KING OF COUNTRY

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for the complete stageplay, please visit:  www.australianplays.org

 

KING OF COUNTRY

by

Tim Gooding

(c) Tim Gooding  July 1984

 

CHARACTERS

Chook Fowler
Vikki Fowler
Horace Fowler
Pearl
Hank Henderson
 
Lester                                          band leader
Residents                                     band members
Radio Announcer                        band member   
Auctioneer                                  band mamber
Workmen’s Club Announcer      band member
 
The "Blue Dogs" Band :   ideally, bass and guitar plus 2 or more  specialist instruments: fiddle, pedal steel, mandolin, banjo. Able to cover a variety of styles.

SETTING

A broad space capable of representing various tracts of land, from quarter acre block to outback expanse. Sidestage: a car, Australian, late 1950s vintage. Dusty, battered. Written in faded letters on the side:

"Chook Fowler's Country & Western Show
 Featuring The Blue Dogs!"

Elsewhere: a band podium, with offstage access.

SONGS

Act 1

Sc 1      King Of Country                                     Chook
Sc 3      Town & Country Waltz                          Pearl/Chook
Sc 7      It's Not The Same                                   Pearl
Sc 9      New England Highway Revisited          Chook/Vikki/Horace
Sc 11     When You Go, Don’t Leave A Note     Horace
Sc 13     Creek In Flood                                       Pearl/Chook
 
Act 2
 
Sc 2      Haunted Hills                                         Pearl
Sc 4      Stranger In Town                                   Hank
Sc 6      Waste Of Time & Tears                         Vikki
Sc 7      Salt Of The Earth                                   Chook
Sc 8      Common Touch                                     Pearl/Chook
 
All songs (words & music) written by Tim Gooding.
For music files/CDs : tim@timgooding.com.au ;  HLA Management (02)95493000

ACT ONE

Scene 1

(In blackout: a suburban summer soundscape. Cicadas. Lawnmowers. Revving engines. Splash of backyard pools. Shouts, squeals of children. A radio plays desultory country music. A mower repeatedly fails to start.)

CHOOK:    Mongrel! You mongrel! You flaming mongrel!

(He kicks the mower.)

CHOOK:    You bastard!

SONG: King Of Country.

CHOOK (sings): I never thought I'd live to see the day
I'm surrounded on all sides except the sky
But if I squint my eyes the rooftops look like clay
The colour of the heartland far away
 
The river cuts through sandstone to the sea
Sheffield Blight it takes care of the trees
Soil so thin it slips right through your hand
Nothing grows but houses on this land
 
Everybody knows the King of Country
King of County knows this country best of all
East of the mountains
West of Drummoyne
South of the Doyalson lights
 
It’s Sydney or the bush I used to say
Doesn't seem to mean the same today
Somewhere there's a rider & he's never seen the sea
Never seen the city but I bet he's seen TV
Maybe soon he'll mow the lawn & whistle just like me
Nothing grows but houses on this land
 
Everybody knows the King of Country..

Scene 2

(A suburban backyard "let go". Overgrown, fallen palings, cartons of bottles. Bedraggled Christmas decorations. The overturned, abandoned mower. Heat & flies. On the radio: Hank Williams.

CHOOK begins to clear the yard.)

RADIO ANNOUNCER:     The late great Hank Williams. Unfortunately Hank can't make it up to Tamworth for this year's country music festival, which is a shame, cause neither can Hank Cochran, Hank Locklin, Hank Snow, Hank Thompson and a whole lotta other late great country Hanks. But the VERY latest Hank, the Oklahoma Outlaw, Hank Henderson, latest and wannabe greatest in a long line of Yank Hanks WILL BE THERE! So will his Aussie sweetheart, Vikki Fowler. And so will I.

(CHOOK collects a carton. The bottom falls out, spilling bottles and cans.)

CHOOK:    You bludging mongrel cow of a thing!

(He kicks the rubbish. HORACE enters in a wheelchair at top speed. A small cardboard box on his knee.)

HORACE:   What's up you, son? A man can't hear himself listen to the races! The doctor said I could kick off at any time. I'll miss the Welter. Why don't you clean up this mess? Why are you cleaning up this mess? Is Norma coming back?

