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THE BIRTH OF PAUL BUNYAN
By
Robert Red-Baer

 


Copyright 1978 by Robert Red-Baer


Robert Red-Baer offers individuals or theatre groups the production of this play royalty free (profit or non-profit)-- but they must receive permission from Robert Red-Baer.  If interested in producing this play, please click on the following box.


CAST OF CHARACTERS

Oliver Bunyan
Victoria Bunyan
Man
Woman
Dancer 1
Dancer 2
*Man 2
*Woman 2
*Woman 3
*Old Woman
*These parts can be doubled.

 


There are three main sets:1. Sparsely furnished kitchen with a smashed TV. Somewhere over the kitchen area or even in a special area of its own is a beach ball that can be raised and lowered when needed.



The house is darkened and a special comes up on the down right end of the thrust. FATS is standing there with his ax. He Is big, fat, wearing a lumber jacket decorated with flowers and he is carrying a giant ax.

FATS: No. I am not Paul Bunyan (Blackout and a radio broadcast Is heard.)

BROADCAST: And the Television Conspiracy is getting worse, Deaths due to It are now reaching two hundred. In less than three months twenty states have had all their televisions smashed. Amazingly enough, there has not been the slightest hint as to Who the culprits are. Many of the hardest hit places have been the movie theaters and bowling alleys. A bowling alley in Pasadena tumbled to the ground when people unable to get lanes started smashing the pillars that supported the structure, A ticket seller In the box office of a movie theater in Trenton, N.J. was beaten to death by angry mob when he told them the movie was sold out for the next month. This brings the death toll of ticket sellers to fifty-one for the past three months. Many public places have been forced to close down. Fifteen states have called in their national guard, and the rest are prepared to. A couple in Missouri was beaten to death and their house overrun, when found to be hoarding a TV set. The president is pleading for national unity so we can find, and fight this menace. This is the worst dis... (Fade out and the lights go up in the kitchen. Victoria is sitting at the table and Oliver is pacing back and forth.)

OLIVER: I'm tired of sitting around. I've got to do something.

VICTORIA: If only they hadn't smashed our television. The poor thing, sitting there all smashed and broken.

OLIVER: They ought to be hung, whoever did that.

VICTORIA: Let's go to a movie,

OLIVER: Either they have closed down, or they're sold out for months. How long has it been now, Victoria?

VICTORIA: Almost a week now. Our TV has been dead almost a week.

OLIVER: It seems like years.

VICTORIA (crying): Oh Oliver, what can we do? My life seems so desolate and barren. Everything that ever meant anything Is gone. I may as well be dead.

OLIVER: I think I have an idea.

VICTORIA: What's that?

OLIVER: I was reading about It this morning... Remember our honeymoon? The wonderful times we had in bed.

VICTORIA: How can I ever forget that, Oliver, you and me lying there in our double bed, our meals brought to us whenever we pressed a button, and doing nothing but focusing our attention on that beautiful 50 inch color TV that never needed adjusting. Never a line, a squiggle or even the most minute tremor. It was just absolutely breathtaking. I don't remember exactly what we watched, but It was just so beautiful. We could even change the volume and channels in bed. Oh, Oliver, how could I ever forget the most beautiful two weeks of my life? Oh, remember when I saw that line in the middle of the TV and started crying when I thought we would have to get up and adjust it... and It was just a part of the program? (laughs) Remember?... Oh, Oliver, what can we do? (Crying.)

OLIVER: I was reading about a honeymoon this morning and I think there was something else we should have done ... I know there was something else!

VICTORIA: What was it?

OLIVER: We don't even need a TV.

VICTORIA: What could we do without a TV?

OLIVER: I can't explain It. But I read all about It and I can show you.

VICTORIA: You can?

OLIVER: Let's go to bed.

VICTORIA: Go to bed? Whatever for? I'm not tired.

OLIVER: I know, Victoria. Now I know!

VICTORIA: Oh, darling, you mean you've known all this time. Oh, Oliver, why didn't you tell me before. Is that why you've been acting so strange today?

OLIVER: Yes, my love. yes.

