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There are a dozen "foreign experts" at Hubei University at the moment. Four from England, four from Australia, one American, one Frenchman and a couple of Japanese teachers. We were asked to put on a 'secret' pantomime as part of the evening's worth of entertainment of which Hamlet was a part.
After having a brief kafuffle about what we were doing one of the Australian's came up with the idea of doing The Wizard of Oz. This turned out to be a great idea and proved suitable for lots of comedy. We brainstormed lots of ideas together and below you can read the full script which I wrote.
It didn't all go incredibly smoothly in the run-up. Indeed at we thought they were going to pull it from the schedule (There was a sudden crisis as to what it and the heavy reliance on bad acting.) The students turned out to love the show and it went on to be a great success.
The Wizard of Wuhan
All actors wander onto the stage - they look embarrassed, as though they haven't prepared anything. [shouldn't be too hard to act]
Chris: erm - right
Jonno: Well, I'll say something, shall I?
Russell: Go ahead
Jonno: Well, Here we are, [Announcing] The Foreign Experts play for the year 2003!
Everyone: [getting the idea] Oh Yes - The Foreign Experts play! 2003!!
Jonno encourages someone else to say something
Chris: We are very pleased to bring you the Foreign Experts play for 2003!
Everyone: [rhubarb] pleased, wonderfully pleased.
Chris encourages someone else to say something.
Jemma: We are sure that you'll enjoy it!
Russell: Yes we're sure it'll be
Jonno: We're sure this will be the best foreign experts play
Chris: Well, the best one you'll see in Hubei University
Russell: Done by us
Jonno: Exactly, the best Foreign Experts play you'll ever see, at Hubei University, done by us.
Jemma: This year
James: [Sarcastic] Well - there's only a few days of this year left.
Jonno: [trying to hush him up] Which proves my point!
James: Look - there's no getting away from it. We have no script!
Everyone: Hah! No script! What are you talking about (etc)
Russell: No script! Of course we've got a script!
Chris: A fine script
Karen: Best script since that Shakespeare blokey
James: Where is it?
Jonno: [Sarcastically] Where is it?! Hah - he asks where it is!
Jemma: Well of course we don't have it.
James: Because there is none??
Jemma: No - because erm
Russell: Because we've memorised it
Chris: Brilliant! - no - right - that's it. There's no script because we've memorised it.
James: That's a load of rubbish!
Chris: No its not. [whispering to James] We've got to do something - remember - "The show must go on"
James: Well that just doesn't work, does it?
Russell: [breaking] He's right, dammit! The show can't go on if you have no script!
James: And no title
Chris: [Laughing] No title!? Of course we have a title.
Jonno: We've got a wonderful title [prodding Jemma]
Jemma: Of course - its called erm
Chris: erm - its called - erm - The Wizard of Oz
Jonno: Brilliant! [suddenly trying to act cooly] Yes - its called the wizard of Oz and its based on a very famous film [cunningly] of the same name.
Chris: Yes Yes - everyone knows that - don't you remember the story?
Russell: Well - I know bits of it [pointing at the audience] but I'm not sure they know
Jonno: That's fine - none of them knew that Hamlet was a crazy loon either - but they still enjoyed Hamlet.
Jemma: Anyway we can explain the story.
Chris: [Directly to the audience] Dorothy was a young, beautiful girl who lived in a rural part of America called Kansas
Karen: Dorothy dreamed of leaving Kansas and flying off to a fantasy world
Chris: Then a typhoon hit the town, she found herelf in a magical fantasy world called Oz.
Jonno: All the people in Oz were small and talked in a very strange way.
Karen: Dorothy decided she wanted to go home - A magical fairy, the Good Witch of the South, said that she should follow a yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz who would return her home.
Russell: And they all sang "Follow the Yellow Brick Road"
Chris: Dorothy set off on her journey and she soon came across a Scarecrow.
Jonno: The scarecrow also wanted to see the Wizard of Oz because he had no brains and Dorothy thought that the Wizard of Oz might give the Scarecrow some brains.
Chris: So they set off again
Russell: And the all sang "Follow the Yellow Brick Road"
Jemma: Then they came across a Tin Man.
Jonno: The Tin Man also wanted to see the Wizard of Oz because he had no heart and Dorothy thought that the Wizard of Oz might give the Tim Man a heart.
