THE TAIL OF A WHALE IS A WHALE OF A TALE

By Allen Lyne

Music by Sandra Lyne & Andrew Richardson

Lyrics by Sandra Lyne

This play has toured schools in South Australia three times up until 1997.  It has also been produced in a number of other Australian states.

It is for children aged 4 to 8.

There are 4 actors plus as many dolphins, whalers, sharks and other sea creatures as you wish.

There is an audience involvement section at the end where the audience have to save Wally, the young whale, both by singing a song and by getting the stranded Wally Whale back into the sea.

The play is the journey young Wally Whale takes to maturity.  He ignores the advice of Old Johnno and sets out to do something he isn't supposed to do—swim down to South Australia.  It's a rites-of passage play for small children in a gentle way.  We ARE all allowed to make mistakes.  Everyone can redeem those mistakes.  We all learn by experience.

This work is a mythical representation of why whales stopped coming to South Australia, and stop they did because so many of them were slaughtered here by whalers. Whales are intelligent beings.  Eventually they worked out that coming here was likely to result in death.

After the obscenity of whaling was banned in Australia, the whales gradually returned over time.  But who was first and what experience did that whale have that led the others to return here to our warmer waters to calf and raise their young in those crucial first few months?  In this play it is Wally that has the experience, and who knows perhaps it isn't too far fetched to think that it might be true.

This was one of my most positive and best experiences in a long career in theatre—children's teeners and adult.  The expressions on the faces of the kids—and some adults—when the two whales appeared were a joy to behold.  So were the audience's reactions and earnest participation during the play.  It was a joyful experience.

The whale costumes were built by Blacky, which is the only name I know him by.  They were beautifully designed and built Southern Right Whale costumes.  The actors were about ten feet tall in them, yet the costumes were light enough for the actors to be able to sing and move about quiet freely and easily.

Cast

Old Johnno                 The oldest and wisest whale

Wally                           A young and impetuous whale

Narrator / Whale Boat Captain

Sea Boat Captain / sound fx operator in my production.

Lots of kids as dolphins, sharks, other sea creatures, whalers, etc.

Narrator                      Hello everyone...We are going to tell you all a story today and have we got a story to tell you!  It's all about why whales stopped coming to South Australia.  But first, let's all sing the Happy Whale Song together.  Are you all ready...?

HAPPY WHALE SONG

JOHNNO :    Bless my blubber and bless my bones,

            Whoa-whoa-whoa -whoa!

            Southern waters are my home

            And the deep dark sea below.

            I can ride an ocean tide

            To the har-bours of dre-ams.

            Happy as can be, underneath the sea,

            Blub, blub-blub-blub blub.

REFRAIN :    Birds fly high and people rule the land.

            Whalers come and catch us if they can.

            We were born to play upon the sea,

            Happy and free.

WALLY :        Way-hey, what a day! 'Ain't life a breeze?

            I'm alive and hangin' five

            On the high rolling seas.

            Hangin' five is just my style,

            Life is cool, life's a breeze.

            Happy as can be, underneath the sea,

            Blub, blub-blub-blub blub.

REFRAIN :    Birds fly high and people rule the land...etc.

SING REFRAIN TWICE.

Narrator                      You’re all such good singers !.  We’re going to need some help with our play today.  We need you all to make different noises and do different things.  Do you all want to help ...?  Well here’s what I want you to do, first of all, can someone show me what a light house looks like?

THE NARRATOR GETS THE AUDIENCE TO DEMONSTRATE BEING LIGHT HOUSES AND PICKS SOMEONE OUT AS AN EXAMPLE OF A GOOD LIGHT HOUSE.  SHE GETS EVERYONE TO COPY THAT PERSON.  IN PRACTISE IT MEANS EVERYONE STANDING UP STRAIGHT AND TALL, ARMS EXTENDED OVER HEAD TO MAKE THE LIGHT HOUSE LIGHT AND TURNING AROUND AS THEIR LIGHT FLASHES.

Narrator                      Alright, you are all very good light houses.  Now whenever I call out lighthouse, you all have to do the light house action.  Let’s have a practise.  Lighthouse !

Narrator                      Wow, you’re the best light houses I’ve ever seen.  Can we all make a noise like a storm?

THE NARRATOR REHEARSES STORM NOISES, CONDUCTING THE AUDIENCE INTO

LOUDER AND SOFTER.  SHE USES LIGHTHOUSE AS A CONTROL AS NEEDED.

Narrator                      Let’s have these people here making the sound of the wind.  What does the wind sound like in a storm?

 THEY PRACTISE IT.

Narrator                      And these people make a sound like the waves.  What do the waves sound like?

THEY PRACTISE IT

Narrator                      How about some seagulls as well?  How about these people over here make seagull noises while the storm is going on?  Okay, good, now we’ll put all of that together.  First let’s have the wind.  Now the waves.  And come on seagulls ....

