Excerpt from ‘Madam Majesta’s Medicine Tent Show'

This show was commissioned by the company of artists at Interact Theater in Minneapolis.  Working closely with composer Aaron Gabriel, I collaboarated with the artists to create a musical about a company of ‘freaks’ in turn-of-the-century America.

madame majesta1

Production photo from Interact Theater’s staging of Madam Majesta’s Medicine Tent Show - 2011


MADAM MAJESTA’S MEDICINE TENT SHOW: (Act I. Scene I.)

Mother Mary (99 year-old, African American woman) and Blubber Boy (actor with Down Syndrome), sit together in a contemporary adult care facility.  Blubber boy wears a happy birthday hat, and Mary – the birthday girl – wears a tiara.  Mary sits in a wheel chair while Blubber boy struggles with her television.  He pushes buttons on the remote – it won’t turn on. 


From outside her room three other residents are making an ever-loudening cacophony of sounds with various musical instruments.  *These are barely heard at first but will continue throughout the scene and eventually evolve into the opening number.


The door opens and Pete (no visible disabilities) rushes in.


PETE:  

Sorry I’m late, did I miss it?  


Pete sees Blubber Boy struggling with the TV and takes the remote from him confidently.  


PETE:  

This thing giving you trouble again?


Blubber Boy hands Pete the remote, frustrated.  Pete takes it, hits the side of remote a couple of times and the TV flickers to life. Celebration!


Blubber Boy continues to flip channels as Pete crosses to Mary.  


PETE:  

Happy Birthday, Madame Majesta.


He bows to her and she gives him a hat – the same as Blubber Boy is wearing. 


Pete sits down, eagerly awaiting the television show, Blubber boy continues flipping through channels - he’s looking for something specific:


We hear quick snapshots of a variety of shows as he goes through them.  


TV AUDIO:  

(Music sting of nightly news) In the news tonight our intrepid 

reporters are in the heart of the storm…


Mary and Pete ‘No.’  Next:


TV AUDIO:  

Okay, Cleo – are you ready to play 

‘Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire?’


Mary and Pete, ‘No.’ Next:


TV AUDIO:  

Quick, fast and dramatic 

dialogue from a Spanish Soap Opera. 


Mary and Pete, ‘No.’ Next:


TV AUDIO:  

(A chirpy salesperson)  For the next half hour, 

you’re going to learn more about Zola-mid-a-zac-ma-sine, 

the little pill that can make a big difference.


This is what they were looking for – a traditional contemporary pharmaceutical infomercial – all of three of them light up like it is Elvis on Ed Sullivan.  They clap, turn it up, and watch with eager anticipation.


TV AUDIO:  

...talk to your doctor before 

taking Zola-mid-a-zac-ma-sine.  


This solicits a huge reaction from the three – as if it were a slap on Jerry Springer.


PETE:  

Good one!  Tell the doctors what 

they should prescribe?!?  Genius!


TV AUDIO:  … Until you know how Zola-mid-a-zac-ma-sine effects you, you should not operate machinery or drive a car.  


Again, they are beyond impressed.


MARY:  

Sell it like Painless Parker!


PETE:  

(In a large ring-masteresque tone) Zola-mid-a-zac-ma-sine, 

liberates you from the drudgery of work and travel!


Mary and Blubber Boy laugh.  The commercial continues:


TV AUDIO:

… side effects may include diarrhea, vomiting, 

headaches, insomnia, and in some cases coma and death…


This is the coup de gras.  The three are so impressed they cannot help but applaud and cheer.  


PETE:  

Come one, come all – try this elixir and feel 

for yourselves the bone-chilling experiences 

in both this life and the next…


Their jubilance grows and Blubber Boy is so moved he stands and displays his ‘dance’.  Pete continues his pitch – climbing up on his chair -  and Mother Mary is applauding when the outside door opens and Aimee enters.  


AIMEE:  

What is going on in here?


Aimee flips on the lights, they are bright and clinical.  The three freeze and look are her silently.  At the sight of Blubber Boy dancing with his belly out, Aimee crosses to him and covers him with disgust.


AIMEE:  Mr. Melborne, that is horribly inappropriate!  (She turns to Pete)  Mr. Keller – get down from there – you’re going to hurt yourself!


She turns sharply to Mary.


AIMEE:  

Mrs. Delaney, you know you’re not supposed 

to have visitors in your room right now.


MARY:  

This isn’t my room.


AIMEE:  

(Looks at the number on the “door” to make sure.)  

Yes it is, 217.  


MARY: 

This room belongs to Clayton River 

Care Facility, not to me.


Video Trailer for Madam Majesta’s Medicine Tent Show - produced by Interact Theater 2011


  dawnbrodey@gmail.com  © Dawn Brodey 2012