Chris: So they set off again
Karen: Next they came across a Lion.
Jonno: The Lion also wanted to see the Wizard of Oz because he had no courage and Dorothy thought that the Wizard of Oz might give the Lion some courage.
Russell [pause - then very bored] and they all sang "Follow the Yellow Brick Road"
Chris: During all this time there was an evil witch who tried to stop Dorothy getting to the city.
Russell: She didn't sing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road"
Jemma: But she did have an army of evil flying monkeys.
Jonno: [hitting Russell] Anyway - Dorothy got to the Emerald City and they saw the Wizard.
Karen: After a little bit of fuss, the Scarecrow got his brains, the Tin Man got his heart and the Lion got his courage.
Russell: And they all sang...
Everyone (except James): SHUD'UP!
Russell: [muttering] Well, they did...
Jemma: And the wizard sent Dorothy back to Kansas
Everyone together: And they all live happily ever after.
Russell: That's brilliant - we'll do that - make a few changes to make it suitable for a Chinese audience - and we can do the show right here!
Jonno: I'll be the Scarecrow
Karen: I'll be the wizard
Jemma: I'll be the Tin Man
Carolyn: I'll be the Lion
Chris: I'll be Dorothy
Russell: I can introduce everything - but we still need a witch.
Everyone: Yeah - who can be the witch
[They all look over at James]
James: What? What are you looking at me for? [realising] No! Not the witch. I'm not going to be the witch!
Everyone: (Cheekily] Follow the yellow brick road, follow the Yellow brick road, follow
(exit all) (proper music)
Russell: Our story is set many years ago. The scene is Hubei University. A foreign teacher - Dorothy - is making her way to English Corner.
Enter Chris - not happy
Chris: Oh - I hate English corner! People always ask the same questions.
Russell: Dorothy enjoyed teaching a lot - but she was tired of always being asked the same questions at English corner and she wanted to get away from it all.
Chris: I wish I could get away from it all.
Russell: I just said that.
Chris: Shut'up - I'm acting here!
Russell: Oh - That's what it is, is it?
Chris: I wish I could get away from it all and fly off to a magical, fantasy land called Oz
Russell: OK - so we should have had a script.
Chris: [Knees Russell in the groin] Oh - I wish I could escape English Corner tonight. I do enjoy it - but I always get asked the same questions. "Do you like Chinese food" "Can you use Chopsticks" I wish they would ask me what I think about Womens Rights, Einstein, or the meaning of life.
Russell: Just at that moment something strange happened. The weather changed suddenly, (the weather in Wuhan is very changeable0, and a huge gust of wind blew Dorothy into the sky.
Russell: The wind blew and blew for so long Dorothy fell asleep. (Chris snores loudly) When she woke up - she found she was in a strange land full of strange people who talked differently to the people in Hubei University.
Luckilly, just at that moment, the Good Witch of the South appeared. (Japanese lady??) The Good Witch asked if Dorothy was OK. Dorothy was very frightened and said that she wanted to return home so that she could do English Corner. The Good Witch told Dorothy that she couldn't help, but there was a powerful magician called The Wizard of Oz, who might be able to help.
Chris: But How do I get there?
Russell: The Good Witch of the South said that to get to the Wizard of Oz she had to follow the Yellow Brick Road. And with that, the Good Witch left her. But all was not well in this magical, fantasy world. Just at that moment, A different witch appeared. The Wicked Witch of Western Imperialism.
Russell: I said, The Wicked Witch of Western Imperialism appeared!
James: [from off stage] I'm not doing it.
Russell: Guys, guys, can someone get James onto the stage.
James comes on in a witches hat - Chris laughs
James: Look - its not funny. Stop laughing at me.
Chris: Oh - don't worry. I think it suits you.
Russell: Well - black is deffinately your colour.
James: You watch it. OK lets get on with it. What do I have to say?
Russell: The Wicked Witch taunted Dorothy saying that she sould never get to see the Wizard of Oz.
James: [not really trying] Dorothy, you'll never get to see the Wizard of Oz.
James: taunt?? OK - Ha Ha Dorothy. You'll never get to see the Wizard of Oz
Russell: Try harder - do some actions?
