Coyote and the Winter that Never Ends

(revised version)

This libretto is © 1997, 2000 Mark Morris You may read and print this copy for yourself
No other use or distribution of this libretto is permitted without permission
e-mail for permission

The opera mixes spoken passage with passages set to music

 

Cast:
Solo animals
(played by children): Coyote, Bear, Owl, Mountain Goat, Bee, Frog, Deer, Spider, Singing Chorus of animals, Speaking Chorus of animals
Humans
(played by adults):
Ma Murray, Jeptha, her son, Jesopha(t), her son/daughter, Jena, her daughter
Humans
(played by child):
Mirelda, Ma Murray's youngest child

1. Opening : at the Animals' Meeting Place

Dimmed lights. Wind machine.

The animals (animal Singing Chorus) are sitting in the Meeting Area, beside the Meeting Tree. Prominent in the middle are the main animal roles (Bear, Mountain Goat, et al.). The animals of the Speaking Chorus are on stage.

Chorus: What will we do?
Where can we go?
Winter is never
going to end.

The sun's gone away
it snows every day
Winter is never
going to end.

Our bellies are empty
where once there was plenty
Winter is never
going to end.

Repeat if required

Instrumentalists (Speaking Chorus):
I'm cold
I'm hungry
I'm frozen
I'm freezing
I'm frozen
I'm hungry
I'm cold
I'm freezing
I'm cold
I'm hungry
I'm freezing
I'm frozen

Chorus 1 & 2: (alternating)

What can we do?
The sun never shines
Where can we go?
The moon has been hidden
Winter is never
The ground is hard
going to end
And the wind is chill

Chorus 1:
We're hungry
We're cold
Winter is never
going to end.

Chorus 2: The sun never shines,
The moon has......

Bear: (Standing up, interrupting)
Silence!

(the Chorus stops)

Listen!

We can't sit around,
Complaining.
We have to do something!
Something
that will make the winter end.

We could start by asking the Sun to shine.
If the sun shines
winter will have to go away.

So -

Let us see if the Sun will listen.
I'm going to say:
One, Two, Three,
and we're all going to answer:
"Sun, Please Shine".

Everyone understand?

Chorus: (speaking) Yes!

Bear: Everyone ready?

Chorus: Hurry up!
Get on with it!

Bear:
One... Two... Three...

All: Sun, Please Shine!

Silence. Nothing happens. Lights stay as they are.

All:
There is no sun.
It doesn't work!
Lousy idea!
There's no sun!

Bear sits down, disappointed, and as he does so, Owl stands up

Owl: Perhaps we are asking
the wrong thing.
The sun shines in summer.
The sun shines in winter.
But if the snow melted
and turned into water,
Winter will have to end.

Let's ask
the snow to melt.

Everyone ready?

Chorus: Yes!

Owl: One... Two... Three...

All:
Snow
Please
Melt!

Silence, except for the wind machine.

All: (speaking)
The snowís still snow. (Owl sits down, disappointed)
It doesnít work!
The snow's still snow!
Lousy idea!

I'm hungry
I'm freezing Ö

Mountain Goat stands up

Mountain Goat: We'll just have to try
something else.
Let me see.....
Let me seeÖ.

Soloists from Chorus:
It's alright for you -
in a warm winter coat -

Mountain Goat:
That's it!
A warm coat!
If the cold puts on
a warm coat,
winter
will have to end!

Everyone,
ask the cold
to put on a warm coat.

All: (deliberate)

Cold
Please
Put
On
A
Warm
Coat!

Nothing happens

All: groans and moans

Mountain Goat sits. Deer stands up

Deer: We need a wind -

All: another groan

Bear: Quiet!
Let's hear
what she has to say.

Deer: We need a wind,
a warm warm wind,
To melt the snow.
To push away the cold.

With a warm warm wind
I can run and run
find the grass
and eat, eat, eat!

Let's call
for a warm warm wind!

Deer suddenly realises she has been addressing the whole company, and sits shyly and tries to hide her face.

Bear:
We're all going to call
for a warm warm wind.
Deer, you lead us.

Deer: (shyly) Oh, no,
not me,
I can't.

Bear: Well - if youíre sure.
One... Two... Three..

All: Warm warm Wind
Please Blow!

nothing happens. Silence.

 

 

Owl: I know what the problem is.

All: What?

Owl: We're not loud enough.
They can't hear us.
If you want to call on the Sun and the Snow and Cold and the Wind, you have to be loud.

Bear: We can't go any louder.

Owl: Yes we can.

Bear: Itís worth a try.

 

 

 

Everyone ready?

All: Yes!

One... Two... Three...

All: SUN PLEASE SHINE

Bear: Still not loud enough -

All: SNOW PLEASE MELT

Bear: Still not loud enough -

All: (as above) COLD
PLEASE
PUT
ON
A
WARM
COAT

Bear: One last try.

All: (as above) WARM WARM WIND

PLEASE BLOW

Absolute silence. Hold it for a moment. Then Chorus starts again.

Chorus: What will we do?
Where can we go?
Winter is never
going to end.
The sun's gone away
it snows every day
Winter is never
going to end.
Our bellies are empty
where once there was plenty
Winter is never
going to end.

I'm cold
I'm hungry
I'm frozen
I'm freezing
Winter is never
Going to end.

As the chorus ends, the lights go out on the animals, who must remain still during the following, and lights come up on the Ma Murray's Kitchen.

2. Ma Murray's Kitchen

The Kitchen of Ma Murray. Ma Murray is at the stove, knitting. She wears a belt from which hangs various things (keys, perhaps a ladle, but including a very large pair of scissors). Jeptha, Jesopha and Jena are sitting huddled on the floor together, shivering, with Mirelda slightly apart. Jeptha, Jesopha and Jena are arguing over a single rather threadbare blanket.

