Adventure on Algenib / by Marsali Taylor
ROBOTS: 1, 2 and 3
COMMANDER -IN -CHIEF OF INTERGALACTIC FLEET HIS AIDES: 1,2, and 3
COMMANDER OF FLEET ASTRONAUTS: 1,2,3,4,5 and 6
COMPUTER ROBOT MX3224457
STAR DANCERS - as many as desired
GREAT LEADERS: 1,2, and 3
Fifty-one speaking parts for
a mixed cast, which can be reduced considerably by doubling, or
expanded with extras such as the Star Dancers, making this is
an adaptable script. Some parts can
be merged, too, for further reduction of numbers, e.g. the three Aides could be played as one.
There is no reason why the cast should not be mainly female if desired - or mainly male; most the parts could be played by either, with slight adaptations of the script itself [e.g he to she.].
The play runs at approx one and a half hours; which can be 'short' full-length with interval. It can be lengthened, too, by the expansion of such areas as the Star Dance, or the addition of other dances or songs.
Sample Pages from the script
At ease, men. [Clears throat, speech-making voice.] Men - er, ladies and - er - men - this is an historic occasion. We are gathered here today to celebrate British achievement in the launch of the first ever fleet to cross the solar system and head for the hitherto unvisited planet of Ursa Minor. You, gentlemen and - er, ladies too of course - are going - are going - er - [He is obviously stuck.]
An important mission, sir.
Yes, that's it. [Declaiming again.] Going on an important mission: to boldly go where no man - or woman -
They didn't have women astronauts when he was trained.
Or woman has ever gone before - to seek out new - new - what was it?
COMMANDER Civilisations, that's
it. Seek out new civilisations and er - [He visibly Ives up
the attempt at a formal speech. Could search for notes.] -
civilise them. each them to play cricket and all that sort of
thing. For Queen and country. Jolly good show!
The astronauts wait expectantly
for a moment, then see he's finished. Applause. Commander mops
I hereby unveil this - this - thingummy -
Good luck to all who sail in her.
He pulls the sheet off the ship. Applause.
I say, it's rather small, isn't it, to go all that way?
It travels the main distance inside the mother ship, sir. The smallships are really for the other end - landing on Ursa Minor.
Why isn't it in the mother ship, then?
It makes a prettier effect to launch them separately, sir.
By Jove, I wish I was going too! Miracles of modern technology - think how surprised the natives will bel Hope they've taken plenty of coloured beads with them, eh? [This is meant to be a joke. He nudges the Aide and laughs]
AIDE 1 coldly
It is considered in poor taste to offer coloured beads these days, sir. However, the natives will certainly be impressed.
Are you sure you saw a light trail, Dubhe?
Positive. It went over like this. [Demonstrates.]
And then landed like a hippopotamus diving into a dry river-bed.
But how on earth could anything like that fly? It's all the wrong shape.
It must have done. How else could it have got here?
Perhaps someone left it for a joke.
Those city kids - they're always doing stupid things like that.
Where on earth would they get something like this?
You go to Leadercity with your dad, Hamar - ever seen anything like this lying around?
Never. SPICA I'm going to call the adults.
I don't care.
Spica comes forward. Pushes buttons on belt which bleep. Lights on belts flash; crackling noise. Others gather around, except Hamar, who is still examining the ship.
There's something odd in the hayfield. We think it's a spaceship.
Leave it alone; we'll come and look.
It is a spaceship, you know - look, there're the propulsion tubes and here are the steering fins - what's left of them.
Yah! Whoever saw a spaceship like that?
It must have come out of the ark.
Or somebody made it at home from a kit.
It's probably some little kid's school project.
Do you suppose it was manned?
Nobody would be daft enough to take off in a crate like this.
If they managed to get it to take off at all.
It must have done - it came down again, didn't it?
HAMAR peering in at windows
It's monodirectional glass - I can't see if there's anyone inside. [Knocks.] Hey, is there anyone there? Hey!
I can hear someone moving.
There's a door this side. Hello in there!
The children fall back as Captain Church, Lieutenant Spoke and Computer Robot MX3224457 come out. Church and Spoke look dishevelled. They have their helmets on. Spoke takes readings, then nods to Church.
What are they doing?
Testing the air, I think.
Spoke and Church take their helmets off.
Oxygen levels similar to Earth, sir.
