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Main Street Musicals

 

MainStreet Evaluations

Precious Bane - a musical (1131C)

| script | snap shot | cast description | synopsis | evaluation form |

Musical selections

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Nomination Form

If you did not receive the Form via email, please email Tim.

This show has been submitted ONLY to determine whether it qualifies as a semi-finalist in the Mainstreet Award competition.  The Nomination Form - which is linked to the email you received - provides the “yes” or “no” option.

Music

Selections from the score may be listened to while opening the various other components in pdf.

NOTE: Track 14, Lullingford at the Faire – is actually a reprise of an earlier number. HARESHOTTEN actually follows the first Lullingford in Act I, but for recording purposes we recorded Hareshotten to follow the reprise version.

Script

Download or open The Full Script in Adobe Reader.

SnapShot

  • TITLE OF WORK: Precious Bane
  • SELECT ONE: Adapted from a work in the Public Domain
  • MUSICAL STYLE: Opera,classically inspired veering on opera
  • NATURE: Drama,Romance
  • INTENDED AUDIENCE: General
  • STRUCTURE: Some spoken dialogue: Mostly sung
  • APPROXIMATE DURATION (Hrs/Min): 2 hours
  • DESIRED INSTRUMENTATION: small ensemble of strings and woodwinds
  • BRIEFLY STATE THE THEME or MESSAGE: The redemptive power of love
  • NUMBER OF SETS: 2

Cast Description

Prue Sarn is "strong as a man" and intelligent, but her loving kindness-- a characteristic she shares with her meek Mother-- is the core of her nature. However, having been born with a harelip (cleft palate) it seems sure that she will never be the the loving wife and nurturing mother she yearns to be. Books and Nature are her solace.

Gideon Sarn, Prue's older brother, is strong and handsome and intelligent, but he pairs his father's cruel temper with a ruthless strength of will.  He believes that he has it in him to rise to riches and power, and intends to do so, or die in the attempt.

Featured characters, who double other featured roles & are in the Ensemble:

Father Sarn is a smart and fiercely proud man, filled with rage because his life is tied up in farming and fatherhood -- roles for which he has neither talent nor inclination.

Mother Sarn is a small bright kindly bird-like woman, at a loss as to how to guide or nurture the outsize lightning-in-their-blood Sarn family she has married into.

Wizard BEGUILDY is one of the few literate people in the parish, and because many of his ominous predictions indeed come true has a very high opinion of his own power and sagacity.  However, there's also plenty of evidence that he is mostly a foolish fraud.

MISSIS Beguildy, as a romantic young woman, married the learned Beguildy with no glimpse of what would be in store for her as the wife of a preached-against wizard.

JANCIS Beguildy, a romantic like her mother, is the most beautiful girl in Shropshire.  She idolizes Gideon, but her father is set on profiting from his daughter's beauty.

PREACHER is only minimally literate, and it is difficult for him to rise to his position as Christian leader of this superstitious community, but he has a good heart and tries.

MISSIS Preacher is good-hearted too -- unless the welfare of her family is threatened. Then she will do whatever it takes to protect them.

TIVVY, Preacher's daughter, is selfish and crass; a bully when she gets her way and a cry baby when she doesn't.

KESTER Woodseaves, a strong but gentle Weaver who is new to the county.  He loves books and all nature's creatures, and Prue gives her heart to him at first sight.
Supporting characters, which may be doubled or tripled by Ensemble members:

GRIMBLE,  a rich farmer from out past Lullingford:  tight-fisted, sly and nasty.

MISSIS Grimble, a wife after Grimble's own flinty heart.

YOUNG CAMPERDINE and his flirtatious sister DORABELLA, Lullingford gentry;  

FELINA, a sensual free spirit, and her HUSBAND tend sheep on a mountain on the far side of Lullingford.

CALLARD and MISSIS Callard, kindly neighbors, friends of Prue and her Mother;      

SUKI and MOLL, sisters, silly but sweet;

SAMMY, Preacher's son, has a puppy-love fondness for both Prue and Jancis.

MAN #1 and MAN #2, distant neighbors who are Prue's enemies;

GHOSTS, MOURNERS, TAVERN HOST, FARMERS, COOK, FARM HANDS, MAIDS, WIVES, CHILDREN, VILLAGERS, etc…. It's possible to do the show with a cast of 16, but 24 would be better.  The more the merrier! 

SETTING

The Sarn family's Shropshire freehold in the early 1800s is ancient and substantial, with woods and fields, barns, farmhouse, and a lake, Sarn Mere, whose waters are haunted by the ghosts of the drowned.  Most scenes take place either in the main working/eating room of Sarn House or of the Beguildy family's neighboring Stone House-- which is run down and disreputable, a leased farm that doubles as the Wizard's workshop. These sets must move out to to clear  the stage the other main locations, which are in the open fields or in Lullingford, the nearest market town.  Backdrop projections that show the landscape and its changing seasons are ideal.

Synopsis

The musical Precious Bane is an adaptation of the celebrated 1926 novel by Mary Webb. The story takes place in the early 1800s on a farm in Shropshire, England. Precious Bane is essentially a love story, but it is also the story of a sister and brother, Prue and Gideon Sarn, who are both strong and intelligent and determined, but who have very different values and approaches to life.

At his father’s funeral, Gideon offers to be “sin eater” and take on the sins of his dead father in exchange for sole ownership of the Sarn farm. He is determined to make the farm prosper so that he can sell it for a lot of money, buy a large house in town, and become a respected and powerful figure in the community: “King-of-the-wik, and the only apple on the bough”. In order to  achieve his dream he coerces his sister Prue into helping him to work the farm—to slave on it, really. He does this by telling Prue that she will never marry because she was born with a hare- lip, which the surrounding village folk believe to be a sign of the devil.

Although Prue’s dream of becoming a wife and mother is crushed, it is not in her nature to become embittered. She decides “If I canna have a lover, then the world in all its beauty I’ll embrace.” And indeed, at the core of Prue’s character is a spiritual connection to the beauty of nature and a thirst for knowledge. When Gideon suggests that she learn how to read and write to help with the farm accounts, Prue readily agrees. She senses that through reading and writing, new doors will be opened for her: the beauty of words and thoughts and the freedom of the imagination.

When Prue first sets eyes on Kester Woodseaves, the strong but gentle and literate weaver who joins the community, she falls hopelessly in love with him. Although she believes she can never be his wife, she watches over him and becomes his savior when he falls into great danger.

Gideon’s childhood sweetheart is Jancis, the beautiful daughter of Bequildy, the community’s wizard. Their mothers favor the match, and the pair is betrothed. But her father has other plans for Jancis. Wizard Beguildy threatens to either “sell” his daughter to a rich man or else send her off to a distant farm to work for three years. Jancis pleads with Gideon to marry her right away, but Gideon refuses. He will not marry her until he becomes rich himself, and her earnings as a dairymaid will help them reach that goal. Men who marry young never prosper because they have too many mouths to feed.

In the end, Gideon sacrifices everything—love, family, and his own life and sanity—for the chance at money and power. He is destroyed by his dream: whereas Prue, in spite of her deformity, wins Kester, who feels a deep attraction to her because of the passion they share for books and ideas and the compassion they both feel for all living things.

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