David Gribble : Education for Freedom Respect Children
     
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The David Gribble Archive : Music

Mini-musicals for small casts

The first of these was written after Dartington Hall School was visited by a theatre group consisting of two men and two women, who gave a performance which involved the audience in the action. I thought the actors were good, but their material was inadequate, so I wrote Science Rules, OK, and submitted it to them. They were not interested, but it has been produced on two separate occasions, once by school students within the school, and once at a big conference at Dartington Hall itself, with an adult cast. A year or so later I wrote Roll on, the Free Life, another mini-musical in the same format – four actors taking several roles, a pianist and the audience invited to join in as a chorus. This was performed once at the school, and once at a party for the Dartington Playgoers, who liked it so much that they asked me to write another musical especially for them (see below).

Science Rules, OK, is about a conflict between natural health enthusiasts and scientists. Both sides have elevated their approach to the status of religions, and the show starts with pseudo-religious services, in which the audience is invited to join. In the first hymn, to the tune of ‘All through the night,’ all they have to sing is, ‘All through the day.’

Science the universal power
          All through the day
From nuclear bomb to plastic flower
          All through the day.
Naught can put thy laws asunder.
Though the world may end in thunder
Science can explain the wonder,
          All through the day.

Hear us serve thee, love thee, prove thee,
          All through the day.
Nothing ever can remove thee
          All through the day.
Noble science, kindly lead us,
Warm us, cool us clothe us, speed us,
Purify us, guard us, feed us,
          All through the day.

Keep us safe from realms ethereal,
          All through the day.
Keep our minds on things material,
          All through the day.
Guard us from imagination
And artistic inspiration.
May we keep to observation
          All through the day.

Two of the songs from this musical have proved suitable for cabaret performance, and have been used several times. They are a bread recipe, and Science cannot rest.

Roll on, the Free Life, written in the 1970s, has become suddenly topical again in the 2010s. It is a Utopian vision of a world that decides to do without money altogether, and succeeds in doing so. The capitalist world fights back, with, for example, television commercials advertising money, but eventually gives way. Two songs from this play too have often been performed as independent pieces, There could have been a lot of money made and Monopoly. A particularly clear example of the way the lyrics lost their topicality and then unexpectedly recovered it, comes in There could have been a lot of money made, in which a capitalist is bemoaning the foolishness of the left.

And then they started on free education
And free medical treatment – that’s worse,
But the Tories understand the situation.
At least they’ve gone into reverse.

The Utopianism is unrealistic, but the satire is accurate.


 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
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