I’ve had the most unusual idea for a new musical. Well, it will seem like a musical for the first fifteen minutes or so until a sudden shift occurs. Things will turn scary and the audience will experience fear. They’ll be magically transported to potential future events with dire outcomes if something isn’t done to fix the problems, just like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. The second act demonstrates how to get things done.
By first getting the audience on my side with the musical introduction, frightening them with a sample of totalitarian violence, explaining the consequences of increasing xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and hostility toward others, then finally giving them a plan for a solution through thoughtful civil disobedience, they ought to be motivated to do something themselves, not just laugh at clever, humorous, frivolity. I mean, John Stewart really helped me get through the Bush years, but we’re in a much deeper pile of crap this time and it will take action from everyday people to get out from under Trump’s authoritarian proclivities.
The play begins as if it is a Minstrel Show.
The star will be Doxie Trump; sort of like Roxie Hart from the musical Chicago. Doxie will be the Donald Trump character in our show, get it, Donnie – Doxie? Ostensibly, each song will be about one of Donald Trump’s biggly lies. The performers will all wear “TrumpFace” instead of black face and have orange and yellow wigs.
It’ll start out fairly simple: Mr. Bones Trump, playing dried up rib bones on stage right and Mr. Tambo Trump, on tambourine stage left with a collection of Trump’s wives and daughters sitting on a row of bentwood chairs playing banjos and so forth. Mr. Interlocutor will be just like the shyster lawyer from Chicago, Billy Flynn, but his name will be Vlady Flynn and look just like Putin in TrumpFace. He tries to rap his song, but he doesn’t quite get it. His jokes are awful.
The second number introduces the Velma Kelly character of our production, but we’ll just call him Vannon. This will be the only character not wearing TrumpFace; he’ll appear just like the real Steve Bannon who kind of looks like an alcoholic version of Trump anyway. Every time someone says ‘Vannon’ there’ll be a funny kettle drum hit quickly raised in pitch to remind us of his droopy drawers approach to life. This just seems appropriate, kind of like the horses and Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein.
The third number will be just like the “Nowadays” number in Chicago with a Doxie and Vannon duet as they reminisce about the campaign. The song brings us up to the Inaugural Address. Before the speech begins we see the audience enter in their alt-right clothing, nazi tattoos, and red ball caps; a live mic picks up lines like, “ Finally, we can call ‘em fags again” and “fucking jews”.
Doxie gives a revised, Hitler-like version of Trump’s actual speech which leaves the theatre audience stunned and depressed. (Minstrels often had a malaprop filled “stump speech” bit in the third act.) The onstage audience of actors will gradually alter their clothing to become a uniformed “Springtime for Hitler” kind of high-kicking chorus line of Trump-faced Soldiers lined up down stage.
The on-stage lights will snap out while house lights come up revealing two soldiers at each theatre exit putting chains around the door handles. The real audience will start to get anxious. An elderly audience member attempts to go to the bathroom, but is knocked down by a guard. Everyone gasps! Is that part of the show? The onstage show stops, the lights become stark harsh white and the chorus stares at the audience while big shit-eating grins grow on their faces. They move up stage revealing Doxie, center stage. She takes off the wig, the TrumpFace and the Trump suit, revealing ‘him’ to be a black woman wearing blackface outlined with fluorescent colors. She comes forward to address the audience.
So, you think this is funny, don’t you? You are wrong. You’re trapped! [all the lights go out with a ‘ker-chunk’ type noise] You’re blind, [spot on Doxie’s head] and you have no choice but to listen to me! [as volume increases and her voice echoes harshly]. You paid to be here, you asked for it and now, you are not so sure what to do next. Am I right?
[Sarcastic] So, you thought humor would make Trump go away. Watch a little Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, or Samantha Bee and life becomes tolerable again. You’re pacified, you’re complacent and then you’re docile enough to go to work for one more day. [shouts] Well, that’s not going to happen here.
You. All of you, have just volunteered for the biggest challenge of ALL our lives. When you, and I, leave here, and, yes, you will leave here. [lights on guards removing chains] You will not be complacent or the least bit docile. You will be determined and you will be serious. You will have no need for pacification because you will commit yourself to the task at hand. You will be an active member of the Resistance. You will be the solution!
To drive home the stakes at play in this circumstance, the second part of act one will involve Doxie, the black-faced black woman, magically guiding the audience through dark and dramatic ‘future’ scenarios revealing Trump’s religious bigotry, anti-environment policies, and hostility. It will be like the audience is Scrooge and she is the ghost of things to come. The Tiny Tims of tomorrow will provoke the passions and anger of the audience.
Intermission allows time to process the weirdness of the first act. The second act brings us to our current reality where we constantly hear the rumor of unnecessary deportations, bigotry and religious exclusions. The scene will be a community center’s meeting room, It is filling up with folks from the neighborhood. Doxie enters in regular street make-up this time, no longer the ghost of a scary future, but her clothes have hints of the fluorescent colors of her mask in act one. She’s a somewhat plain average person. She is the present day leader of this small group of neighbors. She has brought them together to solve the problem of Trump. This will be the first meeting of the local Resistance. The everyday folks who attend this meeting will work collaboratively to create a goal and build a plan of action. This act will be modeled somewhat on Clifford Odets’ play Waiting For Lefty where, at the end, the whole audience stands and chants: Strike, Strike, Strike” with fists raised in defiance! Except that, we’ll be shouting: Resist, Resist, Resist! The spirit of shared purpose and possibility will cause our spirits to soar!
(We would do a big splashy production number for a curtain call except that the audience will have moved too far beyond the artificial pretense of musicals. The entertainment is over; now it is time to do something.)
P.S. The Minstrel Show was the most vile, racist propaganda our country has ever experienced. The most horrible stereotypes were presented on stage. Many of those images remain today. Some performers continue to perpetrate the minstrel mentality, especially in the music business. At first, all the minstrel performers were whites in blackface. Black actors were eventually allowed on stage years later, but they still had to wear blackface. Think about the mental dissonance required to perform absurd parodies of your own culture while wearing a mask that ridicules your very own being! Doxie takes that mask and makes it something else by trimming it with fluorescent colors – she becomes a magical guide warning us of possibilities. Remember, she removes the minstrel mask of TrumpFace in order to guide us to the future. In act two she is a normal person, but she still carries with her the strength of her cultural heritage and the knowledge that going back can never happen again. The metaphor of removing masks to allow our true selves to take action presents a powerful lesson in personal growth leading to communal strength.