 

 

Jena: (snatching the blanket)
It's my turn.

Jesopha: (snatching it back)
No it's not.

Jena: (snatching it back)
Yes it is! You swapped for the chores.

Jesopha: (snatching it back)
No I didn't!

Jena: (snatching it back)
Did so!

Jesopha: Ma!
(
Ma Murray takes no notice)

Jena: (Each with one end of the blanket)
Here, give it me!

Jesopha: Won't, it's mine!

Jena: I want it!

Jeptha: (snatching it himself and wrapping himself in it)
I'm going to have it!

Jesopha: Why you?

Jena: It's not your turn!

Jeptha: 'Cos I'm the biggest.
I give off more heat than anyone else.
I need it more than you.

Jena: That's not fair!
I need it, too

Jesopha: Ma, Jeptha's got the blanket!

(Ma Murray still takes no notice)

Jena: (pouting) Might as well give it to Mirelda.

Jeptha: Give it to her?
You must be kidding.

Mirelda: (looking wistfully at the blanket)
I've never had a turn. Don't I get one?

3 Js: You!?
You!?

Jena: It was you who let out the fire in the first place.

Jesopha: And you're the youngest -

Jeptha: And the smallest -

Jesopha: And we need it more than you do.

Jena: Ma, why can't we have a fire?

Jesopha: It's so cold, please couldn't we have a fire?

Ma Murray: How are we supposed to have a fire when we haven't got any firewood? Tell me that. The wood pile went weeks ago. You burnt the last piece of furniture last Wednesday. No furniture, no firewood. Anyway, that stupid girl let the fire go out, and she knew we didn't have any more matches. How are we supposed to light a fire if we haven't got anything to light it with?

Jesopha: (turning on Mirelda)
It's all your fault!

Jeptha: If it hadn't been for you we would still be warm!

Jena: And now we're all freezing, thanks to you.

Ma Murray gets up and goes to the stove, where she starts opening a very large can of beans.

Mirelda: But I couldn't keep the fire going, there wasn't anything to burn -

Jeptha: Yea, we've heard that one before -

Jena: And if you think you're going to share this blanket -

Jesopha: You've got another think coming -

Ma Murray: Children! Stop squabbling. It's time for lunch.

Jena: Not beans again.

Jesopha: Beans, beans, beans -

 

2a Beans, Beans, Beans

 

 

 

Jeptha: Beans, beans, beans
Nothing but beans

Jesopha: Cold beans

Jena: Straight from the tin

3 Js: Beans, beans,
nothing but beans.
Aw, ma,
Couldn't we have something else?

Jeptha: I want a steak
a large juicy steak

Jena: I want potatoes
covered in gravy

Jesopha: I want french fries
hot steaming fries

Mirelda: And I would like
a nice apple pie
with ice-cream -

Jesopha: Ice-cream?!

Jeptha: Ice-cream?!

Jena: Ice-cream?!

3 Js: No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No!
No ice cream!
No ice cream!
No ice cream!
No ice cream!
Not in this cold!
Not in this cold!
Not in this cold!
Not in this cold!

(with great big breath - ends the rush)

No ---!

Jeptha: I want a steak
a large juicy steak

Jena: I want potatoes
covered in gravy

Jesopha: I want french fries
hot steaming fries

Jeptha: And what do we get?

3 Js.: We get -

Beans, beans, beans
Nothing but beans
Cold beans
Straight from the tin
Beans, beans,
nothing but beans.

Aw, ma,
Couldn't we have something else?

 

 


Ma Murray: No you can't. That's all that we have to eat.

3 Js: Aw, Ma.
We want something else. Can't we have something else?
Ma -

Ma Murray: Enough!
I've had enough. In a line. All of you - You too, Mirelda.
Now. You are all going to listen very carefully to what I have to say.

 

 

 

2b Ma Murrayís Song

You will do as you are told
You will do as you are told!

If I tell you to start cleaning
all the dirty dishes,
You will do as you are told
you will do as you are told.

If what I have to say
don't agree with all your wishes
still - (half-spoken, or rather shouted, interrupting the flow)
You will do as you are told
You will do as you are told.

If I tell you to get down
and scrub the kitchen floor,
you will do as you are told
you will do as you are told.

If I tell you you must stop
banging shut the door,
you will do as you are told
you will do as you are told.

If I say to you right now -
start walking on your head -
you will do as you are told, (One of the children tries to)
you will do as you are told -

NOT NOW - (spoken interjecuton)

If I want you to bring me
my breakfast in bed,
you will do as you are told,
you will do as you are told.

If I ask you to start
to study your phonics Jeptha, Jena: (spoken) Ugh?
you will do as you are told,
you will do as you are told.

If I tell you to go
and tear up your comics,
you will do as you are told 3 Js: (spoken) Oh no, ma,
you will do as you are told. Not that!

YES!
even that!
For I am the boss
in this house -
Don't forget it!
If you dare
to complain -
you'll regret it!

Now refrain
from making
any more noise
go put away
all of your toys

and remember
remember
you will do as you're told
you will do as you're told!

Or you'll regret it,
Oh, you'll regret it.

 

 

Ma Murray: Do I make myself clear?

Jeptha:: Yes, ma.

Jena: Yes, ma

Jesopha: Yes, ma

Mirelda: Yes, ma

Ma Murray: You heard what I said. Now go and tidy your rooms. Except for you, Mirelda. You can sweep the floor.

Jeptha: Yes, ma

Jesopha: Yes, ma

Jena: Yes, ma

The 3Js exit.

