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4/15/2005:  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 leaves us:

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 Craft.

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 lyrics.
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 “available”
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 and that particular one is listed at $ 59.11 (listed as Softcover, ISBN: 0876022948).

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


And here's what you all been waiting for

1. Head and body are styrofoam ball and egg with layer of paper mache
2. Top of head and wings are cut from celastic ans shaped
3. Neck is foam rubber rings rubber cemented and pinched around the edges
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 both ends
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 controller
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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