A cautionary tale

I thought about changing the names to make the subject matter obvious, but it is more fun this way.
LEADING PLAYER
INTRIGUE – PLOTS TO BRING DISASTER
The Royal Chapel at Arles.
(She goes. Lights up on CHARLES, MONKS, and PIPPIN who is dressed as a monk)
CHARLES
(Sensing his presence)
It’s all right, Father. You may come in.
PIPPIN
(With the voice of an old man)
I’m sorry to disturb you, my son. I know you like to pray alone.
CHARLES
You know who I am, Father?
PIPPIN
Yes. Yes, of course, my son.
CHARLES
You want something father? Perhaps a favor or an advancement?
PIPPIN
No. I’m here just to be with you for one moment. Yes, to look in your eyes.
CHARLES
Oh, well. And what do you see?
PIPPIN
I see two eyes, a little cloudy with age, a sunset.
CHARLES
Anything else?
PIPPIN
I see death of thousands, the slavery of more… terror and bloodshed.
CHARLES
You see all that in my eyes?
PIPPIN
Do you deny it?
CHARLES
Deny it? I’m proud of it. I brought order out of chaos. If slavery, bloodshed and terror are part of that
order, so be it.
PIPPIN
(Losing the voice)
But those are words form the past! Time has passed you by!
(A pause, then the old man voice again)
…My son.
CHARLES
And your time has come… my son?
PIPPIN
(Taking down the hood on his robe)
Yes, Father.
CHARLES
It’s easy from where you stand to judge the things that I have done. Eagles, ospreys, even vultures had a
better view. From the heights all things are very clear. But when I marched, the dust of the road was in
my nose, and when I fought, the blood of the enemy was in my eyes. But, by God, I blew my breath
across a continent and shaped an empire with it.
PIPPIN
Father, maybe you did the best you could, but things have to change!
CHARLES
Oh, and you’re the one to change them!?
PIPPIN
Yes! I am.
CHARLES
(Holding out a knife)
Well, if you truly believe that, there is only one thing you can do.
PIPPIN
(Producing his own knife)
Thank you, I brought my own.
CHARLES
Use it, or go and leave me to my prayers.
PIPPIN
What do you pray for, Father?
CHARLES
Strength. And may God give you the same.
(PIPPIN strikes, sinking the knife into his chest, CHARLES stumbles, and PIPPIN catches him,
easing him to the ground, he kneels over his father’s body)
 PIPPIN
(Sings)
WHY WON’T MY HAND STOP SHAKING
WHEN ALL THE EARTH IS STILL
WHEN ANCIENT GHOSTS ARE WAKING
(He removes his robe)
SO MANY STEPS NEED TAKING
SO MANY PLANS NEED MAKING
I THINK I WILL
I THINK I WILL
(The LEADING PLAYER enters. Followed by FASTRADA and LEWIS)
LEADING PLAYER
Your majesty.
FASTRADA
King Pippin.
LEWIS
Your majesty.
LEADING PLAYER
Your Highness.
ALL (except PIPPIN)
King Pippin.
(Over the course of the first verse, the company converges to cover CHARLES in his funeral shroud)
PIPPIN
MORNING GLOW, MORNING GLOW
STARTS TO GLIMMER WHEN YOU KNOW
WINDS OF CHANGE ARE SET TO BLOW
AND SWEEP THIS WHOLE LAND THROUGH
MORNING GLOW IS LONG PAST DUE
(The LEADING PLAYER places her hands on the corpse and begins to levitate it under the shroud,
then tossing it up and over her shoulder, as if CHARLES body has disappeared, exiting at the end of
the verse)
PIPPIN ALL
MORNING GLOW FILL THE EARTH AHH AHH
COME AND SHINE FOR ALL YOUR WORTH AHH AHH AHH
WE’LL BE PRESENT AT THE BIRTH AHH AHH
OF OLD FAITH LOOKING NEW AHH
MORNING GLOW IS LONG PAST DUE
ALL
OH, MORNING GLOW, I’D LIKE TO HELP YOU GROW
PIPPIN ALL
WE SHOULD HAVE STARTED LONG AGO AHH AHH AHH AHH
PIPPIN AND ALL
SO, MORNING GLOW ALL DAY LONG
WHILE WE SING TOMORROW’S SONG
NEVER KNEW WE COULD BE SO STRONG
PIPPIN ALL
BUT NOW IT’S VERY CLEAR AHH AHH AHH AHH
PIPPIN
MORNING GLOW IS ALMOST HERE…
PIPPIN AND ALL
MORNING GLOW BY YOUR LIGHT
WE CAN MAKE THE NEW DAY BRIGHT
AND THE PHANTOMS OF THE NIGHT
WILL FADE INTO THE PAST
PIPPIN
MORNING GLOW IS HERE…
PIPPIN AND ALL
AT LAST
PIPPIN AND ALL
MORNING GLOW BY YOUR LIGHT
WE CAN MAKE THE NEW DAY BRIGHT
AND THE PHANTOMS OF THE NIGHT
WILL FADE INTO THE PAST
PIPPIN
MORNING GLOW IS HERE…
PIPPIN AND ALL
AT LAST
LEADING PLAYER
WE’VE GOT MAGIC TO DO
JUST FOR…
YOU
(She places the crown on PIPPIN’s head)
PIPPIN AND ALL
AT LAST
At the opening of the act, the curtain rises once again on the spectacular circus setting, only now it is far
more lively and energetic. The PLAYERS run up and down the aisle performing acrobatic feats, and
tricks and wonder happen onstage, including a PLAYER who uses her entire body to spin upwards of
fifteen hula-hoops.
