THE SHEPHERD IN THE DISTANCE

A Pantomime

By Holland Hudson


Copyright, 1920, by Frank Shay.
All rights reserved.

 

The Shepherd in the Distance was first produced by the Washington Square Players, at the Bandbox Theatre, New York City, on the night of March 26, 1915, with the following cast:

The PrincessFrances Paine.
The AttendantBeatrice Savelli.
The ShepherdRobert Locher.
The WazirArvid Paulson.
The VizierJohn Alan Houghton.
Ghurri-wurri [the Beggar]Harry Day.
The GoatE. J. Ballantine.
Slaves of the Princess {Josephine Niveson.
Edwina Behre.
The Maker of SoundsRobert Edwards.

Produced under the direction of William Pennington. Scenes and costumes designed
by Robert Locker.

 

PROGRAM

THE PERSONS:
The Princess.
The Attendant.
The Slaves.
The Wazir [her guardian].
The Vizier.
The Nubian.
The Shepherd.
The Goat.
Ghurri-wurri.
The Maker of Sounds.

 

The Shepherd in the Distance is published for the first time. The editors are indebted to Mr. Holland Hudson for permission to include it in this volume. The professional and amateur stage rights on this pantomime are strictly reserved by the author. Applications for permission to produce the pantomime should be made to Frank Shay, Care Stewart & Kidd Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

THE ACTION:

I.  The Princess beholds The Shepherd in the Distance and goes in quest of him.
II.  Ghurri-Wurri, enraged by the Princess' meager alms, swears vengeance.
III.  He reveals her destination to the Wazir.
IV.  Pursuit ensues.
V.  The Princess meets The Shepherd in the Distance. Her capture is averted by the faithful Goat.
VI.  The Goat's long head evolves a means of rescuing The Shepherd from the cruel Wazir.
VII.  The Princess joins The Shepherd in the Distance.

 

THE STORY.[1]

Of the Princess, we know only that she was fair and slender as the lily, that somehow the fat and stupid Wazir became her guardian, and that he neglected her utterly and played chess eternally in the garden with his almost-equally-stupid Vizier. Is it any wonder she was bored?

One afternoon the Princess called for her ivory telescope, and, placing it to her eye, sought relief from the deadly ennui which her guardian caused. In the Distance she discerned a Shepherd, playing upon his pipe for the dancing of his favorite Goat. While he played the Princess marveled at his comeliness. She had never seen before a man so pleasing in face and person. At the end of his tune it seemed to her that the Shepherd turned and beckoned to her. She dared watch him no longer, lest her guardian observe her.

When the Wazir, the Vizier and the Nubian were deep in their afternoon siesta, the Princess stole out of the garden with her personal retinue and her small, but precious hope chests, and set forth toward the Distance.

Now on the highway between the foreground and the Distance lived a wretched and worthless beggar who had even lost his name and was called Ghurri-Wurri because he looked absolutely as miserable as that. He pretended to be blind and wore dark spectacles. The greatest affliction of his life was that his dark spectacles prevented him from inspecting the coins that fell in his palm, and he received more than his share of leaden counterfeits.

When Ghurri-Wurri observed the approach of the Princess and her retinue he reasoned from the richness of their attire that alms would be plentiful and large and he fawned and groveled before them. The Princess was generous, but she was also in haste, so bade her attendant give him the first coin that came to hand, and hurried on.

Ghurri-Wurri's rage knew no bounds. He wept, he stamped, he shook his fists, he railed, and he cursed. Then, perceiving the Princess' destination, he made haste to notify her guardian. The Wazir would not believe him at first and the beggar would have lost his head if he had not happened on the Princess' telescope and placed it in the Wazir's hand.

Gazing toward the Distance, the Wazir saw the Princess and her retinue nearing their destination. He lost his temper and did all of the undignified things which Ghurri-Wurri had done. Then, with the Vizier and the Nubian, he set forth in pursuit, forcing the reluctant Ghurri-Wurri to guide them. They ran like the wind, till the beggar gasped and staggered, only to be jerked to his feet and forced on by the implacable Vizier, who was cruel as well as stupid.

