THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
A dramatic, epic, gala extravaganza adapted for the Christmas Party
by Hugh Wreisner © 1976
All rights reserved.
ACTION SOUND / VISUAL
The pre-party music begins when the first guest arrives. It is entirely solo piano, kind of cheerful and old-fashioned. Volume is kept medium to low. The party is in progress. Everyone has now arrived. All house lights are on (i. e. walls, tokonoma and moon as well as light spilling in from kitchen and roji) The tree is off. Stage lights are off. Screen is rolled up. THE SET: Between tree and screen the window is covered with an opaque, lacy pink curtain, ceiling to floor. In front of this is a dainty desk and a chair, facing the audience. All pink, white and gold. Beneath the screen is a chaise lounge with many fluffy, ruffled pillows. On a small stand at the foot of this ("center stage") is a telephone. When curtain time has come, the PRE-PARTY MUSIC FADES OUT. Replace tape with the show's soundtrack. Get ready!! Before beginning, check and make sure that the following props are in place: 1. Telephone. 2. Large, very fancy box of pink stationery. 3. Quill pen and Inkwell 4. Portrait of Mad Fiance on desk 5. Handful of loose feathers. 6. Black shawl (hidden) 7. Five gold rings. GET-READY MUSIC begins at full volume!
On the very first note of the get-ready music, the 'choreographed chaos' begins . Audience scurries around, refilling their drinks, getting in place. New-comers are shown where to sit so as not to get in theway of the actors, block the visuals etc. 1. Screen is lowered
2. Playing area is cleared of guests.
3. Projector is turned on. No slide, just glaring white light.
4. Vertical placement slide.
1. Kitchen lights are turned off.
2. Roji lights are turned off.
3. Tokonoma is turned off.
5. Horizontal placement slide.
Get-ready music continues and near the end there is a noticeable: DOWN /SLASH!!!
MOON is snuffed out! 6. Horizontal placement slide blurs.
7. Black slide follows.
Walls go out as music ends. The room is now in darkness. Get-ready music continues to end
Tape continues without pause UNLESS the audience is not completely settled and at attention. Sound Mari must determine this. Prepare to stop tape if we are not ready to go.
BONG!! (Chinese gong)
"HW PRESENTS" (blurs in)
BRASS CRESCENDO follows gong with no interruption.
Colored arrows march across screen pointing at the real tree.
Real tree lights up on climax. BANG!! Only the multi-colored lights though. Crescendo reaches CLIMAX!
(Make sure it's really finished and STOP TAPE IMMEDIATELY)
Black slide on climax.
Give audience time to applaud and admire the tree. Then, as their attention is diverted very slowly fade it out, eventually turning if off completely but in such a way that the audience is not aware of it.
As soon as the red curtain appears, START TAPE (main title music).
At the crest of the applause for the tree:
RED CURTAIN slide.
1. And now ...
2. And now! . . . .
3. And NOW!!!!
4. Hugo Wreisner Presents
5. Mary Seibel Cronin
6. The Twelve Days of Christmas
7. A Tale of Terror
8. Adapted by Hugo Wreisner
9. Nobly assisted by . ..
10. A. Ignoto: original story
11. Stephen Sondheim: main title music (OR Abel Camera: color processing)
12. Benjamin Russell: performance sound
13. Gloria Greene: costumes
14. Franny Shaw: performance lighting
15. Mercitta de Muynck: make-up and hairstyles
16. Joe Mansicalco: additonal performance visuals
17. Produced and Directed byHugo Wreisner (this blurs out)
Main title music continues....
1. "We humbly dedicate our production.. (This blurs in)
2..To the memory of that gallant woman ...
3. Who lived the tragic, true-life story of ...
4. The Twelve Days of Christmas
5. The heartbreak!
6. And the horror!!
7. And the harrowing hassle!!!...
8. Of those infamous twelve days...
9. That so ... . began innocently
10. One bright December morning.
11. This is her story. "
On cue in music the stage lights come up swiftly but gently. 12. THE FIRST DAY (This remains on the screen but blurs as attention goes to the girl)
Tape continues without pause.
FIRST DAY MUSIC begins.
When it is finished, STOP TAPE!
On second music cue GIRL ENTERS in a great hurry. She is about 19. All crisp and fluffy. Very happy, very excited . She throws a quick, tender look at the portrait on the desk, gets out a big box of fancy stationery, takes out a couple of sheets and an envelope, dips her pen in the inkwell and begins to write: DEAREST, DARLING BELOVED SWEETHEART! YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT ARRIVED THIS MORNING. A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE! WHAT A CHARMING , DELIGHTFUL SURPRISE!
