The musical at the American International School of Lusaka was a bit…unusual this year. In a good way.
I have been privileged to work with the drama director at the school, who is incredibly talented, unbelievably creative and just this side of insane. (As are all good drama directors.) This year being the 450th birthday of The Bard, he wanted to do Shakespeare…but what to do? One day, while reading through some of Shakespeare’s later and lesser- known plays, a recording of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” came on the radio and suddenly – the Idea was hatched. I was just along for the ride.
So…this was our production of “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” (aka “Lost at Sea”) with music by Fleetwood Mac.
To sing a song that old was sung,
From ashes ancient chorus is come;
Assuming man’s infirmities,
To glad your ear, and please your eyes
SONG: The Chain
Pericles, a young prince and seafarer, has landed at the Palace of King Anticochus, where he seeks the hand of the Princess. In order to win the right to marry her, a riddle must be solved. If he fails, his head will join those who have failed before him…now decorating the upper wall. However, what he doesn’t know is that if he actually solves the riddle, he will also be killed, as the answer exposes a dark secret between the King and his daughter.
Pericles solves the riddle and realizes at once what it means and what it portends for him. He tells the daughter that he cannot love her and must leave and quickly departs.
SONG: Go Your Own Way
Meanwhile, the King realizes that Perciles now knows his secret and orders one of his servants to find him and kill him.
Pericles returns to Tyre, much troubled. His Lords make a big fuss over his return, but his oldest and most trusted servant, Helicanus, sends them away, as he sees that his Prince is deeply upset. Pericles tells Helicanus what happened and admits that he fears for his life. Helicanus advises Pericles to go away for a while, until Antiochus has calmed down.
Pericles sails to Tarsus, which is in the midst of a famine. Their King and Queen, Cleon and Dionyza, are despairing about how to feed their people. When Perciles and his sailors show up with food, they pledge undying garniture and loyalty.
SONG: I’m So Afraid
After some time at Tarsus, Pericles and his men sail on, but they are caught in a raging storm. The ship is wrecked and Pericles finds himself washed ashore, bereft of his armour and alone.
He is found by some local fisherman, who give him shelter, food and the news that he is now on Pentapolis, where good King Simodes is about ready to celebrate his daughter’s birthday and all the local knights are invited to joust in the tourney. Mourning his lack of armour, Pericles is cheered when one of the fisherman pulls in the net containing a suit of rusty armour. Pericles declares that he will go and joust with the rest, even in the rusty outfit.
The crowd has gathered and the Princess and her father watch as the knights are introduced. One by one they enter, making a spectacle of themselves.
SONG: What Makes You Think You’re The One
When Pericles enters, in his mean and tattered outfit, the crowd falls silent. Unlike the others, he does not preen, but merely bows to the Princess.
At the joust, Pericles acquits himself most admirably and Thaisa, the Princess, is very much attracted to him. She places the laurel wreath on his head. The King then commands that there be music and dancing!
SONG: Say You Love Me
Meanwhile, back at Tyre, the Lords are getting restless that Pericles has been so long away. They ask Helicanus to assume command. He demurs, but says that if Pericles does not return within a year, he will reluctantly take the position.
Thaisa has informed her father that she is in love with the Prince of Tyre and will wed no one else. Simonides is quite pleased, as he is impressed with Pericles, but he decides to make the couple think he disapproves at first! Finally, he proclaims them to be “man and wife” and sends them off to bed!
Pericles receives word that his kingdom needs him, so he and Thaisa (who is now expecting a baby) head back to Tyre. A terrible storm hits them and Thaisa dies in childbirth, leaving a little daughter that Pericles names Marina. The superstitious sailors insist that it is bad luck to have a dead body on board, so Pericles allows them to put Thaisa in a casket and, after putting a note and jewels in with her body, casts her overboard. He decides to return to Tarsus to leave the baby with Cleon and Dionyza, as he fears she will not survive the long journey back to Tyre. Lychordia, Thaisa’s friend will also go, as nurse to the baby.
SONG: Beautiful Child
Cleon and Dionyza promise to treat the babe as their own daughter and Perciles sorrowfully leaves, promising to return as soon as he can.
Early the next morning, Thaisa’s coffin washes up on the shore of the Coast of Ephesus near Diana’s Temple. It is found by the temple Priestesses, who are helping people after the storm. Upon opening it, they discover the body, but discern that there is still life. Using the power of Diana, Thaisa is resurrected.
SONG: Sisters of the Moon
END ACT ONE
As Act Two begins, Perciles is back at Tyre, pensive and lonely.
14 years pass. Marina grows to be a beautiful young girl, loved by all who meet her. Dionyza becomes increasingly jealous, because her own daughter is not as beautiful or talented. When Lychordia dies, Dionyza sees her chance and decides to have her killed – over the objections of her husband. She employs a servant to push Marina off a cliff, but right when she is about to do it – pirates appear! They kidnap Marina and take her to a brothel on the island of Mytilene!
Bawd and Pander, the proprieters of the brothel are bemoaning their lack of suitable “wenches.” When their employee, Bolt, shows up with Marina, a bona-fide virgin, they are overjoyed. Marina, however, has other ideas.
SONG: Never Make Me Cry
It seems everyone who comes to the brothel hoping to sample the wares of the beautiful new girl are talked out of it, and leave promising to mend their ways and never go wenching again. Pander and Bawd are besides themselves, as their business is being ruined. When Lysimachus, the Governer of Mytilene (a regular customer,) shows up, Marina is instructed to “treat him as an honourable man” and do her job. Instead, Lysimachus falls in love with Marina and castigates Pander and Bawd and their brothel!
SONG: Over My Head
Pericles has returned to Tarsus, only to be told that his daughter is dead and shown her “tomb.” Completely grief-stricken, he declines to talk to anyone or take any nourishment. Helicanus takes him on a sea voyage, hoping to lift his spirits and they dock at Mytilene, where Lysimachus hears of Pericle’s melancholy and boards the ship, along with Marina. Marina agrees to try to help Pericles and as they talk, he realizes that she is his daughter.
SONG: Songbird (reprise)
Perciles falls into a swoon and has a vision of Diana and her priestesses.
SONG: Diana (Rhiannon)
Upon awakening, he knows he must go to Diana’s Temple to give thanks. When he arrives, he explains who he is and is shocked when one of the Priestesses come forward, calling his name. It is his wife, Thaisa.
Pericles cannot contain his joy. He kisses and embraces his long-lost Thaisa, introduces her to the daughter she never knew and gives his blessing to the marriage of Marina and Lysimachus.
SONG: Say You Love Me (Reprise)
In the epilogue, the chorus tells us that wicked Antiochus and his daughter have been killed by a stroke of lightening, that Cleon and Dionyza, although deserving of death, were allowed to live, that Helicanus was rewarded for his good and faithful service and that the Temple of Diana and her priestesses were ever revered by Pericles and Thaisa…and that Marina and Lysimachos lived happily ever after!
So, on your patience evermore attending,
New joy wait on you! Here our play has ending.
CURTAIN CALL: DON’T STOP