Dragonsong, the play or How To Make Your Own Firelizard!
by Hans van der Boom
In the very back
of the "Hargreaves" (the best Anne McCaffrey bibliography in
existence) there is a small section (section eight), titled:
"Plays based on the author's writings". And the short
introduction is worth reading
Over time, many of Anne's novels and some of the short stories
have been optioned for film or play development. Several
fan-orientated productions have occurred but were usually
related to science fiction conventions. Anne mentioned one
production of "The Smallest Dragonboy" staged at Milwaukee SF
convention when she was Guest of Honor. Mention was also made of
an Australian trio's production of "The Smallest Dragonboy".
Apparently they took liberties with the story, Anne objected to
this, and she never heard from them again. Two productions have
been mounted that reaches the public at large.
The section only holds three "titles": Dragonflight,
Dragonsinger and Dragonsong. The first is a professional radio
play, produced by the BBC in 1980. If anybody recorded this, I'd
be VERY interested The BBC says Dragonflight was not retained in
their records and therefore it no longer exists... The next one
is Dragonsinger, of which Michael Hargreaves had no details
available when his bibliography of Anne was published, so that
Dragonsong, the play.
In 1980, the Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, Maryland (paying
attention, Maryland based Master Archivist? ) produced a
childrens' musical play based on the book Dragonsong. The
production was headed by Irene Elliot who also did the
adaptation of the book. Final draft approval was made by Anne
with only minor changes. Anne did make one major scene change
for visual effect. In the original story of Dragonsong, Menolly
injured her hand by cutting it severely while gutting fish. To
give this important scene a visual impact, Anne changed the
scene so Menolly’s father (Yanus) does the damage by breaking
her hand. Overall, though, the story line follows the book.
The songs that are in the play are: Sea Song, Children’s Game,
Menolly’s Song, Teaching Song, Fire Lizard Song and White Winged
This entry (that further lists the four venues the play was
performed at in 1980, 1986 and 1987 (twice) but I know from the
internet it was performed many times, as High School plays, in
several school including even one on Hawaii) is made extra
special by a set of pictures (by E. Pen Stevens), provided
especially for Hargreaves’ book by Irene Elliot. Since these
pictures are now already over 25 years old I am taking the
liberty of reproducing them here without the intention of
violating anyone’s copyright etc. etc.
Later the adaptation was printed in a booklet: the official
adaptation to stage of Dragonsong by the earlier mentioned Irene
Elliot, who also composed the music and the lyrics for the songs
mentioned earlier, except the Sea Song, the Teaching Song and
White Winged Craft, for which Anne McCaffrey herself wrote the
The booklet was (is) published by Anchorage Press, New Orleans.
First edition took place August 1989. it is published in photo
reproduction form (so essentially I guess the first edition was
that of 1980). Hargreaves says that “bound book versions” won’t
be available until 1990 but as far as I know all editions are
stapled and bound versions do not exist. If anybody knows of
one, please contact your local Master Archivist.
There was a time that these booklets could simply be ordered on
Amazon (shipped within about a week for I think it 6 pounds.
Anneli can correct me if I’m wrong, she ordered and one and,
more amazing, got it! Actually, when I just checked it was still
If that is true I don’t have to discuss collector’s value or
price but… (isn’t there always) there is currently only one
(yes, 1) copy to be found through www.bookfinder.com and that
particular one is listed at $ 59.11 (listed as Softcover, ISBN:
Whether it is worth money or not I do think this is a great
collectible as it is rather special and even though quite a few
could be around, a lot of them will have perished. They
certainly don’t show up on eBay and such sites.
The pictures (remember these are over 25 years old! for others
they'll might trigger the nostalgia button )
Menolly and the Seahold children
Menolly and Masterharper Robinton
T'rolt (huh? yes!) and Geleth during Impression
T'gellan and Monarth with the Seahold children
DON'T LAUGH YOU!
And here's what you all been waiting for
BUILD YOUR OWN FIRE LIZARD FOR THE PLAY!
1. Head and body are styrofoam ball and egg with layer of paper
2. Top of head and wings are cut from celastic ans shaped
3. Neck is foam rubber rings rubber cemented and pinched around
4. Attachments to body with hot glue
5. Legs and tail cut from foam rubber, and rubber cemented and
pinched around the edges, except for toes
6. Body, neck and head strung together on a string, knotted at
7. Wing hinges made of cloth and hot glue
8. Eeye cut from reflector material
9. Cut cloth glued to neck and tail. Whole puppet spray painted
two colors, undercoat and overcoat.
10. Head strings attached to wings of controller
11. Shoulder strings are continuous, through eye in controller
12. Wing strings also on continuous string, through eye in
13. Tail string attached to back end of controller
Irene sure was thorough and detailed!
Note: due to circumstances I am two weeks late with my
Collecting Highlight, so this one (that should have been posted
two weeks ago) will be here alongside Cheryl's one for the
coming two weeks. Hans.
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