Meanwhile the Princess arrived in the Distance. The Shepherd, who was as wise as he was comely, had proper regard for her rank and danced in her honor to his own piping. They had scarcely spoken to each other when the faithful Goat warned them of the furious approach of the raging Wazir. The Goat carried the Princess to a place of safety on his back while the Shepherd stayed to delay her pursuers. Of the Nubian he made short work indeed, but the Vizier overcame him with his great scimiter and they led him captive to the garden, leaving Ghurri-Wurri cursing on the sands.

Arrived at the garden, the Wazir ordered the Shepherd bound in chains and went on with his chess game. The Shepherd, in a gesture of despair, came upon the Princess' telescope and, seeking some ray of hope, gazed into the Distance. Here he saw the Princess and his faithful Goat, who, he perceived, had invented a plan for his deliverance.

Soon the Princess returned to the garden, disguised as a wandering dancer. She danced before the Wazir and pleased him so much that he bade her come nearer. She did so, and bound the Vizier's arms with a scarf, which so amused the Wazir that he laughed loud and long. Then she bound the Wazir's arms in the same manner and it was the Vizier's turn to laugh. Into their laughing mouths she thrust two poisoned pills so that in another instant they fell over, quite dead, amongst the chessmen.

The omnivorous Goat delivered the Shepherd from his chains with his strong teeth and they all returned to the Distance, where they still dwell in more-than-perfect bliss and may be discerned through an ivory telescope any fine afternoon.

[1] A synopsis for readers only.

 

CONCERNING THE SCENERY.

In the original production by The Washington Square Players, The Shepherd in the Distance was played in front of backgrounds of black velvet. The garden scene consisted of a black velvet drop about half-way between the curtain and back-wall, upon which a decorative white design merely suggesting the garden and its gate was appliquéd. This drop was made in three sections, the middle one hung on a separate set of lines so that it could be raised to show the "Distance" (as seen through the telescope) without disturbing the rest of the scene.

The "Distance" consisted of a velvet drop hung slightly behind the middle section of the garden scene, on the middle of which two large, white concentric circles were appliquéd around a circular opening about five feet in diameter. The bottom of the opening was about eighteen inches above the stage. Behind this stood a platform just large enough to hold four characters at one time. Black masking drapes were provided at both sides of the stage and behind the platform.

The Prologue, Scenes II, IV, V, the first part of Scene VII and the Epilogue were all played before a plain velvet drop hung a few feet upstage of the curtain line.

The Shepherd in the Distance has also been produced in colors very effectively by the Hollywood Community Theatre, at Hollywood, California. There is no reason why any highly decorative treatment of scenery and costuming will not enhance the production if it be well planned and consistent throughout.

 

IMPORTANT PROPERTIES.

The properties consist principally of a small chess table with most of the chessmen glued on, two stools, a telescope, a balloon and papier maché chain which are employed as a ball and chain, a very large Chinese crash cymbal for the stage manager's use, and such personal properties as occur in the text.

 

COSTUMES AND MAKE-UP.

Whatever scheme is selected for the scenery, the costumes and make-up should be consistent with it. In the original production, all of the characters but the Nubian were made up completely with clown white or "Plexo," the eyebrows and eyes outlined in black and mouths rouged but slightly. No unwhitened flesh was visible at all.

The Princess wore a white satin pseudo-Oriental costume with stiff ruffs at the collar, wrists and knees, the trousers not gathered at the ankles, a flat close-fitting turban with a number of ornaments and a hanging veil, and white slippers. In the dance in Scene VI she used a long black gauze scarf and a white one. Her attendant wore a similar costume of cheaper material, an unornamented turban and black slippers. Her slaves were also similarly garbed, in cotton, but with bulkier turbans, and baggy trousers, gathered at the ankles.

The Wazir, armed with a preposterous "corporation," wore baggy white trousers, gathered at the ankles, a sleeveless vest with wide, horizontal black-and-white stripes, a white cloak hanging from his shoulders which terminated in a large black tassel, a turban, a beard made of several lengths of black portière cord sewed to white gauze, and white pointed shoes. His bare arms were whitened, his eyebrows were short, thick and high up on his forehead, and he carried a black snuff-box.

The Vizier's white trousers were not so full as the Wazir's; his tight white vest had tight white sleeves; his cloak was shorter and without a tassel. His white turban, however, was decorated with antennæ of white milliner's wire. He affected high arching eyebrows, a long pointed nose, a drooping mustache, a disdainful mouth, carried a white wooden scimiter about four feet long with a black handle and wore bells on his pointed white shoes.