VICTORIA: Tell me now, dear. Tell me now.

OLIVER: I'll tell you In bed.

VICTORIA: You can tell me who it is here. Why do you have to tell me In bed?

OLIVER: Who what is?

VICTORIA: Who smashed our TV. That is what you know ... isn't it?

OLIVER: Not, let's go to bed, and I'll show you. (Pulls her clothes and they start to rip.)

VICTORIA: What the hell are we supposed to do? Look at the ceiling?

OLIVER: Come on, Vic...

VICTORIA: Well, I don't want to sleep, either. What's the matter with you. There's no TV in there anymore, or have you forgotten?

OLIVER: I want to go to bed without a TV.

VICTORIA: Then go!

OLIVER: With you, Victoria. With you. (Grabs her.) I want to touch you, to be close to you, to warm and comfort you, to cherish y......

VICTORIA: You can do that In a super market. Under the salamis.

OLIVER: Would you try to understand. Please. Ever since the TV was gone and after seeing that magazine, I have this urge to be with you. Alone.

VICTORIA: We are alone.

OLIVER: Alone In bed.

VICTORIA: After fifteen years of marriage, fifteen years of satisfaction, you decide to crack up. What's the matter with you, Oliver? Why do you have this fixation on bed all of a sudden?

OLIVER: Well that magazine, the one I found in the attic this morning There were these couples all doing these exciting things to each other.

VICTORIA: What magazine?

OLIVER: A magazine of grandfathers. It was called "Honeymoon" and it had all these honeymoon pictures In it.

VICTORIA: Never saw it.

OLIVER: Well I read it In the bathroom this morning and believe me, I know what I am doing.

VICTORIA: It can't be that if you read it in the bathroom. How much can you learn In the bathroom?

OLIVER: Enough. (Rips some more of her clothes.) Let's go in the bedroom.

VICTORIA: No!

OLIVER: Okay, we'll do It here In the kitchen. (Starts pulling off her clothes.)

VICTORIA: What the hell are you taking my clothes off for?! It's not time for my bath.

OLIVER: (Vigorously): I've also been talking to the barber. I've been...

VICTORIA: Oliver, stop it!

OLIVER: I've been asking questions and getting answers. I know, Victoria. Now I know.

VICTORIA: What're you trying to do? Kill me? you'll never get away with it, Oliver. They'll catch you.. Look at the fingerprints. And the motive, they'll know you did It for my money!

OLIVER: What money?

VICTORIA: My piggy bank. It's full now. They'll hang you for this! Oliver They'll hang you!

OLIVER (Lights start down): I don't want to kill you. (Oliver has her practically naked and sprawled on the kitchen table.) That's not what I want.

VICTORIA: Be careful. you're going to break something!

OLIVER: That's the Idea. Now you're learning. (Blackout.)

VICTORIA (Music starts to fade in.): Oliver, what do you think you're going to do with that? You better put it back. Oliver, it doesn't belong there. Oliver! That thing will never fit there!

Kitchen table falls over. The music is brought up to its full Intensity and the entire stage is lighted to give a dream-like effect, possibly with a strobe light. Victoria is seen trying to crawl from behind the table and Oliver, unseen behind the table, pulls her back behind It. Two STRIPPERS dance seductively at both ends of the stage. Everything is done in time to the music.

Fats appears on the fore stage with a basket of flowers and his ax strapped to him. He slowly walks up the aisle throwing them to the audience one by one.

As he is doing this the curtain opens to show a scantily dressed girl sitting on the bed eating a banana. The beach ball is slowly lowered and she drops her banana, walks over to the beach ball and caresses and makes love to it. A man climbs over from behind the curtain and follows her to the beach ball. He is carrying a machine gun that shoots black water and is constantly shooting the girl with it. During the last stanza the ball to raised and she desperately tries to hold on to the ball and collapses when she can no longer touch it. The man keeps shooting her.

While all this Is going on, Oliver backs away from the kitchen table wearing a fake keyboard and nothing else. The keyboard hangs at his waist. Victoria follows him in her tattered clothes playing his keyboard and Oliver backs up around the set and then backs up behind the table with Victoria still playing his piano. He backs up to the table on the last stanza.

