The play takes place exclusively in a clearing in the Serengeti. The play begins with Lion, Crocodile, Gazelle, Crane and Dodo, froze and under dim. Each character embodies the animal of which they are named after. Crane is the only female of the group. Standing, lit, front and center stage is Anansi, addressing the audience.
Anansi: (to the audience) Hello, my friends! I am Anansi, the spider, handsome and wise. You have heard of me, yes? Ha ha, of course you have, for my name, or variations of it, have spread far and wide, from the blistering plains of the Serengeti to the clear blue waters of the Caribbean isles. They call me “Aunt Nancy” in America, but we won’t talk about that. You see, I am many things, but above them all I am a storyteller. Did you know that once, long, long, long ago, my father, the sky god Nyame had all the stories? Well, it’s true! Nyame said that I could not have his stories unless I brought Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopart, the Mmoboro Hornets…and a dwarf. It was tricky but I did it! And now I’ve got a million stories to share. Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see…which of my stories will I share with all you fine people today? Hm?! What’s that Nyame? You- you want me to tell that story? No. No. No! These people didn’t come here for that! They came here to be entertained, right people?! To laugh! To love! To- What’s that, Nyame? In these times it is more important to teach? To inspire? Oh…well, you are the Sky God. (to the audience) I am sorry. I wanted to make you laugh until your sides split at my antics, but Nyame bids otherwise. The tale begins where most of the greatest tales do…in Africa, where five animals have come together to speak of pressing matters. But first: a quick story. (looks to Nyame) It is a short story and fits in nicely to this one, I promise, sky god! (relieved) Ah, good. He will allow it. (to the audience) A long time ago, when the earth was but a child and its mountains and valleys still soft as clay, when the serpent gods were newly hatched, a great and powerful witch lived in a cave deep in the Ol Doinyo Lengai. This was not any witch, but the father of all witches, for it was the last of the dark beings that once encompassed everything before the gods made the universe and all that is good within it. This witch, Bori-kuu was his name, was jealous of the gods and all their power so one night he went over all of Africa and gathered up all the animals, from the great elephant to the diligent ant, and made from them a great crown which he wore around his head and hurried them to his cave by daybreak- all but one: the lion. Lions, you must know, were not like they are today. They were small and thin and ugly, hairless things. A curious lion went to the demon Bori-kuu’s cave and asked, “Witch King, why have you taken all of the animals except for me and my kind?” The witch replied, “Because you are a frail and fragile and ugly thing and not worthy of the crown of a king.” Hurt by Bori-kuu’s words, the lion swore to free the animals. The following morning the lion asked the sky god Nyame for a cloud. The god granted him this wish and, tying one end of the cloud to a mighty baobab tree, he took the other end in his mouth and stretched it into a long rope. The lion tied the rope into a lasso and threw it in such a way that he captured the sun. With all his strength, the little lion pulled the sun from the sky. He pulled and pulled, until his muscles grew, making him big and strong and the sun tanned his fur a golden brown- as it is to this day, across the Serengeti and to the Ol Doinyo Lengai into the witch’s cave. The sun’s light destroyed Bori-kuu instantly and the animals rejoiced, crying, “Hail the mighty lion, the greatest and wisest of us all!”. The gods were so pleased with the lion’s work that they made him and all of the males of his kind receive a crown of long hairs on their heads, one strand for each animal over which they were now guardians and protectors for the rest of time. And that is how the lion became king of all animals… (exits)
Once Anansi exits, the others unfreeze. Dodo dawdles.
Crocodile: Show off…
Gazelle: Why so angry? Why now? They’ve been around forever.
Crane: Not as long as we have.
Gazelle: Not as long as we have, but, still, a very long time. What I’m asking is, what makes today especially different from the nine or ten million before it?
Lion: They’ve gotten worse, Gazelle.
Crocodile: Much worse…
Lion: Once they roamed with the animals, living off the land as we do, killing only what they needed to survive. Power. Power is all that matters to them now. They destroy our land and replace it with monuments of silver, closer and closer to heaven on a foundation of the blood and bones of our kind.
Gazelle: Right, Lion. As usual you are correct, but, I ask you, what is the point of complaining? It has been made quite clear that they are the gods’ favorite? We are powerless against them. Why meet like this when we could be better spending our time hunting and gathering with our own kind?
Anansi creeps in, unseen.
Lion: I am king and it is my duty to protect you all, my subjects. The human menace is real and it is a plague. If we do not react in some way, I fear that we will all be dead within five generations…
Crocodile: A bit dramatic, don’t you think?
Lion: No, Crocodile, have you ever known me as one to exaggerate a tale in any way?
Crocodile: I suppose not.
Crane: You are an honest king and we are honest subjects (to Crocodile) for the most part. Lies are a human thing. They have no control over their vices or the emotions that fuel them.
Crocodile: You hurt me, Crane, with the things you say…
Dodo: You’re all crazy! Humans are a wonderful thing! They are gods among us! They have fun and can do whatever they want! They can fly like a crane or swim like a crocodile or move faster than a cheetah and can do anything any of us can a thousand times better! To be human is to be alive!
Lion: You sin with your talk, Dodo.
Dodo: It’s the truth, your majesty! And I stand by it!
Anansi: (drawing all attention to himself) As you should, Dodo! As you should… (They animals are clearly unnerved by Anansi’s presence. Anansi’s overall demeanor seems slightly darker and more calculating than when he addressed the audience) Hello, all! My, my, my what an odd assortment of animals here! Gazelle, do you have a death wish with the company you keep?
Lion: What do you want, trickster?
