This story is loosely based on "Mind the paint, girl" by Arthur Wing Pinero (died 1937) and the magical musical creation of Admiral Bob [Put the needle down] CC-BY with seperate piano stems. From the original play I am only keeping one line "The world would be a better place if the goverment put a tax on your jokes." print version
Teen Songstress Pimpernel has been a very naughty girl. She had a hard life growing up as an orphan. When Pimpernel suggests a re-union with her birth mother, the woman admits that she has concealed evidence of childbirth from her new husband and tries to murder Pimpernel. Pimpernel has learned how to look after herself, however and manages to escape. Thereafter she moves in with a female minder Harley, who hears her singing for a free wash at the laundrette. The minder introduces her to a recording studio producer.
The name Pimpernel carries a underground revolutionary ring and conveniently abbreviates to a name which implies promuscuity. Her tender years will leave us wondering whether she is sexually active but this character detail is never followed up. She is a femme fatale and that requires mystery.
The producers most reliable and productive musician is straining to produce a new song for an album when she comes to visit. During her 'audition' with the owner, Pimpernel discovers a syringe hidden in the bathroom. The musician hears a scuffle and the words "Put the needle down, girl" which inspires him to finish writing the song. The song becomes his magnum opus and also Pimpernel's ticket to broadway. There is an intravenous cautionery message but the main thrust of the play is comic while Pimpy finds her feet - and this combines romance and delivery and music as the happy ending.
Along the way Pimpernel meets a returned soldier (war hero) turned teacher who is steadfast and reliable and in every way a foil for her too exciting life. He can offer steadiness and solidity, but no excitement or the flashy lifestyle she is acquiring. The comic part of the dialogue revolves around her cool rebuff of a string of unsuitable admirers, gently fended away by her retainer. Pimpernel also reveals she has been making ends meet in the employ of a shady entrepreneur (we never meet). Desperate Pimpernel buys stolen identities and under these assumed names, uploads torrents of intellectual property to disable rival incomes. Not complicated but nasty fictional stuff.
It all comes to a head when the producer holds a premiere trash party to celebrate her show-time debut and it is discovered he has been tempting her to experiment with hard drugs. Harley goes to town on the producer. With Harley's help, Pimpy signals her acceptance of he affections of the steady lover by rejecting a roomful of money mongers, and the drugs too. The idea is to have a comedy with only one song repeated twice. First as a poignant duo by Scarlet and the musician as they discover their (musical) chemistry and again as an all-cast anti-drugs pro-music anthem at the final curtain. I am doing this to 'theme' a comic play with reiteration of one good song rather than attempt a musical without enough catchy numbers.
Commons are common. Good quality commons with an unrestrictive license and backing track are as rare as fish feathers.
My basic approach is to lay out a storyboard of scenes from the meta and start writing monologues, building into dialogues as per the technique described in wikiversity collaboartive writing.
Pimpernel (Pimpy) 1. accomplished singer 2. gorgeous 3. pubescent
Producer Dicky Rampant 1. older 2. rounder 3. has overcome life
Harley Peerless middle aged amazon
Musician Gorky B (Gladstone Beersteinesky) elderly rakish with long fingers
Sledge A shifty music indstry contact
Mattie Pimpy's Mum
Gladys Matties workmate
Fidel Le'Bradeur Argentinian Heart throb, war hero, teacher and Pimpy's close male friend
There are a number of highly suitable creative commons licensed songs with downloadable stems which, with a little ingenuity can be remixed into backing tracks for actors to sing along with. This feature obviates the need for a band. Community theatre audiences differ wildly in their enthusiasm for new music, some would prefer music they already know, to enhance the pleasure. Some audiences are heckling in their enthusiasm, if supplied with a copy of the lyrics, can be encouraged to join the chorus.
- Put the needle down has several lovely variants while this version has the lyrics and downloadable stems to make backing tracks as a theme for Pimpy.
- Give it up (start again) has a strong lyric melody and stems and suits the self destructive nature of the producer.
- Wayo Wayo may be suitable for an opening dance number. It has become my signature to encourage local dance troupes to participate, especially teen Hip Hop groups and have the dance at the beginning. I don't want them to hang around in the wings all night, waiting to go on.