Ma Murray: I want it good and clean.

Mirelda: Yes, ma.

Ma Murray exits. Mirelda take the broom from the side of the stove and starts to brush the floor.

Mirelda: It's so cold...
There's frost behind the stove...
The well keeps freezing over...

Nobody seems to know what to do...

Not even Ma...

stops sweeping

 

 

 

2c Mireldaís song

There must be a way for winter to end
There must be a way to be warm in our beds
There must be someone who knows what to do
There must be someone whom we can ask.

starts sweeping again

Father once said, Daughter, my child,
if there's a task you think you can't do,
Bend your ear to the wind and listen my child,
hear what the wind has to say,
hear what the wind has to say.

stops sweeping, stands and listens to the wind

Wind, wind, what can you tell me,
as you howl across the roof?
Wind, wind, why don't you speak
as you blow beneath the door?
Wind, wind, is there nothing to say
as you beat on the window pane?
Wind, wind, you carry the cry
of coyote from far away,
Wind, wind, the only voice
is coyote far away.

 

 

speaking, starting to sweep again

It's no good. Winter is going to go on and on. And we're going to be colder and colder. Father was wrong. The wind doesn't have anything to say. Just coyote howling at the moon.

Sudden thought. Drops broom. Starts singing, softly at first.

 

 

 

Coyote wanders in the rain and the snow,
Coyote knows where all the streams go,
Coyote knows where there's food to be found,
Coyote knows what's living underground,
Coyote knows about the moon and the stars,
Coyote knows the names of all the flowers,
Coyote knows why the days grow long,
He fixes things when they go wrong,
He's always young and he's always old,
He will know how to banish the cold!
He will know a way for winter to end
He will know a way to be warm in our beds

The heads of Ma Murray and the three Js appear at the side

of the stage, unseen by Mirelda

He can tell me what has to be done
He is the person I have to ask!

 

 

 

speaking, as she leaves
Thank you wind! Thank you father!

exits

Ma Murray and the three Js come forward

Ma Murray: Thank you wind, what nonsense!

She looks suspiciously around.

Jesopha: She's left the dust on the floor!

Jena: She hasn't finished her chore!

Jeptha: She's left the door
wide open!

Ma Murray: (muttering loudly, but to herself)
Thank you father! When he's long dead and gone. No good, that one!

 

 

 

2d She knows something we donít know

She knows something we don't know,
Never was a good girl
Didn't do what she was told,
She knows something we don't know.

Jeptha: Couldn't pluck a chicken

Jena: Useless in the kitchen

Jesopha: Always snitching

3 Js: On us!

Ma Murray, 3 Js:

She knows something we don't know,
Never was a good girl
Didn't do what she was told,
She knows something we don't know.

Jena: She talks to the birds

Jesopha: As if she were heard!

Jeptha: Never a good word

3Js: For us!

Ma Murray, 3 Js:
She knows something we don't know,
Never was a good girl
Didn't do what she was told,
She knows something we don't know.

 

 

Ma Murray: (coming to a decision. Girding her loins)
Well don't just stand there!
After her! After her!
We must see what she's up to!

They exit. Lights go out on kitchen area, and come up on the animals' Meeting Place, where Mirelda is just arriving.

3. Mirelda goes to the Animals' Meeting Place

The animals are as before. Mirelda enters.

Bear: You're the little girl from the house, aren't you?

Mirelda: Yes. My name is Mirelda.

Frog: We don't want any humans here. Why don't you go back where you came from.

Goat: Yea, clear off! This is the animals place.

Chorus: (variously)
Buzz off!
Clear out!
Go home!

Owl: Now, now, don't be so hasty.

Spider: I don't like humans.

Bear: (very polite. Standing up, bowing)
There's no need to be impolite. Mirelda, please be our guest. It's much too cold to turn someone away-

Owl: - Even if they are human. Do sit down.

Mirelda sits

Mirelda: That's why I am here - because of the cold. We have to find a way to end winter.

Bear: We have just been discussing it.

Owl: There is no way to end this winter. It will go on and on and on. And on -

Mirelda: There's always a way to do something if you know the right person to ask.

Goat: We've asked everyone, and no one knows how to end winter.

 

 

 

 

Mirelda: (looking around)
Coyote would know -

Frog: Coyote! Ha, ha!

Chorus: Ha! Ha!
Ha, ha!
Ha, ha!
(derisively)
Coyote
That joker!
Dumb thought!
Coyote
That fleabag!

He is just
a canine catastrophe!
He is just
a loser who howls!

What would we want
With a four-legged fallacy?
What would we want
With a creature who prowls?

Coyote
That joker!
Dumb thought!

Bear: (silencing the chorus)
Quiet!
Let's listen to what she has to say.
Or do you all want to get
colder and colder?

Grumbles and mutterings from the Speaking Chorus and the Singing Chorus

Spider: I remember when the Frog
jumped right through my web.
Coyote came and helped me
and we put it back again.

Bee: He helped me
when the hornets came.
He helped me
when my hive was attacked.

Goat: I got my horns caught
in the humanís fence.
Coyote
rescued me.

Deer: He taught me to put
The spots on my faun -

Owl: (pondering) Once
He lent me
the writings
Of Archimedes.

Very interesting, that passage -

Bear: (interrupting Owl)
He showed me
my brother in the sky.

And you, Frog.
Didn't he pull you out
from the belley of the salmon?

Frog: Er, yes....
I've still got the scar -

(proudly shows the scar on his cheek to Mirelda)

 

 

 

Ma Murray: (loud stage whisper. Bee notices them)
Ssssh! Stop here.

they take hiding postures

Jena: (rather louder) There's a thorn -

Ma Murray: Quiet, you stupid girl. Do you want them to hear us?
Let's see what the critters are up to -

 

 

 

 

Mirelda: (finishing her inspection of Frog's scar)
But where is Coyote?
I donít see him.