The LEADING PLAYER spins on the trapeze, and welcomes back the audience.
LEADING PLAYER
Ladies and gentlemen welcome back to the show!
(PLAYERS ad lib welcomes to the audience, as the entr’acte crescendos, the activity reaches a
completion. The PLAYERS bring a platform to the stage as one PLAYER prepares for a daring
balance act. Another PLAYER brings metal cylinders and a plank, and the first PLAYER calls to her
and begins to stack them, staggering them horizontally and vertically so that each cylinder is rolling
and balanced. The PLAYER than mounts the board at the top and climbs, slowly standing.)
Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the most difficult and intricate balancing act. Only they can
perform such feats as this.
(When the balancing act is completed, the company segues right into Glory (Reprise), they dance and
sing)
ALL
THE GATES, THE GATES
THE GATES OF HEAVEN
THE GATES OF HEAVEN AWAIT
THE GATES, THE GATES
THE GATES OF HEAVEN
THE GATES OF HEAVEN AWAIT
THE GATES OF HEAVEN AWAIT
THROWN WIDE BY PIPPIN THE GREAT
(PIPPIN enters, crowned and jubilant)
WE FOLLOW HIM THROUGH BY SERVING HIS STATE
DOO DOO DOO DOO, DOO DOO DOO DOO
DOO DOO DOO DOO, DOO DOO DOO DOO
THE GATES, THE GATES
THE GATES OF HEAVEN
THE GATES OF HEAVEN AWAIT
THE GATES, THE GATES
THE GATES OF HEAVEN
THE GATES OF HEAVEN AWAIT
THROWN WIDE BY
PIPPIN AND ALL
PIPPIN THE GREAT!
(As the song ends, the throne enters from upstage, accompanied by a TREASURER and a SOLDIER,
the PLAYERS clear the way for the throne.)
LEADING PLAYER
Long live the King!
ALL
Long live the King!
(PIPPIN steps onto the throne platform, he is handed the orb and scepter, but has no idea what to do
with them)
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire is prepared to hear petitions.
(A PLAYER bearing a sign that reads “POLITICS” steps onto a drum, shows off her sign, and then
exits, as she does this, a crowd of PEASANTS and of NOBLES, one group on each side of the throne,
enter, talking in a cacophony of pleas)
PIPPIN
Come ahead. You will all be dealt with fairly. My invitation extends to high and low alike.
(A PEASANT kneels in the light, it is the same actor who played the THIRD NOBLE in Act I)
PEASANT
Sire, I am a poor man-
PIPPIN
You may stand. You may all stand.
(THEY all stand, PIPPIN sits)
PEASANT
Thank you, sire. I am a poor man, a peasant, and I own not one millimeter of land on which I have
worked so hard all my life. Is that fair?
PIPPIN
No. That’s completely unfair, and I shall do something about it. I hereby decree that, from now on, all
peasants will own the land that they cultivate.
(The PEASANTS all applaud, the NOBLES react with displeasure)
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, the Just.
FIRST NOBLE
Sire, now that you’ve given all of our land to the peasants, we loyal nobles have no source of income.
Therefore, we can no longer pay taxes.
PIPPIN
Well then, I hereby abolish taxes.
(THEY ALL celebrate)
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, the Generous.
PIPPIN AND ALL
PIPPIN THE GREAT!
(As the song ends, the throne enters from upstage, accompanied by a TREASURER and a SOLDIER,
the PLAYERS clear the way for the throne.)
LEADING PLAYER
Long live the King!
ALL
Long live the King!
(PIPPIN steps onto the throne platform, he is handed the orb and scepter, but has no idea what to do
with them)
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire is prepared to hear petitions.
(A PLAYER bearing a sign that reads “POLITICS” steps onto a drum, shows off her sign, and then
exits, as she does this, a crowd of PEASANTS and of NOBLES, one group on each side of the throne,
enter, talking in a cacophony of pleas)
PIPPIN
Come ahead. You will all be dealt with fairly. My invitation extends to high and low alike.
