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It's All About Connection

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Neighborhood Earth Day Performances 1999

It's All About Connection is a play written for performance by the 49/63 Neighborhood EcoKids for nine subdivisions during the Summer of 1999. The plays were performed in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations designed to promote community and environmental understanding. Go the EcoKids Report Index page for indepth look at the entire process of preparing for the performances.

SHOW OPENS:

Neighbors are busy in their houses doing house things. The EcoFairy Godfather of Eco-Vigilance is observing from the roof of one of the houses. Off to one side is the mall (concealed) and to the other is the mountain with indigenous people’s faces.

House 1, Activity: Listening to music, air guitar
House 2, Activity: Phone? housework?
House 3, Activity: Housework - Get together with house 2
House 4, Activity: Video games and popcorn.

EcoFairy Godfather:
"Hi, I'm the EcoFairy Godfather. It’s my job to help our good neighbors here to understand how there actions effect the planet. Since I'm not real to these good folks (indicating neighbors in the play) I have to resort to sneaking into their busy minds when there is a tiny space of time. Sometimes I can help our neighbors see visions of what's really going on. Its a tough job. I've got to compete with tv, magazines, and piles of mail whose job it is to keep them buying and thinking about and getting ahead of each other. Here comes Mr. Rogers. Ya know, he can see me sometimes when he is riding on his trolley."

Everything is wonderful. Mr. Rogers comes to front and center, takes off his sweater and hangs it on a coat rack. He also puts on his slippers. All the while he is talking to the audience like he talks to the kids who watch his show.

Next Mr. Rogers sings "It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" once to the audience assembled. Mr. Rogers' charcter is played with sincerity, in a relaxed and easy manner.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (c) 1967, Fred M. Rogers - with permission. See the words and write for permission.

After Mr. Rogers goes through the song once the neighbors do a snappier rap version with drill team steps. They come out toward the audience for the rap, engaging the audience.

After the neighbor’s sing they immediately go back to their houses.


MALL SCENE

Mr. Rogers does the song version again slowly.

The mall is unveiled in a front yard to the right of the stage.

The neighbors begin to need things and come out to their cars for a trip to the mall.

Rogers strolls over in front of house 1 while singing directly to audience so he isn’t distracted by the traffic snarl that will happen. On “Would you be mine?”, the third line of the song, occupants of house 1 get in their cars to go to the mall. The neighbors are moving leisurely.

Ecofairy Godfather, omments to audience: “There must be some sale at the mall!”

The occupants of house 3 start for their cars next but back out more quickly.
House 1 drivers have to wait.
House 2 drivers go to their cars next but have to wait to get out of their driveway.
House 4 neighbors prepare to leave for mall but have to wait for all the others to clear before they can back out and go to mall.

Cars arrive at the mall in this order, first house 3, then 1, 2, and 4.
House 3 cars pull into mall lot spaces to the left side of the aisle.
The first of the house 1 cars pull into the first parking space to right of aisle, the second car pulls into the third space on the left.

House 2 cars pull into the second and third parking spaces on the right.
The cars from house 4 arrive and back into the aisle to get close to mall, blocking all the other cars. House 4 occupants want special attention at the mall, calling the attendant to help them repeatedly. Even though they get helped first they are the last to be ready to leave.

Everyone else has to wait. Each neighbor/shopper’s arms are filled by a mall person with so much stuff that it is hard to drive.


They start back. After all cars have formed a line that is approaching the block, the lead car drops a box.

Rogers interrupts his playing to help and is treated rudely.

A big traffic jam occurs complete with angry horn honking and our happy consumers begin to get unhappy.

The EcoFairy Godfather gets down off the roof and comes around to watch, concerned.

Neighbors almost hit Rogers as they return thinking he caused the traffic jam.

Our neighbors park their cars and notice that they’re not so happy anymore.

One person in house 1 parks at curb.

House 4 neighbors can’t get through the door with all the stuff and gets frustrated and angry.

One throws a soft drink cup in house 3's yard. House 3 neighbors look upset.

Another neighbor comes home angry, goes in the house puts his/her stuff down and throws trash bags in her/his neighbor’s yard.

The neighbor whose yard has the garbage bags thrown in looks confused.

Several neighbors bump into Mr. Rogers and he is bounced around.

EcoFairy Godfather: "Oh no! It’s the giant feet of blind human consumption. They’re going to try hypnotize our neighbors. Oh my!"

From behind the mall, our ecological feet approach ominously to the "thump, thump, thump" of drums.

Mr. Rogers gets kicked three times to the EcoFairy’s horror.

Rogers leaves saying, “What is happening”? three times, once to the kicking shoes, once to the neighbors and once to the audience.

One neighbor who likes Mr. Rogers, watches him get kicked out and sadly waves good-bye. The foot also kicks the Ecofairy who exits to the mountain.

EcoFairy Godfather: “Oh no!”

All the neighbors have a moment of wondering what’s happening but soon return to house things. Things settle down in the houses but all have bored, dead looks on their faces.