During the last of the song, Fats,, who has exited through the rear of the theater, walks back carrying his ax and a cardboard TV. He goes to the right of the fore stage and sets the TV down and smashes it an the last beat of the song.

FATS: No. I am not Paul Bunyan (Onward song plays and Fats marches down the aisle out the rear of the theater with the man and 3 women following him. The lights go down and come up in the kitchen when they exit. Victoria climbs from behind the kitchen table In her tattered clothes that give glimpses of everything.

VICTORIA: Now I know.- (Oliver climbs out from behind the kitchen table wearing tattered underpants. He hangs over the table.)

OLIVER: Never again. Never!

VICTORIA: Let's do it again!

OLIVER: That was the most undesirable thing I have ever done. Oh God, was it undesirable. And to think it looked clean and natural in that magazine.

VICTORIA: Oh Oliver. I really know now.

OLIVER: Know what? Who smashed the TV?

VICTORIA: I know what we did. I never realized people actually did things like that, I meant I never know wives did it.

OLIVER: I'm not even sure it's legal.

VICTORIA: It may not be legal, but it sure was better than TV!

OLIVER: I feel terrible. I wish our nice, clean, enjoyable and morally satisfying TV weren't smashed.

VICTORIA: Is that what the poor people do, the ones who don't have television?

OLIVER: Why do you they call it POOR-nography.

VICTORIA: I never know that. Well even If the poor people do it, I think everyone should and we should tell our friends and the grocer and the cashier at Sears and just tell everyone about it! How do you know about such things, Oliver?

OLIVER: I read about It In that magazine. How many times do I have to tell you?

VICTORIA: Oh, Oliver. You know so much. I'm so happy I married such an intelligent man. You're so Intelligent

OLIVER: I read a lot.

VICTORIA: Can't we do it again?

OLIVER: I think I'll go to a movie.

VICTORIA: You won't be able to get in.

OLIVER: I'll stand outside the door.

VICTORIA: You'll get a chill,

OLIVER: It's summer.

VICTORIA: There's a strong wind. The kind we had when I was a small child.

OLIVER: That reminds me of being a small. child once, too. I can remember being little and small ... like a child.
VICTORIA: Being chilled by a strong wind.

OLIVER: My mother was killed by George Washington in a strong wind.

VICTORIA: My mother never ventured out in strong winds.

OLIVER: George Washington was riding a horse. It blew over with him.

VICTORIA: My mother was afraid or getting hit by a runaway kite.

OLIVER: Her head was crushed by the horse's behind.

VICTORIA: Oliver sweety. Let's go to bed.

OLIVER: I'll bet it was an alien From outer space.

VICTORIA: We could just bring the mattress out.

OLIVER. I think I'll track the culprit down.

VICTORIA: I'll tell you what. We'll just bring out the pillows.

OLIVER: If I ever caught him...

VICTORIA: One pillow?

OLIVER: I'd be a national hero!

VICTORIA (sets the kitchen table upright): HOW about right here on the table?

OLIVER: I could write a ballad about the capture.

VICTORIA: We could use the table cloth mother gave me. (Pulls It out of the drawer.)

OLIVER: I could sing it as the president gives me the medal of honor.

VICTORIA (Spreads tablecloth on the floor): The floor would be just fine.

OLIVER: I can just see Johnny Carson begging me to go on his show.

VICTORIA (Throws tablecloth in the corner): We don't even need the cruddy tablecloth.

OLIVER: My father would beg my forgiveness after he saw my first movie.

VICTORIA: We could do It right here. Standing up.

OLIVER: He'll never call me a lazy good-for-nothing bum again.

VICTORIA: Can I sea that magazine you found?

OLIVER (There is knocking on the door): That must be Johnny Carson now. (Goes to mirror and starts straightening himself out. Knocking) Let him in, Victoria.

VICTORIA: We can't do it on Johnny Carson. Why should I let him In? (knocking)

OLIVER: I'll sing my ballad anywhere I please. What do you mean I can't do it on Johnny Carson?!