The Nubian wore black tights and shirt, black slippers and a white skull cap and breech-clout. The rest of him, excepting his eyes and mouth, which were whitened, was a symphony in burnt cork.

The Shepherd wore white, knee-length trunks, frayed at the ends, a little drapery about the upper man, slippers and a cap. His body was whitened profusely and he carried a tiny flute.

The Goat wore a white furry skin, horns, and foot and hand coverings resembling hoofs. His make-up approached the animal's face as nearly as possible.

Ghurri-Wurri wore tattered white baggy trousers, vest and cloak, a turban and black goggles.

The Maker of Sounds was garbed in an all-enveloping white burnous and a white skull cap.

 

A FEW STAGE DIRECTIONS.

Left and right, in this text, refer to the actor's, not the spectator's, point of view. The action of the piece is meant to be two-dimensional; the actors are to perform in profile as far as possible; except when registry of facial expression is important the action should be parallel with the back drop.

The entire action must be rhythmical and the rhythms should be used as definite themes, one for the Princess and her retinue, another for the Wazir, etc. The performance should be extremely rapid and must never drag. The cast should direct special attention to the comic features, and the director to the pictorial elements of the piece. The director may consider the performance as an animated poster which moves rapidly from design to design.


THE SHEPHERD IN THE DISTANCE

A Pantomime

By Holland Hudson

 

PROLOGUE.

[The curtain rises on a plain drop curtain. The Maker of Sounds enters with his arms full of instruments, crosses the scene and sits with his back against one side of the proscenium, outside the curtain line. He tries out all his instruments, wind, string, percussion and "traps." He yawns. He becomes impatient and raps on the stage.]

Cymbal CrashThe lights go out
The drop is lifted in the darkness
Cymbal CrashThe lights are turned on

 

SCENE I.

[The Wazir's garden. Discovered left to right, the Nubian, standing with folded arms, the Vizier, seated at the chess table, playing with the Wazir. At the other side of the stage, the Princess, her attendant, her two slaves. All stand motionless until set in action by the Maker of Sounds.]

The MusicThe Pantomime, etc.
Tap—on Chinese wood blockNubian unfolds his arms
TapHe salaams
TapResumes original pose
TapVizier moves a chessman
TapWazir moves a chessman
TapVizier moves a chessman
TapWazir picks up snuff-box
TapOpens it
TapOffers Vizier snuff
TapVizier takes a pinch
Sand blocksSniffs it
Drum crashVizier sneezes
Drum crashSneezes again
No soundSneezes again
Nubian sneezes synchronously with Vizier's paroxysms
TapVizier returns snuff-box
TapWazir puts it away
BellPrincess yawns
TapSignals her attendant
TapAttendant picks up telescope
TapHands it to Princess
Wind instrumentPrincess uses telescope
        [The middle portion of the back drop is lifted to show the "Distance" in which the Shepherd is discovered piping for the Goat's dancing.]
Stringed instrumentThe Shepherd sees the Princess, stops piping, and declares his adoration across the distance. He beckons her to join him.
Princess promises to do so.
        [The lifted portion of the drop is lowered again. The "Distance" vanishes.]
TapPrincess signals to her retinue
TapAttendant relays the signal
TapSlaves stoop.
TapLift the hope chests to their shoulders
Bass chord on stringed instrumentPrincess and retinue take one step downstage
Treble chordAll lean forward, watching Wazir
Drum crashWazir and Vizier stand up
Drum crashThey glare at Princess
Tap on wood blockThey sit
Bass chordVizier yawns
Bass chordWazir yawns
Bass chordNubian yawns
Bass chordVizier nods
Bass chordWazir nods
Bass chordNubian drops on one knee
Treble chordPrincess and retinue lean forward
Bass chordThey take one step
        [A continuation of this business takes them off at the left]
The lights go out
Cymbal crash        [In the darkness. Princess and retinue cross to right of stage, ready for Scene II]
The plain drop is lowered
Cymbal crashThe lights come up

 

SCENE II.