- Gonna love you more suits Pimpy's plea for her boyfriend to hold out a little longer before settling down.
- scene - meeting Mattie (Pimpy's mother)
- scene - meeting Harley
- scene - laundrette (Scene break - recorded voice of Pimpy off-stage)
- scene Meeting musician
- scene Audition
- scene Eureka catharsis
- scene proposal from boyfriend
- scene invitation to premiere
- scene hard drug offer
- scene caught !
- scene a better offer
- scene choosing life
- scene musician folllows?
PIMPY That was a good joke, can I borrow it?
PRODUCER My mothers words. That joke belongs in a felt lined drawer with the family silver.
PIMPY Isn't intellectual property theft the sincerest form of flattery ?
PRODUCER It's still private property you can't flatter a man with his own hub-caps.
PIMPY everyone is doing it
PRODUCER Ask a judge - they are lemmings to the cliff
PIMPY (mocking, thumps table with gavel-fist) All rise ! Judge cliff-hanger presiding.
PRODUCER The deals off !
PIMPY What? You can't do that, we promised.
PROUCER You broke the rules.
PIMPY (crying) Can't you fix them, Can't you fix the rules?
PRODUCER For you.
PIMPY I'm special, aren't I ?
PRODUCER Sing for me.
Scene - Wayo WayoEdit
Interior Night Disco
Gorky B and Dicky are beside a stage. A dance troupe comes onstage and dance to "Wayo Wayo"
DICKY (to danc e troupe) Bravo, Bravo, well done crew.
GORKY Phew, glad you liked it, Boss. I was worried about this one. (claps, shooing them away) Thankyou folks.
DICKY lovely caligraphy.
DICKY Whatever. Dance was the best part.
GORKY yes I ike that 140 beats per minute style.
DICKY I meant the dancers. I like them wiggling their choreography while they dance.
GORKY You didn't like the music?
DICKY The words were a bit repititious.
GORKY It was in spanish
DICKY the repititious bit wasn't in spanish. I don't know what it was. There was five seconds worth of interesting music over and over. It's a loop, not a hit.
GORKY You don't like it.
DICKY It doesn't matter what I like does it. We need every song to get in the charts, or we can't get this band in the shops. (exasperated) Why can't you just sing like you used to do? You wrote great songs a month ago. It's like the contract has made you shy or something. You are hiding behind all this tinsel.
GROKY I wanted something new for you
DICKY for me? Gorky, you are not making music for me, I am already paying you. You need to make johny average smile. Just take a ht and CHANGE it for goodness sake. Just make me a hit.
DICKY Do us all a favour, can you? Just go and take a long extended holiday break. Get away and relax. Take some time off. Chill. Get in touch with your earth chakra. Recreate and rest. Take up a hobby.
GORKY Are you serious
DICKY I am just asking one little thing. Can you do that for me? Can you answer just one insignificant tiny question, hmm, can you?
GORKY What's that?
DICKY While you are on a break, collecting yourself an finding your inner peace, this is what I want. I want you to hurry up and relax and unblock or reconnect or whatever it is that artists do. I want you to do it real snappy. I mean take your own sweet time, but if you don't get back in the saddle and bring me a winning hit pretty soon, then we have a massive problem. I can't pay you any more, I can't even pay you for today, because I just don't have it. Gorky we need a hit like never before.
Scene - Meeting DICKY (the Record Producer)Edit
Exterior. Day. Parkland, beside a water feature.
DICKY (producer) This place is crawling with cops.See that loser with the moustache behind me. Hot Fuzz.
SLEDGE (seedy industry contact) A hairy snort. Your call. This place should be safe for us to talk freely. Don't get paranoid on me. What are we doing here anyway?
DICKY The usual thing. I want you to disable some competition for me. Money is no object, there's plenty of money.
SLEDGE Whoa! Not that again...that's gonna cost you, mate. What have you got in mind?
DICKY There is a band who plays better than my band. I want you to give them some gentle persuasion to stop playing for a while.
SLEDGE I don't do protection any more. Do I look like young muscle?
DICKY What's the point of being a mobster, unless you can dress formal? Do you still have that contact? Working for the big Music label?