Lucky that, isn't it? [To audience.] Have you ever noticed how many planets seem to have oxygen levels similar to Earth? You never see the crew of the Enterprise messin about with helmets, do you? [He turns slowly, bleeping.]
Where do you suppose we are?
We could be anywhere, sir. That meteor storm just swept us away -
Towards the edge of the universe -
The places where no man has boldly gone ...
You don't suppose they're concussed, do you?
They're certainly talking a bit funny.
Exploring new galaxies -
Seeking out new civilisations -
I hope the adults come soon.
Do you think they're dangerous?
Don't worry about them. [To Church.] We're on Algenib - it's one of the points of the square of Pegasus. A very advanced civilisation.
Advanced? You call this advanced? Why, I haven't seen haystacks on Earth for over thirty years.
And that's a handcart if ever I saw one.
MX3224457 showing them the
A very advanced civilisation.
Remind me to get your circuits looked at once the mother ship arrives.
HAMAR addressing the robot but unnoticed by Church and Spoke
You look okay to me.
I'm fine, thank you for asking - apart from the pains in my left diodes. I've told them about those often enough, but are they interested? No. Not until they disagree with me - then it's off to the mechanic.
Who are you talking to, robot?
He turns and sees the children, then nudges Church.
A pygmy race, obviously.
Not one over four foot.
Pretty primitive dress.
Sample Pages from Production Notes
PRODUCTION NOTES + TECHNICAL CUES etc.
The play is often pantomime in style, getting more so as it goes along. The moral is not to judge by appearances. Church and Spoke are taken on a humiliating journey where they learn this moral the hard way. Particularly in the first half, there are clear satirical comments about so-called civilisation's presumptions towards 'primitive' races. The second half relies for its satire on making links between the lower spectrum of the new planet and aspects of our culture, especially popular TV shows. There are green issues here too, though not overt. The Earthkeep people thrive by going back to the basics of land management; in contrast, the city folk are inferior and much the same as we are.
As far as I can see, apart from some, indicated below which must be female or male, there is no reason why others need be any sex in particular.
ROBOTS 1,2,& 3: 'tinny' voices required, a metallic near-monotone. Jerky movement, absolutely no smooth gestures.
THE COMMANDER a strangely hesitant character, bumbling and awkward. Posh stiff-upper-lip voice and posture. Very old-fashioned and chauvinist. Sixty-plus in age. Male.
AIDES 1,2,& 3 Polite, patient and efficient. Aide 3 must be male.
THE ASTRONAUTS Astronaut 3 must be a girl. All very keen and gung-ho. 1, 2 & 5 not especially bright.
CAPTAIN CHURCH & LIEUTENANT SPOKE also keen and gung-ho. Rather naive and certainly not very aware of the world, people and how they tick. Too pompous to realise their own mistakes and assessments of every situation. Spoke is a girl. These two are major roles. It is their journey towards 'enlightenment' of a sort that we follow.
COMPUROB the most intelligent being on this mission - half robot, half human, whose know-it-all attitude gets right up the noses of the humans. Could have a limp, to show that he has a 'pain in his left diodes' but his movement is not robotic. Often grumpy and sarcastic. A major role. he accompanies Church and Spoke.
THE EARTHKEEP CHILDREN must appear bright, intelligent without being in any way dislikeable. They must quickly establish that, even though just children, they are streets ahead of the humans in everything.
THE EARTHKEEP ADULTS are obviously being polite and tactful, despite the shortcomings of the Earth people. They are serene and dignified, marks of superiority!
Caph must be female.
SPLATNAIL & BODGER - comedy duo. Might help if they have an accent - such as East End perhaps, just to differentiate them from the elders. They have the kind of doom and gloom voices common amongst the kind of tradesmen who like to make a meal out of a problem in order to 'big themselves up'.
ALIENS GRUMBLETHUMP, GRIMBLETWEAK & TANGLEPELT - three-headed monsters worked by three people, so six arms too. Not frightening but 'honey-monsterish'. Pantomime style of performance - leading audience in song, etc.
DWAYNE, FROYD, STODD, JASONI futuristic versions of uncultured louts. Happiest when playing tricks on each other and laughing rather cruelly at other people. All must be male.
STRACII, SHARONA & ZARANDRA futuristic versions of bimbos. Female.
THE GREAT LEADERS - all dignified and impressive.
