Guide to the 23 Segments:
- Script and Musical Scores
- Cast of Characters
- Books Available
Script and Musical Scores
Candelescence is organized into 23 Segments. (Some segments can stand alone as Musical Skits.) The “Segment” links will take you to the scripts. The “Music” links will take you to the song scores.
Segment 22 (Jeeno Casino)
Music: Concert Sequence – 1st Half
Music: Jeeno Casino (by the Bobbing Bambinos)
Music: Student Concert (Vocal)
Music: Student Concert (Piano Accomp.)
Music: Concert Sequence – 2nd Half
Music: We are the Fountains
(Note that the entire work takes place in 2 very different locations at the same time: Enemia [en-uh-MEE-uh] (a very poor, war-torn country) and Candle High School (a private American school).
Segment 1 (Guru’s Situation):
Baba and his son Guru live in a war-ravaged village in a very poor and isolated country. Their home is in a scrap-yard, where Baba ekes out a living doing whatever welding jobs he can find. Because his son has recently received his teaching credentials and has this very day begun teaching in a school, Baba has become more optimistic. He decides to plant a garden. He borrows a pickaxe from his elderly peddler friend Toolie to work the poor soil. Soon after, his son Guru returns home in his wheelchair. (Guru was injured as a young boy and cannot use his lower body.) Guru is devastated because he has lost his teaching job. The superstitious parents of the students do not want him teaching their children, afraid he will spread his “affliction”. With no prospects in sight and with his son feeling so defeated, Baba resolves to build Guru his own school on the very garden plot he has just begun digging.
Segment 2 (Twimfina’s Situation):
Twimfina is a senior at the progressive Candle High in St. Louis. The teachers who work there live upstairs from the classrooms as a community. Twimfina lives upstairs in the Teachers’ Community too because her parents are both teachers. Twimfina loves school and feels sad that she’ll be graduating in a week. Although everybody in the Teachers’ Commune treats her kindly, she sometimes feels lonely because she has nobody there her own age. She feels trapped because everybody has such high expectations of her. She rather dreads another summer of studying from books. She wants to be free to chart her own path.
Segment 3 (Villagers Help Build School):
Baba’s supportive neighbors help him build Garden School. At first Guru feels it’s a lost cause. But as more and more people help in the construction, he starts to feel hopeful. This entire segment is sung by choir. There is no dialogue.
Segment 4 (Guru’s First Student):
After the school gets built, Guru can find no students. The Commissioner sends a boy (Ace) to Guru. Ace has failed his middle-school entrance exam. The Commissioner wants Guru to keep Ace occupied and out of trouble.
Segment 5 (Twimfina’s Farewell):
Summer is almost over. On the day before her departure for college, Twimfina is helping her parents clean the commune’s dining room. Twimfina makes it clear that she is not thrilled about going to college. She wants to stay in the commune and teach with the others.
Segment 6 (Commissioner Visit #1):
Garden School has grown to 6 students (3 girls and 3 boys), all of whom had failed their middle-school entrance exam. Guru is having problems managing his unruly students. The Commissioner makes an unannounced visit and finds 2 of the children fighting during class. He is very angry.
Segment 7 (Twimfina in San Francisco):
At the end of summer, Twimfina travels to college but does not sign-up for classes. Instead she secretly departs on a dangerous journey to Enemia (en-uh-MEE-uh). In the first leg of her journey, Twimfina stops at a Youth Hostel in San Francisco and befriends an international choir. Why is she going to Enemia? Because earlier that summer, Twimfina had begun corresponding with a young man who had placed an ad in the “Canadian Penpal” magazine (before the internet, pen-pals were more common). Like Twimfina, this fellow also aspired to be a teacher for the poor. Her pen-pal is Guru. In his correspondences, Guru never mentioned that he lives in poverty and is paralyzed below the waist. Since Enemia is under an American travel ban, Guru never dreamed that Twimfina would actually come to visit him.
Segment 8 (Mail Call):
During lunch in the commune’s dining room, mail is delivered to the teachers. One of the letters is from Twimfina. But the letter arouses their suspicion. After some investigating, they realize that Twimfina has gone to Enemia. Horrified, they try to arrange for her return.
Segment 9 (Animals):
Twimfina is now near the border of Enemia. It is raining. She spends the night in a barn full of animals, singing with them.
Segment 10 (Crossing the Border):
At the border crossing, Twimfina is asked for her passport. All she has is a letter from Guru which she uses to persuade the guard to let her pass. (Twimfina’s name is an acronym for “The Word Is My Family, I’m Not Afraid”. This is also the name of the song that she sings when she crosses the border.)
Segment 11 (Word Arrives in Ko-Lat Village):
As promised, the border guard contacts Ko-Lat village to inform them that Twimfina is on her way and will reach their sector’s border sometime before dawn. When Guru learns of this, he asks his father to meet Twimfina and bring her to their home. At first Baba vehemently refuses. It was an errant American missile strike that had killed his wife, killed his daughter, and paralyzed his son Guru. (“Ko-Lat Village” gets its name from the phrase “collateral damage”.) But Guru pleads with him and Baba eventually relents.
