Thomas Edward o Banff
Author(s): Wendy de Rusett
Copyright holder(s): Wendy de Rusett
Playing Two or More Roles: The Narrators are free to take other parts. Several actors can take two parts, or play trees or other objects. The Musicians could be free to take up brief parts if they can move quickly and gracefully from the keyboard to the acting position. The same actor can play Thomas as a boy and adult in Scenes 2 and 3.
CAST, in all Scenes
Two Musicians (see notes below)
Cast, Scene 1: (Thomas the toddler is lost and found and the family decide to move)
Sister’s friend Kirsty
Brother’s friend Robert
Actors to play trees, sheds, outbuildings, small bridges, parts of the family home where the family might look for the missing toddler.
Cast, Scene 2 (Thomas brings creatures to school, and is beaten by the headmaster)
Head Master, Mr Grant
Pupil Teacher or assistant, Ms Frobisher
Thomas Johnston (kind to Thomas)
Isa Sinclair (kind)
Alex Black (unkind)
School pupils (the other actors)
Cast: Scene 3 (The rest of Thomas’s life told by Narrators 5-10 and presented in mime by the rest of the cast. Narrators 1-6 can take part in the mime described by Narrators 9 and 10.
Actors to represent factory machines (6)
Friendly factory worker
A Minister (at funeral)
Mourners in addition to family.
IDEAS FOR MUSIC An effective musical accompaniment and link music with a melodic theme can be made by two people at the keyboard set to organ or other music. The one on the right plays a run of any 5 notes going down in scale, slowly, holding on to the last note. The other player makes a chord on the lower half of the keyboard, to include a note with the same name as the sustained note. If the first player ends on C the second player makes a 3-note chord with a lower C in it. The chord could be harmonious or a discordant, giving a questioning effect. Thirds and fourths make effective chords. The player should sustain this chord until the first player has played another run of 5 slow notes and held down the final note. Five runs and chords would be provide a short link between scenes. These sequences can be played faster and with more major chords for happier scenes. Try ending the play on a happy note, sustaining the chord until the cast have lined up.
Introduction: Actors line up in semi circle round stage. Musicians start notes and chords. Human roles in first scene take up positions in a freeze, others turn their backs to audience.
Narr 1: Thomas Edward was born on Christmas Day, in the year achteen hunner an fowerteen, near the toon o Portsmooth, on the sooth coast o England. His faither was in the airmy, in a regiment caad the Fifesshire Militia. They were protectin the sooth coast o England fae invasion by the French, unner Napoleon. Luckily this didnae come aboot, an Thomas Edward’s faimily was sent back tae Fife.
Narr 2: But his mither cam fae Aiberdeen and she wisnae happy in Fife. Things cam til a heid ae day fan Thomas, fa wis jist a wee bairn, gaed on a danner, toddled aff awa his ain, as wee bairnies’ll dee, if ye dinna keep an ee on them.
SCENE 1: Thomas’s 2 sisters friend play a skipping game front of stage, his brother John and friend play football behind. As Mother speaks to the girls, John falls, nurses his wound, his friend kicks the ball to the front, John limps to get it in time for mother to confront them.
Mother: Quines, faur’s Thomas? It’s time he was washed an beddet.
Isobel: I dinna ken, Ma, he’s wannert awa.
Mother: He’s wannert awa? You were lookin’ aifter him.
Mary: He was playin fitba wi the loons. (Robt kicks ball, John falls then limps to front)
Mother: Fitba? He canna play fitba. He’s nae even twa year aal. (She runs to the boys who are at the front now and stop playing). John, faur’s your brither?
John: He’s wannert awa, Ma. He wis chasin a butterflee.
Mother: (angrily, using arms) A butterflee? A butterflee? He’ll be hyne awa by noo.
Robert: It’s nae oor wyte.
Mother: Awa, the lot o ye, .... an caa for him. (She shows anger or despair)
MUSIC TO ACCOMPANY MIME. OTHER ACTORS come forward taking up places on stage as trees, huts, walls and places for the family to look for Thomas. Keep interest at the front of the stage. Actors in turn cross the stage calling Thomas’s name, then rush to a place to look thoroughly, at all height levels. Project voices, Build up sense of panic, guilt, anxiety, fear.
Mother: Tamas! Tamas!
Isobel: Tammy, Tammy!
Mary: Tam, come hame. Dinna rin awa.
Kirsty: Tamas, Tamas? Faur are ye?
Mother: Thomas Edward. Tammy, ma loon.
Robert: Tammy, Tammy, ma brither. Yer ma wints ye.
John: Tam, Tam! (limping and shouting loudly, the others joining in in succession)
Mother: Guid preserve us! (She drops to her knees in prayer) Return ma precious bairn tae me. (The children gather round, two kneeling, some comforting postures.)
Mother: Heavenly Father, please preserve oor wee bairn, Tamas Edward, and return him safely tils. tae his brithers an sisters fa love him dearly.(Mary and Kirsty sob) In the name o Jesus oor Saviour, dinna let ony hairm come tae him....
