Pacific Overtures: Abridged

                             PACIFIC OVERTURES REVIVAL:
                            A "Broadway Abridged" Script
                                                            By Gil Varod





            SCENE: STUDIO 54, ON A VERY CALM WOODEN STAGE SURROUNDED ON
            THREE  VERY CALM SIDES BY WATER, WHICH IS ALSO VERY VERY
            CALM.

                                   B.D. WONG (AS RECITER)
            Hi there.  I'm the most Americanized Reciter yet!
                          (smiles)
            Aren't I warm and fuzzy?  Don't I give you warm and fuzzy
            feelings as I play the narrator in a show about how Japan was
            destroyed and oh look how nice the set is isn't it pretty
            aren't you relaxed and assured that all is well and don't I
            have a nice smile?
                          (smiles)
            Good.  Since this is the only five minutes of the play that
            I'll actually have a presence while on stage, let me take
            this opportunity introduce you to JAPAN!

                                   Enter REST OF CAST and ORCHESTRA MUSIC.

                                   B.D. WONG
            Now, here in Japan in 1852, we do wonderful things.  Like, we
            look at Japanese screens!  Also, we eat rice!  
                          (sings about these, ever so
                           smilingly)
            And we stir tea, And we write poems, and weave mats, and eat
            sushi and go to hibachi restaurants.

                                   AUDIENCE
            Okay... so... I'm uncomfortable by these Japanese
            Stereotypes, written by a white bookwriter and a white comp--

                                   VERY JAPANESE 
                                   DIRECTOR AMON MIYAMOTO
            It's okay; I'm Japanese!  Everything here is Kosher!

                                   AUDIENCE
            Oh, that makes us feel better.

                                   DEFINITELY JAPANESE 
                                   DIRECTOR AMON MIYAMOTO
            Yes.  So relax and take it as Japanese Gospel.

                                   AUDIENCE
            Oh, thank you.  Did you hear that, honey?  He said--
            Wait, did he just use the word "kosher"?





            SCENE: SOME PALACE.

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Hey, high official guy, I've come to tell you that America is
            planning to come visit and you should beware!  By the way, I
            love America!

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            And I am here to be a representative of the traditional
            Japanese person.  By the way, I love Japan!

                                   HIGH OFFICIAL GUY
            FISHERMAN CHARACTER, you are being killed for leaving Japan
            and then coming back.  And SAMURAI CHARACTER, you are also
            being punished for some irrelevant reason.  Therefore Samurai
            character, you will be in charge of telling the Americans to
            go home because, and remember this,
                          (looks at audience)
            Non-Japanese CANNOT SET FOOT on Japanese Soil.

                                   The literalness of this will be DRIVEN
                                   INTO THE GROUND.

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Don't kill FISHERMAN CHARACTER, let me take him along with
            me!

                                   HIGH OFFICIAL GUY
            Oh, so he can help you learn how to deal with the Americans
            when you go to speak to them?

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            No; because a pro-Japan character and a pro-American
            character can create some wonderful tension!

                                   DIRECTOR AMON MIYAMOTO
            Whoa whoa whoa.  None of that overrated "tension" stuff. 
            Wong!

                                   B.D. WONG
                          (entering)
            Yeah?

                                   DIRECTOR AMON MIYAMOTO
            Get onstage, would you?  Say one of those nice haikus.

                                   B.D. WONG
            Okay.
                          (smilingly)
            The John Weidman libretto
            Not knowing where it goes
            Sleep, like audience during end of first act.





            SCENE: SAMURAI CHARACTER'S HOUSE

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            I am going to leave to speak with the Americans.

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER'S WIFE
            I am going to kill myself.

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Fair enough.





            SCENE: OUTDOORS JAPAN.

                                   B.D. WONG
            And so, the Americans did come.  And
                          (still smiling for no reason)
            the Japanese were scared shitless of them!

                                   JAPANESE GUY
            Look at Commodore Perry's warships!  They look like BLACK
            DRAGONS and... Hey... Rumi, where are they?

                                   SET DESIGNER RUMI MATSUI
            Oh crap... I forgot to recreate a Boris Aronson's Tony Award
            winning visualization of Commodore Perry's fleet.  You guys
            are going to have to do what they did in "Titanic: The
            Musical".

                                   JAPANESE GUY
            Sigh... fine.
                          (points aimlessly at the air)
            Oh no!  Those warships are scary!  The ones there... off in
            the direction of the audience!  And you'll have to... JUST
            FRICKING IMAGINE how STUNNINGLY FRIGHTENING they would have
            been!

                                   A song about this continues for
                                   entirely too long.

                                   B.D. WONG
                          (Crest-white smile)
            And everybody panicked and tried to run away!