THE NARRATOR WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO DO LIGHT HOUSE TO SETTLE EVERYONE DOWN AT THE CONCLUSION OF THIS SECTION.

Narrator                      Okay, you can all sit down now.  Our story today is about why whales stopped coming to this part of the world.  Did you know that for many many years, from before I was born or you were born, whales used to come here in their hundreds, maybe even thousands.  There were whales everywhere down here.  So many of them that they used to bump into each other in the dark.

WALLY AND JOHNNO BUMP.

Wally                           Oh, sorry Johnno.

Johnno                        Look where you’re going young Wally.

Narrator                      Did you know that lady whales used to come down here to have their babies?  Yep, it's true.  The water was warm and the whales could find lots of nice sheltered places where they could have their babies and teach them to swim before they headed off to other parts of the world.

Well, I want to tell you the story of why they stopped coming here and why they started again.  But I need you all to help me.  Will you all help...?  Right, we've got whales over here and we've got dolphins over there and over here are the whalers.  Do you all know what whalers are?  People who catch whales.  Well, years and years ago, whales didn't know what was going on.  The whales would set off every year to come down to South Australia and not all of them would go back.  Do you know why?  Because the whalers used to catch lots of them, that’s why.  Well, whales woke up to what was going on and this is what happened when they did.  First of all, you have to know that there are two whales in our story.  One was called Old Johnno...

OLD JOHNNO SWIMS IN

Old Johnno                 Hello everybody...I'm Old Johnno.

Narrator                      And the other was young Wally Whale.

YOUNG WALLY SWIMS IN.

Wally                           Hello, I'm young Wally.

Narrator                      Old Johnno is the oldest and wisest of the whales and young Wally...Well, let's just say he sometimes gets into trouble.  He's always off playing with the dolphins when he's supposed to be doing other things

WALLY AND THE DOLPHINS PLAY.  WALLY BUMPS INTO OLD JOHNNO.

Narrator                      Old Johnno was the whale everyone listened to.  Whenever the whales had a problem, Old Johnno would call a meeting and make an announcement...

THE WHALES AND DOLPHINS GATHER FOR A MEETING

Old Johnno                 Hear ye hear ye hear ye.  I've got an announcement to make.  We've got a problem with Wally.  He keeps bumping into things.  Everyone be careful when he's around.

OLD JOHNNO BUMPS INTO WALLY ON HIS WAY OUT.

Wally                           Ooer, sorry Johnno

Johnno                        Aw, you silly Wally.

Narrator                      Old Johnno really likes making announcements, doesn't he?  He's a bossy old whale, but everyone likes him.

Old Johnno                 Let me tell the story will you?

Wally                           What?

Old Johnno                 I can tell, my own story.

Wally                           Don't you need my help?

Old Johnno                 Of course I do.  I need everybody's help.  Now you come over here with the others and let me make a start.

Narrator                      Like I said, he’s really bossy.

THE NARRATOR JOINS THE WHALERS.

Old Johnno                 When I found out that so many whales were going down to South Australia and not coming back, I called a meeting of all the whales.

WHALE MUSIC.  MOVEMENT SEQUENCE.

Old Johnno                 Hear ye hear ye hear ye.  I've decided that no more whales will go to South Australia until I swim down there and sort things out with the whalers.  I'm going to tell them to stop catching whales because it's wrong.  I mean, how would you like it if I caught you?  or you...?  (he indicates people in the audience).  No, you wouldn't like it at all.  So I'm off to South Australia.

Old Johnno                 I swam and swam for a long time.  Sometimes the sea was calm.  Sometimes the sea was rough and there were big storms, but always I swam towards South Australia.  I passed lots of other whales and I passed fish and dolphins.

 DOLPHINS SWIM THROUGH.

Old Johnno                 Eventually I finished up in South Australia.  I came up to the surface and looked around.  Over there was Kangaroo Island and over there was Adelaide.  Then I saw it.

THE WHALE BOAT ENTERS.  WHALERS SONG & MOVEMENT SEQUENCE.

THE WHALER’S SONG

            Roll a wave high and roll-a-wave low,

            Over the ocean with a YO! HO! HO!

            Hunting for a whale, see how she blows,

            Over the the sea we go!

            Look out, Wally Whale, we'll catch you!

            Pop you into a tasty stew.

            Turn you into lipstick, blubber and glue,

            Just like whalers do!

            Roll-a-wave high and roll-a-wave low,

            Over the ocean with a YO! HO! HO!

            Hunting for a whale, see how she blows,

            Over the sea we go!!

Old Johnno                 Whalers in their whale boat.  Just the people I want to talk to.

MUSIC.  SLOW MOTION SEQUENCE AS JOHNNO SWIMS TOWARDS THE WHALE

BOAT AND THEY CIRCLE ONE ANOTHER.  JOHNNO BEGINS TO SING HIS WHALE

SONG.  THE WHALER IN THE BOWS OF THE BOAT HAS A HARPOON.  HE TRIES TO

HARPOON OLD JOHNNO.  HE MISSES.  JOHNNO DIVES

AS THE MUSIC FADES AND THE WHALE BOAT FREEZES IN POSITION.