Bear: We haven't seen him.

Frog: (to Mirelda)
Youíre so keen
to talk to Coyote
Why donít you
Go out and find him.

Mirelda:
I heard his voice
high on the wind.

He canít be so hard
to find.
Iíll bring him back here
.

Owl:
We're not going anywhere.

Mirelda: (leaving) I won't be long.

exits

 

 

Bee: (quietly pointing to Ma Murray and the three Js)
Do you see what I see?

Bear: I do -

Bee: Keep talking -

(Bee takes a pin from her hair, and starts to move stealthily around behind Ma Murray and the 3 Js)

Bear: (to Owl) What did he have to say, this Archimedes?

Owl: Archimedes? Ah, well, yes, let me see.... He said. Yes. You take a bath, and fill it with water, and get into it -

Voice from the speaking chorus:
When did you ever take a bath?

Bear: Shhh!

Owl: (taking a book from his pocket, and putting on his/her spectacles)
Let me see now... Here it is -

Starts reading a passage about Archimedes (script attached at end of libretto). The child playing Owl need not learn this passage, though he or she should be familiar with it - he or she can simply read from the book.

As Owl starts reading, Ma Murray starts singing.

(singing)

Ma Murray: Now we know what the critters are up to
Now we know what my daughter is doing
That old owl is looking up spells
They're in league to keep the winter going -

(Reprise of earlier music. Ma Murray, in her enthusiasm to hear what owl is reading, is leaning forward. Bee has arrived just behind them, and is holding up her pin.)

Ma Murray & 3 Js:

She knows something we don't know
Never was a good girl,
didn't do what she was told -

The music is suddenly cut off as Bee, with a great flourish, sticks the pin into Ma Murray's backside.

 

 

Bee dances way. Ma Murray stands bolt upright. Owl stops reading and puts the book back in his/her pocket and takes his/her spectacles off.

Ma Murray: Ahhhhh! A stinging spell, a stinging spell. Run! Run!

Ma Murray and the three Js run off, to the laughter of all the animals.

Voice from Chorus: (looking off to the side of the stage from where Coyote will enter)
I can see Coyote!

All the animals turn to look in the same direction.

4. The entrance of Coyote

Sung Chorus Spoken Solos

Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming He's riding on the wind
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming He's trying to catch the stars
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming He's howling at the moon
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming He's sniffing at the ground
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming He's stopped to turn around
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming He's scratching at his fleas
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming Here he comes
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming Here comes
Coyote's coming
Coyote's coming COYOTE!

 

 

Coyote enters, slowly, sniffing at the ground, looking for bugs. He sits down and scratches himself a little. Then he notices all the animals looking at him.

Coyote: What are you all staring at?

Mirelda enters, running, breathless

Mirelda: I couldn't keep up with him...

Bear: We were waiting for you.

Coyote: Were you? You lost a bit of weight, Bear.

Bear: Yes, that's why we -

Coyote: (interrupting him - to Bee)

You got any honey left? I just feel like some honey.

Bee: Well, I might have a little -

Coyote:(sniffing the air)

I can smell something....

(he starts following the scent)

Over there...

No, over here...

He is watched by all the others as he arrives at a planted member of the audience - a teacher - who has a box of chocolates in his/her lap.

Ah!....

He looks at the person

Would you mind?

Without waiting for an answer, he takes a chocolate out of the box, and with a great show, eats it.

Mmmm, delicious!

Starts coming back to the other animals.

To Bear

You should try one. They're really good.

The planted teacher hastily hides the box.

Now, why were you waiting for me?

Goat: We wanted to ask you -

Coyote: (interrupting him. To Mirelda)
You're here, too. Do you want a chocolate?

Deer: (very shyly)
Please, Mr. Coyote, can I ask you something?

Coyote: Of course you can.

Deer: Please, Mr. Coyote, how do we make the winter end?

Coyote: You want winter to end?

Deer: Yes, please, Mr. Coyote.

Coyote: Hmmm. I rather like it myself. But you want it to end?

All animal solos:

Yes or We do.

Coyote: You really want it to finish?

All animal solos + singing chorus: (speaking)

Yes or We do

Coyote: Just like that? Plonk. Finished.

All animals: (shouting)

YES WE DO!

Coyote: It's not very difficult. I know how you can do it.

(sniffing the air again)

I think I'll go and get another chocolate.

Owl: (exasperated)

TELL US HOW TO DO IT!

Coyote: In a moment.

(starts wandering towards the teacher with the chocolates)

Singing Chorus, Speaking Chorus:

angry mutterings

Mirelda: Coyote -

Coyote: (turning around)

Oh, very well.

He comes back. Instrumental music starts.

All you have to do is find the rainbow.

Singing chorus: (sung)
Find the rainbow?
Find the rainbow?
That won't do us any good,
Stupid idea
that won't do us any good.
A rainbow in the snow
Ha! Ha!
A rainbow in the snow
Ha! Ha!
We should have known better,
we should have known better
Than to ask a coyote STUpid idea!

how winter will end.

(instrumental music continues)

Coyote: (speaking) Well, if that's all you have to say -

starts turning to go

Frog: (singing) Coyote, Coyote,
don't go, don't go
please tell us, please tell us
what we need to know.

Coyote addresses all the animals, singing.

When you see a rainbow
in a curve across the sky
no matter what the day is
however hard you try
you know it can't be snowing
and the sun must shine.