                                   A family enters.

                                   A GRANDMOTHER
                          (humorously)
            Help!  I am very fat and can't walk!  Carry me, son-in-law!

                                   A FATHER
            Oh, all right.

                                   More cheaply-funny stuff happens,
                                   causing the drama to still not take off
                                   even though we are a HALF AN HOUR into
                                   the play.

                                   JAPANESE PEOPLE
            Oh no, America has arrived!

                                   Above the audience members's heads in
                                   the mezzanine, a giant American Flag
                                   rushes toward the stage and covers the
                                   ceiling.  This represents the coming of
                                   America and shows the engulfing of--

                                   AUDIENCE SITTING 
                                   IN MEZZANINE
            Whoa, why the hell is it so hot here all of a sudden?

                                   B.D. WONG
            A ventilation system,
            Blocked by giant American Flag
            Work as well as this Haiku plot device.

                                   Audience BAKES.

                                   AUDIENCE SITTING IN
                                   ORCHESTRA
                          (standing and pointing at
                           mezzanine)
            Ha ha, sucks to be you!
                          (sits back down in their
                           uncomfortable Studio 54 
                           tables and chairs)

                                   Enter Japanese actors wearing masks.

                                   BIG-NOSED RASTAFARIANS
            We represent Americans, with crazy hair and crazy noses!  We
            have come across this silly looking eighteen-inch drawbridge
            on the front of the stage so we can tell you that you must
            let us land!

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            This is your big chance to shine, Fisherman-character-who
            knows-how-to-deal-with-Americans.

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            You cannot SET FOOT on our SOIL, because you are NOT
            JAPANESE.

                                   BIG-NOSED RASTAFARIANS
            We will still land.  And your Shogun must receive Commodore
            Perry's letter.

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Well crap.

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Look!  We've finally discovered the dramatic device of
            CONFLICT!





            SCENE: ANOTHER PALACE OF SOME SORT

                                   B.D. WONG
            Lookame!  I'm dressed as the Shogun, one of the many
            characters we never introduced!

                                   A MALE ACTOR
            And I play the Shogun's mother, yet *another* bit character
            that will be in one scene and then never reused!  Also, I am
            played by a male actor, which follows the Japanese tradition!

                                   A FEMALE ACTRESS
            And I play the shogun's wife although I am female, which
            totally destroys our keeping-with-the-Japanese-tradition. 
            Now watch me humorously throw origami into the air,
            distracting you from the fact that the show still doesn't
            feel like it's headed anywhere!

                                   She DOES.

                                   A MALE ACTOR 
                                   (AS SHOGUN'S MOTHER)
            Now Shogun, America is still in the harbor waiting!  Show
            some presence!

                                   B.D. WONG
            Me, B.D. Wong, actually show presence?  Why start now?

                                   Via song, the Shogun's mother concludes
                                   that the Americans might leave if there
                                   is no Shogun to receive the letter, and
                                   she then poisons him.

                                   This song lasts SEVEN AND A HALF
                                   MINUTES.

                                   PACING
            Whoops!  I stumbled and fell face-first, breaking both of my
            ankles and cracking my head wide open until my blood seeps
            through the streets and into the sewer systems, feeding the
            rats of generations to come!





            SCENE: YET ANOTHER PALACE (WHICH VERY WELL MIGHT BE THE FIRST
            SCENE'S PALACE MAKING A SECOND APPEARANCE [WHICH IS A FATE
            MORE THAN CAN BE SAID FOR THE CHARACTERS THAT WERE DWELLED
            UPON FOR THE PAST SEVEN AND A HALF MINUTES])

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            The fisherman and I have an idea.  We'll lay mats on the
            shore so that the Americans can come aboard without SETTING
            FOOT on our SOIL!

                                   HIGH OFFICIAL GUY
            That's so lame.
                          (pause)
            We'll do it.





            SCENE: A SERIES OF GEOMETRIC RECTANGLES PRODUCED BY LIGHTING

                                   B.D. WONG
                          (teeth sparkle)
            And so the Fisherman walked back to the Samurai's house with
            him to see his "the-play-forgot-about-her" wife, and together
            they decided to compose poetry along the way.

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Rain, haze, moon, wind...

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Nightingale, Dawn, leaves, sun...

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER (CONT'D)
            Tar, iodine...

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER (CONT'D)
            Sodium Diglyceride...

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER (ETC)
            Sedimentary rock...

                                   THE LIGHTING
            I'm more interesting than the song!





            SCENE: SAMURAI'S HOUSE

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Honey, I'm home!  What's for dinner?

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER'S WIFE
                          (is dead)

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Oh, right.

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Wait, why is she dead?