CHOOK:    No.

HORACE:   Are you sure Norma's not coming back? She left on the 6th of september. At 8.30. That's 3 months ago. You're over the worst now, son. It's like smoking. What happened to my sunday drive?

CHOOK:    I'll just do the lawns first.

HORACE:   That's what you said about making a comeback. It just grows back into bush, you galoot. Then you can chop the lot down all over again. Will you sunday drive me back to Tamworth?

CHOOK:    That's a bit further than I was thinking.

HORACE:   I have to scatter Enid's ashes. Norma's gone now. Why can't you just leave the mess, son?

CHOOK:    Because I can't leave the mess! They'll be here soon. Are you wearing that?

HORACE:   No. I'm wearing a barrel and braces. I always wear this. Who'll be here son?

CHOOK:    Vikki and Hank.

HORACE:   Hank? Who's Hank?

CHOOK:    Vikki's husband.

HORACE:   Who's Vikki?

CHOOK:    Your granddaughter.

HORACE:   I remember her from last Christmas. What's his name again?

CHOOK:    Hank. HANK.

HORACE:   Is he that dopey banjo twanger?

CHOOK:    No. This one plays guitar and sings.

HORACE:   I hope he does it better than you did. What's his name again?

CHOOK:    HANK. Rhymes with Yank. Which is what he is.

HORACE:   Did she marry a septic? Why didn't you stop her?

CHOOK:    I didn't know till I got the press release from the States.

HORACE:   You should've married Pearl. She'd never let her daughter marry a septic.

CHOOK:    Dad. Let's leave Pearl out of today's proceedings, all right?

(CHOOK drags a bin away, casually collecting Enid's ashes in passing.)

HORACE:   ENID! Enid! Don't throw that box away!

CHOOK:    Jesus. That was close, dad, wasn't it? Strewth.

HORACE:   Give her to me. Give her to me.

CHOOK:    Settle down. I'm just tidying up.

HORACE:   Putting your mother in the bin and your father in Belsen is just tidying up, is it?

CHOOK:    Are you talking about the retirement village now, are you?

HORACE:   If that's a village I'm a shearer's armpit. Matron said there's a vacancy coming up in May.

CHOOK:    Nothing's decided yet.

HORACE:   She's poisoning someone in April.

CHOOK:    I only took you there to see what it's like.

HORACE:   It's like a prewash for the crematorium. If she comes near me with her sponge, I'll stretch her neck like a rabbit.

CHOOK:    Nothing's decided yet, dad, all right! So let's get just right off the subject.

HORACE:   Don't you want my granddaughter to know you're having me put to sleep?

(CHOOK walks away..)

HORACE:   Son? Son? I have to scatter your mother in Tamworth. I promised her on her death bed.

CHOOK:    Dad. You know we've got a lovely spot set aside for mum at Rookwood.

HORACE:   Have you got a lovely spot set aside for me too?

CHOOK:    It's a fine piece of land, dad.

HORACE:   I can put in some wheat and run a few sheep while I'm down there. What if they slip someone else in next to Enid, before I get there?

CHOOK:    Mum wouldn't stand for it.

HORACE:   Is it all paid for?

CHOOK:    Yes, dad.

HORACE:   The bank can't get it?

CHOOK:    No, dad.

HORACE:   They got my farm. Up near Tamworth. Have I told you about that? Pommy bastards. I was a soldier settler. What about the army? Can they take it?

CHOOK:    No, dad.

HORACE:   I saw tanks go through a cemetery in France.

CHOOK:    It's sacred ground, dad.

HORACE:   That's what the abos thought. Your mother and I never brought you up to be tidy. Norma tidied you up. Good and proper. Enid was faithful for 63 years. I have to scatter her in Tamworth.

CHOOK:    Hank and his band are playing at the festival. He's a big star and he'll be very busy, but if you ask nicely maybe he'll do it for you.

HORACE:   Are you going too?

CHOOK:    What do you think?

HORACE:   You could see Pearl.

CHOOK:    Button it, dad.

HORACE:   You could make a comeback with her.

CHOOK:    Button it, dad.

HORACE:   She could sing like a bird.

CHOOK:    BUTTON IT!

HORACE:   She could sing like a bird.