Segment 12 (Twimfina and Baba Meet):
Baba travels on his bicycle (actually a tricycle with a hauling cart) along the dirt road to the sector’s border and waits for Twimfina. It is still dark. He has time to think about how he must relate to this strange new person coming into his life. When Twimfina arrives, Baba tells her the truth about Guru’s physical and financial situation. Disillusioned, she questions Baba about his son. Baba confirms that Guru is indeed dedicating his life to teaching the poor, just as he had promised. With this confirmation, she decides to continue.
Segment 13 (Twimfina Arrives at Garden School):
Twimfina is asleep in the cycle cart when Baba reaches home at Garden School. The students, playing in the schoolyard before school begins, are fascinated by their new visitor. Guru is unaware of her arrival when he rings the bell from inside the school, Twimfina is startled awake (to the amusement of the students). They all enter the classroom together and surprise Guru. Since the first class is “Science”, Twimfina (their new music and language teacher) teaches them the song “I am a Scientist”.
Segment 14 (The G.G.G. Pay a Visit):
Two weeks later, Guru and Twimfina are talking in the schoolyard, alone because all their students are in the city of Jeeno taking their middle-school entrance exam. When Toolie arrives to deliver the mail, he informs them that the G.G.G. [Good Guys with Guns] are heading their way. Twimfina hides in Toolie’s cart. The G.G.G. arrive and threaten Guru because Baba had stopped attending their meetings. (Because this opera is a “Fountain-Flush” – a term explained later – the G.G.G. are always depicted as total morons.) After the G.G.G. march away, Guru looks through the mail and finds a letter addressed to Twimfina. It is a letter from her parents, begging her to come back home. It also includes documents that will allow her to return on military transport (as there is a travel ban on commercial flights).
Segment 15 (Disgunsemble):
During a music class, one of the students confesses that he had found a gun. Twimfina teaches the class how to take apart the gun and scatter the pieces so that nobody will ever again be able to reassemble it. She also teaches them a song to sing while doing it.
Segment 16 (Twimfina and Baba Switch):
Baba refuses to attend G.G.G. meetings, which puts his life in danger. Twimfina persuades Baba to travel to St. Louis in her stead. He could teach Enemian at Candle High while she could remain with Guru and teach English at Garden School.
Segment 17 (Opera Begins):
Guru frequently tells Twimfina that she is a character in a story he has written. Twimfina tells Guru that he is a character in a story that she is writing. However her story is an opera. So from Segment 17 to the end of the musical, everything is sung (or spoken in rhythm to an instrumental accompaniment).
Segment 18 (Language Heroes):
“Communication” is a major theme throughout the musical. Bilinguals are held in high esteem. In this scene, Baba is teaching “Enemian” at Candle High while Twimfina is teaching “English” at Garden School. Though thousands of miles apart, the stage is split in half so that both classes can progress side by side at the same time.
Segment 19 (Ace Makes Changes):
Twimfina and Guru have legally adopted Ace. With a new sense of security, Ace becomes more outspoken. He proposes that Guru rewrite Segment 6 (“Commissioner Visit #1”) to make the Commissioner more genial. He proposes that Guru rewrite Segment 14 (“G.G.G. Visit”) to make the G.G.G. appear more repulsive.
Segment 20 (Commissioner Visit #2):
The Commissioner returns to Garden School, but this time everything is positive. He informs them that every student passed their middle-school entrance exam. Upon request, he also gives permission for them to give a joint music concert with students from Candle High School.
Segment 21 (Planning for the Big Concert):
The little family of three (Guru, Twimfina and Ace) discuss the upcoming concert. Guru sees the concert with the Americans as a Fountain-Flush. His objective is to get as many viewers as possible. Twimfina has arranged for the big event to be held in the concert hall of the Jeeno Casino. Ace jokes that he finds the G.G.G. attractive and that he’d like a gun for his birthday. Twimfina finds no humor in his joking.
Segment 22 (Jeeno Casino):
The big concert at the Jeeno Casino starts with an opening song by an in-house choir. Then the students march onto stage, singing two songs in harmony back-to-back. As the audience applauds, the G.G.G. rush onto the stage, brandishing their guns and ordering everybody to go home. In true Fountain-Flush style, Toolie starts staggering up to the stage. He is dressed the same as the G.G.G, except for his pink showercap and floppy shoes. He’s holding a toilet plunger instead of a gun. As the Flush, his job is to make himself as obnoxious as possible. He does. Meanwhile the real G.G.G. sneak away in embarrassment.
Segment 23 (Happy Ending):
With the G.G.G. gone, Toolie is invited up on stage for the final songs, including an “audience sing-along”.
Cast of Characters
TWIMFINA: (18 years old) At the beginning of the play, Twimfina is a senior at Candle High and lives upstairs in the Teachers’ Commune (because her parents are teachers). The name “Twimfina” is an acronymn of “The World Is My Family, I’m Not Afraid” (the title of one of the songs she sings).
GURU: (20 years old) From the age of 6, Guru has been unable to use his lower body because of an injury. He lives in a war-torn village, in a scrap-yard with his father. Although well qualified, Guru is not allowed to teach in the public schools because of his disability. His father builds him his own school in their scrap-yard.
