orawnzva (orawnzva) wrote,

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Walk in the Day: the Musical

Guess what I did this week? I wrote a one-act science fiction action/adventure musical about Quaker peacemakers and Space Marine engineers working together to save adorable fierce furry nocturnal aliens from extinction on a desert planet.

Yes, that musical. Yes, all of it. Last you heard, if you've been following this journal, there were four songs in this song-cycle. Now there are fourteen (the secret: a lot of repeated leitmotifs), linked together by about eight pages of prose dialogue. I know a lot more about the characters than I did before, and a lot more about the plot. Which is good, 'cause it's done.

After the cut, you'll find the complete script, and I recommend listening to the songs in context, but to ease your downloading, here's the complete list of songs (note that "Long, Bright Day" is three times longer and contains much more plot that the version posted last week):

[ edit: "Rules of War" has been expanded into "War vs. Peace/Open Your Eyes", which is a much deeper treatment of the just war vs. pacifism debate, please update your playlists accordingly. ]

mp3Called by the Shade
mp3Strange Rumors
mp3Speaking Lessons
mp3Long, Bright Day
mp3Science Lessons
mp3Dark Moon Daughter
mp3Star-flecked Nights
mp3The Raid
mp3War vs. Peace/Open Your Eyes
mp3Peace vs. Peace
mp3The Escape
mp3Walk in the Day
mp3Meeting for Worship with Attention to Shade

This will be produced as an album, at some point — it's a single, self-contained album-sized work, so I have no worries about having future qualms about the exact selection of songs on it. I'd also love to stage it (like, really stage it), but that would require a Julie Taymor-like level of puppet design and an extremely creative lighting designer.

Meanwhile, if you would like to play any role (technical, vocal, or instrumental) in the production of an album, or if you would like to participate in an on-book cast (a recital, without blocking) at Swarthmore Alumni Weekend, Concertino, Pi-con, OVFF, GAFilk, Arisia, or Boskone, please let me know.

I'll also be posting some more expository notes in a separate entry to follow.

by Benjamin Newman

DRAMATIS PERSONAE (in order of appearance):

SUSAN: A devout Quaker peacemaker and mediator and member of the Interplanetary Friends Service Committee

NATHAN: A technical specialist with the Federation Marine Corps of Engineers

ERIC: A Quaker graduate student and planetology intern

QYNI: A Yrichii male, senior member and speaker of the civilian council

YRISA: A Yrichii female, commandrix-in-chief of the Daughters of the Moon, a sorority of elite military scouts

SCOUT: A Yrichii female, Yrisa's second-in-command (or, possibly, several of the other scouts)

SIRA: A juvenile Yrichii female, a candidate to join the Daughters of the Moon



SUSAN: [ mp3Called by the Shade ]

[doorbell chimes]

NATHAN: Dr. Patterson?

SUSAN: Come in, Nathan.

NATHAN: [enters] I've gotten so used to people calling me "corporal", it's a real joy to hear someone call me by my first name.

SUSAN: That's the intention. In the same spirit, please call me Susan.

NATHAN: Sure. Susan, I just wanted to let you know that we'll be returning to normal space soon, and shuttling down to the surface not long after that. There's been a last-minute change of plans, and I've been asked to brief you on some procedures and familiarize you with some of the equipment we'll be using. [hands her data pad]

SUSAN: [looking at pad] This is field and wilderness gear... we're not going to be joining the main team on the southern continent, are we?

NATHAN: No, that's the change. We'll be setting up a new contact field station in the north. Our people have begun reconnaissance on a new tribe that could be an ideal partner in that region.

ERIC: [enters] Yeah, and, they're from a whole other language group, so we'll be starting almost from scratch -- it'll be like first contact all over again! Oh, sorry, I'm Eric. You must be Dr. Patterson.

SUSAN: Call me Susan.

ERIC: Pleased to meet you, Susan. I'll be our team's science intern. Officially, I'm part of the planetological survey group, so I'm working for both the Friends Service Committee and the Marine Corps of Engineers.

NATHAN: That's this whole operation, really. I know we're coming to this work from very different points of view, but it seems to be working so far. The higher-ups are really impressed with what we've been able to achieve together.

ERIC: Anyway, this is going to be quite an adventure!

SUSAN: I'm looking forward to it. [pause] One other thing, Nathan -- about this reconnaissance of yours?


SUSAN: Do you think they've noticed?

NATHAN: That's hard to say. We've used our best stealth capabilities, but we still don't know the full extent of what they can see.

ERIC: With those eyes, I wouldn't put it past them.

NATHAN: Why do you ask?

SUSAN: I just hope you haven't frightened them, that's all.