Old Johnno                 That was close!  Can you imagine it?  I try to talk to these whalers and they try to stab me.  Where's the sense in that.  They're not being very sensible, are they?  I'm going to sing my song to them again to make them understand that they shouldn't hurt whales.  Will you sing the song with me?

EVERYONE SINGS THE SONG. 

REFRAIN :    Birds fly high and people rule the land.

            Whalers come and catch us if they can.

            We were born to play upon the sea,

            Happy and free.

AT THE CONCLUSION, THE WHALERS ALMOST HARPOON OLD JOHNNO.  THEY CHASE OLD JOHNNO AS WALLY COMES DOWN TO SPEAK TO THE AUDIENCE.

Wally                           So there was poor Old Johnno being chased around by these whalers who were trying to harpoon him.

OLD JOHNNO IS CHASED THROUGH BY THE WHALERS.

Old Johnno                 Quick, sing the song.  Maybe they'll understand.

Wally                           Everyone...One, two, three.

ALL SING A CHORUS OF THE SONG.

REFRAIN :    Birds fly high and people rule the land.

            Whalers come and catch us if they can.

            We were born to play upon the sea,

            Happy and free.

Old Johnno                 It's no use.

HE IS CHASED OUT BY THE WHALERS.

Wally                           Not far away lots of dolphins were playing in the water and doing tricks for one another.  Old Johnno swam past, chased by the whalers.

THIS HAPPENS.

Dolphins                     Hey, that was Old Johnno...Quick let's save him.  (Teacher, note this line)

OLD JOHNNO SWIMS THROUGH ONCE MORE.  THE DOLPHINS CHARGE BETWEEN THE WHALE BOAT AND OLD JOHNNO.  THEY CAVORT AROUND AND GET IN THE WHALERS’ WAY.

Whalers                      Look out.  What do you think you're doing.  Get out of the way.

THE DOLPHINS GRADUALLY PUSH THE BOAT AWAY FROM OLD JOHNNO.  THE BOAT SAILS OFF.  THE DOLPHINS SWIM OFF WITH OLD JOHNNO.

Wally                           Old Johnno was very lucky.  The whalers very nearly caught him.

Old Johnno                 I'll say they did.  If those dolphins hadn't come along, I'd be nothing more than a lot of blubber and corsets.  Gather round me whales and dolphins because I am going to make an announcement...

ALL OF THE WHALES AND DOLPHINS GATHER AROUND

Old Johnno                 Hear ye hear ye hear ye.  From now on, no whales are to swim down to South Australia.  None of us will go near the place.  Is that understood?  The dolphins can keep going down there if they like, because they can swim fast enough to get away from those nasty, evil whalers who catch us all the time.  Never more shall whales swim in those waters.  South Australia is banned.

THE WHALES AND DOLPHINS CHEER.

Wally                           So there it was.  Never again would whales swim in South Australia.  Whenever the whale boats put to sea, they could not find whales anywhere.

THE WHALE BOAT SAILS IN WITH EVERYONE ON BOARD LOOKING OUT FOR WHALES.  IT SAILS AROUND, THEY FIND NOTHING AND SAIL OUT.

Wally                           Pretty soon the whalers gave up and stopped looking because there were no more whales to catch.  Many years went by.  The whales continued to swim in other parts of the world and along with the dolphins they all had a good time.

MUSIC.  WALLY, OLD JOHNNO AND THE DOLPHINS DANCE.  WALLY BUMPS INTO OLD JOHNNO.  JOHNNO SWIMS OFF.

Narrator                      Young Wally whale continued to have a good time.  He liked his dolphin friends and sometimes they played such good games together, that Wally wished he'd been born a dolphin.

(Teacher, please note.  Please rehearse these lines with the Dolphins.)

Dolphins                     Hey, Wally, we're going to swim down to South Australia.  Want to come.

Wally                           I'm not allowed to.

Dolphins                     Aw, come on.

Wally                           No, old Johnno said we're not allowed to swim down there

Dolphins                     You're a big tough whale aren't you?

Wally                           Well I'm only thirty tonnes, but I'm pretty tough.  You bet.

Dolphins                     You're acting more like a timid tuna or a snivelling salmon.

Wally                           I am not.

Dolphins                     Wally's a wimpy, Wally's a wimpy.

Wally                           I am not.

Dolphins                     Yes you are.

Wally                           I'll show you.  Let's go.

Dolphins                     To South Australia?

Wally                           I'll race you.

Narrator                      Silly Wally, trying to race the dolphins all the way to South Australia.  He should have known he couldn't win.  Dolphins can swim much faster than whales.

WE SEE WALLY AND THE DOLPHINS RACING IN SLOW MOTION.  GRADUALLY WALLY FALLS BEHIND.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO POOR WALLY?  For the answer to that question, please get in touch and I'll send you the script to consider for production.