The rainbow only dances with the fall of the rain
and when the rain is raining it can't be cold
The rainbow only dances in the light of the sun
when the sun shines warm then winter's on the run.

When the rainbow dances the ice goes away
the rivers start to melt and spring is here to stay.
When the rainbow dances we all dance too
And the warm winds blow and the sky is blue.

So no matter what the day is
however hard you try
you know it can't be snowing
with a rainbow in the sky.

Owl: He's right. If the rainbow dances, we all dance, too.

Frog: I'ld like to see you dancing.

Bear: What good does all that do?
I can't see a rainbow anywhere.
I suppose you want us to call on the rainbow now?

Coyote: Call on the rainbow? What do you want to do that for?
Wouldn't do any good anyway.
Might as well call on the sun or the wind -

Mountain Goat: Been there.

Coyote: No, you have to go looking for the rainbow.

Bear: I'm not going anywhere. It's too cold.

Mirelda: Where would we look?

Coyote: You don't look for the whole rainbow,
You look for one colour at a time.

Bee: What do you mean?

Coyote: Well, a rainbow has six colours, doesn't it?

Spider: Violet, blue, green....

Owl: A rainbow has seven colours.

Spider: No it doesn't, it only has six.

Owl: Seven.

Spider: Six.

Mirelda: Oh, stop it! A rainbow has six colours, and I want to hear what Coyote is talking about!

Coyote: When the first snow comes, each colour of the rainbow goes and finds a place to spend the winter. One of the colours goes there, one there -

Then in the spring they all come together and make up the rainbow again.

It's quite simple, really.

Spider: Where do they go?

Coyote: I told you, around the place. I come across them from time to time, fast asleep.

Mirelda: Then tell us where they are. We'll go and find them.

Coyote: Oh, I don't remember. I think I saw one over by the river quite recently. Or was that a snake? It could have been.

Spider: Trust a coyote to forget the most important thing of all -

Coyote: You'll just have to go and find them for yourself -

looking around at the teacher with the chocolates

Now, is it chocolate time again?

Mirelda: Coyote -

Mountain Goat: standing up
Well, I think it's worth trying. Better than sitting around here.

Deer: standing up
I'll help, too.

Spider: And me!

Frog: standing up
And me!

Bee: getting off her perch
I'll look for one -

Mirelda: Owl?

Owl: getting off her perch
I suppose so. But I still say a rainbow has seven colours.

Mirelda: What about you, Bear, are you going to help look for the rainbow?

Bear: still sitting grumpily where he is
Waste of time. I'm not going anywhere. If you all want to go and make fools of yourselves, go ahead.

Mirelda: Please yourself.
Now, we ought to split up. Spider, will you stay here and put the rainbow together when we find the colours?

Spider: looking suspiciously at Bear
I suppose so -
if he isn't any trouble.

Bear: Trouble? Trouble? Me?

Mirelda: He won't be any trouble.
Right, we'll each go in a different direction, and come back here as soon as we've found a colour.
Coyote, where do we look?

Coyote: Oh, under stones, behind trees, that sort of thing.

Mirelda: Are you going to come with us and help us?

Coyote: Might as well. Never know what you are going to find. Could turn up something interesting.

Mirelda: Then let's go. We'll meet up back here.

5. The search for the rainbow

Goat, Deer, Frog, Bee, Owl, Mirelda and Coyote all go in different directions in the auditorium, their destinations dependant on the playing area. Spider and bear remain at the animal's meeting place.

These are suggested destinations:

Mountain Goat goes along the singing chorus, looking for a ribbon.

Frog goes around the audience.

Deer goes around the instruments, before trying the piano.

Owl wanders around a little, and then goes back to the Archimedes book.

Bee buzzes around the entire auditorium.

Mirelda and Coyote look slowly along the back and side walls.

As they start, a quiet repetitive rhythm is played on the Orff instruments, and the soloists and chorus call out in turn. The repetitive rhythm starts and stops on cue from the conductor as required. The calls of 'rainbow' are in the singers' own time. Each solo animal searcher also has a more formal singing passage in between the rainbow calls.

orff

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Frog: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Owl: Rainbow -

orff

orff Bee: Rainbow -

orff

orff Mountain Goat: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Frog: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Owl: Rainbow -

orff

orff Bee: Rainbow -

orff

orff Mountain Goat: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Frog: (shouting) I've found one!

Orff instruments cease or change style. All the other soloists turn to look, but don't move from where they are.

(singing, v. excited)

I've found the first one,
I've found a colour,
It's little and round
and it's yellow and bright.
It's gotta be right,
It's gotta be the rainbow!

I've found it,
I've found it,
I've found it!

music stops

Coyote: (speaking) It looks like one.

Mirelda: (speaking) Take it to Spider.
We'll look for the others.

orff Orff instruments start again. Frog takes the ribbon to spider.

orff

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Owl: Rainbow -

orff

orff Bee: Rainbow -

orff

orff Mountain Goat: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Frog reaches spider.

orff

orff Frog: I've found one,

orff I've found one!

orff

orff Bear: (speaking) Won't do any good. ['any good' as mimic of 'rainbow']

orff

orff Spider: Pass it up to me.

orff

orff Frog hands the ribbon to spider, who starts to stretch it between the two poles. Frog sits and watches.

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Owl: Rainbow -

orff

orff Mountain Goat climbs up to the speaking chorus

orff

orff Bee: Rainbow -

orff

orff Mountain Goat: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Voice from the speaking chorus:

orff Is this what you're looking for?

orff

orff Orff instruments cease

Mountain Goat: (taking it and looking at it)
I think so....

Yes!