VICTORIA: Well ... I suppose we could always knock him out and do It on him. That would be better than the floor. (Knocking continues. Victoria opens the door and Fats is standing there with his ax.)

OLIVER: He's probably In tears by now. Would you open the door, Victoria!

VICTORIA: He's got an ax with him.

OLIVER (Still looking in mirror): Johnny, you're the one person that doesn't have to beat my door down.

VICTORIA: Are you Johnny Carson?

FATS: No. I an not Johnny Carson.

VICTORIA: Who are you?

FATS: I am not Paul Bunyan.

VICTORIA: It's some fat man who says he's not Paul Bunyan.

OLIVER: Tell him I can only give him a few minutes. The president should be here with my model of honor any time now. Us heroes can't waste our time just with anybody.

VICTORIA: My husband sai...

FATS: I heard.

VICTORIA: Have a seat.

FATS: No, thank you. I left mine home.

VICTORIA: You a lumberjack?

FATS: No. I am not a lumberjack.

VICTORIA: That's nice...  Oliver-- he's not a lumberjack.

OLIVER (Still in mirror): Big deal.

VICTORIA: If you're selling axes, we really don't need one.

FATS: I'm not selling axes.

VICTORIA: Oh, I see. You're not selling axes ... We don't want to rent one either.

OLIVER (Has his hair combed and a tie on, but still no pants.): What do 'you want? Make It fast, I'm expecting some important people.

FATS: 'Who are you expecting?

OLIVER: Oh, the pres... Well actually... I guess I was just... I'm not expecting anyone. (Embarrassed.) It was just a joke. Who are you?

VICTORIA: He's not Johnny Carson and he's not Paul Bunyan. I think he's here to rent us an ax.

OLIVER: The TV's were all smashed with axes. They're trying to outlaw them, but some wood chopping club is keeping them from doing it. (To Fats.) What do think I am. A television smasher? Do you that I want people to think I smash TV's? Well listen to this, Mister ax renter. I come from a fine upstanding family. My mother lived as a patriot and died as a patriot. My mother had a fine upstanding patriotic death. If you don't believe me, ask the parks department. Now you can take your ax and rent it to some deviate, but don't you got the Idea you're going to pressure me into renting It. I have principles. Yes air, I have principles.

VICTORIA: We can't do it on your principles.

FATS: I'm not an ax renter.

OLIVER: What Is your name?

FATS (pause.): Fatso!

OLIVER: Watch who you're calling Fatso, buddy!

FATS: You can call me Fats for short.

VICTORIA: Oliver, maybe we could borrow his coat.

OLIVER: What's the ax for?

FATS: I want to make a deal.

VICTORIA: We could never do it on an ax.

FATS: May I borrow a chair?

OLIVER: What for?

FATS: I left mine at home and I would like to sit down.

OLIVER: Get him a chair, Victoria.

VICTORIA (Gets chair.): Well... maybe we could try it on an ax.

OLIVER: What do you want? (accusingly) What's the ax for... Fats?

FATS: I want to make a deal.

OLIVER: Why did you return to the scene of the crime? They always do it, you know. I'm on to you Fats.

VICTORIA: He looks nice and soft. Let's knock him out, Oliver.

OLIVER: Come on, Fats. I've caught you. You may as well confess. What's the ax for... smashing televisions?

FATS: I use the ax to smash things. (Victoria looks at him.)

OLIVER: I knew it. I knew It all the time. What kind of things do you smash with the ax, Fatso?

VICTORIA: You smash thingsEWith that big ax?

FATS: I take this big ax... (Raises it over his head.) And smash things. (Slams it into the floor.)

VICTORIA: Oooo...

OLIVER: Did you hear that, Victoria? He's the one, He's been smashing all the TV's. I made him confess. Go phone the president!

VICTORIA (Walks slowly towards the phone.): Do we have to, Oliver? He has such a nice ax. Oooo...

FATS (Stands up threatening.): I said before. I want to make a dealt

VICTORIA: Oooo...