NATHAN: Oh, I wouldn't worry about that, they're not easily frightened.



QYNI & YRISA: [ mp3Strange Rumors ]



ERIC: [fiddles with gadget] Are we really going to make contact using these handheld phrasebooks? When are we getting those real translator headsets?

NATHAN: We're getting the headsets with the next drop -- and we're not getting them programmed without a lot more linguistic data than we're ever going to acquire covertly, so: contact. [fiddles with gadget] [series of high-pitched squeaky noises]

SUSAN: Did that thing just say what I think it said?

ERIC: Yeah, I think it did.

NATHAN: So? This thing has a limited vocabulary. Do you have a better idea of what to say?

SUSAN: [flashing light] Shhh, here they come! [looks at display screen] Hey, they're right on top of us? How did they get past those perimeter sensors?

NATHAN: [looks out of window with infrared googles] I don't know, but goodness, they're quick. I'll bet this is a party of those elite scouts we've heard about. Are you sure you guys are ready to go through with this?

ERIC: We may as well -- if they are elite scouts, they're going to find us anyway.

NATHAN: Alright, let's do it. Nobody do anything stupid! Ready?

SUSAN: Ready!

ERIC: Ready!

[door opens]


[door opens] [humans step out]

NATHAN: [incomprehensible bass mumbling]

SUSAN: [incomprehensible bass mumbling]

ERIC: [incomprehensible bass mumbling] [fiddles with gadget] We come in peace. Take us to your leader.

[a net drops over them]

YRISA: I'm their leader. Who and what are you? You seem to be able to speak, so answer me!

SUSAN: [incomprehensible bass mumbling]

NATHAN: [incomprehensible bass mumbling]

ERIC: [incomprehensible bass mumbling] [fiddles with gadget] [holds up gadget]

ERIC, SUSAN, NATHAN, YRISA & SCOUT: [ mp3Speaking Lessons ]



[fade up on bickering already in progress]

QYNI: So, those of your kind who are here represent two different clans?

SUSAN: We represent two different [fiddles with gadget] guilds.

QYNI: Tell us about these guilds.

NATHAN: I represent the [unintelligible mumbling] [fiddles with gadget] Federation Marine Corps of Engineers, a guild of [fiddles with gadget] artisans and builders which is itself part of our guild of warriors.

SUSAN: And I represent the [fiddles with gadget] Interplanetary Friends Service Committee, a guild which provides aid to planets in need of assistance. The IFSC is part of the [fiddles with gadget] Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, a religious group devoted to peace.

YRISA: Warriors and cowards together? Why?

SUSAN: Not cowards-- [fiddles with gadget a lot] [unintelligible mumble aside to Eric]

ERIC: [unintelligible mumble aside to Susan] [fiddles with gadget] I don't know if there's a word for this idea in your language. We choose [fiddles with gadget] cooperation because we believe that it is both a greater courage and a better solution than fighting.

YRISA: Warriors of cooperation?

SUSAN: [takes a deep breath] Yes, you could say that.

QYNI: And you bring aid to planets in need of assistance? Are we in need of assistance? What can we, who have lived here for a thousand generations, need from you, who have only just arrived and know nothing of our land?

ERIC: We've been here longer than you know, watching you -- and we study quickly. While we have much to learn about your ways, we may already know more than you do about your sun.

QYNI: It's not good for decent folk to study the Sun's bright ways! What can you know of the Sun that would profit us?

ERIC: His plans.

ERIC, SUSAN, NATHAN, QYNI, YRISA & SCOUT: [ mp3Long, Bright Day ]



ERIC & SIRA: [ mp3Science Lessons ]

[students gasp]

ERIC: Er, hold you in the shade--?

SIRA: Shut up, Eric! Now it's your turn to listen.

SIRA: [ mp3Shade ]

[students exit]

ERIC: [taps Sira on the shoulder as she passes] Sira, was that really necessary?

SIRA: [looks around to see that the others have gone] Shhh! Do you promise you won't tell them I told you what I'm about to tell you?

ERIC: I won't tell.

SIRA: [looks round again] Alright. Eric, that wasn't about you, and it wasn't about theology. We're not mystics, we tell the old stories because they're the old stories -- but there are times when they have to be told. In the ordeal that's coming, some of us may be hurt, but most will pass -- the ones who aren't cut out to join the Daughters of the Moon have already dropped out of training, or didn't apply.

ERIC: Right.

SIRA: But, of those who pass, one will pass best. One will be distinguished among her sisters as a leader. I intend for that to be me. Part of achieving that is showing that I don't take claw from anyone. That is what that was about. Do you understand now?

ERIC: I think I do. Good luck, Sira. I'll be holding you and your sisters in the shade.