SLEDGE Dicky, I am walking away. Those people are dangerous. I am telling you, music producers make people disappear. You don't want that in your life. If you pull their strings, the debt and lies go around forever.
DICKY Alright, settle down. I just want you to present a gift. You did it before. This is business, Sledge. Everybody does it. You profit. Everybody wins.
SLEDGE I can't keep bribing the company, Dicky. They will get onto me. They didn't want to lose the tape, last time. Greedy sods want to take your money to lose a studio demo tape from the competition and then they want to keep the tape as well, just in case. They are shifty characters. They could just lose your tapes if you aren't careful.
DICKY I heard the demo once at a preview, but it worried me. My latest hit is at number eleven, sledge. Do you have ay idea how frustrating that is? Sledge, mate, I just need this break. If I can squeak this band into the top ten, that will sell a lot of records. It won't hurt anyone. My competitor can go large in another state. I need this break, I want my demo tape to come up first.
SLEDGE How much?
DICKY Twenty Grand with your cut. What do you say?
SLEDGE Why don't you just open a fake account on the internet and release their video under a creative commons license. If everyone can get it free, nobody will need to buy it. Disable their income.
DICKY Am I talking to the real Sledge? Are you going clean? Have the years made you an honest man or are you just running to fat? What is the world coming to? Sledge, Mate, this is serious. I am serious. I want to break their stupid thumbs and kneecaps. I need to know this is not happeing all fair and legal. I need a solution.
SLEDGE I have an idea.
DICKY The envelopes right here, Sledge. I'm passing it over.
SLEDGE Not so fast. I haven't agreed yet. Listen to me. I have got an idea. I heard about a deal that happened last year. I just need to do some calculations.
DICKY calculations? What are you talking about?
SLEDGE Just humour me, I have an idea. Listen, you said your album is coming in eleventh place, right?
DICKY single, it's just one song plus the 'B' side. Extended Play. Where are you going with this?
SLEDGE Alright, look. Look at it this way for a moment. The charts are about numbers, right? The best contract gets the most air time and wins the most sales, right?
DICKY It's not abut the music, no. So what?
SLEDGE So how can you improve the deal for the distributor? I'm talking turkey here, Dicky. How much money can you spare? You said twenty Grand, That's a thousand albums.
DICKY Hang on a inute. Let me get this straight. (pulling himself up). I pay the distributor good money. I pay a lot of money to get my records on their shelf. Now, you're telling me I can buy the albums back to make the charts? I mean that is extortion. Paying them twice. How much money are we talking about exactly?
SLEDGE That's just it, Dicky. I have seen the sales figures for the top ten. I know how they sit in comparison to the other tables around the state. You don't need me to solve this. Just buy some albums and you will be in the top ten.
DICKY How many albums are we talking about?
SLEDGE I told you, a thousand. Your track is at least 700 units behind the Funksters ahead of them, but you can close that gap and seal their fate with a thousand records.
DICKY What am I ging to do with a thousand records?
SLEDGE That's where I come in. The record shops couldn't care less about what they sell, as long as they sell. The radio programmers do whatever the distributors tell them to flog. I can act as your agent and purchase them quietly through my contact and no questions about where they are being sold. I can move them on for you at a lower price. That way our distributor will push them to sell and we get even more leverage.
DICKY Move them about? You mean give them away? You snivelling gimp, I thought you were on my side for a moment. How much do I have to pay you to give away a thousand records I will own quietly?
SLEDGE Bargain basement. Five thousand will keep it all quiet.
DICKY I need a beer. You are buying me lunch.
scene - Meeting MattieEdit
Interior. Morning. two uniformed women are cleaning a hotel room.
Mattie: Gawd I hate this job.
Gladys: Are you STILL here then? Too right it's a hateful job. Why ARE you here, Mattie?
Mattie: It takes me closer to ...her...
Gladys: Her? Your daughter? I thought we agreed not to talk about that? Last time you ended up in the looney bin for a fortnight!
Mattie: She had great talent, you know.
Gladys: She thinks you're dead.
Mattie: She is a singer, she was born to sing. If she didn't sing, it would be like a crime against humanity.