The simplest way of setting the play is as follows: for Act One, a plain black curtain could be drawn across the backcloth, which is of an alien landscape, trees and plants, with buildings in the distance. Towards the back of the stage should be a space craft, not large, but large enough to believably hold three people. It needs to look metal, shiny. The doorway could be behind, so therefore not visible. It would be a good touch to have a piece of the shiny metal-look material able to be shoved up at a broken-looking angle for after the crash in Scene 3. But this is a detail and not strictly necessary.
At the beginning of the play, this spaceship is covered with a cloth that will be removed as part of the ceremony.
You may find some levels towards the back of the stage helpful, since so many are onstage at the same time. This would aid visibility.
See note on Page 5 for additional platform - optional - for Aide 3.
For Scene Two, the night sky could be entirely suggested by dancers and by people carrying 'props'. See Page by Page Notes below.
The setting is the inside of the ship. I suggest this is a separate lit area of the stage, centre front for instance. It just needs a control desk - a metal-coloured table with console on it, preferably with a big lever also on it - which will be the steering control. Behind the desk, a high bench with enough for two to sit comfortably on it.
Scene Three would have the black curtain drawn back to reveal the alien landscape, most of which would be invisible behind the spaceship and haycart. Thus the impact of it for Act Two wouldn?t be lessened. The scene needs the addition of a handcart piled up with hay. A couple of stooks of hay/straw would be nice. A scarecrow is also used. The ship remains on, but is damaged. The script says this damage is mainly internal, so the sticking-out piece as suggested above is optional.
Act Two: alien landscape - pink craters, strange buildings in distance, alien plants in foreground suggests the writer. Of course, you may want a completely different landscape from Act One and there would be time in the interval to change this. But it is not strictly necessary. The scene could be junk-yardish in feel, with 'metal' frames piled or placed somewhat haphazardly, but enough to suggest a prison compound later, for the trick to be played on the earthlings.
Also needed for this scene is the old-fashioned van used by Bodger and Splatnail. This could be done in a number of ways: as simply the front and side of a van, with hand-holds away from the audience so that it is manipulated on by the two repairmen; just the front so that the rest is presumed still off-stage in the wings; or, if you have a large stage, you could make an actual wheeled ramshackle vehicle which could be pushed onstage [or even have a motor, I suppose - depends how much you want to put into this item!]
By Act Two, Scene 3 the junkyard additions are removed and the stage is bare, except for the alien landscape backcloth.
On Page 33, we are in a fantasy TV game studio. The black curtain could be drawn across and a glitter curtain dropped over it for he grand finale. These are expensive to hire but can be quite easily made out of strands of tinsel or strips of foil.
Area A: The whole stage area needs to be brightly lit with even overall coverage. The same overall area needs to adapt to an 'alien' light - perhaps adding plenty of greens and blues into the mix. These colours will enhance the green faces of the aliens, whereas the red spectrum would make green makeup look most peculiar. The [optional] addition of reds and pinks would be better for the journey, changing the colour of the sky again, and blending better with the backcloth. By now the alien faces are yellows and blues.
[Optional Area Z - see note for Page 5 - a platform to the front side of the stage [i.e. in the auditorium]
Area B: The spaceship needs to be on a separate circuit, since it is spotlit at times when the rest of the stage is darker. This area needs to spill over to a few feet each side of the spaceship and in front of it.
Area C - overhead spot with large enough circle to fit in desk console, bench and three people. Sharp-edges to the spotlight, to enhance the idea they are in a tight space.
UV lighting is used in Scene 2. It is easy to hire if you haven't already got it.
A strobe light, found in most Physics departments, is also needed, though you might get away with just flickering your light control.
A follow-spot if you have one.
PAGE 2 Beginning of play. Bring lights up to full bright. A hangar or similar would be lit by striplighting, so this is the overall brightness you are aiming for.
PAGE 6 Third of way down page, as Astronauts 5 & 6 exit, reduce the lights to Area B on and around the space ship.
Bottom of page, end of scene, fast fade lights to blackout.
PAGE 7 Top of page. After rocket take-off, bring up UV lighting.
At end of choreographed dance of the stars, fade UV lights and bring up light on Area C, front of stage, inside the spaceship.
Halfway down page - optional light on Area Z, if used. Bring this light up on Church to Mother ship. 'Do you read me... ', etc.
Fade light on Area Z to out after Aide 3: 'Over and out.'