(Turning around)

(Music starts. Singing)

I've found another one
Here among the animals
A small thing really
Curled in a ball -

I'll take it to Spider.

Song music stops. Orff instruments start again.

orff

orff Mountain Goat takes the ribbon to Spider, who hangs it up. Mountain Goat sits and watches.

orff

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Owl: Rainbow -

orff

orff Owl gets bored and goes back to the perch, and starts reading the book on Archimedes.

orff

orff Bee: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Mountain Goat: (speaking, to Bear)

orff See, I found one.

orff

orff Bear: Won't do any good...lousy idea.

orff

orff Spider: No use talking to him.

orff

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Bee: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Owl: (speaking) Extraordinary!

Orff instruments stop

(Very pleased with him/herself)

Hoo, hoo -

(Music starts. Singing)

I've found one!
It was here in my book
All of the time.
I never thought to look
There -
Extra-ordinary
Quite extra -
Ordinary.

(Music stops)

Mirelda: (speaking) That's three.
Keep looking.

Bear: It won't do you any good.

Orff instruments start again

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Bee: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Bee: I've found another one!

(Orff instruments stop)

(Music starts. Bee sings)

Here, here, here in this tree,
See, see, here in this tree
Another one,
Another one,
Oh, what a clever bee am I
Oh, what a clever bee am I!

(Music stops. Bee buzzes over to Spider with the ribbon, humming the tune of the last line)

Bear: (speaking) Won't do her any good!

Orff instruments start again. Deer reaches the area of the piano.

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: (speaking) It's got to be here.

orff I just know it has.

orff I just know it -

orff

orff Mirelda: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: Rainbow -

orff

orff Singing chorus: Rainbow -

orff

orff Deer: (speaking as she finds a ribbon in the piano bench)

orff Ah. I've got it!

(Orff instruments stop. Music starts. Deer singing)

Here's the next one
Underneath him [her]
All the time

(To the piano player, who is being obstreperous)

Move over!

I've got the next one
Underneath him
All the time,
Underneath him
All the time.

( Music stops. Deer speaking)

Come on, let's see how we're doing!

(Deer goes to Spider, and watches her put the ribbon up. Mirelda and Coyote quickly go into the animal's meeting place)

Coyote: (looking at the rainbow)
It's doesn't look quite right -

Mirelda: That's because we're still missing one colour.

Owl: Two -

Spider: One -

Mirelda: But we've looked everywhere -

Bear: Told you it wouldn't do you any good -

Coyote: I remember now -
I know where I saw one.
I wasn't by the river -
That must have been a snake after all -

Frog: Tell us where!

Coyote: Let me see now...
Ah, yes. It was in the humans place.

Mirelda: What were you doing there?

Coyote: This and that...

Mirelda: This and what?

Coyote: Well, you know, chickens and things...

All the birds in the two choruses:
Chickens?!

Coyote: There weren't any. The chicken coop was empty.
Anyway, I was only looking for eggs -

Frog: But where was the rainbow colour?

Coyote: In the barn..? No.
Underneath the porch..? No, it wasn't there.
In the living-room? No.

(To Mirelda)

Funny living-room you have.
There wasn't any furniture.

Mirelda: WHERE WAS IT?

Coyote: Ah, I know!
I was looking for chocolate.
All I could find was beans.
It was in the kitchen, behind the stove.

Mirelda: Then we'll just have to go and get it.

Mountain Goat: Go near the humans place?
You must be kidding.

Mirelda: Well, I can't go alone - my mother would keep me there.

Mountain Goat: Count me out.

Bee: And me.

Deer: And me.

Spider: And me.

Frog: And me.

Mirelda: Owl?

Owl: (burying his/her head in the book, pretending not to have heard as he/she reads)
The principal of the lever as used by Miletus of Corinth...

Mirelda: What about you, Coyote?

Coyote: Well, I would, but... I've just remembered something that....

Mirelda: Won't any of you come?

Mountain Goat: The humans will capture me -

Bee: Take all my honey -

Deer: Eat me for supper -

Spider: Get the fly-swat - splat - ugh -

Frog: Squish me underfoot -

Owl: (still pretending not to hear, reading)
Placing a weight on one end of the lever.....

Mirelda: (loud, frustrated)
Don't any of you have any courage?

There is a long moment of awkward silence. Then all the solo animals and Mirelda turn around in unison to stare at Bear.

All solo animals except Bear, Mirelda: (together, in unison)
Bear!

Bear: What are you all looking at me like that for.

[note: following lines can be reassigned if, for example, Frog is played by a boy rather than a girl]

Frog: You're so handsome.

Bear: Kind of you to say so.

Mountain Goat: So strong -

Bear: Of course.

Mirelda: So brave -

Bear: I like to think so.

Bee: So generous -

Bear: Naturally.

Spider: And you always take the lead -

Bear: It's my temperament.

Owl: And you never turn down a challenge -

Bear: Never. I like challenges!

Mirelda: Then you will go with me and get the last ribbon?

Bear: (realising he has trapped himself. Look around at them all, mouth open)
Ah......

Mountain Goat: We need your help -

Deer: Your courage -

Bee: Your strength -

Owl: Your - your - your - nobility!

Bear: (getting up) Oh, well.
I knew you couldn't do without me.

(To Mirelda)

Lead on!

6. Bear and Mirelda in the kitchen

Drum music starts.

Bear and Mirelda go to the human's house.

(If the stage layout is as outlined in the opening, the following actions and lines are used. Other productions can adapt as required)

They push through the chorus, and climb the front of the stage, rather than using a side-stage entrance. As Bear does so, he pushes the chorus aside.

Bear: Out of the way!
Bear is in charge!