Stop tape as soon as he is thru.
Girl is startled and delighted by the bird. She looks at him with great affection while he sings. Then, when he has finished, she says:
TWEET, TWEET TWEET TO YOU! (Blows bird a kiss. Returns to her letter.) I HAVE HIM RIGHT HERE IN THE SUNROOM. MERRILY TWITTERING AWAY! HE ISABSOLUTELY ADORABLE AND I LOVE HIM.!! AND I LOVE YOU!!! (Kisses portrait impulsively)
MERRY CHRISTMAS, MY DARLING. AND THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANKYOU!!
WITH ALL MY LOVE ....
....She signs her name elaborately, never saying it aloud. As she signs her name START TAPE. SECOND DAY MUSIC begins and continues without pause into more bird twitters. As soon as twittering is all over, STOP TAPE. Girl freezes as soon as music is heard. A gorgeous slide blurs in. Then the same slide with the words, THE SECOND DAY, superimposed.This is left in focus thru the action. Girl awakes as soon as she hears the birds. She looks around and discovers the new gifts with great surprise and delight.
MORE GIFTS?! YOU'RE CRAZY! (this spoken with great affection)
ANOTHER PARTRIDGE. ANOTHER PEAR TREE. AND TWO DARLING TURTLE DOVES!
(She looks at these four birds, bluishing with great pleasure.)
I AM OVERWHELMED BY YOUR EXTRAVAGANCE! THE HOUSE IS LIKE A LITTLE AVIARY, RINGING WITH THE TENDER MELODIES OF MY LITTLE FEATHERED QUARTET. (Then, with deep emotion:)
A SWEET ACCOMPANIMENT TO THE HOLIDAY MUSIC YOU HAVE MADE IN MY HEART.
(Looks at portrait again. Grabs it and presses it to her heart with exalted lavish passion!)
(Finishing letter:) PASSIONATELY!!!
Signs name ....
Slide: THE THIRD DAY Freezes on music. Wakes on birds. Her reaction is complicated and her face flickers between a generous smile and a scared frown. More gifts, that's lovely. But all these birds are becoming a terrible nuisance. How can she tell him this without hurting his feelings? THIRD DAY MUSIC followed by the sound of many many, birds. This is quite long. Just let it run to the end of the birds and then STOP TAPE. So she proceeds very cautiously:
DEAREST PLEASE DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY. THE THREE FRENCH HENS ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL, AND SO ARE THE NEW TURTLE DOVES AND THE NEW PARTRIDGE. AND I TREASURE THE LOVE THAT SENDS THEM.
BUT I HAVE TEN BIRDS IN HERE NOW.AND THAT IS REALLY QUITE A LOT FOR A TINY COTTAGE. (She wants to be sweet about this but she is afraid he might miss the main point here, so she adds, with a trace of grimness and comic menace:) THAT'S ENOUGH BIRDS!
(Then, sweetly:) YOU'VE ALREADY BEEN TOO GENEROUS.
Signs name and then adds an affectionate postscript:
P. S. YOU ARE CRAZY BUT I LOVE YOU.
Slide: THE FOURTH DAY FOURTH DAY MUSIC begins
Freezes on music. Wakes on birds. Reactswith despair and defeat. The birds are flying all over the room making a terrible racket and a terrible mess too. It's more than she can handle. She droops and flips a handful of feathers into the air, despairing She's on the verge of tears. More hurt and whining than angry, she writes: There is a touch of madness in it. It is followed by a huge, raucous racket from the birds. As soon asthey are finished, STOP TAPE FOUR CALLING BIRDS TODAY. AND MORE FRENCH HENS AND MORE TURTLE DOVES AND MORE PARTRIDGES. PLEASE STOP THIS!! I HAVE TWENTY BIRDS IN HERE NOW. IT'S RIDICULOUS!!!! (She makes a palms-up gesture on this last line. An imaginary blob of birdshit falls on one hand. She starts, violently, looks up at the offending bird . . . who is sailing all over the room . . . and reacts with great distaste. ICK! She wipes her hand with a lacy handkerchief, drops it into the wastebasket, looks around, bursts into tears and continues her letter: ALL MY LOVELY THINGS ARE BEING RUINED WITH B(almost says 'birdshit')....WELL.... YOU KNOW.. .. BIRDSHIT.
(Claps her hand to her mouth, shocked that she has uttered this naughty word!!)
