Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Week Nine, Day 59- "Recollections of a Country Life"

"Waiter Scene No. 6, Op. 68, F Major, “Pastoral”

also known as

"Recollections of a Country Life"
Written By Joe Janes and Sir Jasper Turlington III
59 of 365

Percy, 60
Manfred, 30
Philippe, 50

(Far stage left, a spotlight clicks on and we see scholarly Professor Percy Donohue standing at a podium.)

Good evening. I am Professor Percy Donohue, comedy historian. In 1883, Sir Jasper Turlington the Third of Ipswich, England is believed to have penned what is universally agreed upon as the greatest comic scenario ever written. Scholars and public alike embraced Sir Turlington's masterpiece making it a staple of many a music hall revue. It has since faded into obscurity and its original text thought lost to the ages. The original handwritten manuscript was found in a coffee can at an estate sale. With tremendous pride, we present, "Waiter Scene No. 6, Op. 68, F Major, “Pastoral” also known as "Recollections of a Country Life." It begins thusly...

(As Percy speaks, the action is played out center stage.)

PERCY (continuing)
Lights up on Manfred; a mustachioed and dapper fellow sipping creamed tomato soup with a whisper of basil at an outdoor cafe in Oxford during a crisp October afternoon. He notices something in his next spoonful and unceremoniously dumps the contents back into the bowl punctuated with a malcontent flourish. He beckons Philippe, the waiter.


Philippe, 50s, a tall, thin and generously nosed career waiter, approaches the table. He suffers from mild gout in his right foot. He wears a tuxedo and has a red cloth draped over his extended forearm. He recently thought about petunias and the breath of his mother.


What is this fly doing in my soup?

The backstroke.

A bluebird tweets. A lonely dog in the distance barks at a fleeting shadow. A gunshot is heard. A man, unseen, coughs while commuting to his job at the All-Night Haberdashery in Londontown on a train five miles away due north, also unseen. Lights fade ever so slowly.

(The lights do fade ever so slowly and then quickly come back up. The actors take a quick bow and make a quick exit. Lights fade on the action, but remain on Percy at his podium.)

PERCY (continuing)
It is believed that Sir Jasper Turlington the Third scribed well over 365 "short humorous plays music hall and soiree frivolity." This is the only piece that has survived the ravages of time. Given the date scrawled in the corner of the manuscript, it can be concluded that this may also have been Sir Turlington's last comic scenario ever written as he shortly thereafter succumbed to tuberculosis. Turlington scholars agree that the man referenced as coughing on the train was Turlington himself and that the train represents life’s inevitable and persistent chug towards death. The Haberdashery represents the haberdashery where he worked, as he made no money from his writing and died in poverty. But I think you will agree, his good humor and witty dialogue will be enjoyed from to eternity and afterward. Goodnight.