GLOBAL WARMING SCENE

The Eco-Fairy approaches cautiously as neighbor from house 1 comes to the street, gets in his car and pulls out a big (easy to see, cut from thin masonite or hardboard) car key. The EcoFairy sprinkles bird seed on the neighbor and s/he seems to wake up more.

As the key is turned on, in the yards, the background flats are raised, Exxon Valdez and oil fires in Middle East. The neighbor notices by looking both ways. When the car is turned off the flats go back down. Again the neighbor looks both ways. The feet back up. The neighbor notices the feet back up and sees the flats in the yards and makes the connection.

The neighbor then gets the rest of the neighbors to watch. They all look at driver and car, then, all together they look at the Valdez, then, again all together they turn and look at the Oil Fire flat. They gesture showing they are puzzled about what to do.

The point is to make the connection between action and consequence. Neighbors look like they are trying to understand but not quite getting the whole picture. Their faces have more life but soon lose the awake look and return to house activities with their bored, depressed postures.

The feet approach, then spray the EcoFairy with the chemicals and he reels off toward the mountain again. A can of compressed air was used. Caution, it is quite cold and should be sprayed at a distance.

The neighbor in the car, who still seems more awake, parks in garage. S/he gets out a bike and rides around backstage and picks up newspapers. This neighbor then rides down the street and throws two newspapers on lawns of houses 2 and 3 and rides around backstage.

The EcoFairy approaches. The feet move back slightly. The two neighbors come out in their yards to get their newspapers. They are reading the headlines and begin to talk, turning their backs to the audience so all can see the headlines.

On one neighbor’s paper the headline reads GLOBAL WARMING and shows it to the other neighbors. The second neighbors holds up another newspaper saying, NO SCIENTIFIC PROOF.

Neighbors on the left with paper says, “I can’t see it!”
The other neighbor with paper says, “I don’t believe it!”

Other neighbors join in looking up and searching the sky. The feet threaten. The EcoFairy backs away.
"I can’t see it. I don’t believe it.
I can’t see it. I don’t believe it."

The neighbors look right at audience and slowly and firmly say, “I can’t see it. I don’t believe it", and walk back into their houses. Neighbors move right into their bored postures.


ELECTRIC POWER SCENE

After looking a their clock and putting on an engineer hat, a neighbor from house 2 drives out to work at the power plant. About the same time a neighbor from house 4 does the same thing. Behind the plant, they pick up the train with one other person.

The EcoFairy approaches as a neighbor in house 3 goes to the thermostat. The EcoFairy throws bird seed and the neighbor turns on the A/C. The neighbor wakes up and becomes aware of the action of the flats off to the sides, looking to one side, then to the moving train and then to the other. Slowly, on the lawn, flats are raised of big shovels and mountains being destroyed. Power plant and flat of storms on increase come up on other side of street.

The “train” moves across the stage, in front of the audience from the power plant to the mountain to pick up coal. Chu-chu-ing all the way. ("En-er-gy, En-er-gy, En-er-gy, En-er-gy.")

When train gets to center stage the A/C neighbor turns the switch off and the train stops.

At the same time the feet back off.

When the neighbor turns on thermostat, train moves, mountain and power plant are active.

Turn off thermostat and activity stops.

Do it two or three times while the neighbors are looking from the thermostat to one flat, to the train and then across the street to the other flat.

Note: In the center of the photo (left) one of the EcoKids is turning the thermostat on and off.

All the at home neighbors get it and say, with surprise
"Oh! Now I get it. Oh!"
"Oh! Now I get it. Oh!"
"Oh! Now I get it. Oh!"

The EcoFairy throws more seed. They go out to the train and explain to the train neighbors what is going on with much pointing. The train workers wave them off.

The neighbors then say, "Watch!” and point to the A/C neighbor. The A/C neighbor turns the switch on and, to the train workers surprise the train starts. The A/C neighbor quickly turns it off and they stop.

The A/C neighbor repeats the start stop process again. After being jerked forward and stopped again, the train workers get it.

The train workers put down the train and they all chant, “ Oh, now I get it. Oh!" and move together at center stage.

The EcoKids line up across the stage while Mr. Rogers is brought back out by the EcoFairy. The feet back up half way to the mall.

All sing It's All About Connection to the tune of Them Bones, Them Dry Bones.

As the EcoKids sing the first verse they put one hand on the shoulder of the person next to them, making a connection. Connections are made one by one, timed with the singing of each line of the verses.

By the time the EcoKids are ready to sing the next chorus they are all connected. Maintaining connection they walk in a half circle forming a line facing in the opposite direction,then they drop hands.

The whole movment sequence is repeated during the singing of the second verse.

Chorus
It’s all about connection
We’re all in this together
It’s all about connection
That’s just the way it is.

Ride is connected to the car
Car is connected to the gas pump
Gas pump’s connected to pipeline
Pipe line’s connected to the tanker
Tanker’s is connected to ocean
Ocean’s is connected to the oil field
The oil field’s is connected to the habitat
The habitat is connected to the animals
And that’s just the way it is.

