play by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
about men who enjoy killing
, and those who don't. Has the tag-line 'who the hell is Wanda June?
A very dark and funny comedy. One of the highlights is a Nazi officer and a 10 year old girl, in Heaven, planning a Harold Ryan Fan Club. Harold Ryan is a larger than life mercenary recently returned from a 8 year stint in the Amazon (looking for `diamonds as big as cantaloupes') with Colonel Looseleaf Harper.
We did this play at University, to students. Then we took it to HMP Whitemoor, a maximum security UK prison, and performed it it front of an audience of.. well, killers. It was an experience. The laughs came at different places. I think the most dodgy piece was delivered by a rather nervous Wanda June is her speech:
Hello. I am Wanda June. Today was going to be my birthday, but I was hit by an ice-cream truck before I could have my party. I am dead now. I am in Heaven. That is why my parents did not pick up the cake at the bakery. I am not mad at the ice-cream truck driver, even though he was drunk when he hit me. It didn't hurt much. It wasn't even as bad as the sting of a bumblebee. I am really happy here! It's so much fun. I am glad the driver was drunk. If he hadn't been, I might not have got to Heaven for years and years and years. I would have had to go to high school first, and then beauty college. I would have had to get married and have babies and everything. Now I can just play and play and play. Any time I want any pink cotton candy I can have some. Everybody up here is happy - the animals and the dead soldiers and people who went to the electric chair and everything. They're all glad for whatever sent them here. Nobody is mad. We're all too busy playing shuffleboard. So if you think of killing somebody, don't worry about it. Just go ahead and do it. Whoever you do it to should kiss you for doing it. The soldiers up here just love the shrapnel and the tanks and the bayonets and the dum dums that let them play shuffleboard all the time - and drink beer.
Happy Birthday, Wanda June -- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
It took us a couple of hours just to get inside the prison. Once inside, it was another couple of hours before we saw any prisoners. They all appeared as if from thin air at the appointed hour of the performance and we started. We had to compromise on props. In the original version I wielded an Enfield rifle (made safe). For the prison version we proposed a wooden butt with a cardboard tube taped on top. No go. I ended up bursting onto stage armed with a walking stick.
The prisoners seemed to appreciate the show and we had squash and biscuits with them after. The question that I couldn't shake from my mind as I spoke to them -- `What did you do to get here?'
We got a great review in the prison news letter, even being compared favourably to the Broadway version.