OLIVER: You can threaten me all you want. You must be punished for your nasty deeds. you're the worst of the worst. You ... You television smasher!

FATS: I want your wife.

OLIVER: You want my wife.

FATS: Yes. I want Victoria.

VICTORIA: Oooo...

OLIVER: I got it now. You're tired of axing TV's. You went to start on wives now. I would never expose my Victoria to that threatening ax of yours.

VICTORIA: (Moves towards Fats.): Oooo...

OLIVER: I have principles.

FATS: I'm willing to give you a new television for her.

OLIVER: What kind of man do you think I am? My mother died a great patriot. She died a...

FATS: It's a state-of-the-art color TV.

VICTORIA (Sits next to Fats and puts her hand on his ax.) : Oooo...

OLIVER: Color TV, huh... I could never destroy my family name like that. My poor mother would roll in her patriotic grave.

FATS: It has a four foot screen.

VICTORIA (Stroking the ax.): Oooo...

OLIVER: Four feet!

FATS: Yes, Oliver, four feet.

VICTORIA: Oooo...

OLIVER: I don't know. I have principles. My mother, as you know, was a...

FATS: It's right over there, under that sheet.

VICTORIA: Male the damn trade, you idiot. I can't wait all day!

OLIVER: Well...

FATS: Four feet. Big enough to walk through.

VICTORIA: Take it!

OLIVER: It sure sounds...

FATS: You'll be the only one in your state. Just think, Oliver...

VICTORIA: Go on, Oliver.

OLIVER: Well there is this thing about my principles and....

FATS: Go an over and look at It.

OLIVER (Walks over to the TV and pulls the sheet off of it): Wow! It's the most beautiful TV I have ever seen. I'll take it. It's a deal. I'll take it!

VICTORIA: Oooooo...   (Lights go dim and change back to their dream state. Fats leads Victoria out of the door with her holding onto the ax. Music fades in as soon as the TV Is turned on. Voices from the 20's are heard on the TV.)

MAN: Okay, baby, you ratted on us and I'm going to fin you full of holes.

WOMAN: Please don't kill me. I had to do it. Please don't. (A machine gun burst is heard and she jumps out of the TV with him following. They are dressed as a flapper and a gangster from the 20's. He is carrying the machine gun that shoots black water and runs from the TV after her but does not shoot the gun. The second curtain opens and he chases her back behind the rocks and the strobe light comes on them. Oliver watches them.

MAN: Okay, baby, this is It.

WOMAN: Help. Somebody please atop him.

MAN: You have met your doom.

WOMAN: (To Oliver.): Don't just sit there. Please help me. you've got tot (Oliver walks up behind the man.)

OLIVER: I'll use my unbeatable pressure point jab! (He taps the man on the shoulder and the man falls to the ground. Oliver picks up the gun and points it at the woman.) Take your clothes off! Go on! She takes off her clothes. Oliver runs over and gives her a passionate kiss. She breaks away and Oliver starts chasing her around and she eventually jumps back Into TV. (Oliver starts to shoot the water into the TV and falls to his knees and Collapses at the end of the song.

While all this is going on, the curtain In the back opens to reveal Victoria standing on the rock with her legs spread apart and each arm is being pulled up and out by a ropes. She Is nearly nude. Fats walks out of the TV with his ax and a wooden block that is painted to look like a TV. He sets It down behind the piano player and starts to strike it with the ax. Each time he strikes it Victoria screams. While this to going on three dancers appear In the rocks and do certain dances and movements. During the last stanza Fats takes a final swing at the block and Victoria faints. The upstage curtain closes on her and the three dancers.

Fats takes his ax and walks to the forestage. The woman comes out of the TV, picks up the wooden block TV, sets it next to Fats and stands behind him. The man gets up and takes the gun from Oliver and gets behind the woman. A special goes up on Fats end the other lights fade. On the last beat of the song Fats smashes the ax Into the block.)

