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A Twelfth-night Masque

Within a medieval castle, festivity begins to take shape.

INT. A MEDIEVAL CASTLE HALL

A set of banners are hung around the hall.

 

SONG: Pastime with Good Company

A band of musicians enter and play. They exit afterward.

 

SCENE: Antimasque

The Sprites enter.

SPRITES

   Black spirits and white, red spirits and grey,

   Mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may.

   Four points of the circle, weave the spell,

   East, south, west, north, your tale tell.

   East is for pale break of day,

   South is red for noon's fiery hour,

   In the west is twilight grey,

   And north is black, for the place of power.

   Three times round the circle's cast.

   Great ones, spirits from the past,

   Witness it and guard it fast.

The Muse of Inspiration enters.

MUSE

   Through the house give gathering light,

   By the dead and drowsy fire:

   Every elf and fairy sprite

   Hop as light as bird from brier;

   And this ditty, after me,

   Sing, and dance it trippingly.

   Hand in hand, with fairy grace,

   Will we sing, and bless this place.

 

SONG: Masters in this Hall

The Company, dressed in medieval, Renaissance and Victorian garb, enters singing.

 

RECITATION: Call for Celebration

MASTER OF REVELS

   Strike! Strike the gong of our song

   Till souls take fire, clap hands and bellow.

   Dance! Dance, leap higher and longer

   And hug each with your fellow.

   Up with the windows, raise and shout,

   Hang all the Alleluia out,

   Bringer every stranger in, call for the lights and sing!

 

SONG: On Christmas Night

The Chorus sings.

 

RECITATION: An Invitation to Dance

MASTER OF REVELS

   The dance is not for everyone not all can move in time

   Yet in the hand that's offered is an old established sign

   The open palm says welcome and the readiness is all.

   But some decline the offer not all will heed the call

   Why take a stranger's hand? Why dance at all?

   It's not as if they all are friends or relatives by blood

   Or even a community where things are understood

   Yet in the hand that's offered is a message written small

   The open palm says welcome the readiness is all.

 

SONG & DANCE: Step Stately

The Chorus performs a dance.

 

SONG: Gloucestershire Wassail

KING

   On with the riddle, fit for a king,

   A very hard riddle, a riddle to sing:

   At birth I was wrinkled and grown rather stale,

   As a child, I was rude and was thrown in jail,

   I lived in the dark in an old wooden pale,

   But now, I'm a man and my name is…

CHORUS

   Wassail!

A steward enters with a wassail bowl as the Chorus sings.

MASTER OF REVELS

   Lords and ladies, our gracious host,

   Bids ye rise for a wassail toast.

KING

   Royal subjects, from the host of this castle, hear my toast.

   I bid you all wassail. Down with him who’ll not say “drink hail”.

   May the joy and peace of Christmastide

   Within your hearts, this year abide.

MASTER OF REVELS

   Wassail!

CHORUS

   Drink hail!

 

SCENE: The Coronation of the Lord of Misrule

The King removes his crown.

MASTER OF REVELS

   Christmas is a joyous season, revels are not bound by reason.

   For this is the Feast of Fools with topsyturvy ranks and rules.

   So now we search the common folk for someone who can take a joke.

   The humblest fellow that we see, our Lord of Misrule he shall be!

The Master of Revels robes and crowns the Fool, sitting him on a throne.

MASTER OF REVELS

   And now, our Lord of Misrule shall give his address.

FOOL

   For most of the year, you must toil.

   Tonight, you shall make festivity.

   Eat, drink and be merry.

   I proclaim misrule!

MASTER OF REVELS

   All hail the Lord of Misrule!

CHORUS

   Huzzah!

 

SONG: The Boar's Head Carol

As the Chorus sings, the steward enters with a platter, containing a pig, a pudding and a pie.

MASTER OF REVELS

   Let the feast begin!

CHORUS

   Hurrah!

The Fool is striped of his crown, and he clears off.

 

SONG & DANCE: The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

The Morris Men, dressed as Herne the Hunter, Maid Marion, Robin Hood and a hobby-horse, followed by the Fool, enter.

MORRIS MEN

    (singing)

   Dance, then, wherever you may be,

   I am the lord of the dance, says he.

   And I lead your all, wherever you may be

   And I lead you all in the dance, says he.

The Morris Men dance in serpentine. Afterward, they exit.

 

SCENE: Court Masque

Room, dressed as a peasant woman, enters with a broom.

ROOM

   Room, room brave gallants all: pray give us room to rhyme.

   We've come to show activity upon this wintertime.

   Activity of youth, activity of age,

   Such activity as you've never seen onstage!

   Though some of us be little and some of a middle sort

   We all desire your favor to see our pleasant sport.

Father Christmas, dressed in a red robe, holding a large chalice with a holly wreath on his head, enters.

FATHER CHRISTMAS

   Here come I, Old Father Christmas, welcome in or welcome not.

   I hope Old Father Christmas will never be forgot.

   Christmas comes but once a year,

   But when it comes it brings good cheer.

   Roast beef, plum pudding, strong ale and mince pie.

   Now who likes that any better than I?

   Though I have but a short time to stay,

   I bring merry disport before I pass away.