Father: (Striding in) Fit’s a dae wi ye?
Mother: Thomas has gaen missin.
Isobel: He wannert awa, Da. It wisnae oor wyte.
Father: Weel, look for him.
John: We’ve lookit aa wye.
Father: Hiv ye lookit in the garret? He catch’t a moose there thestreen
Robert: I caad the hale garret for him. He’s nae there.
Mother: Hiv ye lookit up aa the trees? He can clim noo, caain for birdies’ nests.
John: Aye, we’ve lookit up aa the trees. He isnae there.
Father: Here comes the soo-wifie. Speir if she’s seen him.
The stout pig-wife enters carrying a prop dummy wrapped in sacking to represent a sleeping toddler. 3 actors do baby cries until Mother speaks. Everyone rises and dances around shouting happy phrases. The pig-wife shoves him in his mother’s arms.
Mother: Faur wis he, faur wis he?
Pig-wife: In aside the piggies, as happy as a soo in dubs! Soon asleep...... He likely thocht the soo wis his mither!
Father: (sternly, as offended). Thank you kindly, Mistress, I bid you guid nicht. (Pigwife makes a face, shrugs shoulders and leaves. Father turns to family) It’s mebbe time we packet wir kist and left this place!
Mother: Oh Father, that’s the best news I heard in years. We’ll get hame tae Aiberdeen! (Happy music as the children shout, hug family members and dance)
SCENE 2: MUSIC again to accompany Mime: The family carry heavy belongings to a cart centre stage to show moving house. Continue as the Narrator 3 speaks.
Narr 3: The Edward family were gled to flit fae Fife an traivel North tae Aiberdeen, their mither’s toon, faur she hid fowk that kent her. The bairns grew, an wee Thomas was pitten tae the squeel. (Parents guide T who crouches then rises)
Narr 4: Thomas Edward’s curiosity for aa craiters, great an smaa, got him intae bother wi the squeel maisters, an a puckle o his fellow scholars forby. (Thomas leaps to catch a butterfly then examines it in his cupped hands, and lets it fly away.)
MUSIC: Loud school bell as actors line up and enter school room in formal manner girls at one side in rows, boys at other, gangway in between. Thomas and Isa either side of gangway Johnston the other side of Thomas. All stand straight, no smiles. If no chairs sit on the floor.
Mr Grant: (striding in sternly) Good morning, boys and girls.
Children: Good morning, Mr Grant.
Mr Grant: Be seated... Johnston, give out the slates today. Black, give out the slate pencils.
Johnston & Black: Yes, Sir. (The class sits and the two boys do these tasks)
Mr Grant: Edward, take your hands out of your pockets. (paces up and down)
Isa Sinclair: (stage whisper) Tammy, tak yer hans oot o yer pooches.
Mr Grant: Sinclair, be quiet! .... Edward, what have you got there?
Thomas: (Cheerfully and proudly) A wee moosie, Mr Grant, Sir.
Mr Grant: A mouse, Edward? Vermin? A rhodent? (stamps his foot) How dare you bring living creatures into school. Put it out this instant! (in a fury, pacing up and down). Throw it out the window! (Thomas throws the mouse out.)
Miss Frob: (knocking and entering) Excuse me, Mr Grant, there is a gentleman to see you.
Mr Grant: I will see him in my office.(striding behind and past her) Miss Frobisher, take over the lesson. It is Natural Science. Edward, I will deal with you later. (He storms out)
Miss Frob: Thomas Edward, what have you for me today? Oh how charming, a butterfly!
Thomas: A moch, Miss Frobisher. It’s deid, but I didnae kilt. I fan it in a spider’s web.
Miss Frob: Thomas Edward, you are a natural scientist. I want you to make a detailed drawing of this creature. Johnston, you may share with him. Isa Sinclair, look up the word “moth” in the encyclopoedia. Boys and girls, you may copy from the board as I will copy from the encyclopoedia. (Isa finds the page). Well done, Sinclair. She has found it already. And Edward has made a start on his drawing. (holds it up, pupils gasp) Edward, you are a credit to the school.
Mr Grant enters in a rage, a cane or tawse in his hand. (actual prop if available)
Mr Grant: Who has put a forkytail, I mean an earwig in my desk and a slater, .... a woodlouse in my tea cup?.... (stamp & brandish tawse) This is no accident.
Alex Black: It wis Thomas Edward, Sir. I saw him.
Mr Grant: Up to your tricks again Edward? You are a disgrace and a discredit to the school. Come with me. You have been warned.
Thomas: It wisnae me, Sir.
Isa Sinclair: It wis Alex Black, Sir, I saw him.
Mr Grant pushes Thomas off stage by his ear. 6 thrashes of the tawse and cries are heard off stage. All wince, except Alex Black who grins, having put the creatures there earlier.
SCENE 3: MUSIC: At each chord actors take one stride back, 3 times. MIME follow script.