(A PEASANT kneels in the light, it is the same actor who played the THIRD NOBLE in Act I)
PEASANT
Sire, I am a poor man-
PIPPIN
You may stand. You may all stand.
(THEY all stand, PIPPIN sits)
PEASANT
Thank you, sire. I am a poor man, a peasant, and I own not one millimeter of land on which I have
worked so hard all my life. Is that fair?
PIPPIN
No. That’s completely unfair, and I shall do something about it. I hereby decree that, from now on, all
peasants will own the land that they cultivate.
(The PEASANTS all applaud, the NOBLES react with displeasure)
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, the Just.
FIRST NOBLE
Sire, now that you’ve given all of our land to the peasants, we loyal nobles have no source of income.
Therefore, we can no longer pay taxes.
PIPPIN
Well then, I hereby abolish taxes.
(THEY ALL celebrate)
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, the Generous.
SOLDIER
(With an obnoxious accent)
You realize, sire, without taxes you’ll have no money to support an army.
PIPPIN
(Imitating the SOLDIER’s accent)
Well, that’s all right! I don’t need an army.
(His normal voice)
That’s it. No more taxes, no more army!
(THEY ALL applaud)
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, the Peaceful.
(LEWIS enters)
LEWIS
Hey, Pippin! Pip- er- sire, it is my duty to inform you that the Infidel Hun has attacked in the East. He has
destroyed three villages and murdered thousands of your royal subjects.
PLAYERS
(horrified)
No!
PIPPIN
Can he do that?
LEWIS
But he will withdraw on one condition…
PIPPIN
Well, that’s very reasonable. I’m certainly willing to make any small concession. What’s the condition?
LEWIS
He demands your reproductive organs on a pike staff.
(PIPPIN crosses his legs hastily)
PIPPIN
Oh. Well, then you should go and destroy the infidel.
SOLDIER
But sire, we have no army.
PIPPIN
Oh, right, uh… Excuse me a moment, noble? You remember that decree I made a little while ago about
land and taxes?
NOBLE
Yes, sire.
PIPPIN
That’s off.
NOBLE
But sire, without land, we have neither money nor power over the peasants.
PIPPIN
Oh! Uh, peasants!
PEASANT
Yes, sire?
PIPPIN
I hereby suspend land reform.
PEASANT
Suspend land reform? You mean give it back!?
PIPPIN
Yeah, give it back.
PEASANT
Up thine, sire!
PIPPIN
Take that man away and hang him!
PEASANT
Oh, not again!
(The crowd erupts into a hubbub as the LEADING PLAYER produces a noose and wraps it around
the PEASANT’s neck, starting to lead him offstage)
No. Stop! Wait! Could you just give me a moment to think, please?
FASTRADA
(Coming to PIPPIN)
Darling, you’re a born ruler. You’re doing a wonderful job. Nothing has changed since your father died.
Now about my royal allowance.
(ALL the PLAYERS close in on PIPPIN now with their demands: “Sire, I am a poor man”, “Sire, I am
a peasant”, “Sire, I am a,” until they’ve surrounded the throne adlibbing their demands. PIPPIN is
becoming more and more confused)
PIPPIN
Denied!
LEADING PLAYER
King Pippin, the Unpopular.
PIPPIN
(Handing off the scepter and stepping from the throne)
I need to pray.
LEADING PLAYER
Pray? You’re the King. What in the world would you pray for?
PIPPIN
Strength?
LEADING PLAYER
Is there anything else you’d like?
PIPPIN
Yeah… I’d like my knife back.
LEADING PLAYER
You want it? You got it!
ILLUSION, FANTASY TO STUDY
(The PLAYERS drape a large cloth over the throne. When the LEADING PLAYER pulls it away,
CHARLES’ body is revealed, sitting on the throne. With a wave of her hand, the LEADING PLAYER
causes CHARLES’ body to rise and step forward. PIPPIN steps behind CHARLES and forces his
hand through the hole in his father’s body, we see it come out through the front, wrap around the
knife, and tug it back out. CHARLES jolts to life with a gasp. PIPPIN immediately removes the crown
from his own head and places it on his fathers)
PIPPIN
Sorry, Father.
CHARLES
That’s all right, Son. Only don’t let it happen again.
(The crowd converges on CHARLES with their petitions, immediately he begins shouting “Denied!”
in response. The throne is removed through the upstage portal and the crowd goes with it)
Denied! Denied! Take that man there and hang him again!
(PIPPIN and the LEADING PLAYER are alone onstage)
PIPPIN
Well, that the way I thought it would. And I still haven’t done anything fulfilling with my life.
LEADING PLAYER
But you will, Pippin. Hey! You will.
-“Pippin”, Stephen Schwartz

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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