SIRA: That's appreciated, Eric, but in this, I have to make my own shade.

ERIC: I know. That's why I'll be holding you in the shade.



YRISA, SCOUT & SIRA: [ mp3Dark Moon Daughter ]



YRISA: [ mp3Star-flecked Nights ]

[all cheer]

[sounds of celebration continue in the background]

ERIC: Congratulations! So now what happens?

SIRA: Now we celebrate all night and all through the day. You might want to sleep at some point. I know I won't.

[sounds of celebration fade out as Eric falls asleep in the middle of the party]

[emergency whistle]

ALL: [ mp3The Raid ]


QYNI: Thank you, Yrisa, your scouts fought bravely and well against an awful and honorless foe. You are to be commended.

YRISA: I'm sorry, Qyni, I cannot accept your commendation tonight. We have failed. Raiders entered the third north nursery and took two handfuls of our children! We were occupied on other fronts and could not stop them in time. I'm so sorry.

QYNI: Oh, good Moon, children?!

YRISA: Eric and Sira were captured as well, trying to save them.

QYNI: And they escaped, carrying such a burden as Eric? Did you send no pursuit?

YRISA: Qyni, you have heard rumor of these weapons our enemy has stolen from the humans, but you have not seen them. I fear to face such bright lanterns again from the shade of a fortress. I dare not face them in the open desert. If I ordered a pursuit, I would be leading my sisters only to their deaths.

QYNI: [takes a deep breath] What are your plans?

YRISA: With your blessing, Qyni, I wish to send envoys to our trustworthy neighbors to propose an alliance against the outlaws. I don't know how we can do it without the humans' help, but I intend to force our enemy's unconditional surrender.

QYNI: You may do these things with the council's blessing.

SUSAN: Please, Qyni, Yrisa, don't do this.

QYNI: Be silent.

QYNI, YRISA & SUSAN: [ mp3War vs. Peace/Open Your Eyes ]



YRISA: Why don't you two think about that, then?! For me, the time for deliberation is over. All my bones say to act, so I will make ready to act. Consult with your people, consider your own choices -- but don't consider too long! I wish I saw another way, a peaceful way, but I don't. When we are ready, we will strike, with you or without you.



SUSAN: Nathan, why am I not getting through to them?

NATHAN: You're a true believer in the peace testimony, aren't you?

SUSAN: I am.

NATHAN: I admire your conviction. For myself, I'm pretty much a convinced realist -- and so are they. They're not ready to become pacifists, not the way you are -- your trust in the power of nonviolence is totally outside of their experience. At the same time, they understand the idea of peace, and they can see what being at peace would mean for them. We can teach them that peace, together.

SUSAN: What you and I mean by peace are two very different things.

NATHAN: I know. [ mp3Peace vs. Peace ]



SIRA: [ mp3The Escape (Part 1) ]

SIRA: Eric?

ERIC: Sira! How did you--

SIRA: Shhh! I am the Moon's darkest daughter, I know many secrets. How did you--

ERIC: I'm a lot bigger than they are. Also, I think chemistry may be a factor. [holds up a dart] What's this supposed to do?

SIRA: [sniffs at it] It's supposed to knock you out cold. What did it do?

ERIC: Itch. A lot. It still does, but I can move.

SIRA: Let me see that. [carefully sucks the poison from the wound] There, you should be alright. We've got to get out of here.

ERIC: I know. [holds up backpack] Will this help? It looks like an FMCE wilderness survival kit, but I don't recognize the configuration.

SIRA: What's in it?

ERIC: I don't know, I haven't had time to look.

SIRA: Well, hold on to it. Stay here, and try to stay out of sight. I'm going to go find the others.

SIRA: [ "The Escape" (Part 2) ]



SIRA: Eric? Eric? Eric, get up!

ERIC: Uh, ow... Sira! Thank goodness you're alright!

SIRA: What happened?

ERIC: You were right, it was a trap. We were ambushed by archers. Everyone was hit. I didn't see what happened to the others -- I just lay down and played dead as soon as I could. From the pain in my side, I'm guessing my chemistry saved me again. [holds up dart]

SIRA: [sniffs at it] Oh, Moon, Eric, you have no idea how lucky you are. This is a stronger drug in the same family. It's called "two hops".

ERIC: Let me guess, you go two hops and then--

SIRA: Fall over stone dead. [pause] All of them?

ERIC: I'm afraid so. Oh, Sira, I'm so sorry!

SIRA: No, Eric, I'm sorry. I should never have sent you on without me.

ERIC: I don't know if there's anything you could have done, Sira. The enemy struck quickly and without honor, and they had the advantage of the terrain. It was all over so quickly. Maybe you could have saved yourself, but...

