Mrs Prenderghast (headmistress)
Kyle (stage hand)
Stage manager enters to put up two paintings. The first painting falls off. Stage manager holds it in place. Second painting falls off. He gets two audience members to hold them in place with a promise to return with a hammer. He returns but the head falls off the hammer. Eventually the pictures are fixed with string.
Enter Miss Prenderghast, from her seat FOH.)
MISS PRENDERGHAST: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Saint Calamity’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Disaster. It is very gratifying to see so many of you here tonight – when one considers the little mishaps of the last few years. As you know, our budget for drama is very small – as indeed are the little darlings who perform in the shows. Many of you will have seen the budget production of 1990, a particularly hard year, with the recession: One Dalmation. In fact, the dalmation was a labrador given a makeover in the art room by Miss Stubbington, assisted by 3P. By the interval it was sweating so much the poor creature was looking more like a Bengal tiger. And I’m sure some of you parents here tonight will have seen 1999’s memorable production: Charlie and the Chocolate Bar. Unfortunately, the chocolate bar did not perform well under the hot lights. After the first night the show was re-named: Charlie. And you know, play scripts are so expensive these days. However, we did not let financial considerations stand in the way when we decided to tackle Matilda – page 1. Casting our plays has sometimes been very difficult. Some of you may still remember The Big Friendly Dwarf. Last year was a particularly difficult one for drama. Our production date coincided with the One Direction concert at Guildhall. Sadly, we ended up with a very small cast – but the audience thoroughly enjoyed our production of Guy and Doll.
(Stage Manager enters and whispers in Miss Prenderghast’s ear.)
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, apparently there has been a mix up over tickets. This has only affected – 95 members of the audience. We sincerely hope those affected enjoy this play as much as they would have enjoyed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Olivier Theatre. I do hope you enjoy the show and if any of you are still here at the end, there will be refreshments at the back of the hall – and a collection bucket. Thank you.
STAGE MANAGER: (Over the tannoy) Cast announcement – if Daisy Snodgrass, 6B, has arrived would she please report to her dressing room. Thank you.
SCENE 1: THESEUS’S PALACE
THESEUS: Now, fair Hippolyta, our wedding hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes!
(The moon wobbles. He hands his sceptre to a servant and his crown to another in order to embrace Hippolyta.)
HIPPOLYTA: But days soon turn to night
Four nights will quickly dream away the time; (Gestures to the suspended moon, which immediately falls down.)
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
(Enter Egeus, followed by Hermia and Demetrius. Lysander misses his entrance.)
EGEUS: (To the first servant) Good morrow, Theseus, our renownéd duke!
(The servant waves him away and gestures to the duke. To the second servant:)
Good morrow, Theseus, our renownéd duke! (The second servant waves him away and gestures to the duke. To Theseus, hesitantly:)
Good morrow, Theseus? Our renownéd duke?
THESEUS: Behold Egeus: (Egeus nods and looks pleased) what’s the news with thee?
(Enter STAGE MANAGER, with a stepladder, to fix the moon.)
EGEUS: Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia. (Gestures to her.)
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord, (He gestures the wrong side, where Lysander should be. Demetrius stands forth the other side.)
This man… (gestures the correct side now)
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke…
(He gestures to the other side. No Lysander.)
(Louder) Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke…
(Even louder) Stand forth, Lysander…
( Everyone look to the wings and Lysander runs on, from FOH, panting and fixing his costume. His hat flies on from the wings and one of the servants puts it on him.)
(quieter) and my gracious duke
This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child;
(He gestures to the moon, which is being hoisted back up by the stage manager and is swinging. A servant goes to help. The servant puts the crown down on Theseus’s throne)
He hast by moonlight at her window swung… sung.
With feigning voice verses of feigning love,
(The moon crashes down again. The stage manager makes a servant hold it aloft. Exit stage manager.)
Be it so she will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,
As she is mine, I may dispose of her:
Which shall be either to this gentleman (He gestures to a servant, then to Demetrius.)
Or to her death, according to our law.
THESEUS: What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid:
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman. (He sits on the throne, crushing the crown, which he hands to the servant in disgust.)
HERMIA: So is Lysander.
I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
But I beseech your grace that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
THESEUS: Either to die the death or to abjure
For ever the society of men.
STAGE MANAGER (Over tannoy) It started well. We had a problem with the moon but I don’t think anyone noticed.
Carver Juniors, Marple, England
St Teresa’s Catholic Academy, Wolverhampton, England
Portsmouth High prep School, Southsea, Hampshire, England