Homelands

A Musical Fable, Dramatized in Five Acts
By Clyde Coreil

Characters
Bernard................................... Brave hearted young sparrow who sings wonderfully but can't fly. He is grumpy and often out-of-sorts.
Beamy..................................... Even-headed young female caterpillar who fears she is dying.
Toolie...................................... Human being of about 35 years, a foolish trickster whose redeeming virtue is his deep love for Angelina
Angelina.................................. Human being of about 30 who was locked up in a mental ward because she could communicate with animals.
Nose....................................... Toolie's good-hearted male hound dog (played by a young woman) who is always stumbling over himself.
Pablito.................................... Male Caribbean frog who has a casually formal approach to life and a profound love of all female frogs.
Dr. Crow................................. Faust-like crow who has entered into contract with the unseen Master Eagle to get characters to give up their dreams.
Ellie..................................... Shy female mouse who can tell the future of people if they ask.
Blackie................................. handsome, matinee idol-ish but little seen friend of Beamy
Rosa de la Noche.................. Pablito's latest sexy companion.
Bertha..................................... Beautiful sparrow, the love of Bernard. She departs with flock.
Burton..................................... Rough male sparrow lout.
Elder John............................... Sparrow on final migration, fears the loss of songbirds.
Bastamos, Keyralike, Zebulon.. Hooded underworld figures.

All are singing roles.

A Synopsis of Homelands

     As the curtain, rises, we see Bernard, a sparrow who can sing marvelously, struggling unsuccessfully to fly. His sweetheart must leave with the migrating flock and, devastated, he sings "If Ever." Vowing to follow her via the Mississippi River, he encounters a caterpillar named "Beamy" who saves his life when a human being, "Toolie," and his crazy hound dog "Nose" show up. Toolie is a likeable ex-convict and bird watcher whose beloved, Angelina, left him some years before. Toolie and Nose still miss her and sing" Starlight Dreams." It turns out that Bernard is a rare singer whom Toolie would like to capture. The grand chase down the River that results is an important motif.

     Beamy's parents passed away before telling her who she was and about the cocoon she would develop. She thought that that cocoon was a sign that she would soon disappear and probably die, as did Blackie, a fellow caterpillar whom she loved deeply. Aboard a home-made raft, Beamy and Bernard meet Pablito-a kindly male frog who falls in love with every female frog he sees. He thinks that Beamy is sick and suggests that they seek refuge at the small residence of Angelina on the banks of the River. (Because she communicated with animals, Angelina had been put in a mental institution from which she escaped and made a home of an isolated, abandoned cabin.) Feeling the proximity of what she interprets as death. Beamy asks Bernard to solemnly promise to take her remains to her homeland near "the mouth of the Mississippi, and she sings "Dreaming of Dreams" before being encapsulated during the night.

     Upon awakening, Bernard encounters Angelina who learns that Toolie is chasing him with Nose. Angelina is still in love with Toolie but she is also fearful of the devastation that follows him and his love of gambling. She flees down river, and Bernard and Elite sing "Requiem for Beamy" in front of the cocoon which he thinks contains his friend's body. Elite, a mouse who can foresee the future if asked, warns him that the mouth of the Mississippi is very, very far away and suggests that with the cocoon, he has no chance of getting there. However, Bernard is unrelenting in his commitment to the quest of burying Beamy in her homeland.

     Earlier in the play, we met Dr. Crow who transforms creatures from what they are to what they want to be. The price he extols consists of something intertwined' with their hopes and dreams. He offered Bernard the power of flight in exchange for his ability to sing: Bernard declined, without knowing that songs such as his were necessary to the navigation of his migrating flock. Because of man's encroaching "civilization," au. of the flock's songbirds have become fat and lazy and had been killed. It was Bernard alone who could teach the young songbirds the necessary songs.

     After a great deal of difficulty, Bernard finds Beamy's homeland and discovers that she has become a beautiful butterfly. Flushed with success, he accepts Dr. Crow's offer and learns to fly, which is the most exhilarating thing he has ever done. Learning of his flock's situation, however, he forces the reversal of the transformation. His beloved Bertha has married another, and again he cannot participate in the northward migration. He does, however, teach the young songbirds to sing and to navigate successfully. He is sad and lonely, but he has followed his quest and done his duty. In the grand finale song "Homelands", all of the characters express their deep affection for Bernard.

©Clyde Coreil, 2002
 

 

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