FATS: No, I am not Bunyan. (They march around the thrust and then exit. The lights come up on the bedroom. Oliver is lying on the bed leaning on his elbows, watching TV. The door knocks and keeps knocking until Oliver notices it. He runs to the door, flings It open and then back to his original position on the bed. Fats Is standing there with Victoria behind him.)

FATS: Hello Oli...

VICTORIA (Looks about 15 months pregnant. To Fats): Do I have to go back?

FATS (They walk over to the bed.): Hello, Oliver, I brought your wife back.

OLIVER (In another world): Hello.

VICTORIA: I'm pregnant ... Oliver, I'm going to have a baby.

OLIVER: That's nice. Try to keep it down, I don't want to miss anything.

VICTORIA: Fats is giving me back. Aren't you excited? (No response. To Fats.) Please, Fats. Do I have to?

FATS: Oliver, I'm giving you your wife back.

OLIVER (Annoyed.): Will you please be qui... You can't do that. A deal In a deal. I have principles.

VICTORIA: don't you want me back?

OLIVER: All I want is to watch my TV in peace and quiet. You can't have it back, Fats. A deal is a deal.

FATS: You can keep the TV. I'm just giv...

OLIVER: A deal Is a d... I can keep the TV?!

FATS: Yes. I just want to give you your wife back.

OLIVER: Sure, that's fine with me. As long as you don't take the TV away. (Eyes back to the TV.)

FATS: Before I go, I better warn you that some people have heard about your TV. You better am yourself .... Well, good bye, Oliver. Thanks for everything. (Fats starts to leave.)

VICTORIA: Please don't leave me.

FATS: Take care of Victoria. (Exit.)

VICTORIA: Oh Oliver, I'm going to have a baby. See. Fats got me pregnant. (NO response) Damn it. Look! (Sticks her belly In his face.)

OLIVER (Pushes her aside): Come on, Victoria. You're making me miss this.

VICTORIA: Oliver, besides getting me pregnant, he's changed the way I feel about everything. I know so much more about life now. I really feel like living. I don't just exist anymore. I live! I'm alive! (Knocking) Oliver, would you get the door? I'm having these pains in my stomach and it hurts when I walk. (Knocking) It's still knocking.

OLIVER: Wall answer it!

VICTORIA: I have these pains, and when I walk my... (knocking)

OLIVER: Will you answer the damn door?! Do you want me to miss something?

VICTORIA (Goes to the door in pain.): It's so good to be home. (Opens the door and a woman Is standing there.) Yes?

MAN: Is this the Bunyan's residence?

VICTORIA: Yes. This Is it.

MAN: I heard you got a TV.

VICTORIA: W-Who M-Me? (She punches her In the stomach and Joins the other two. Victoria falls over the kitchen table knocking it over. More knocking on the door.) Oh God, not again (Crawls to the door and pulls herself up to open it. An old woman with a cane Is standing there.) H-Hello.

OLD WOMAN: Is this where Oliver Bunyan lives?

VICTORIA: W-Why no. You must have the wrong address.

OLD WOMAN: I don't need no bitch to tell me where I am and where I ain't. I can smell that picture tube. (Hits her In the head with her cane and joins the others. Victoria crawls over to Oliver.)

VICTORIA: Oliver, help me. I'm going to have my baby now! Please help!

ALL FOUR: Shut up! We're trying to watch this! (Knocking at the door persists.) Answer the door! (Victoria starts crawling to the door.) Answer the door! (Just as she in about to open the door she falls over the table and behind it.) Answer the door! (A child can be heard crying.) Answer the door! (Victoria stands up and has a child wrapped in the tablecloth.) Answer the door! (She opens the door and a lady is standing there.)

LADY: Bunyan's?

VICTORIA: Yes, and this is our son, Paul. Paul Bunyan! (Lady punches Victoria and runs into the bedroom. The lights start to fade, Victoria falls the baby falls out onto the stage. It is a hatchet. Lights slowly start to fade to blackout. As the lights fade people keep rushing in and a baby can be heard crying. A small spot stays lit on the hatchet as the other lights blackout. And all that can be seen is the spotlighted hatchet and all that can be heard is a baby crying.

CURTAIN



 
 
 
 

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