I'M SORRY BUT IT HAS JUST GOTTEN OUT OF HAND. (Pleadingly . . . .) PLEASE STOP. PLEASE. NO MORE BIRDS. (inflect this down) Signs name ...... A gold ring
Another gold ring
Three gold rings
Four gold rings
Five gold rings
THE FIFTH DAY!
Freezes when music starts.Wakes on cue in music, surprised and delighted again. FIFTH DAY MUSIC
There are no sound effects on this.
As soon as the music is finished, Stop Tape!
She puts a gold ring on each finger * thumb included, of her left hand, synchronized with the music. Admires them elaborately. OHHHHHHHHHHH! DEAREST, DARLING, BELOVED SWEETHEART! FIVE GOLD RINGS!
ONE FOR EVERY FINGER. THEY ARE SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!!! WHAT A DARLING YOU ARE. PLEASE FORGIVE YESTERDAY'S IMPATIENCE. I'M NOT ANGRY ANYMORE. HOW COULD I BE? AT SWEET, LOVING.GENEROUS YOU!
(Glances at portrait and notices some birdshit on it. She wipes if off quickly, too happy now to let this bother her.) I MUST CLOSE NOW. THERE IS MUCH CLEANING UP TO BE DONE.-(she glances around the filthy room) . BUT ARMED WITH THE ARMOR OF LOVE ((the rings)) I AM SURE LOVE WILL FIND A WAY.WITH DEEPEST AFFECTION .... Signs name . .
Freezes on music. Wakes on geese
SIXTH DAY MUSIC, leading into loud, honking geese When they have finished, Stop Tape! 1. A blurry, egg-like shape on
2. two egg-like shapes
4. four ....
5. five ......
7. Close-up of a real egg, smashed and splattered. Superimposed on it:
THE SIXTH DAY
She reacts in puzzlement. The sound is outside, on the front lawn. She gets up and looks out the window and what she sees makes her furious! She stands at the window, facing the audience, bristling with anger and determination, trying to figure out how to handle this. She rivets a cold look at the portrait, then sweeps it off the desk with great finality. Smash! She then writes angrily: YOU'RE CRAZY! (i. e. You are seriously disturbed; there is something very wrong with you. You need professional help etc.)
THERE ARE SIX HUGE GEESE OUTSIDE.
LAYING EGGS A MILE A MINUTE!
STAMPING ALL OVER THE FRONT LAWN.
IT'S A MESS!!!! On the word, "mess", the screen goes blank. (Put hand over lens; then advance to next slide, hand still cutting off the projection light.) IF YOU DO NOT STOP THIS INSANE NONSENSE IMMEDIATELY AND ARRANGE TO REPAIR THE CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE THAT HAS BEEN DONE TO THIS PROPERTY I SHALL BE FORCED TO TAKE STRONGER ACTION.
I MEAN IT! I AM NOT AMUSED!
Signs name angrily!
SLAMS her pen down
(Note: All three of these things should be absolutely simultaneous.)
Slide: THE SEVENTH DAY!
SEVENTH DAY MUSIC
Freezes on music. Wakes on bubbling, which is coming from outside. She can't imagine what this might mean. This is followed immediately by loudly crashing, sloshing water. She reacts physically to this since the sound suggests that a tidal wave is about to break through the window and flood the room. She looks out the window and gasps in horror!!
OH MY GOD!!!!!!
b) Sloshing water
Then, directly to audience. . . HE'S FLOODED THE STREET!!!! c) Stabbing violins She looks out again to make sure and then announces to the audience, each word timed with the music cues and drenched with disaster and awesome doom..... SEVEN SWANS!! d) Low strings and violas A-SWIMMING!!!!! e) Low strings and violas (Note: It is essential that you get this said exactly before the last chord) f) Last low strings and violas. During this chord: PHONE RINGS SHARPLY! The phone startles her very much. In fact,she seems to go out of character for a moment. She glances at the sound man at There is the regular between-rings her left and at the projectionist in front of pause, then:her. There is a flicker of a question in hereyes. For a split second the audience thinks the performance has been interrupted by anactual phone call. PHONE RINGS AGAIN!
SLIDE BLURS . . . . .
She picks up the phone after the second ring and says in a low, very frightened voice:
YES. THIS IS SHE
ZONING BOARD? ((i. e. You must have the wrong number.))
BIRDS? ...... OH (Does a take with her face. Now it all dawns on her.)
YES, YES I DO.
