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Marc Blitzstein

The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 8 (midi)

 


 

Scene 8: Faculty Room

 

(PREXY dozes at his desk. Telephone bell rings.)

 

PREXY

Yes? Mr. Mister? Well, good heavens, man, show him in!

 

(Enter MR. MISTER.)

 

PREXY

Mr. Mister!

 

MR. MISTER

President Prexy.

 

PREXY

Lovely morning!

 

MR. MISTER

It’s raining.

 

PREXY

Oh, is it raining? I had no idea; well, of all things…

 

MR. MISTER

My wife’s waiting for me. I’ll come to the point at once. I need a speaker—one of your professors; Someone who can put up a good front.

 

PREXY

We have lots of professors this year, who make lovely appearances. Just what kind of a man—?

 

MR. MISTER

Rally next Saturday night. I’m extending your military tactics course. Two years’ compulsory training now. Didn’t they tell you?

 

PREXY

No, they didn’t tell me. Heh, heh—heh— (The last “heh” is rather sad.)

 

MR. MISTER

Well, we’re building up quite a nice little regiment. You never know when you need ‘em. There was that Aliquippa strike in 1933. The National Guard isn’t any cheaper, and I can handle college boys myself.

 

PREXY

Mmmmmm.

 

MR. MISTER

The country’s going to the dogs, wWhat with the unions…

 

PREXY

(Anxious to corroborate.) Mmmmmmmmmm!

 

MR. MISTER

And sitdown strikes—

 

(PREXY “Ts-Ts-Ts”-es.)

 

MR. MISTER

Well, I want a professor from the University, to come and talk to the students, stir ‘em up—someone who can talk.

 

PREXY

Let me see, who would be the kind of man most suited for your purpose?

 

(PREXY thinks, then takes phone.)

 

PREXY

Send in Mamie, Scoot and Trixie.

 

(PREXY hangs up.)

 

PREXY

Mamie’s a new one, just up from Argentina; he may be the very article!

 

(MR. MISTER grunts; takes out a newspaper. Enter MAMIE, SCOOT, and TRIXIE. SCOOT, whom we haven’t met yet, is the sort of eternally unwashed bookworm who sits bespectacled in the campus cafeteria utterly absorbed in his book, probably Sanskrit.)

 

PREXY

Boys, this is Mr. Mister, our distinguished citizen—and trustee. He—

 

PREXY

(Whispers.) Pssssssst!

 

SCOOT/MAMIE/TRIXIE

Psssst! Psssst! Psssst!

 

(PREXY, SCOOT, MAMIE, and TRIXIE go into a football huddle.)

 

SCOOT/MAMIE/TRIXIE

Ta dee, ta doo, ta da da da! Ta dee, ta doo, ta da da da!

 

SCOOT

(Trying to rise.) But, President Prexy, I feel—

 

PREXY

(Pulls SCOOT down.) Not now, Scoot, you first, Mamie!

 

(Police whistle.)

 

MAMIE

(Steps forward modestly.) Applied science, Laboratory 54. (Thinks hard.) Military training? Mmmmmmm. (Has an idea.) Young gentlemen of the University—I give you—the Triple-Flank-Manuever!

 

SCOOT

President Prexy, I still feel—

 

PREXY

Shhhhhh!

 

MAMIE

(MAMIE goes right on, hoping to heaven something sensible will come out.) That maneuver is a sort of symbol, a connection if you will—a connection so to speak with the times—the times and the tides, the tides and the times as it were! Cloistered life—sanctum of learning—home of the Higher Good—Haven of the—uh—Humanities, the—what shall I say? The Humanities, in short! (MAMIE finishes very brightly.)

 

SCOOT

But—my dear sir!

 

PREXY

Scoot, your turn will come! Hush!

 

MAMIE

The University has a much broader base than many people might give it credit for—having—a much—broader—base. (MAMIE finishes not so brightly, but still valiant.) May I, in conclusion, once again, as a sort of peroration, without wishing to appear drastic, mind you, may I give you, but also with no apologies whatsoever, the Triple-Flank-Maneuver?

 

(MR. MISTER shakes his head emphatically.)

 

PREXY

(Like the Madam whose first wench is discovered to be bowlegged.) Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Wait. We’ll let you know.

 

(MAMIE to the side, huffily.)

 

MR. MISTER

Too many long words. What’s he think college boys are? They won’t know he’s talking about military training.

 

PREXY

(Hopefully to Number Two.) Now, Professor Scoot!

 

SCOOT

(Very stern; his chance has come!) Ethics 42, Aesthetics 6, Logic 1.

 

PREXY

How do you feel about our course in military tactics?

 

SCOOT

(A fateful pause.) Do I have to say?

 

PREXY

(What now?) Why, yes.

 

SCOOT

(Poisonously.) Then I don’t like military training, military training of any kind! I’m a Tolstoyan!

 

MR. MISTER/PREXY/MAMIE/TRIXIE

A what?

 

SCOOT

A Little Brother.

 

MR. MISTER

(Bellowing.) Where were you during the war?

 

SCOOT

Henry Ford’s Peace Ship.

 

MR. MISTER/PREXY/MAMIE/TRIXIE

(A mixture of rage, amazement and despair.) Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!

 

PREXY

Oh, I’m sorry! How did he get on our payroll? Believe me, he’s off it now. Why, Trixie!

 

TRIXIE

(Has been removing his turtle-neck sweater, flings it on the floor, and stands in robust and silly upper nakedness.) Football Coach, also Elementary French…

 

(TRIXIE goes into his turn.)

 

TRIXIE

Listen, fellas! Military course—two years? Tree cheers! Listen, fellas! Army training—Port in a storm! Soivice stripes—epaulettes—silver shoit maybe—attababy! Builds you up!—Alma Mater! Sex Appeal! Two years! Tree Cheers! Stick your chest out! Be a man!

 

MR. MISTER

(At last.) Wonderful! Wonderful!

 

PREXY

(Beaming and helping TRIXIE on with his sweater.) Enchanting, enchanting, enchating!

 

MR. MISTER

You can both consider yourselves on my Liberty Committee.

 

(MAMIE peeks forward.)

 

MR. MISTER

I guess we can use Mamie, too, those long words may come in handy there—but not that Peace Ship—!

 

(SCOOT snorts.)

 

MR. MISTER

Now you can tell the boys we’re buying them the best military equipment—

 

(The music gently goes lullaby.)

 

MR. MISTER

Riot guns, tear gas, hand grenades, cartridges, everything—they’re going to find that three or even four years of such training… Is not going to hurt—not going to hurt—not going to hurt—

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