James: Actions? What like Beijing Opera. [Very melodramatically] DOROTHY You will never get to see The Wizard of Oz.
Russell: I'll give you one more chance.
James: [semi-properly] Ha Ha! Dorothy. As long as I live, you'll never get to see the Wizard of Oz.
Russell: Then the witch thought of an evil plan and decided to send Dorothy the wrong way.
James: Ha ha. I have thought of an evil plan. You know the Wizard of Oz.
Chris: Don't follow the Yellow Brick Road?
James: Don't follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow, erm... Follow the He Ping Dadao instead.
Chris: Follow the He Ping Dadao? You can't sing that.
James: Sure you can. Follow the He Ping Dadao, Follow the He Ping Dadao, follow follow follow.
Russell: Thanks for the acting - You can go now.
James: At last [leaves]
Russell: Dorothy was all in a quandary.
Chris: What should I do? The Good Witch said I should follow the Yellow Brick Road. The Evil witch says I should follow the He Ping Dadao. What should I do??
Russell: Dorothy wasn't a very clever girl.
Chris: Oi! I'll follow the Yellow Brick Road.
Russell: She decided to Sing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road"
Chris: What is your obsession with that song?
Russell: It's a beautiful song - and I'm sure everyone wants to learn it.
Chris: Oh no they don't
Russell Oh yes they do
Oh yes they will get the idea - oh no they don't. Jonno with boards trys to get them to join
Chris Oh - stop it - I would sing it if I could, but I don't have the music.
Russell: [Holds up a CD] I do!
Chris: Where did you get that from? You didn't even know we were doing "The Wizard of Oz"
Russell: Ahh - just part of the magic of theatre, anyway, I'll go and put it on, shall I?
Chris: I guess.
Everyone: (sings Follow the Yellow Brick Road)
Russell: After singing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" for several hours, Dorothy came across a scarecrow.
Chris: Oh Look - a scarecrow!
Chris: Hello Scarecrow - Can you tell me if this is the right road to see The Wizard of Oz?
Jonno: Erm - not really - no.
Chris: Am I lost?
Jonno: I couldn't rightly say. You see my English isn't all that good.
Chris: Oh No, why not?
Jonno: Well, I'm learning English, but everytime I try and say something I forget the eh, I forget the erm...
Jonno: That's it. I forget the words. See I just don't have a very big erm, a big vo...
Jonno: Bang on! I don't have a big vocabulary.
Chris: I'll tell you what. I'm going to see the Wizard of Oz so he can send me back to English corner. Come with me. I'm sure if he can send me back, he can give you a bigger vocabulary.
Jonno: Aw! That would be... erm...
Jonno: No, that would be
Chris: a pity?
Jonno: That would be gr...
Chris: He's at the end of the Yellow Brick Road!
Jonno: Well - let's go
Everyone Follow the Yellow Brick Road...
Russell: A little while later Dorothy and the Scarecrow came across a Tin Man.
Chris: Why - look! Its a Tin Wo - Man.
Jonno: She doesn't look very happy.
Chris: We must help her.
Jemma: She Help, She Help!
Chris: What is she saying?
Russell: As I said. Dorothy wasn't very clever. The Tin Man wanted to speak English too, but her grammar just wasn't very good.
Jemma: No grammar have none.
Jonno: Ohh! That's erm... that's tur..
Jonno: No. That's tur
Jonno: [as Jonno] Turkey??? That's ridiculous [as Scarecrow] That's terrible!
Jemma: Certainly, you right are.
Chris: Well... We're going to see the Wizard of Oz. He's going to help me get to English Corner and he's going to help the Scarecrow remember his vocabulary. He might help you learn some grammar.
Jemma: You think would so?
Chris: Come on!
Follow the Yellow Brick Road etc
Russell: but the Wicket Witch of Western Imperialism was still after them.
Russell: Oh come on. It really doesn't matter. You've got a hat.
James: I've got a hat. But a witch has a broom. I want to fly. I want to fly out across the stage and walk up walls - like Keanu Reeves does in The Matrix.
Russell: The Matrix?
James: Yeah - that's cool
Russell: We can't do that.
James: Why not?
Russell: We don't have any brooms.
James: Look, I don't ask for much, I'm just askng you...
James: A mop?