((i. e. Yes, I admit it. She glances around the room))
ALTOGETHER? THE TOTAL? ((Oh dear me, that's quite an order. There are so many I've lost track.. .))
WELL, COUNTING TODAY, A TOTAL OF
(She looks around the room and quickly figures out how many birds there are inside AND outside.
SIXTY-NINE. ((Partly apology, partly sheer amazement , partly despair.))Xxxxxxxxx?? THAT'S RIGHT.
THEY'RE VARIOUS SPECIES
WELL I DIDN'T KNOW I HAD TO HAVE A LICENSE.
BUT THESE ARE GIFTS.
YES, . CHRISTMAS GIFTS.
FROM A . . . "FRIEND" OF MINE,MY FIANCE, IN FACT (a bit coquettishly)
((This is harder to explain and she hasn't had time to think up an explanation anyway.)) THE FLOODING. YES. WELL, THAT JUST HAPPENED TODAY.
WELL YOU SEE TODAY IT WAS SEVEN SWANS AND, YOU KNOW, THEY SWIM, AND ...... WELL..... I SUPPOSE HE JUST THOUGHT IT WAS HUMANE ((beat)) TO FLOOD THE STREET.
Xxxxxxxxxxx? (i.e. Madam, don't you realize what a .....)
WELL OF COURSE I REALIZE....
OH NO! OH PLEASE DON"T DO THAT JUST GIVE ME ONE MORE DAY.
WELL, I'LL JUST MAKE IT VERY CLEAR TO HIM: NO MORE BIRDS.
She replaces the phone and returns with great determination to her letter-writing. Slowly and grimly she begins: DEAR FRIEND ....... (freeze) Slide: THE EIGHTH DAY comes on blurred.
Slowly it comes into focus.
NO SOUND YET.
She wakes on the sounds. Reacts with ice-cold anger. Very controlled. Looks out window. One cow is right outside and licks her face. But her reaction is not surprise or alarm but steely contempt. Pause a bit. Start Tape as screen begins to clear. We hear the sounds fade in. Milking, giggling, mooing and eight cows clomping on the front porch. When sound fades out STOP TAPE. VERY FUNNY. NO MORE BIRDS. EIGHT MAIDS! A-MILKING!! EIGHT ENORMOUS COWS!
THEY'RE PRACTICALLY DEMOLISHING THE HOUSE
I'M WARNING YOU: GET THIS DAMN ZOO OUT OF HERE.
NOW! NO MORE BIRDS!
AND NO MORE ANIMALS EITHER! THE NINTH DAY (two identical slides flashing on and off)
NINTH DAY MUSIC
(Note: Last line, slide and music all simultaneous)
From the music alone she knows what has happened and yells immediately:
GET THOSE GIRLS OUT OF HERE!!
Then she checks out the window and it's eve worse an she thought. Nine raunchy strippers performing lewdly on her front porch. My God! That one has her pants off! THEY ARE NOT LADIES AND THEY ARE NOT DANCING! I CAN SEE PERFECTLY WELL WHAT THEY"RE DOING AND I WILL NOT HAVING THEM DOING IT ON MY FRONT PORCH!! Continues writing busily and angrily. At the climax of the music (the low doom chords) she makes a sudden decision, crumples up the letter, throws it away and picks up the phone with grim determination. Move the phone over on to the desk here.
Music finishes with a fast, descending glissando into a couple of low, deep doom chords. GIVE ME THE POLICE Last doom chord.
Sound then fades.
PLEASE SEND A PADDY WAGON OVER HERE RIGHT AWAY. HURRY!
She is very commanding now. Angry and impatient. Unwilling to take any more nonsense from anybody! THIS IS AN EMERGENCY! I'LL EXPLAIN ALL THAT WHEN YOU GET HERE. YOU'LL SEE FOR YOURSELF!"
WELL, BIRDS FOR ONE THING, LOTS AND LOTS OF BIRDS.
AND LOTS OF COWS.
AND NOW GIRLS.
YES. GIRLS. ON THE FRONT PORCH.
PRACTICALLY NAKED.' CAVORTING!
Slide: THE TENTH DAY
TENTH DAY MUSIC zaps in.