Narr 5: The squeel maister gied peer Tamas sic a hidin his back wis clarted in bleed. Or he won hame, the bleed dried, and his sark wis stucken tae his back. His father an mither hid tae soak it aff wi warm watter. Tamas jist seiven year aal. He widnae gie up his love o nature.
Mime: Thomas crosses the stage as though going home in pain and is met by his parents who show shock at his condition. Father comforts him while Mother rushes for a cloth and bowl of water. They tend to his wounds, pat him with a towel (mime only) while Thomas still showing pain with facial expression, is playing with a mouse or other creature. (mime only)
Narr 6: His father an mither took him oot o the squeel an pit him tae work in a tabacca factory tae earn a fyow pennies. They cut up tobacca leaves that cam in tae the port o Aiberdeen fae The West Indies. Files, in amongst the the bales o tabacca, Thomas would come upon muckle tropical spiders that he wis fair teen on wi.
Thomas turn around and look cheerful, as Mother and Father lead Thomas to the factory. Actors playing factory machines take up positions and start. MUSICIANS play scrapers and shakers to accompany. Thomas starts work, maybe lifting bales of tobacco leaves, opening them up and starting to cut up the leaves. Show delight as he finds a spider and lets it run up his arm, takes it in his hand and inspects it with wonder, beckoning his fellow worker..
Narr 7: The mannie that workit alangside o Tam turnt oot tae be affa fond o nature, as weel. The twa o them got on jist fine thegither; they keepit rabbits an moosies, futrets an aa mainner of wee craiters in the works yaird. But as he grew aaler it was time for Tam tae seek a trade. There wis nae chance o him gaun tae college tae come oot for a scientist.
Mime: The worker puts an arm round Thomass shoulder, they walk to the side of the stage and put the spider in a cage. Then they take other creatures out of cages and tend to them, showing or passing them to each other. Then Thomas rises and looks about him, showing he hopes to leave the factory. He walks across the stage lifting his arm as a goodbye gesture to his friend. He could sigh and shrug his shoulders to accompany the final sentence.
Narr 8: Thomas Edward chose tae learn the souter’s trade, that is, tae be a shoe makar, tae mak saft leather sheen for weemen an bairns. an he was twenty year aal, he got work in the toon o Banff, an he bade there the lave o his days. He merriet a wife, Sophia, an they hid seiven bairns, sax quines an ae loon. They bade in a hoose in Shore Street Banff, that is aye stannin.
Mime: Thomas puts an apron on and starts cutting up leather with a knife, then sewing it and hammering. Then he looks about him, takes off his apron, puts a pack on his back (all in mime) and walks across the stage as though walking to Banff. He puts down the pack and his wife walks towards him and they walk round together to one side of the stage, joined by each of their children in turn, starting with the tallest. Six girls and one take up positions in a line facing front, accompanied by one keyboard sustained note per child. An octave is quite effective, with the tallest child coming forward on note 2.
Narr 9: Tamas Edward chaav’t awa at the souter’s trade, fae sax in the mornin’ til eicht or nine at nicht, but aifter that, an aa day Seterday, he follaed his nature study, but niver on Sunday, the Lord’s day. He made a vast collection o stuffed birds, some of them aye in Banff Museum. Thomas Edward’s ability was respected by scientists and professors in London, an he wis gien an award for his contribution to science.
Mime: Thomas walks to one side, and goes through the shoemaker mime again, the children and wife stepping back one pace in unison. He takes off his apron and goes out climbing a cliff, looking through binoculars, shooting a bird, then taking it home. He could add final touches to a stuffed bird, and step back to admire it His wife could bring a letter with news of the award, and they could show delight and pride.
Narr 10: A man caad Samuel Smiles wrote a book aboot him, “The Scotch Naturalist”. Queen Victoria liket that book an gied Tamas an award of fifty pown a year a great sum tae a workin man in that time. Thomas Edward deid in Banff, in the year eichteen hunner an achty sax, at the age o three score an twal.
Mime: Samuel Smiles walks on and takes notes. Queen Victoria appears at the other side of the stage and Smiles walks proudly up to her and delivers the book, which she opens, and nods approval. Smiles bows and returns to Thomas and gives him the award and shakes his hand, then leaves. Thomas walks to the centre of the stage and holds his head, staggers and collapses.
Mime: After Narration, accompanied by MUSIC: The family gather round Thomas’s body, as though it is in the open grave. His wife kneels, comforted by the two elder children, other children comforting each other, then they all line up behind the body, with Samual Smiles at his feet, and the Minister at his head. The Minister throws on earth, so does Smiles the son and eldest daughter. Then they all file past as in procession, right round the stage, and line up, in front of Thomas, who then comes out of role and joins the cast, in the middle, to line up for the bow.
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Cite this Document
Thomas Edward o Banff. 2023. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=580.
"Thomas Edward o Banff." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. 29 November 2023. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=580.
The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Thomas Edward o Banff," accessed 29 November 2023, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=580.
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