Tambourine jinglesGhurri-Wurri discovered above at center, with his dark glasses pushed up on his forehead, counting his money.
Tap on piece of crockeryHe finds a bad coin
Sand blocksBites it
Tap crockeryThrows it away
Begins the Princess rhythms on Chinese wood blockHears the Princess and retinue approaching
[Telegraphically expressed it is ... ... ... ... Musically, accented triplets, common time, presto] He pulls glasses over his eyes


He grovels
Princess rhythm continuesPrincess and retinue enter from the right
They pass by Ghurri-Wurri without pause
Drum crashGhurri-Wurri runs ahead and prostrates himself before the Princess
TapPrincess' retinue halts
TapPrincess signals to attendant
TapAttendant signals to nearest slave
TapSlave proffers chest
Tap, Tap, TapAttendant opens it, takes coin, closes it
TapGives coin to Princess
Tap on crockeryPrincess drops coin in beggar's hand
Princess rhythmPrincess and retinue exit at the left
Begin drum roll
pp. cresc. to ff.
Ghurri-Wurri looks at coin, scrambles to his feet, looks after Princess, shakes his fists, starts to the right, turns, shakes his fist again, exits at right, raging
Cymbal crashLights out
In the darkness Ghurri-Wurri crosses to left of stage, ready for Scene III
The drop is lifted
Cymbal crashLights up

 

SCENE III.

[The Wazir's Garden as in Scene I]

Bass chordsWazir, Vizier and Nubian asleep as before
Tap on drumGhurri-Wurri enters at the left
Tap on drumProstrates himself before Wazir
Bass chordWazir and court sleep on
Tap on drumGhurri-Wurri again prostrates himself
Bass chordThe Court sleeps on
Drum crashGhurri-Wurri slams himself down hard
Drum crashWazir, Vizier, Nubian awake
Drum rollWazir shakes his fist at the beggar
Wood-block tapSignals Vizier
Sand blocksVizier runs thumb along his scimiter blade
TapGhurri-Wurri retreats to the right
TapHe stumbles over the telescope
Tap, tapHe picks it up and hands it to the Wazir
TapGhurri-Wurri points to the "Distance."
TapThe Wazir uses the telescope
Princess rhythmThe "Distance" is revealed as in Scene I
Princess and retinue are seen traveling [across the platform from right to left]
TapThe Wazir lowers the telescope
The "Distance" vanishes as in Scene I
Drum crashWazir stamps his foot
Drum rollHe shakes his fists, first at the distance, then off left
TapPoints at Ghurri-Wurri
TapVizier seizes Ghurri-Wurri by the scruff of the neck
TapVizier points off left with his scimiter
Wazir rhythm on wood-drum [Telegraphically stated ... ... etc.
Musically, accented eighth notes in 2/4 time, presto]
The Court and Ghurri-Wurri begin to run, Nubian first, then Ghurri-Wurri, then Vizier, then Wazir. The running is entirely vertical in movement, no ground being covered at all.
Lights out
[In the darkness, the runners move downstage without losing step. A plain drop is lowered behind them]
Cymbal crash
Cymbal crash
Lights on

 

SCENE IV.

Wazir rhythm, crescendo and acceleramentoThe runners increase their speed throughout the scene
Ghurri-Wurri slips to his knees,
Vizier, without losing a step, jerks him back on his feet
Ghurri-Wurri, pointing left, resumes running
Wazir points left
When the runners have reached their maximum speed
Cymbal crashThe lights go out
In the darkness the Wazir's court and Ghurri-Wurri exit and take their places at the right ready for Scene V
The Shepherd and Goat take their places
Cymbal crashLights up

 

SCENE V.

