UNEXPECTED RESULT OF A RELIGIOUS DRAMA.
The attempt to combine the Sunday school and the theatre is always a doubtful experiment. The New York Times of the 6th insfc. says :—“ Great things were anticipated, unreasonably of course, by the congregation of the Williston Congregational Church, in regard to the representation of the Scriptural play of ‘ ‘ Elisha ” last Monday night. The play was written by the Sunday school superintendent’s wife, who was a clever woman of no little literary skill, and the pastor and members of the Prudential Committee, who heard it road, were greatly impressed with its merits. The lectureroom, with a temporary stage and a red drop curtain, made a neat little theatre, which was crowded half an hour before the performance began. The curtain rose upon a scene representing a shady valley, with a high hill in the background, up which a practicable and very steep road ran. On each side of the stage was a dense forest of ten or twelve trees, and a country tavern, with the sign ‘ Railway Hotel,’ stood on the left sidt. In front of the tavern 42 children—who constitute nearly the whole strength of the Sunday school—were engaged in various games, some of them were pitching quoits, others pitching pennies, and others wore playing marbles. All were quarrelling fiercely, and from their appearance were children of the very worst moral character and most curiously ragged clothes. To them presently entered from the right lower entrance the Prophet Elisha, carrying his hat in his hand, in order to display his total lack of hair. He was a large prophet, with a kng white beard and walking stick of great size, but there is no doubt that he would have looked better had he been provided with a little hair. As he passed the ‘ Railway Hotel ’ he stopped to ask the way to the' nearest post-office, but it is painful to relate that the boys refused to give him a civil answer. In fact, they chaffed the prophet, and made allusions to his lack of hair which were both personal and rude. The good man betrayed no anger, but he told them that they disgraced their parents by their conduct, to which they with one accord triumphantly answered that they ‘ hadn’t got none,’ and that they were ‘ orphants. ’ Greatly disgusted by this repartee, the prophet shook his [stick sadly
but kindly at them, and proceeded on his way. The wicked children continued to yell after him, advising him to buy a wig, or to try somebody’s hair restorer, and in other ways expressing their wicked want of respect; Endurance having ceased to be a virtue, Elisha paused and whistled loudly. Whereupon two frightful bears issued from the forest, and falling upon the children, began to tear them in pieces. All would perhaps have gone well had not one of the wicked boys refused to be torn. The others had promptly fallen flat on the ground the moment the bears arrived, instead of climbing trees or seeking refuge in the Railway Hotel; but this, particular boy, who, as it subsequently appeared, had been borrowed at the last moment from the Methodist Sunday school, and who had not attended the rehearsal, showed fight. He caught up a stick which happened to be at hand, and hit the first bear a resounding whack over the head, drawing from that astonished animal the exclamation, ‘By gosh !’ Leaving the 41 prostrate children, the incensed bear rose on his hind logs and hit the borrowed boy a beautiful blow straight from the shoulder. The two then rushed together and fought all over the stage, while the other bear, yielding to the excitement of the moment, encouraged his associate brute by loudly requesting him to ‘ go in,’ and by offering to bet 10 cents on his success with anyone who might be willing to put up the money. The prophet, in view of the uproar, turned back, and belabored both bears and borrowed boy with his stick with great impartiality, until all throe cried for quarter. It was while he was engaged in this praiseworthy work that he accidentally knocked down the chandelier with his stick, and thereby created an alarm of fire, which speedily emptied the house, and brought the entertainment to a close. The fathers of both bears have since sued the prophet for assault and battery, and the whole congregation is divided over the question whether the prophet had any right to thrash other people’s boars in public, no matter if the latter had yielded to strong temptation to infuse an unexpected realism into the dram. However this may be decided, there is no doubt that the play was a failure, and it is to be hoped that it will have some little influence in inducing Sunday school superintendents to abstain from complicating religious instruction with amateur theatricals.”
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 92, 27 April 1880
UNEXPECTED RESULT OF A RELIGIOUS DRAMA. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 92, 27 April 1880
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