Chorus
Light switch’s connected to the wire
Wire’s connected to the power plant
Power plant’s connected to the coal
Coal’s connected to the train
The train’s connected to the track
The track’s connected to the coal mine
Coal mine’s connected to the habitat
The habitat’s connected to the animal
And that’s just the way it is.

Chorus


SHOPPING SCENE

Neighbors go back to house things and get back into bored postures.
The EcoFairy goes off to the mountain.
Feet move in.
Mr. Rogers escapes backstage.

Convenience store is set up. It is a simple bookshelf with a few products displayed.

EcoFairy, returning to the stage area: "It looks like a couple of our neighbors are going shoppong. Let’s watch."

Two neighbors go to the store, parking in front. They go into store.
Then EcoFairy follows them in.
The feet move back a little.

The neighbors begin shopping. One neighbor goes to shelf with two kinds of coffee and two kinds of tuna on it.

The neighbor tries to pull one coffee labeled CLEAR CUT SUN GROWTH, off the shelf but it is tied to a tree (in a yard, off to the side) in Central America where birds are threatened. The neighbor tries two or three times.

The EcoFairy throws seed on the shopper who then selects the other brand labeled ORGANIC, SHADE GROWN.
It comes off shelf easily.
The feet back off more.

The neighbor then tries to pull DEAD DOLPHIN TUNA off the shelf and over in the ocean a net raises with a dolphin caught in it. The neighbor plays with the action and eventually chooses the tuna labeled DOLPHIN FREE.

The other neighbor has watched the first neighbor and goes up, carefully reading the labels.

They go up to the counter carrying EcoKid shopping bags (canvas bags) and go home.

All the neighbors group together in the front yards of the set and do another verse of It’s All Connected followed by "Shoppin' for a Better World." Mr. Rogers and the EcoFairy join group for song as the feet pull back to the mall and disappear.

Chorus

TV is connected to the Ads
Ads are connected to the appetite
Appetite’s connected to the product
Product’s connected to store -
AND THE MONEY

Store’s connected to the company -
AND THE MONEY
Company’s connected to the truck -
AND THE MONEY
Trucks connected to the manufacturer -
AND THE MONEY

Manufacturer’s connected to the resource -
AND THE MONEY
Resource’s connected to the habitat -AND THE MONEY
Habitat’s connected to the animals -
WHO HAVE NO MONEY

Chorus
It’s all about connection, We’re all in this together, It’s all about connection, That’s just the way it is.


Draw the finish out and then lead into "Shoppin' for a Better World" with,

SOOOOOOOOOO.........

Verse 1
We’re Shoppin', shoppin' for a better world,
Shoppin', shoppin' for a better world
They say my money is my ultimate tool,
Do I spend it wisely or shop like a fool
Am I sure that I really need this?
Is this for real or is it needless?

Verse 2
Shoppin, shoppin for a better world,
Shoppin, shoppin for a better world
Its my money and my life and I'm gonna' spend it
My health and the planet, I'm gonna defend it.
When I buy it, I gotta' know its safe
And not some left over chemical waste

Bridge
We can make a difference,
We can make a difference
We can make a difference
Make an informed choice,
Use that shopper's voice
Instrumental

Verse 3
Shoppin', shoppin' for a better world,
Shoppin', shoppin' for a better world
Best shoot straight with the ads you're tryin'
We'll catch those lies and we won't be buyin'
Tell the truth and treat us fair,
We'll all be glad about this world we'll share

Verse 4
Shoppin', shoppin' for a better world,
Shoppin', shoppin' for a better world
Does this product have recycled content?
How long does it last?
Is it reusable? What is the recycled content?
What’s your 1-800 product information number?
What are these inert ingredients I see on the label?
What’s the name of your parent company?
Oh, that’s O.K., I’m just shoppin'.

"Shoppin' for a Better World" © Stan Slaughter 5/98 -
with permission.
Listen to a sample of "Shoppin'" on Stan's site.


FINALE

Whole cast comes close to audience, making eye contact and engaging them personally.

We’re all good people - we’re tryin real hard,
To just keep up - a home and a yard.
We see the problem - and don’t have a clue,
We were kinda hopin - it was up to you.

But we really know better - we watch the weather,
And we do realize - we’re in this together.
In just a few minutes - we’ll be eatin our food,
We’ll be talkin together - and settin a mood.

This is our hood - we build it each day,
With what we think - and do and say.
Here’s a chance - to plant a brand new seed,
That’ll soon become - a beautiful tree.

How can our dreams - fit together,
Making our lives - even better?
We can push caring - to greater heights,
Including the Earth - and all its delights.

Just because - the way is dim,
Doesn’t mean - that we shouldn’t begin.
If we get together - and set an intention,
Creativity starts - with awesome invention.

Every time - we come together,
Our dreams can grow - it can get even better.
So let us eat - and enjoy the day,
Let us be neighbors - in a brand new way.

Amen - Let’s eat!

FOOD SCENE A potluck meal is now served.

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