Bear and Mirelda reach the kitchen area. Bear takes guard downstage, a little stage left of the stove. Mirelda searches at the front of the stove.

Mirelda: It's got to be here somewhere...

She searches at the top of the stove.

Coyote could have give us better directions -

She goes to the back of the stove.

From offstage right comes the sound of Ma Murray and the three Js singing, accompanied by the piano. This is independent of the drum music, which continues.

Ma Murray and the 3 Js:

She knows something we don't know....

[reprise of earlier music]

They continue singing as they enter stage right, move across the stage, and enter the kitchen area from stage right. As they do so -

Bear: Hurry, someone's coming.

Mirelda: It's my mother!

Bear: Get the ribbon!

Mirelda: I'm trying, I'm trying!

Bear: Too late!

Ma Murray and the 3 Js have suddenly seen Bear and Mirelda as they enter the kitchen area. Ma Murray and the 3 Js abruptly cease singing. Mirelda retreats around the farthest side of the stove, but continues searching with her hand around the back of the stove. Bear stands up to his full height and raises his arms threateningly.

Bear: That's your mother?!

3 Js: Ma!

Ma Murray: First a bee, now a bear!
It's the end of the world.

It's the millennium.

She thrusts forward and grabs the scissors hanging on the front of the stove. Jeptha grabs the broom leaning against the stove. Bear growls threateningly, and continues to do so during the following. Jeptha retreats a little, holding the broom across and in front of him, defensively. Jena and Jesopha crown in behind him.

Ma Murray keeps thrusting the scissors in front of her, ineffectively, as if stabbing at Bear, but from too far away.

Ma Murray: Varmit!
Vagrant!
Vermin!
Vagabond!
Thief!

(To Mirelda)

Renegade!
Traitor!

With a great swipe, Bear knocks the scissors from Ma Murray's hands. They fall to the ground.

With Jeptha ineffectively holding Bear off with the broomstick, Bear backs Ma Murray and the 3 Js into a corner. They collapse in front of him, in a huddle, so their backs are to the audience and Bear is facing them and the audience.

Bearís first aria

Bear: (to Ma Murray)

Feeble-minded creature,

Baggage of bone and skin,

I ought to eat you here and now

But youíre much too scrawny and thin.

Monstrous mother, you chased out your daughter!

Horrible human, you spied on our meeting!

Still singing, but aside to Mirelda

Hurry up, I canít

Keep this up forever.

Mirelda - spoken - : Iím trying

As the above is happening, the 3 Js have started to try to sneak away.

Bear turns back from Mirelda, and sings:

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Instantly the 3 Js huddle together again and cower in front of Bear.

Instead Iíll bury you deep in the woods

For the worms and the rats to devour.

Perhaps we will pile the leaves up high

And warm by your funeral pyre.

Two-legged traitors, you torment the animals,

Natureís unnaturals, you worsen the winter!

How we will sing to the tune of the fire,

How we will dance to -

He is interrupted by Mirelda. End of music.

Mirelda: (speaking)

Iíve found it

Bear: (spoken)

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Mirelda: (triumphantly, with the ribbon in her hand)
I've got it!

Bear: Go!

I'll cover you!

(to the 3Js and Ma Murray)

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Mirelda dashes out, stage left. Bear retreats slowly, walking backwards. With each backward step Bear takes, Ma Murray and the 3 Js move a step forward, Ma Murray still keeping her distance.

Ma Murray: Derelict!
Beast!
Brute!
Monster!
Unnatural creature!

Bear has reached the exit, and goes out. Drum music stops. Ma Murray has reached the stage left end of the stove, and sinks against it. Note that she keeps hold of the scissors during the following.

Ma Murray: Ah.....

She puts her hand to her breast

My palpitations,
My palpitations -
Jeptha, fetch me my fan.

Jeptha: (v. matter of fact)
We burnt it, ma.

Ma Murray: (her voice a little deranged)
Well, don't just stand there.
After them!
After them!

The 3 Js exit timidly and slowly stage left. Ma Murray sighs a little, leaning against the stove.

Ma Murray: My own daughter,
In league with the animals!
Who would have thought it?

She suddenly gets her energy, and storms after the 3 Js, brandishing the scissors.

We'll see about that!

Exits

7. The rainbow

At the animals' meeting place.

Spider: They're coming!

Mirelda and Bear reach the animals' meeting place.

Mirelda: We've got it!

Mountain Goat: Did you have any trouble?

Bear: Oh, it was nothing!

Coyote: Did you bring any chocolates?

Mirelda: (to Spider) Will you put it up?

Spider: (taking the ribbon and putting it up)
Here we go!

There is a sudden hush. Everyone is still, watching, as Spider puts up the last ribbon. As she does so, the wind dies away.

Rainbow music

Mountain Goat: It's getting warmer!

Bee: The sun's coming out!

Bear: We've done it.
I knew we would!

Owl: There should be seven....

Suddenly, Ma Murray and the 3Js burst on the scene, Ma Murray brandishing the scissors and Jeptha the broom fiercely. The solo animals scatter back, afraid. Ma Murray and the 3Js take centre stage, in front of Mirelda, who looks forlorn. Bear tries to get up, but Jeptha has grabbed Mirelda and is holding her with the broom handle across her

Jeptha: (to Bear) Don't even think of it.

Ma Murray: So this is what you were up to!
In league with the animals!

Mirelda: No, ma, you've got it wrong -

Ma Murray: Don't no ma me!
(Very big, forceful)
I know what you were up to.
All of you!

All of the animals shrink back a little.

You were going to keep winter going,
Keep it going,
To starve us to death
To freeze us to death
And then you would be rid of us!

I know what you were up to!