Russell: That's right
James: Oh bloody hell!
Russell: That's what you get - and watch your language. This is a family audience.
Russell: You hatch an evil plot to delay Dorothy and her friends.
James: How do I do that?
Russell: Well you could use your evil army of flying monkeys.
James: Oh yes - and where might I find them?
Russell: Well - They're here. [brings out a fluffy toy]
Russell: Pretty funky - huh?!
James: I've never been so insulted!
Russell: You ought to get out more.
James: It doesn't even have wings.
Russell: [Aha! Gets wings - sticks them on the back with sellotape.] Now with wings.
Enter Dorothy & Tin Man and Scarecrow at the back skipping and singing Follow The Yellow Brick Road quietly
James: Oh - OK. Right.. I'll send my evil army of flying monkeys to stop Dorothy. [talking to the toy] OK. Now look here. You need to attack Dorothy and stop her from getting to see the Wizard of Oz. Can you do it? Are you ready? OK - but don't let me down. [puts toy down in the middle of the stage and runs to the back of the stage]
Dorothy and co come on from the other side and walk over the army of evil flying monkeys without noticing it.
Russell: Just a little later, they came across a very frightening Lion
Lion: Ha ha!
Jonno: I'll erm. I'll erm. I'll sssssssssomething you.
Chris: I'll slap you?
Jonno: No - I'll ssss
Chris: Sing to you?
Chris: That's it! Wrong tense, but right word!
Jonno: I'll save you.
Walks up to Lion Kung Fu. Lion runs away.
Chris: The Lion is just a big scaredy cat.
Lion: It's true, It's true. I've got no courage. It effects everything I do. I can't scare people and I can't say what I want to say cos I'm afraid I'll get it wrong.
Lion: Thank you, my friend. I don't know what to do.
Chris: Well. I've got an original idea. We're going to go see the wizard of of because I want to go home, the Scarecrow..
Russell: Yes, yes, They get the idea. Your going to the wizard, he's going to the wizard, she's going to the wizard. Lion - will you go to see the wizard?
Russell: OK - so lets get on with this then... Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and the Lion all carried along the Yellow Brick Road (Music) No No! Even I'm sick of it now! They went along the road made out of yellow bricks. But the Wicked Witch was still after them.
James: What have you got me doing now?
Russell: You're going to use your magic powers to stop Dorothy in her tracks.
James: And how exactly am I going to do that?
Russell: Well - I don't know to be honest.
James: Oh great!
Russell: Come on - use your evil genius.
James: Well - my evil army of flying monkeys didn't do very much did it?!
James: I know I'll foil their search for the Wizard of Oz. I will turn the sky black. The darkest night will cover the land. There will be no light from the sun. No light from the moon. Even the light from the very stars themselves will be put out by my evil magic. Hahaha!
Lights go out.
Lion: It's just like English corner!
Jonno: Do you like Chinese food?
Gemma: Can you use chopsticks?
Chris: The witch thinks she can foil our search. But she's wrong! English corner doesn't scare me. I've come prepared! I've got a torch. Come on - lets go.
James: Damn, damn damn,
Act 3 (Finale)
Russell: So finally Dorothy and her illiterate friends arrive at the house of the Wizard of Oz. The House of the Wizard of Oz guys - Where is it???
Karen walks the set in trying to be sneaky.
Russell: The house was very beautiful and looked very magical. Dorothy and her friends were quite scared.
Lion: Guys, guys. I'm really not sure I like this! Can we go back?
Jonno: We've come so far we're not going back now.
Russell: Suddenly - the wizard appeared.
Karen: I am The Wizard of Oz. What do you want from me?
Carolyn runs away - Tin Man goes to get her!
Jonno: [aside] The Wizard is a Woman!
Chris: Hello great wizard! We've been travelling many days to come to see you.
Jonno: We have heard that you are the greatest wizard.
Tin Man: We heard you were a whiz of a Wiz.
Lion: If ever a Wiz there was.
Karen: But why have you come to see me?
Chris: Because... [sings] Because because because because.... oh sorry - private joke. We have come because He needs some Vocab, he needs grammar, she needs some courage and I need to get back home. And we thought you might be able to use your magical powers to help us all.
