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Sign Language Studies
American Annals of the Deaf
the Deaf Character and Other Plays
BIG CHEESE: Oh Mighty Mouse, I got a great story! “The Turtle
and the Rabbit”!! I just thought of it. You know, the turtle and
the rabbit? They have a race. The big-headed rabbit bets that
he can beat the turtle. I won’t tell you what happens in the end.
What do you think?
QUEEN BEE: Hey buster, I gave you that idea.
BIG CHEESE: Aw, you gave me a little teensy-weensy idea, but I
made it a much bigger idea. Anyway, thanks all the same.
QUEEN BEE: Is that all I get? Just a “little teensy-weensy” thanks?
BIG CHEESE: Whaddya want? Flowers and an Olympic gold
QUEEN BEE: Ooooohhh, big shot! C’mon, put ’em up!
BIG CHEESE: Okay, okay, I’ll give you a tip.
MIGHTY MOUSE: Wait a minute, now! This is no way to make
QUEEN BEE: You tell him!
MIGHTY MOUSE: This takes cooperation and teamwork! Everybody
is equal—I don’t want any stars in this play.
BIG CHEESE: Fine! You’re the director; I’ll do what you tell me
[QUEEN BEE and BIG CHEESE angrily walk away from each other.]
BLUE J: (To WATERCOLOR, “down below,” behind the second flat.)
Okay, throw it.
[WATERCOLOR makes a wild throw with a beach ball. BLUE J barely
catches it and orders QUEEN BEE to set it in a corner. QUEEN BEE
misunderstands and throws the ball to SWEET CORN, who is setting
up props near the corner. Puzzled, SWEET CORN throws the ball to
MIGHTY MOUSE, who is trying to figure out the clothesline set-up.
MIGHTY MOUSE throws the ball to BIG CHEESE, who is sulking in
a corner. Not knowing what to do with it, BIG CHEESE throws the ball
back to BLUE J. BLUE J repeats his order with more emphasis. QUEEN
BEE and the group do the same thing. BLUE J repeats himself one more
time. Meanwhile, WATERCOLOR throws up another object, like a hat.
BLUE J catches it and orders QUEEN BEE to set it in the corner. Same
problem as before. By now the group is having fun. A gas can gets thrown
up, and soon the five actors are juggling objects among themselves. At
first, it is pandemonium but later it changes to a rhythm with the actors
laughing and carrying on.
WATERCOLOR enters nonchalantly with her paints and brushes. Seeing
it is “raining” with objects, she opens an umbrella and walks through
the group. After she passes them, everybody stops. WATERCOLOR stops,
looks back at them, shrugs her shoulders, and moves on.
BLUE J remembers why he was angry and retrieves all of the objects
and sets them in the corner where he wanted them. He demonstrates to
QUEEN BEE what she was supposed to have done. QUEEN BEE grabs
the ball out of BLUE J’s hand, gives it to SWEET CORN, and blames her.
SWEET CORN blames MIGHTY MOUSE, and so on until the whole
group is quickly passing the ball around in a circle having fun; all the while
BLUE J is running around trying to catch the ball. Finally, BLUE J rears
up like a bull and comes running into the small circle. The characters catch
him flying in midair and hold him there. WATERCOLOR picks up the ball, which has
landed near her. She walks over to BLUE J and calmly
hands it to him and strokes his hair.]
MIGHTY MOUSE: (Breaking the tension.) Soooooo, what are you
planning to do with this clothesline?
QUEEN BEE: Ummm . . . (Drawing a blank.)
[SWEET CORN, covering for QUEEN BEE, grabs WATERCOLOR, who
is curious about the coffee cans dangling from each pole. The cans contain
clothespins. SWEET CORN “hangs” WATERCOLOR up on the line with
clothespins as if she were clothing that needed to be air-dried. MIGHTY
MOUSE approves of SWEET CORN’s idea.
WATERCOLOR demonstrates another alternative. All except QUEEN
BEE become subway or bus riders holding onto the overhead line.
MIGHTY MOUSE and BIG CHEESE become halves of the train door.
They come to a stop. QUEEN BEE gets on board and the doors quickly
shut behind her. The door halves fade and become more passengers. Everyone
BLUE J drifts forward half-asleep. He jerks awake and accidentally
pulls the emergency brake, which is the coffee can cord. The train or bus
stops suddenly. BLUE J gets an idea from the can. He demonstrates two
people talking on the phone. Standing outside the stage right pole, BLUE
J does a little improvisational sketch with QUEEN BEE, talking gibberish
on the phone. QUEEN BEE must be inside of the stage left pole.
After BLUE J and QUEEN BEE chat a bit, WATERCOLOR comes
around with a sheet of paper, helped by BIG CHEESE. They hang up the
paper in front of QUEEN BEE, who is chatting away.
When WATERCOLOR pulls the clothesline over she reveals MIGHTY
MOUSE in QUEEN BEE’s place holding the coffee can and looking
puzzled. Meanwhile, BLUE J is confused at how he lost QUEEN BEE on
the line. MIGHTY MOUSE blows into the can. BLUE J reacts to the air
coming through. WATERCOLOR comes back with a second sheet of paper
to hang next to the first sheet.]
MIGHTY MOUSE: What are you doing?
SWEET CORN: Watercolor is very, very smart. She’s setting up the
stage with curtains. When we are ready to perform, we can open
this and make entrances— (From behind, BIG CHEESE pokes his
head in between the “curtains.”) Like that!! Later, if you want background,
she can paint it. She can even change the background
while you act.
MIGHTY MOUSE: Brilliant!! That’s the best idea I’ve seen all
ALL: Watercolor, that’s awesome! Radical! Cool! (Etc.)
BIG CHEESE: (A little dejected.) Yeah, good idea.
MIGHTY MOUSE: Okay, everybody let’s get busy.
[WATERCOLOR gets busy preparing her paints and brushes in front of
the paper curtains.]
ALL: What are we doing?
MIGHTY MOUSE: You all know the Tortoise and the Hare story?
ALL: Oh yeah! Great!!
[WATERCOLOR goes to work on painting some curtains and a logo on
BIG CHEESE: Hey, I thought that was my idea. How come everybody
knows the story already?
QUEEN BEE: Silly! That’s an old fable. It was written a
quadrillion-zillion years ago. Everybody knows it.
MIGHTY MOUSE: Okay, pay attention. Big Cheese, I want you to
be the rabbit. And I want you, Queen Bee, to be the turtle.