Coyote: (very nonchalant, unconcerned, as if he was just have a normal gentle conversation) Madam Murray,
You do your charming daughter an injustice.
She came to me to ask my help to end winter,
So we could all be warm again.

See, we have succeeded.
Is not the air warmer?
Has not the cold wind died down?
Is not the snow melting?
Is not the sun bright with summer light?

Mirelda: She's right, ma.

Jeptha takes notice, looks around, while still holding Mirelda.

Jeptha: (doubtfully)
It is much warmer -

Ma Murray: (sudden, furious. To Coyote)
I know your game!
You lying lolloper!
We'll put paid to that!

She leaps to the rainbow -

All animals: No!

And cuts the lowest ribbon.

The wind immediately howls again. It gets much darker. Everyone starts to shiver. Even Ma Murray is taken aback.

All animals: I'm cold
I'm hungry
I'm frozen
I'm freezing.

Coyote: Spider,
Can you put the rainbow back together again?

Spider: I think so.

Looking suspiciously at Ma Murray
If she doesn't get in the way -

Ma Murray: (intending to stop Spider)
No!

Jeptha: (letting go of Mirelda, going to Ma Murray)
Ma, I think we've got it wrong -

Mirelda: Ma, let her [him] do it!

Jeptha: (gently, with compassion, while at the same time putting his hand on Ma Murray's arm to prevent her from stopping spider)
Ma, perhaps they are right. Let's just see what happens.

Jesopha: (shivering) hisses
Ma -

Ma Murray: Get away!

Bear's Second Aria

Bear:

Madam, your children are right.

The long winter nights have departed,

But still the chill of the cold

Seeps into our bones, and holds us both

In its claws..

We animals freeze, and there is no food

To be found.

You humans go hungry, and there is no fuel

For the fire.

Wherever you look

The world is frozen,

The ground creaks and groans,

The cold wind blows

And snows

are hiding the sun.

It must be worse still

Up there on the hill,

Away from the shelter.

How long can you last?

How long can you find

Food for your children

Wood for their warmth?

We know it cannot have been easy

After your husband died

And you were left alone

To raise your children,

To manage the farm.

And we know you are not in league with the winter

To keep it going

To steal the spring.

But neither are we.

What advantage is there for us

To freeze and to starve?

No, it was your daughter -

The daughter you chased and despised -

The animals hiss sotto voce

- the daughter we laughed at -

who found us Coyote

and showed us the way

for winter to end.

So, madam,

Let us finish our work

Without hinderance

That humans and animals

May be warm

Once again.

Ma Murray: (sitting down on one of the perches, defeated)
Maybe he's right -

(mopping her brow)
I don't know what the world is coming to,
I really don't.
Bees, bears, rainbows -

Coyote: Madam, you will not regret it.

Spider: (singing) I will spin my web and catch me a rainbow
I will spin my web and catch me a rainbow
I will spin my web and patch me a rainbow -

There, that should do it.

Spider completes the rainbow repair. The wind dies away. Everyone warms up. Reprise of rainbow music, but shorter, no chorus.

Ma Murray: (perking up. Spoken over the rainbow music)
I must say,
It is getting a little warmer....

Jeptha: The sun's coming out -

Jena: (to Mirelda) But don't expect us to give you the blanket -

Jesopha: 'Cos we won't!

The sun comes up (everything gets lighter). Everyone looks up.

Mirelda: Spring is here!

7. Primavera

During the following, some of the solo animals should befriend the humans in whatever manner the stage director prefers. Jena and Jesopha should be very suspicious at first, but be won round; Jeptha less so. Bear and Ma Murray reconcile. Remember all will be singing. Early on in the chorus, Coyote, unnoticed, slips away.

All solo singers (animals and humans): (big)
Sun now shining bright, dance in the warm sky
Come from the far north, lift up your head high,
Geese are gliding by, calling up above,
Song birds are coming, singing all of love.

All singing chorus: (bigger)
Sun now shining bright, dance in the warm sky
Come from the far north, lift up your head high,
Geese are gliding by, calling up above,
Song birds are coming, singing all of love.

All (soloists and chorus): (biggest)
Sun now shining bright, dance in the warm sky
Come from the far north, lift up your head high,
Geese are gliding by, calling up above,
Song birds are coming, singing all of love.

Spring is in the air, spring is here with us
Spring is in the air, spring is here with us

Gone is winter wind, gone is piercing cold
Winter is conquered, winter is too old
Gone is frozen ice, gone is winter storm
Gone is our hunger, we will now be warm

Gone is winter wind, gone is piercing cold
Winter is conquered, winter is too old
Gone is frozen ice, gone is winter storm
Gone is our hunger, we will now be warm

Gone is winter wind, gone is piercing cold
Winter is conquered, winter is too old
Gone is frozen ice, gone is winter storm
Gone is our hunger, we will now be warm

Spring is in the air, spring is here with us
Spring is in the air, spring is here with us

Trees can start to leaf, flowers start to grow
Birds can build above, foxes down below
Deer can now journey, bee go to her hive
Beaver can swim free, for spring is alive

Trees can start to leaf, flowers start to grow
Birds can build above, foxes down below
Deer can now journey, bee go to her hive
Beaver can swim free, for spring is alive

Trees can start to leaf, flowers start to grow
Birds can build above, foxes down below
Deer can now journey, bee go to her hive
Beaver can swim free, for spring is alive

Spring is in the air, spring is here with us
Spring is in the air, spring is here with us
Winter is conquered, send winter away
Summer's tomorrow, spring's with us today.

Mirelda: (looking around)

But where's coyote got to?

Everyone looks around.

From the far distance is heard the echoing cry of a coyote.


BLACKOUT

 

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