SIRA: I see. [takes a deep breath] Eric, this is very bad. Using such a poison on people -- on children! -- goes well beyond the laws of honorable war. I don't know if there's any limit to the brightness our enemies will commit. We have no time to mourn, much less to bury our dead -- we have to get away from here, now. Luckily, I did find a map. [opens the map] [looks up at the sky] Right. We have fifteen minutes to get here. [points at map] Let's go. [folds up the map]

ERIC: What's there? And what happens in fifteen minutes?

SIRA: A dark hole far from any major patrol routes, and sunrise. Come on!


SIRA: [sighs] Shade, for the moment. Here, have some water. Let me get a better look at that map and figure out how we're going to get home. [unfolds map]

ERIC: Can I have a look?

SIRA: I don't know if that'll help, Eric. On a map like this, many important notations will be in a kind of code which I'll be lucky to be able to crack, and much of it will be in colors you can't see.

ERIC: Are these squiggly areas mountains?

SIRA: Yeah, they are. Good spotting!

ERIC: If that's the same Y-shaped group of mountains I remember from our initial surveys, we're a long way from home.

SIRA: We might have been carried for many nights while we were drugged unconscious. And at this time of year, our enemies' hunting and foraging parties -- or should I say, raiding parties? -- will mostly be arrayed south of their main nest, between us and home.

ERIC: That won't do at all. But-- hey, what's this notation?

SIRA: This, which I'm not sure you can see anyway because it's only visible in heat-light, is a detailed manifest which is written in code, but this is a general symbol indicating a cache of tools, weapons and supplies, as distinguished from a cache of food and water.

ERIC: I'll be that's the FMCE recon flyer those bandits stole their gear from! It's in the right place. Nathan said the flyer's probably a wreck, but I'll bet there's a radio we can use to call for help. What's this other writing?

SIRA: Also in code, but from the way it's written, I'd guess it says that the site will be abandoned during the high summer migration -- which is now.

ERIC: Completely abandoned?

SIRA: I think so.

ERIC: Why?

SIRA: That far north, there'll be too much sunlight during the summer.

ERIC: Hmmmm... How much too much sunlight?

SIRA: I can't tell you. We're too far north of the country where I was raised. When I can get a look at the stars, that'll help, but I don't think I can do the calculations for this high latitude in my head.

ERIC: Now I wish I had a globe. You'll just have to make your best guess.

SIRA: Reckoning sunrise isn't something we like to guess about.

ERIC: I don't think we have a choice.

SIRA: True. Very well, I will guess. We'll set out again at nightfall. Meanwhile, drink water, and try to get some sleep. We have a long, bright journey ahead of us.


SIRA & ERIC: [ mp3Walk in the Day ]



[morse code beeping in background under this entire scene]

NATHAN: Yes, Colonel, I'm sure it's our people. [pause] Yes, I want you to send someone to retrieve them! And for God's sake, hurry! [pause] Yes. Yes, sir. Thank you. [click]

YRISA: What news?

NATHAN: Only Eric and Sira escaped. The others-- I'm sorry. But Eric and Sira made it to that wrecked flyer and were able to fix the radio. A squad of marines is going out right now to retrieve them. They're coming home.

SUSAN: Oh, thank God.



SUSAN: Eric! I'm so glad you're alright!

ERIC: Oh, Susan, it's so good to see you. Did you really get them to agree to come to Meeting for Worship?

SUSAN: Would you believe, I told Yrisa that Meeting is a kind of inner battle?

NATHAN: Yesterday, I wouldn't have believed you'd say something like that.

SUSAN: I'm learning to speak to them in their own language, finally. I think something's getting through.

QYNI: You told me it was like quietly taking an accounting of one's innermost self. You've learned that all our males are supposed to be bureaucrats! I like that. [laughs]

YRISA: Actually, Susan, to me it sounds more like a kind of hunting. You wait very quietly to see what comes, and then you pounce on it.

SUSAN: When a Meeting is truly gathered, it's much more like the Lady's Shade pouncing on you.

SIRA: We'll see. With the utmost respect for our Lady Moon, Yrisa's not easily pounced on!

SUSAN: [takes a deep breath] Let's begin.

ALL: [ mp3Meeting for Worship with Attention to Shade ]

Tags: nerdity, plan, religion, song, story

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  • I'm with her

    I'm thinking of a lady — a very famous lady — whose story has been retold at this time of year since ancient times. You may have heard of her.…

  • A very narrow bridge

    The Hebrew text is a saying attributed to Reb. Nachman of Breslov: "The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the essential thing is not to…

  • Songs index page updated

    The songs mentioned in the last song roundup post are now linked from my songs index page. Someday, that page will get a complete overhaul, but not…