Karen: Ohh . But I don't do magic anymore. I've taken up Wushu instead. I touch the air. [Karen does her best Tai Chi]
Tin Man: But that's not good enough
Scarecrow: That's right. We've come a long way. We've encountered many dangers, we've made our way through an endless night and we've fought an evil army of flying monkeys.
Chris: You've gotta help us.
Karen: Well... I don't have any magic anymore, but I'm sure you know the answers yourselves. The Wizard helps those who help themselves.
Jonno: But we need you to help us.
Karen: What is your problem.
Jonno: I've got a very small...
Karen: Well I can't do anything about that.
Chris: No, no. He doesn't mean that. He's got small voc-abu-lary!
Karen: Well Perhaps if you read something.
Jonno: But I've tried that and vocabulary books are dull.
Karen: Well maybe if you read something that you're interested in, then you'll get a bigger vocabulary and enjoy reading at the same time. Have you tried 21st Century?
Jonno: Oh wow - this is interesting - Thanks!? (sits down and starts reading)
Karen: Whats wrong with you?
Jemma: Grammar not good. Me hasn't got none grammar.
Karen: Studying grammar can be boring. Maybe you just need to hear how other people use it and practise that way. Why don't you take this radio I've got. Try listening to Radio Australia. Or, if you're really pushed - try the BBC.
Jemma: Radio Oz? What a good idea. Oh I said it right!
Karen: And you! What's your problem?!
Lion whispers to Jonno
Jonno: She says she's got no confidence and she can't speak.
Karen: Oh - [to Chris] This happens all the time. [To the Lion] But you've got such a beuatiflu main, beautiful ears. A lovely tail. You should be brave and use the english you do have. And here is a years free entry to English Corner so you can go and practise.
Russell: Just when everything seemed to be sorting itself out - the Wicked Witch of the West made a last ditch attempt to mess everything up.
James: Now then now then now then. What's going on here? This all seems very comfortable. You were foolish to give up your magic - Wizard. With your magic powers out of the way Now I can rule Oz on my own. Ha ha ha!!!
Karen: You're overacting doesn't scare me.
Russell: It scares me.
James: You keep out of this.
Karen: Anyway - even without my magical powers - I am more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
James: Oh yeah? And hows that?
Karen: Well - look at this!
[Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man unfurl their CET scores]
Russell: The Wicked Witch couldn't stand the sight of the high grades. And she died. [James falls down dead] And then she exploded into 1000 pieces.
Russell: It says here - in the script - "The Witch exploded into 1,000 pieces"
James: But we don't have a script.
Russell: We do now - we've just written one.
James: Let me see. [walks over to read script] Oh yes - Witch explodes into 1,000 pieces. OK I'll give it a go
Russell: That's the spirit.
James throws glitter into the air and runs off - bit sound effect???
Karen: Everything is resolved.
Chris: But what about me?
Karen: Well - what about you?
Chris: I need to get back to English corner, but I don't know the way.
Karen: But you are so close.
Chris No I'm not. I was going to English corner, then a massive wind blew and blew for hours and I got carried I don't know how far and I woke up and I didn't recognise what anyone was saying.
Karen: But you're still in Wuhan.
Karen: Yes. This is the Yellow Crane Tower.
Chris: You live in the Yellow Crane Tower.
Karen: Of course. Why do you think you've been following the Yellow Brick Road?!
Chris: But all the people speak strangely.
Karen: You're still very close to home. What you've got to understand about CHina is that there are hundreds and hundreds of different dialects. It was just the change of dialect that threw you.
Chris: So Hubei University is...
Karen: Go down to Yu Ma Chang, take a left, second right and your right there!
Chris: I don't know how to thank you
Karen: You don't need to thank me. It's all in a days work when you're the Wizard of Oz.
Chris: I'm going to have to say goodbye to you. Goodbye Lion, Goodbye Tin Woman, Goodbye Scarecrow. I'll come and visit again soon.
Jonno, Jemma, Carolyn: [rhubarb] Make sure you do, see you soon, byeee!
Chris: Come on everyone - One last time!
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Chris gets back to the stage.
Chris: I'm back.. I'm back! I'm back at English corner.
Lights cut out
Jonno: Can you use Chopsticks
Audience: Massive 10 minute standing ovation
Launched on December 25th 2003