The Chorus sings The Norman Carol as Father Christmas hands out sweet to the audience.

ROOM

   Now blow the clarion trumpet call and beat the timely drum.

   You lot must all be still and dumb until the masque is done.

The Puritan steps forward.

PURITAN

   Tis I, Oliver Cromwell upon ye,

   With something to say, I decree.

   This so-called Christmastide, I’ve had enough

   Of all this iniquitous bacchanal stuff.

   Sloth and gluttony, questionable mirth.

   Is that how one observes our Savior’s birth?

   This proclamation to stop it all,

   Death to Christmas, hear me call.

FATHER CHRISTMAS

   Not so fast, Puritan. You’ll do no such thing.

   I bring good-will and merriment. What gifts do you bring?

   Death to Christmas? Fie on you. That I shall not allow,

   And to stop your heinous crime, we shall duel with a bow.

PURITAN

   I’ll cut your body full of holes and make thy buttons fly.

   I’ll ease the grief of prudence yet, the enemy must die.

FATHER CHRISTMAS

   I see you are a boasting man, a braggart and a liar.

   I’ll cut you down as small as flies and burn ye with my fire.

BOTH

   And now your precious blood will spill,

   And with my sword, I’ll fight and kill.

Father Christmas and the Puritan fight. Father Christmas stabs the Puritan who falls the floor.

FATHER CHRISTMAS

   Is there a doctor in this land to save this brave and goodly man?

    (takes out a bottle)

   A little of my flipflop, pour it down your slipslop.

Father Christmas sprinkles contents over the Puritan who stands up.

PURITAN

   Tis I, Oliver Cromwell…

FATHER CHRISTMAS

   Your blood’s too hot, must fetch it cold, enough of you I say.

   My head is brass, my body’s tin, you cannot win the day.

PURITAN

   Before I go, you must be dead, and I shall play the part.

   My vorpal sword, the glittery blade shall cut your flesh and beating heart.

ROOM

   Enough, enough! Fight no more, I bid you, make peace,

   Fill your hearts with cheer, and all your quarrels cease.

   Lay down your swords, take up a glass and let the toast go free.

   May all men now as brothers stand and drink health to the company.

 

Drive the Cold Winter Away

The Chorus sings.

ROOM

   Our play is done, we must be gone, we stay no longer here.

   We wish you all, both great and small, a happy, bright New Year.

 

SONG: Now Bring With the Noise

The Woodsman enters with a log as the Chorus sings.

 

RECITATION: Shakespearean Lines

QUEEN

   Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes

   Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,

   The bird of dawning singeth all night long:

   And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;

   The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,

   No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

   So hallowed and so gracious is the time.

 

SONG: Old Hundredth Psalm

The Green Man enters as the Chorus sings.

 

RECITATION: Fra Giovanni's Salutation

GREEN MAN

   I salute you. There’s nothing I can give you which you’ve not got, but there is much that while I can’t give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach lies joy. Take joy! And so, at this Christmastime, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

 

SONG: Dona Nobis Pacem

The Chorus sings a round.

 

SONG: The Holly & the Ivy

MASTER OF REVELS

To conclude our revels, a concert shall be presented.

The Chorus sings.

 

SONG: Good King Wenceslas

The Master of Revels and the Scullery-maid sing the dialogue while the Chorus sing the rest.

 

SONG: John Barleycorn

A man sings a solo.

 

SONG: The First Noel

The Chorus sings.

 

RECITATION: The Shortest Day

FOOL

   So the shortest day came, and the year died,

   And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-clad world

   Came people singing and dancing, to drive the dark away.

   They lit candles in the winter trees;

   They hung their homes with evergreen;

   They burned beseeching fires all night long to keep the year alive,

   And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake, they shouted, reveling.

   Through all the frosty ages you can hear them, echoing behind us.

   All the long echoes sing the same delight,

   This shortest day, as promise wakens in the sleeping land:

   They carol and feast and give thanks,

   And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.

   And so do we, here and now,

   This year and every year. Welcome Yule!

CHORUS

   Welcome Yule!

 

SONG: The Sussex Mummers Carol

The Entire Cast sings as they exit. Father Christmas stays behind.

 

RECITATION: Now Have Good Day

FATHER CHRISTMAS

   Now have good Day, now have good day!

   I am Christmas and now I go my way.

   Here I’ve dwelled with more and less from Hallowtide till Candlemas,

   And now I must from you hence pass: Now have good day!

   I take my leave of king and knight and earl and baron and lady bright,

   To the wilderness I must be dight; Now have good day!

   And at the good lord of this hall, I take my leave, and of guests all.

   Methinks I hear, Lent doth call; Now have good day!

   And at every worthy officer, marshal, pantler and butler,

   I take my leave as for this year; Now have good day!

   Another year I trust I shall make merry in this hall,

   If rest and peace on earth may fall; Now have good day!

   But oftentimes I’ve heard say that he is loth to part away,

   That often biddeth "have good day"; Now have good day!

   Now fare ye well, all in fere! Now fare ye well for all this year!

   Yet for my sake, have good cheer; Now have good day!

Exits.

 

THE END

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