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Because if I would have failed to turn the Americans away-
            which seemed likely--I would be disgraced and surely killed. 
            And then after my death, she would have had to kill herself
            too for honor.  Isn't it blatantly obvious?

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Um... no.





            SCENE: THE 1970S.

                                   COMPOSER/LYRICIST 
                                   STEPHEN SONDHEIM
            Well, I dunno.  What else should we write about Japan?

                                   JOHN WEIDMAN
            How about you write a song about Japanese Prostitutes?  Japan
            *does* have whores... Right?

                                   COMPOSER/LYRICIST
                                   STEPHEN SONDHEIM
            This method of "choose random aspects of Japanese life, write
            some nice songs about them, and jimmy them into the plot" is
            fun!





            SCENE: SHORES OF KANAGAWA.

                                   MADAM
            Hi I'm a played-by-a-male Madam!  In keeping with the ancient
            Japanese tradition of being inconsistent, I run a business of
            four prostitutes which are played by three female actresses
            and one male actor.
                          (sings about whoring)

                                   Japanese and American ambassadors walk
                                   into the TREATY HOUSE to have
                                   discussions.  

                                   Of course, they don't walk on any
                                   aforementioned FLOOR MATS because why
                                   SHOW when you have decided to TELL?

                                   B.D. WONG
            Remember me?  I'm still the narrator!
                          (smiling on Nitrous Oxide)
            Let's move disjointedly from that last tepid number to the
            next!  Now I bet you want to know all about what happened in
            the treaty house.  But nobody knows!

                                   Enter an OLD MAN character who, again,
                                   won't re-appear after the one scene
                                   he's in.

                                   OLD MAN
            I was there!  I know what happened!  I was a young boy then,
            and I saw the people moving around from a tree above!

                                   SOME GUY UNDER 
                                   THE FLOORBOARDS
            I was also there, and I heard people discussing things!

                                   OLD MAN AND 
                                   GUY UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS
            And because we were there even though we really don't know
            what happened, that's what makes the historic moment so
            special!

                                   AUDIENCE
            Wait a second... So you're not going to tell us what
            happened?

                                   B.D. WONG
            Well, you see, the effects of the uncertainty of history
            ripple down through the ages when the inability to...

                                   AUDIENCE
            Never mind.  It's not like you've shown us what's happened
            the rest of the show anyway.

                                   The Americans leave Japan the burning
                                   of the mats and treaty house is
                                   mentioned, but does not happen in front
                                   of us.  This keeps with what might
                                   actually be an ancient *Japanese* "tell
                                   don't show" tradition.

                                   B.D. WONG
            And so America left, and a Lion Dance definitely did not
            occur in this production.





            SCENE: OUTDOORS JAPAN.

                                   HIGH OFFICIAL GUY
            Remember me?  It turns out that I'm actually a main character
            and not a bit part!  Who'd've thunk it?

                                   GUY REPRESENTING AMERICA
                          (singing in an American
                           Marching Band tune)
            AMERICA IS HERE TO BEGIN TRADING WITH JAPAN...

                                   GUY REPRESENTING BRITAIN
                          (to a Gilbert and Sullivan
                           tune)
            SO IS BRITAIN, AND WE ACT BRISKLY...

                                   GUY REPRESENTING THE DUTCH
                          (to a dutch clog-dance)
            SO ARE THE DUTCH, AND ACT GAY-ISH...

                                   GUY REPRESENTING RUSSIA
                          (to a Tchaikovsky tune)
            SO IS RUSSIA, AND WE ACT GRUFF...

                                   GUY REPRESENTING FRANCE
                          (to a Offenbach tune)
            AND SO IS FRANCE, AND WE ARE FRENCH!

                                   They continue to humorously sing their
                                   desires in the new internationalization
                                   of Japan, actually MOVING ALONG PLOT
                                   and BRINGING HISTORY TO LIFE!





            SCENE: SPLIT SCREEN

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Boy, I used to love Japan.  But now I love America!  And as I
            put on a BOWLER HAT and POCKET WATCH and SUIT AND TIE and
            MONOCLE, see how I have become more and more westernized, bit
            by bit!

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Boy, I used to love America.  But now, I love Japan!  And bit
            by bit, as I learn to dress like an ancient Samurai, DON'T
            see how I have become more JAPANESE, because nobody ever
            shines a spotlight on me!

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Well that totally misses the idea of contrasting our
            diverging ideologies.  A shame for the two proper characters
            of the play.

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Wait, are you sure?  Are you and I are proper characters or
            stylized archetypes?  Amon?

                                   DIRECTOR AMON MIYAMOTO
            "Proper character"?  "Stylized archetype"?  You crazy
            Americans and your newfangled theatrical ideas!

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Sigh.