Gladys: She sings and she's famous and she got ought to do wi y'all
Mattie: Well I expect she would travel quite a lot.
gladys: World Concert tours I am sure, but still nothing to do with you, unless you bought a ticket. She would see a lot of countries and faces and hotel rooms...
Mattie: No! Not hotel rooms! I wouldn't want ther to stay in hotel rooms. Not this hotel room.
Gladys: Why not?
Mattie: Obvious isn't it, they're filthy (dunking her mop in the toilet bowl and wringing with bare hands)
Gladys: Seven minutes they gives us to clean a hotel room! Too right they're filthy.
Mattie: Have I told you?
Gladys: Told me what?
Mattie: She called me.
Gladys: Called you a backsliding dog-worrier, you mean?
Mattie: Language! Please, Gladys! No, I mean she called to talk to me.
Gladys: She spoke to you? You mean you were staring at her poster again and got voices in your head!
Mattie: No, it was her. On the phone. She sounded very far away. I haven't seen her for so long that I had forgotten she belonged to me. I wasn't ready.
Gladys: Mohamed, Mary and Joseph, Mattie. After all this time, does your husband know?
Mattie: (Not answering, spits into a hotel glass and wipes it out with a corner of her mop)
Gladys: Oh! I wondered why you were telling me. You know I don't like to get involved. You owe me big.You will have to lie and take the day off sick. I'll cover for you. That putz of a husband must never find out...
Mattie: He'd kill me if he ever found out I have a daughter. Kill me. He's nearly killed me anyway (eyes glazed) Thankyou (oddly cheerful) He will never find out.
Scene - Pimpy meets MattieEdit
Interior Morning Hotel room with Mattie pacing
Pimpy: (knocking open door jamb) Mum?
Mattie: You don't recognize me? (When Pimpy does not answer) I would know you anywhere.
Pimpy: Maybe I didn't get your genes, somehow?
Mattie: Oh, you got them alright.
Pimpy: (shaken, collecting herself) Hello. Mattie. It's a pleasure to meet you at last, may I come in.
Mattie: Certainly, Can you stay for tea? are you expected anywhere? Got a tight schedule?
Pimpy: Not at all. I thought we should step out, there's a good cafeteria not far away. I have no other plans today. I wasn't sure how things would pan out. I don't get many bookings.
Mattie: Excellent. I would prefer it if we stayed here, come on in.
Pimpy: Oh! Perhaps we should order something.
Mattie: That won't be neccesary, I have a cake in the oven. Close the door, theres a good girl. Yes, I baked it myself.
Pimpy: (entering, forgetting the door) I can't smell any cake.
Mattie: Take a seat. Make yourself at home. I'll just put the kettle on, and ah...get the knife (door closes)
Pimpy: (Muffled sound from within) No! Mum, please, No! Don't stab me!
Door bursts open and Pimpy flees
Scene - Pimpy Meets HarleyEdit
Interior Day Laundrette Pimpy is folding laundry while singing. Enter Harley with laundry basket.
PIMPY (sngs a few lines from http://ccmixter.org/files/oldDog/24618 "all the time (dogmix)" by oldDog (featuring Sackjo22) 2010 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0))
HARLEY (Looking agape at Pimpy, attempts putting laundry basket down on washer, drops entire basket) Wow, girl you can really sing
PIMPY Thanks, Can I help with your things?
HARLEY No thanks (Pulling off jeans to reveal boxer shorts) I gotta watch my stuff
PIMPY Can you see over my shoulder? (Harley motions to stand up - Pimpy pulls her down again) Don't stare Please. Can you see the fella across the street at the newsagent?
PIMPY My patron.
HARLEY What? Patron? How ... old-fashioned. Is he paying you? Wait a second, here. Does he pay you?
PIMPY I'm worth it. He tips me twenty bucks if I sing while his laundry is going.
HARLEY You're joking. He must be sweet on you to hand over ips like that. He's hitting on you. When he comes back, he will want some bang for that twenty...
PIMPY I've known him for ages. He just does laundry, trust me.
HARLEY I'v e seen you here plenty, too. What;s your name?