BABA: (45 years old) Guru’s father is a supportive, hard-working, educated man who lives in a scrap-yard and does odd welding jobs to eke out a living for himself and Guru.
TOOLIE: (70 years old) The wise, weathered peddler who pulls his cart of tools from place to place. He helps facilitate much of the action.
GARDEN SCHOOL STUDENTS: six poor rural students (3 boys, 3 girls, all about 10-13 years old) whom Guru teaches in the school that his father built. In Enemia, each student must pass an entrance exam in order to get into the public middle school. All of these children had failed their exam and so had no place to go. The Commissioner sent them to Garden School to keep them out of trouble. Their names are: Ace, Scout, Walter, Eddie, Akeelah, Poca (pronounced as in “Pocahontas”)
CANDLE HIGH STUDENTS: At least a dozen older high school students should appear in the play. Please note that the choral score requires some of them to sing a bass line. (Most of the student music is written in 2-part harmony. Since the younger Garden School students will all be singing the upper melody part, a good number of high school basses will be needed to sing the lower harmony.) The only named student is “Maple”, Twimfina’s friend from Segment 2.
COMMISSIONER: a stern Ko-Lat Village official who later gets a makeover into a more congenial man.
MC3: Three treble voices who act as the Masters of Ceremony at the big Jeeno concert in Segment 22. They sing in close harmony (like the Andrews Sisters).
BORDER GUARD: the young man who lets Twimfina cross the border; she later runs back and gives him a kiss; (Segment 10)
TEACHERS’ COMMUNITY: A dozen or so teachers should make up the Teachers’ Community, even though there are only 6 named teachers who have speaking lines. (Una, Zero, Malimu, Sister Clare, B.B. Brice, and Coach).
BRICK CHORUS: At least a dozen singers are needed to divide into 2 groups: “VILLAGE TEACHERS” (men) and “garment-factory workers” (women). Together they help Baba build the schoolhouse. For musical reasons, the “VILLAGE TEACHERS” must be the larger group because they sing the lower 2 voices of the 3-part harmony. (Segment 3)
SAN FRANCISCO YOUTH HOSTEL: The receptionist, the police officer, and at least a dozen diverse college-age singers are needed for the choir. The choir’s song (“Peace Machine”) is written in six parts (3 treble, 3 bass). So to have 2 singers per part, there must be 12 in the group. To have 3 singers per part, there must be 18 in the group. (Segment 7)
ANIMALS: At least a couple dozen singers are needed to represent chickens, chicks, pigs, donkeys, sheep, cows, birds, bees, and a duck. It’s a night scene, so all available voices can join in singing the rousing “Animals of the Planet Earth” without a need for costumes; (Segment 9)
TRAVELING FARM FAMILIES: 6 actors, more or less; As Twimfina tries to persuade the guard to let her cross the Enemian border, some farm families approach, pulling their carts. They are traveling in the same direction as Twimfina and invite her to accompany them.
BOBBING BAMBINOS: A dozen employees of the Jeeno Casino who are dressed as babies and do a silly dance as they sing an odd (but important) song prior to the student performance. (Segment 22)
NATIONALISTS: The G.G.G. (Good Guys with Guns) are represented by 3 menacing buffoons (Tweedle, Deedle, and Dum). (Segments 14 and 22)
CHORUS NOTE: The cast size can be greatly reduced if the singers assume multiple roles. The 80 singers that would otherwise be required by the different singing groups can be reduced by more than half. Here is a list of singers needed:
- Teachers’ Community (at least a dozen adults)
- Garden School Students (six middle school students)
- Mendel Science High Students (at least a dozen high-schoolers, including strong bass singers)
- Brick Chorus (at least a dozen adults, with 2/3 being male singers)
- San Francisco Youth Hostel Group (preferably 12 or 18 college-aged, mixed voices)
- Animals (as many singers as possible; will probably be behind curtain, so no costumes are needed)
- Bobbing Bambinos (a dozen adults, mixed voices)
- MC3 (3 treble voices singing in tight harmony)
The location of the story alternates between America and Enemia. The American scenes all take place in the relatively modern “Candle High School”, either downstairs in a classroom or upstairs in the Teachers’ Commune. The Enemian scenes take place in a Ko-Lat Village scrap-yard in which a primitive 1-room schoolhouse has been built. Most scenes take place either in the schoolhouse or in the adjacent dirt schoolyard, or both. The final 2 segments take place on a more modern stage in Jeeno, a larger Enemian city.
Although the name “St. Louis” is mentioned a few times, any American city will do. Please feel free to substitute your own city’s name to make it more relevant.
A central concept in Candelescence is the “Fountain-Flush”. The Fountain-Flush is a tool that artists can use to change society. The artist can reinforce a behavior by linking it to attractive, likeable people. The artist can extinguish a behavior by linking it to repulsive people. Not only does Candelescence introduce the concept of a Fountain-Flush, the entire musical is itself a Fountain-Flush.
If you’d rather have a bound book, make sure you buy the newest version. The candle on the cover of the newest version is drawn with one continuous line. Also, there’s a white color in the candle flame.