            SCENE: A GARDEN

                                   BRITISH SOLDIER
            Look, it's one of those Geisha girls.

                                   OTHER BRITISH SOLDIER
                          (climbing over)
            Let's climb over the fence and have a look.

                                   Suddenly, the lights go off and the set
                                   rotates around 180 degrees and the
                                   scene restarts again.

                                   BRITISH SOLDIER
            Look, it's one of those Geisha girls.

                                   OTHER BRITISH SOLDIER
                          (climbing over)
            Let's climb over the fence and have a look.

                                   Suddenly, the lights go off and the set
                                   rotates around 264 degrees and the
                                   scene restarts again.

                                   BRITISH SOLDIER
            Look, it's one of those Geisha girls.

                                   OTHER BRITISH SOLDIER
                          (climbing over)
            Let's climb over the fence and have a look.

                                   Suddenly, the lights go...

                                   Yeah.  And for NO APPARENT REASON!

                                   BRITISH SOLDIERS
                          (singing, mistaking the young
                           girl for a prostitute)
            PRETTY LADY, WON'T YOU SEX ME UP?

                                   They continue to sing this sweet,
                                   beautiful song which is actually about
                                   how they want to pay the girl for sex. 
                                   The tone is strange and incongruous to
                                   the musical as a whole, which makes
                                   this one fit just perfectly.

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
                          (entering in Samurai Costume)
            You will die, Japanese Actors dressed like British Soldiers!
                          (kills them)

                                   HIGH OFFICIAL GUY
                          (entering)
            I was just walking by to see--AAAGH!
                          (dies by Fisherman Character's
                           sword)

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
                          (entering, in suit and tie)
            Hey!  I thought you hated Japan!  And now you're dressed 
            like a SAMURAI?

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Hey!  I thought you hated America!  And now you're dressed
            like a CORPORATE WHORE?

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            At least my character had motivation shown for why I made the
            switch!

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            Yeah, well.
                          (murders)

                                   SAMURAI CHARACTER
            Figures.
                          (dies)





            SCENE: EMPEROR'S PALACE.

                                   FISHERMAN CHARACTER
            We must do something about all of the Americanization of
            Japan!

                                   B.D. WONG
                          (dressed like Shogun)
            We will!  We will turn back on old ways and totally modernize
            Japan to be a competitor to the European nations!  FAST
            FORWARD TO TODAY IN A FORCED ATTEMPT AT AN EPILOGUE!

                                   The rest of the cast comes out dressed
                                   like Japanese Soldiers.

                                   REST OF CAST
                          (singing)
            WHO'S THE STRONGER WHO'S THE FASTER?
            LET THE PUPIL SHOW THE MASTER,
            NEXT! NEXT!

                                   Admiral Perry enters.  A giant
                                   explosion goes off and the set breaks
                                   down, representing the World War Two
                                   Atom bomb being dropped.

                                   THE PRODUCTION
            Wow!  We took a stand on something!

                                   The cast begins to rise, ripping off
                                   their outer layers of clothing as the
                                   lighting becomes STAR SEARCH.

                                   REST OF CAST
                          (dancing disco)
            NEXT!  NEXT!

                                   A CAST MEMBER
            The #1 car in randomly-chosen city DETROIT is Camry, a
            Japanese car!

                                   AUDIENCE
            Oh.. so we *shouldn't* feel so bad for Japan being
            Westernized...

                                   A CAST MEMBER
            Sony is the #1 Brand Name, and a lot of people like Hideki
            Matsui!

                                   AUDIENCE
            Well then!  That's true!  *I* like Hideki Matsui!

                                   A CAST MEMBER
            In 1991, Japanese Businessmen bought out the entire Empire
            State Building, moved it to Japan, and rebuilt a crappier one
            in its place without anybody noticing!

                                   Cast members continue to say lines that
                                   are more conciliatory (unlike the
                                   original production's allusions to
                                   social ills like pollution).  This of
                                   course entirely AVOIDS the RELEVANT
                                   issue of Iraq's Westernization.

                                   AUDIENCE
            So I guess the lesson I was supposed to learn was that the
            Westernization of Japan was a *good* thing!  Well, that was a
            nice feel-good ending!

                                   Audience stands up from their seats,
                                   feeling good about America having
                                   destroyed culture.

                                   B.D. WONG
            But don't you see?  During the last song I was *sad* about
            the westernization's efffects.  SAD!

                                   AUDIENCE
            Nope.  Your character got lost in the shuffle long ago.

                                   DIRECTOR AMON MIYAMOTO
            He did?  But he's the only true character in the play that
            you connect to!

                                   AUDIENCE
            This play has characters that you can connect to?

                                        BLACKOUT.

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