Wind instrument[A plain drop]
The Shepherd is discovered well to the left, piping for the Goat
Goat is dancing
Begin Princess rhythmGoat stops to listen, looks off to the right
Shepherd looks to the right
Goat crosses to extreme right, bows
Princess and retinue enter
TapThey halt
TapThe Shepherd kneels to the Princess, then dances for her
Stringed instrument
Drum roll pp. crescendoThe Goat becomes alarmed
All turn and look to the right
Goat, on all fours, offers his back to the Princess
Shepherd induces
Princess to sit on Goat's back
Princess rhythmGoat exits, followed by Princess and retinue
TapShepherd folds his arms
Wazir rhythmWazir's Court and Ghurri-Wurri enter from the right
TapThey halt
TapWazir points to Shepherd
TapVizier brandishes his scimiter
Drum rollNubian approaches Shepherd
Drum crashNubian falls
Drum roll
    Crescendo
        to
Wazir shakes his fists
Points at Shepherd
Vizier attacks Shepherd with scimiter
Shepherd grasps scimiter
They struggle, conventionally, one, two, three, four, five, six
Drum crashThe Shepherd falls
Drum rollThe Vizier waves his scimiter aloft
Drum rollWazir exults
TapNubian rises
TapWazir points to the right
TapVizier points at Shepherd with scimiter
TapNubian seizes the Shepherd
Wazir rhythm Wazir's Court and Shepherd exit at the right, ignoring Ghurri-Wurri, Nubian and Shepherd first, then Vizier, then Wazir. [All cross behind the drop to left of stage ready for Scene VI]
Drum crashGhurri-Wurri stamps his foot
Drum rollShakes his fists after them
Drum rollRuns to left and shakes his fists at the Princess
Drum rollRuns to right and shakes them at the Wazir
Runs to center and shakes them at the audience
Cymbal crashLights out
Ghurri-Wurri exits
The drop is raised
Cymbal crashLights on

 

SCENE VI.

[The Wazir's garden. No characters on scene]

Wazir rhythmNubian enters from left, holding the Shepherd
The Wazir and Vizier follow
TapWazir takes his seat, smirking
TapWazir orders Shepherd thrown down at the right
Drum crashNubian complies
TapVizier orders Nubian off right
Wazir rhythm, fastNubian hurries out
Wazir rhythm, slowReënters, staggering under a ball and chain [the chain of papier maché and the ball a balloon]
Drum crashDrops these beside the Shepherd
Clank, clankRivets chain to Shepherd's leg
TapRises
TapVizier orders Nubian off, left
Wazir rhythmNubian exits left
TapVizier sits
TapWazir moves a chessman
TapVizier moves a chessman
TapShepherd, in a gesture of despair, finds the telescope
He looks into the "Distance"
        [The "Distance" is shown as in Scene I]
Stringed music Princess and Goat discovered in conference. Goat has an idea. He points to the Shepherd, then to the Wazir, then to the Princess and executes an ancient dance movement which is contemporaneously described as the "shimmy"
The Princess claps her hands and exits, followed by the Goat
TapShepherd lowers the telescope
        [The "Distance" vanishes]
TapShepherd is puzzled
Stringed musicPrincess enters from the left, veiled and carrying a scarf in her hands
Goat enters with her, goes at once to the Shepherd
Princess poses at center
Wazir and Vizier turn, smirking
Princess dances
Wazir leers and strokes his beard
Princess ends dance beside Vizier
Chords, agitatoShe ties his arms with her scarf
Sand blocksWazir is convulsed with laughter
ChordsPrincess binds Wazir's arms with her veil
Sand blocksVizier is convulsed with laughter
Princess rhythm on wood drumThe Attendant enters from the left with a box on which a skull and cross-bones are conspicuous
TapPrincess takes two pills from the box
TapShe pops them into her prisoners' open mouths
Princess rhythmThe Attendant exits as she came
Sand blocksWazir and Vizier swallow vigorously
Drum crashThey lay their heads upon the chess table and die
TapPrincess beckons to the Shepherd
TapShepherd points to his fetters
TapGoat attacks the ball and chain
Drum crashHe "bites" the ball [bursts the balloon]
TapHe "bites" the chain.
String musicPrincess, Shepherd and Goat dance in a circle
Cymbal crashLights out
Princess and Shepherd and Goat ready at left for next scene
The drop is lowered
Cymbal crashLights up

 

SCENE VII.

String musicPrincess and Shepherd dance across followed by the Goat, who is playing on the Shepherd's pipe
Princess and Shepherd, behind the drop take their places on the platform
Cymbal crashLights out
        [The drop is lifted]
Cymbal crashLights on
        [The Wazir's garden with the middle section of the drop lifted to show the "Distance"]
String musicShepherd and Princess discovered in the "Distance" posed in a kiss
Cymbal crashLights out
        [The drop is lowered]
Cymbal crashLights on
The Maker of Sounds rises, yawns cavernously, bows very slightly and exits

 

[Curtain.]