signs say "Austin loves big words," "It took him three weeks to write this," and, at the end, "Applause." AUSTIN bows and ad libs "Play ball!" as he and ADAM exit. Then REED plays "Dixie" on the accordion.) REED: The Civil War. North versus South. Industrial versus agrarian. Tyson versus Holyfield. Just as Vietnam was the first war broadcast nightly into American homes, the Civil War is the first of which we have actual photographic images. Tonight we are proud to relive the triumph and tragedy of the American Civil War in a slide show entitled, "THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR: THE SLIDE SHOW." (Exits) ADAM: (Reentering) Come with us now back in time to America of the mid eighteen hundreds. What was the fuel that stoked the fire that made the steam that drove the engine that was the machine of nineteenth century American conquest and domination? It was the blood and sweat of Africa. Millions of brothers and sisters lost their lives at the hands of slave traders, and that's no joke. But by 1861 the pressure was building, and the engine was about to blow. They called it the Civil War, but there weren't nothing civil about it. Now, we're going to need some help from the audience on this one. If anyone here in the audience has a slide projector, please raise your hand.
(AUSTIN and REED have reentered in time to hear ADAM asking for a projector.) AUSTIN: (To ADAM) You were supposed to bring the projector!
REED: (To ADAM) Like somebody's going to bring a projector to the theatre.
AUSTIN: What are we going to do? Maybe there's one backstage...
(In the meantime, someone in the front row raises his or her hand.) ADAM: Really? You brought one? Can I borrow it? I'll give it right back.
(ADAM goes to collect the projector. AUSTIN and REED stare, amazed.) ADAM: Hey, I got one!
AUSTIN: That is so cool.
ADAM: You really saved my ass. I owe you.
(Obviously, the projector has been set in the audience before the show, and the House Manager has warned the lucky person to raise his or her hand at the appropriate moment.) (During the next speech REED sets a table down center for the projector. ADAM sets the projector on the table and begins to fiddle with it. REED moves the flip chart to just left of upstage center and flips it to a clean, white page that will act as a screen. ADAM motions for REED to move it center so that it is lined up with the projector, which is D C. REED misunderstands and takes one deliberate step toward center. ADAM gestures again. REED takes another deliberate step. ADAM points at REED, then the chart, then repeats that several times so it looks like he's indicating that REED should spin in a circle, which REED does. Frustrated, ADAM moves the chart to center himself. When he turns to return to the slide projector, REED returns the flip chart to where it originally was left of center. This finishes by the time AUSTIN says "Mason Dixon line.") AUSTIN: Now while Reed and Adam set up, let me give you a bit of historical background. The importation of slaves into America was declared illegal in 1807, but the domestic slave trade continued to grow. Now, the national debate on slavery was growing, too, and the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which allowed slavery in Missouri but nowhere else north of its southern
border, created an actual line dividing north and south. This was part of the Mason Dixon Line and set the scene for the war which killed more men named Zeke than any war in history. So (It's always nice f you can use the actual name of the sound operator here. Makes 'em feel special), if you'll roll the tape, we are proud to present the sounds and images of that enormous and devastating conflict, the Civil
(ADAM accidentally drags the projector onto the floor by pulling the chord while looking for an outlet. It smashes. Slides fly all over the stage. The three boys desperately attempt to gather the slides and fix the projector. Over the loudspeaker Civil War music plays, and a WOMAN and MAN begin their dramatic recorded narration.) (The boys gesture to the sound booth to try to get the sound turned off.When this fails, they decide in a panic to enact the slides themselves.) WOMAN/VOICEOVER: The time between the inaugurations of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln was only seventy two short years. And yet, in those seventy two years, America had grown into two separate nations.
(Beep) MAN/VOICEOVER: The South: agrarian, rich in tradition. The North: progressive and industrial.
(Beep) WOMAN/VOICEOVER For years, these two nations had struggled with one another. (Beep. Blackout. By now, they've cleared the stage of props and exited.) MAN/VOICEOVER: At the heart of the fighting was the issue of slavery. And when abolitionist Abraham Lincoln became President in 1861, the Southseceded from the Union. The Civil War had begun.
(Beep. Lights up on the boys dressed as Civil War soldiers striking an emotional pose.) WOMAN/VOICEOVER: This photograph, by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, captures the emotion of the Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Bull Run. (Beep. Blackout) MAN/VOICEOVER: The war was the bloodiest in the history of the nation.
(Beep. Lights up: Same pose as before except now REED is plunging a knife through ADAM'S head.) MAN/VOICEOVER: Take a moment now to focus the projector...