Tape now continues to the end of the 11th Day
Reacts to the Tenth Day music WAIT! THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE NOW. Looks out window. This is where her mind begins to crack. She utters sort of a smothered scream. Has she gone mad? What IS this and how do you explain it to the police over the phone? She is confused, at a loss CHINESE ACROBATS. A TROUPE OF CHINESE ACROBATS. WELL, THEY"RE"...... "LEAPING" WELL, I DON'T KNOW! WAIT! THEY HAVE A SIGN. ((Peers out to read sign)) THE TEN LORDS. THEY'RE CALLED THE TEN LORDS. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ON THEM? THIS IS NOT A JOKE! She reacts to the bagpipes as if they were a huge kick in the pants ELEVENTH DAY Leaping sounds are followed without pause by very loud THE ELEVENTH DAY MUSIC (bagpipes). OOUUUUUWWWWWWW!!!
She looks out the window.
YOU'VE GOT TO BELIEVE ME.
SURELY YOU CAN HEAR THEM. LISTEN!
The bagpipes begin to fade. When they have faded completely then Stop Tape! She holds phone out the window but the piping fades away. This confuses and frightens her mightily. The silence is eerie. YES.? WELL THEY'VE GONE AWAY Now she is in a mad panic and starts speakingin a hoarse whisper. THEY'RE ALL HIDING! BUT THEY'LL BE BACK. I KNOW THEY'LL BE BACK. HE WON'T STOP AT ANYTHING NOW. HE'S INSANE. YOU'VE GOT TO BELIEVE ME. YOU'VE GOT TO HELP ME. OH PLEASE, HURRY! BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE! The phone goes dead. She is frantic. HELLO? .... HELLO?? . . . . OH NO!!!!PLEASE!!!! YOU'VE GOT TO HELP ME.I'M ALL ALONE HERE. THE MAN IS MAD. GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT HE'LL DO NEXT .... Suddenly, with the strange prescience of the insane, she knows what he will do nextand realizes the full horror of it all!!!!! TOMORROW IS: THE TWELFTH DAY! No Sound. No music. THE TWELFTH DAY comes on in precise synchronization with the line. The silence is ominous. She replaces the phone, quivering with terror, breathing hard. Nothing happens. She paces. She peeks out the window. A strange, evil chill seems to pervade the room and she wraps a black shawl around her. She wrings her hands. She whimpers. Finally she sits at the desk and gazes over the heads of the audience with a mad, glazed stare The fun here of course is delaying the inevitable as long as possible. Like waiting for the shark in Jaws. It's up to the sound man to pick the precise moment when at last we hear the dreaded ....DRUMS! Start tape! The girl does a new take to each new drum getting crazier and more slapstick as it goes on. What we want here is an enormous uncontrollable bellylaugh from the audience. Drums . . . . .
Drums . . . . . . . . . .
Drums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
At the climax, where the actual music begins, she grabs the phone, absolutely frantic, mad as a hatter, out of control, screaming ....... BURST OF MELODRAMATIC MUSIC YOU'VE GOT TO SEND PROTECTION!!
I'M A DESPERATE WOMAN!
WHAT DO YOU MEAN A DISORDERLY HOUSE
THAT"S WHAT I'M CALLING ABOUT!
THAT'S WHY YOU HAVE TO HELP ME
The above, except for line #1, can be cut if we're getting enough laughs without them, or if there simply isn't time to say them. It is essential that the following lines be exactly synchronised with the music.
She moves directly in front of the screen
HORRIBLE MUSIC CONTINUES Chaotic slides flash over her thru this section. I HAVE TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING HERE!
AND 22 PIPERS PIPING
AND 30 LORDS A LEAPING
AND 36 LADIES DANCING
AND 40 MAIDS A MILKING
((Sort of run this together, faster))
AND 22 'TURTLE DOVES,
30 FRENCH HENS,
36 CALLING BIRDS....
AND FORTY-TWO GEESE . . . . . There are "kabooms" in the orchestra here. Very important to synchronize with them. A-LAYING. AND FORTY-TWO SWANS! A-SWIMMING! Kaboom She has swooned, sprawled awkwardly on the chaise lounge. Completely out, maybe dead Last Kaboom from orchestra. BLOOD RED SLIDE The live shadow of the MAD FIANCE appear on the screen. He moves through the audienc slow and sinister, up to the girl. At the CLIMAX of of the music he whirls around to the audience and grins a mad, hideous grin. He takes the phone from the unconscious girl and says: Without pause another great BRASS CRESCENDO begins.
CLIMAX. Stop Tape!!! PINK SLIDE
"SORRY, WRONG NUMBER. "(freezes) START TAPE: "...and a partridge in a pear tree." "The End " Mad fiance replaces phone, revives girl and they take formal curtain calls. Happy Music comes up.
Girl and Mad Fiance call attention to the fact that the tree is still not lighted. Happy Music is interrupted very abrubptly. STOP TAPE.