PIMPY I had a feeling when I woke up this morning that I was going to meet someone nice today. Horoscope said so. My name is Pimpy and It's a pleasure to meet you...
HARLEY Harley. I heard you sing, but I don't pay for music. That guy must be loaded!
PIMPY He has good taste. He might come back for a closer look at your shorts. Hungry? Wanna do lunch?
HARLEY Will you sing?
PIMPY Are you buying?
HARLEY free music and free beer go together like oranges and lemons.
PIMPY I think you have your metaphors mixed. Don't you mean a pea-pod and a horse carriage?
HARLEY Ha Ha, Now who is mixed up? At least I know I'm a fruit.
PIMPY An honest girl. That was in the horoscope. Is your real name Harley, or is that just your butch name?
HARLEY A beautiful girl, with the voice of an angel, who doesn't mind hanging out with the gender bent dregs of society? This could be my lucky day.
PIMPY It IS your lucky day by the planets and stars. I am the star. I think you should know I'm straight. Speaking of the dregs of society, you are looking at an out of work singer. There is no money in music unless you have shares in the company and I am flat broke. I can't even afford a license to sing the budget numbers under copyright and I have no material of my own. Is there anyone more deeper in the dregs than a voice without words?
HARLEY Hey I know a few wordsmiths and musicians, perhaps I can introduce you around and find you some words. I may be just a lipstick lesbian on the surface, but underneath I know hoe to pull a few strings. (pause) but we need to take things one step at a time. first things first. There is a Balti-house down the street and I am going to get us some Bhajis for tucker while the dryer spins. Like curry?
PIMPY sounds great (growig tearful) I just don't know where I would have turned if you hadn't rocked up. Someone I trusted tried to kill me yesterday...It is such a long story. Thank goodness you are here (they embrace)
HARLEY You gonna be OK? (leaves as Pimpy nods)
Scene - Pimpy meets Fidel Le'Bradeur (Argentinian Heart throb, teacher and war hero)Edit
Exterior Day Bus Stop
FIDEL (nervously) This bus is always late
PIMPY (irritated) Goobledigook
PIMPY Just because I am standing here, waiting for a bu, doesn't mean you can just walk up and talk to me.
FIDEL Whoa, woman, girl, kid...whatever, I am going to stand on my side of the bus-stop, O.K.
PIMPY Hey, I am too old to be called a kid.
FIDEL I am just minding my own business, I am standing over here now...How old are you?
PIMPY (searchingly) I am seven...eighteen. I am eighteen.
FIDEL Eighteen is a good age, I am turning twenty in a month, but why should I believe you?
PIMPY You are NOT twenty years old. Can't be. You're just a kid.
FIDEL I can prove it, here is my service card.
PIMPY You're a soldier?
FIDEL Was a soldier. I served with the British in afghanistan. My tour of duty has finished and now I am going to be a teacher.
PIMPY You go to the college nearby?
FIDEL Across town, but I am teaching spanish to earn my keep. Now can I ask you a question.
PIMPY Just don't ask me about my skinny legs. I haven't eaten for a couple of days. I'm starving. Do you have anything to eat.
FIDEL Of course, why didn't you say before, here is a muesli bar.
PIMPY You can't just beg for food from a handsome stranger. Stranger. I hardly know you. We just met.
FIDEL How old are you really?
PIMPY I'm underage.
FIDEL Your parents know you are getting around town?
PIMPY They are....dead. I am old enough to look after myself. I don't need people telling me what to do. Have you got change for the bus?
FIDEL You are starving, broke and very strong-willed I think. Where are you going?
PIMPY Anywhere away from here.
FIDEL I know the perfect place. Would you like a hot burrito?
PIMPY I'm underage
FIDEL By how much? I can wait.
PIMPY Really? You are the first person who repsects me as an adult. I could kiss you.
FIDEL No you can't. I'm going to be a teacher. We can talk. Let's talk while we find something to eat, come on, the restaurant strip is not far. I can walk you home.
PIMPY I am truly overwhelmed. A teacher needs a pet. I can be your pet, and yu can be my teacher. I am as weak as a kittien. Lead me. Help me. Show me the way.
scene - Pimpy meets SledgeEdit
Exterior Night Alleyway
SLEDGE Where you been, Pimpy?