(The boys shuffle downstage, holding the pose as best they can.) MAN/VOICEOVER: ...good.
(They stop. Blackout) WOMAN/VOICEOVER: There was intense and deadly hand to hand combat.
(Beep. Lights up on AUSTIN kicking REED in the groin. Blackout) MAN/VOICEOVER: Occasionally, soldiers had their legs blown off.
(Beep. Lights up on ADAM standing on one leg holding a dismembered leg. Blackout) WOMAN/VOICEOVER But in the end, the North overwhelmed the South through sheer numbers. (Beep. Lights up on REED as a Union soldier with a sign saying '17" and AUSTIN as a Confederate with a sign saying 113.")
MAN/VOICEOVER: And so, Robert E Lee finally surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 8, 1865. And they all lived happily ever after. Except for Abraham Lincoln who was shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth and died the next morning.
(A really long beep, like an E K G machi neflatline.) WOMAN/VOICEOVER Inspiring the joke, "But other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?" Ha, ha, ha!
MAN/VOICEOVER: Shut up and stick to the script.
WOMAN/VOICEOVER: Oh my, do I detect a note of professional jealousy?
MAN/VOICEOVER: It's just not funny!
WOMAN/VOICEOVER: You're just threatened because I'm a woman.
MAN/VOICEOVER: What if I am, you (Beep...beep... beep) and (Beep)? You think you can use me for sex and then treat me any way you want in public!
WOMAN/VOICE0VER: I was always honest with you! You knew I could never love you.
(Beep. Lights up. "The Battle Hymn of The Republic" begins to play as ADAM enters S L as an usher in pillbox and. epaulets. He walks in rhythm all the way across the stage and off into the wings. He brings on a chair and sets it D R. He dances balletically to the music. AUSTIN as John Wilkes Booth hops on from the S L wing and twirls his moustache. ADAM turns quickly to see him, but AUSTIN leaps back into the wings. They do this hide and seek twice more. Finally ADAM shrugs and turns over a sign on the flip chart: FORD'S THEATRE APRIL 14,1865.) (REED enters in an Abraham Lincoln Bunraku Puppet suit: a two foot long neck connecting to an inflated head with a smiley face, Abe Lincoln beard, and top hat, and five foot
arms with big hands at the ends. The left hand holds a ticket. Lincoln waves at the audience, hands ADAM his ticket. ADAM takes the ticket and directs Lincoln to his seat D R. Lincoln sits, clapping in time to the music.) (AUSTIN/JOHN WILKES BOOTH enters. He is normal sized, but carries a huge cut out of a pistol. He shoots at Lincoln. ADAM appears again and carries an oversized bullet on a stick across the stage. It is a large replica of the bullet used to illustrate the "shot heard round the world" earlier in the act. On a musical cue the bullet strikes Lincoln in the head. Lincoln's face changes: X's for eyes, and a squiggly line for a mouth. REED/LINCOLN collapses in his chair. ADAM turns the bullet around, revealing a large red 'X'. The three boys step downstage into three pools of light and speak conspiratorially.) AUSTIN: John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and ran to a warehouse. Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and ran to a theater.
ADAM: Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.
REED: Lincoln was elected in 1860, and Kennedy was elected in 1960. Coincidence? Then how come Nostradamus predicted it?
AUSTIN: And consider this dismaying observation: Ronald Wilson Reagan how many letters in each name?
REED: Six six six. Reagan believed in the rapture and was the first President elected in a zero year not to die in office since William Henry Harrison died in 1841.
ADAM: Not so surprising, Mr and Mrs Bury My Head in the Sand, when you consider the role of the Trilateral Commission, the N S C, and the I M F.
AUSTIN: There's a top secret Air Force hangar in Nevada housing an alien spacecraft.
REED: We could be killed for divulging that information.
ADAM: And where exactly was Oliver Stone on the day Malcolm X was assassinated?
AUSTIN: Did you know that J F K was in Hollywood the night Marilyn died?
ADAM: Did you know that William Shatner wears a hairpiece?
REED: Did you know that there's a cult of dyslexic devil worshippers in the Ozarks who've sold their souls to "Santa"?
AUSTIN: Do you know the person on your left has to take a leak?
REED: And so do I.
ADAM: And so do I.
AUSTIN: And so do I. Go out to the lobby.
REED: Talk amongst yourselves.
ADAM: Do not make eye contact.
AUSTIN: We'll meet you back here in fifteen minutes.
REED: This conversation never happened.
ALL: Shhhhh! (They each put afinger to their lips as the lights fade.)