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BEASTS OF THE STORM

The storm beast swirled through a tempest generated by his own breath, 

Sucking out the souls of all in his path.

 

As he took more breath the Beast grew bigger, bolder, more unstoppable.

 

When he towered over the mountains he split into three – A trinity of death, and the mighty thunder lizards fell before them.

 

Triceratops Velociraptor Diplodocus Pterodactyl Brachiosaurus T-Rex.

 

A crashing comet did not wipe out the dinosaurs. The Beasts Of The Storm devoured them.

 

And now, the beasts had filled their bellies. They had no room for many of the little mammals and monkeys left alive. The Beasts retired to their deep hidden caves, sleeping off the banquet over many millions of years as their digestive juices skipped hibernation, to absorb the feast, until rumbling stomachs told the Beasts that it was time to rise and feed again.

 

Listen! (Listen!) – The breeze, the sirocco, the hurricane.

Natural phenomena? Or proof that

 

THE BEASTS ARE BACK!

 

Arthur Chappell

 

First performed at Freed Up on Thursday 18th June 2009.

 

This is an unusual poem for me in many respects – for one thing, it is very dark and atmospheric in sharp contrast too much of my humorous material. Secondly, while I usually perform alone, this requires three performers, sound effects (created entirely within the human vocal range) and some motion and swaying by two of the performers, giving the piece some sense of contemporary dance. 

 

Given that there are only about 20 lines and the performance takes about three minutes, there is a lot to cover here, and some rehearsal for the performers in advance of staging is essential, though it can be covered in about 20 minutes.

 

The sound effects were inspired by a series of ‘beat-boxing’ workshops I took part in as warm ups for the unusual underwater opera play You Who Will Emerge From The Flood.  

 

Casting the supporting beast voices was challenging, and though people I asked were genuinely interested, few had time to go over it, and the initial second voice performer, Andy Nicholson, had to drop out due to time restraints late on. Andy surprised me later on in the show, which did attend, with a tribute poem, Beasts Of The Storm 2 – which was very funny and flattering. The voices were eventually performed by Steve O’Conner & Dominic Berry, co-hosts of the monthly Freed Up event, and they did a terrific job for which I am very grateful.

 

Though I have dabbled with scripts, and once wrote and staged a dialogue piece for a Humanism event, Drinks After The Meeting this was the first creative performance piece I have created in this way, scripting, directing and choreographing. Though hardly King Lear, it was quite challenging and rewarding. It’s something I hope to do more of, with Beasts and hopefully with other poems and stories too.  

 

          Performance instructions version

 

The poem is written for three voices, Voice one is the central narration – After an initial outward breathing storm effect from the first voice, voices 2 & 3 precede the narration slightly and join in, initially as storm and wind sounds howling around the narrator – up to when he splits into three, when 2 & 3 take up the sucking out the breath and souls of the living, rampaging up to the audience – they should ideally look mean and malevolent throughout.

 

The naming of the dinosaurs destroyed is the trickiest part as one voice announces a dinosaur, the others swallow their souls – As the Pterodactyl is airborne, the voices taking its essence should reach up to the air (ceiling of the performance space)  -

 

As the beasts sleep, the 2cd and 3rd voices rest their heads on their hands and seem to snooze – they can add the sound of rumbling stomachs as they wake, - they then become the voice of the breeze, sirocco, and hurricane (starting gently and getting fiercer as the storm rages. Finally all three voices shout THE BEASTS ARE BACK! And finish with a collective absorbing breath levelled at the audience itself as we finish, hopefully at the same time.

 

                                    BEASTS OF THE STORM

 

1 breathes out loudly, creating the first gusts of the approaching storm. This is taken up by the 2cd and 3rd voice allowing the narrator to present the opening text.

 

2 & 3 Storm howling effects 1 – narrates

The storm beast swirled through a tempest generated from his own breath

Sucking out the souls of all in his path. (1 sucks souls away)

As he took more breath the Beast grew bigger, bolder, more unstoppable.

When he towered over the mountains he split in three –  (all three make sucking gestures)

A trinity of death, and the mighty thunder lizards fell

 

1/. Triceratops 2 & 3 absorb

 

2/. Velociraptor 1 & 3 absorb

 

3/. Diplodocus 1 & 2 absorb

 

1/. Pterodactyl 2 & 3 absorb

 

2/. Brachiosaurus 1 & 3 absorb

 

3/. T-Rex. 1 & 2 absorb

 

A crashing comet did not wipe out the dinosaurs.

The Beasts Of The Storm 2 & 3 absorb devoured them

And now, the beasts had filled their bellies. (The 2 & 3rd beasts start to tire and wind down towards sleep)

They had no room for many of the little mammals and monkeys

Left alive

The Beasts retired to their deep hidden caves

Sleeping off the banquet for millions of years

As their digestive juices skipped hibernation, to absorb the feast 2 & 3 rumbling stomachs as they slowly awaken

 Until rumbling stomachs told the Beasts that it was time to rise and feed again.

 

Listen – (2 & 3 whisper echo listen) The breeze, the sirocco, the hurricane. (2 & 3 become the storm again)

Natural phenomena?

Or proof that

 

(All three of us) THE BEASTS ARE BACK! Final collective breath-steal – finish.

 

                             LINK

 

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