PIMPY (startled) Not you ! Not here !
SLEDGE You been avoiding me?
PIMPY What do you want?
SLEDGE As if you didn't know. I got a job for you and I am very disappointed in you.
SLEDGE I was relying on you to set up those new accounts. You haven't done it, have you?
PIMPY The internet cafe had a raid. They took the computers. I used gloves like you told me, but there willl be hair in the keyboard. Skin flakes. DNA. They will catch me, Sledge. I can't do it any more.
SLEDGE I'm not giving you a choice. Here is a new tablet computer loaded with open source. Take it to a burger house, for all I care. Set up some new accounts and start giving away videos.
PIMPY I know you pay well, but I just can't do it.
SLEDGE Money a problem? How much? Two hundred smackeroos cover it?
PIMPY That is not what I meant.
SLEDGE Now, I think I do know how to talk to you, so you can understand. Do you know the name of the person you met this week?
SLEDGE Not her. I am talking about a beautiful south american boy with long eyelashes and a voice as smooth as his skin. (pause while Pimpy becomes horrified) Le'Bradeur is his name. Fidel Le'Bradeur. (see Pimpy's expression) You didn't even know his name, did you?
PIMPY What do I have to do to convince you? Why are you prying into my private life? Are you trying to get into my pants?
SLEDGE Are you offering your honour? (laughing) It takes an experienced sex worker staying overnight to keep me happy. You don't even come close. Anyway, you're underaged. You are just a runy nosed kid. I am not going to prison for no jail bait.
PIMPY How did you find out about Fidel? Does he know you? Have you talked about me?
SLEDGE We never met, but I know who he is and that you like him. Let me be blunt. He seems pretty clumsy. It would be a shame for him to more clumsy, to get hurt, now, wouldn't it?
PIMPY (crying) You wouldn't dare. He is a soldier, you know. Why would you hurt him? He hasn't done anything to you. (turns angrily) You are an evil evil man. I hope you choke on your own evil plans.
SLEDGE Now you are starting to understand my position.
PIMPY I could tell him everything. He would help me escape and he would see you coming. You have no power...
SLEDGE (slams fist against wall beside her) Don't threaten me. You are going to lose. You can't win. I always get my way. (suddenly calm) I need you to start hacking songs in the top ten, starting today. Open as many accounts as you can and just give away multiple copies. Post them anywhere. (chilling) distribute them.
SLEDGE And don't get any funny ideas about escaping. This meeting never took place. If you get caught you never met me. If anybody makes a connection, I will tell your mother where you live.
SLEDGE I heard about that, too. Gladys has a big mouth. Your Mum has got it in for you, hasn't she.
(long pause) Don't disappoint me (passing two envelopes) Here is the usual payment and some party poppers for your boyfriend.
PIMPY I don't want any drugs.
SLEDGE I want the social media to light up with your uploads. Use gloves and public wireless. Hack some accounts and roll out the free music. Don't touch number eleven, that's my band. When you are finished, don't pawn the computer, put it in a moderate oven and bake it for an hour. Got all that?
PIMPY (defeated, nodding) Got it, boss.
SLEDGE If all goes well, I disappear. (taking envelope) Stuff this up and your pretty boy will need more than drugs.
lyrics PUT THE NEEDLE DOWN Edit
Key of G
Do you remember when you were young
Playing that first LP
Remember how you sang along
When you put the needle down
Now the kids they’ve got webcams
While they’re singing to your song
Don’t you know they feel as free
as when you put that needle down
But sharing songs is just a start
When the music’s in your heart
Now you’ve got to play that jazz
Or maybe hip-hop’s where it’s at
But the song remains the same
When you put that needle down
So if I give to the kids
What my eight track gave to me
It won’t hurt the man
If I put the needle down
But sharing songs is just a start
When the music’s in your heart
I hear the ghosts of the blues
Kick off the blue suede shoes
We’ve got nothing to lose
When we put the needle down
Now the kids they’ve got webcams
Your song’s all over Youtube land
How can you not give a damn
When they put the needle down?
But sharing songs is just a start
When the music’s in your heartTemplate:Collab