Anansi: Trickster? Me?! I am offended, King Lion! I am but a humble storyteller, I assure you. Once, Nyame, the Sky God, had all of the stories, but-
Crocodile: We know the tale, Spider…
Anansi: I’ve got a billion more!
Lion: We have no time for your stories. There are pressing matters…
Anansi: Sounds serious! What are these ‘pressing matters’?
Lion: None of your concern. This involves the animals and the animals take care of themselves.
Anansi: I am offended! I am an animal, just as much as you all! I am a spider…and sometimes a hare, or a tortoise, two tortoises…or whatever else I want. I am more animal than all of you combined…and, when the world was new, human and animal alike would come to me for guidance. So, tell old Anansi, what is the matter?
Gazelle: What is it, Lion?! What will this change? The humans have won. We are nothing more than a source of food or money or slavery or-or…artistic inspiration to them!
Crocodile: (to Gazelle) You are nothing more than food to me, as well…
Gazelle: (ignoring the other) I have said it once and I will say it again…this is a waste of time!
Crane: (bitingly) Then why are you here?
Gazelle: …because we must hope. Even if there is no logic to it.
Anansi: Hm. Hmmm. Hm! Hmmm? Hmmmmmmm…
Crocodile: What is it, Anansi?
Anansi: I’m going to have to agree with Dodo on this one: Humans are quite fun. And they continue to tell of me and my stories- unlike you people. But! I am wise and I am animal and I would love nothing more than to help you, my brothers (to Crane) and sister, in any way I can. So, tell ol’ Anansi, what exactly is your problem with humans?
Gazelle: Aside from the fact that they’re going to cause the extinction of us all.
Anansi: (faking a yawn) Yes, yes, the dinosaurs said the same thing about all of you…
Gazelle: Well…I especially hate the way that humans think they are better than everyone else, when all they do is attempt to breathe underwater like us, fly like us, see in the dark like us, attack with spikes and poisons like us! Without us they are nothing!
Anansi: Superiority complex, yes. Crocodile?
Crocodile: There is no honor in their actions. I kill to survive. Meat and marrow crunch between my teeth, red blood mixing with the muddy water of my lake because that is as it has to be. Humans, they lie and lie and lie again while they have everything they could ever want. Brothers in the sun, enemies in the shadow.
Lion: Crocodile is right. This lack of honor feeds well into my complaint…their thirst for power. There are few things a human will not do to achieve control over other humans. There is a hierarchy in the animal kingdom and all respect it.
Lion: Their power takes the form of gold and coins and other humans and they fight to have more, more, more than their brothers until their last breaths.
Anansi: Power-hungry deceivers. Got it. Crane?
Crane: (She pauses, then speaks as if lost in her thoughts) Humans. I cannot help but feel sorry for them. Do I wish to see them extinct? Yes. Yes, of course, but I watch them from above, closer than any of you- aside from Anansi perhaps “and I see how tragic their lives are.
Gazelle: Of course their-!
Crane: Gazelle. (Gazelle is silent) I cannot say how much of the fault is their own and how much is their nature, but their lives are so complex. We adhere to the laws of the jungle: Only the strong survive. Kill or be killed. Protect the young. The laws might be brutal sometimes, but they are simple. And Lion upholds them. Simple. Humans have a thousand laws for a thousand things. They are imprisoned by them. We know fear and we know anger and we know various levels of contentment, but they are poisoned…yes…they are poisoned by doubt and pride and shyness and hatred and ignorance and…and love. They have let these emotions get the best of them and their complexities have infected the other facets of their lives and the lives of all things on the earth. This is why they must go. They have overcomplicated the beauty of the simplicity of this world…
Anansi: Drama queens. Check. Dodo, is their anything you’d like to say before I make my verdict?
Dodo: Humans are great and the only reason you are all complaining is because you’re jealous!
Crocodile: (to Dodo) I’m going to eat you when this meeting is over…
Anansi: (pacing) Hmmm. Hm! Hm. Hm! Hmmmm…mmmmmm….mmm….
Lion: Get to it, Trickster!
Crocodile: (to Anansi) I’ve got room for seconds…
Anansi: As you wish, your majesty, of course. I am Anansi, son of Nyame the sky-god, keeper of stories, shape-shifter, bringer of rain…but there is far more to my power.
Gazelle: Go on…
Anansi: I will make a deal with you…
Lion: No. I will never deal with your sort!
Gazelle: (enwrapped and empowered by Anansi’s words) Go on.
Anansi: Come close. I must speak low so that my father does not hear me. (Gazelle is the first to move closer. Followed eagerly by Dodo and a hesitant Crane) Come! Come! (Crocodile shrugs and repositions himself so that he can hear) (to Lion) Lion?
Lion: I will not.
Anansi: Then stay there. Keep quiet. Use your ears. (to the others) I can make them disappear.
Anansi: I can make the humans disappear.
Anansi: It’s easy, really. I am a god. What we create we can destroy.
Crane: You would do that for us?
Anansi: Of course I would! I live to help. But, as I said…
Crocodile: The deal…
Anansi: The deal. It is nothing, really, compared to what you all will gain.
Dodo: Gain! I don’t want any of this!
Crocodile: Your opinion doesn’t count, Dodo. You are the last of your kind.
Dodo: But I still matter!
Gazelle: This deal…
Anansi: It is nothing. Really. All you must do is live as humans for one year.
Gazelle: What?! You mean…
Anansi: I will use my powers to make you all human for exactly one year- I will provide you each with clothing, language and enough money to live comfortably “and at the end of that year I will get rid of those pesky humans forever.
Crocodile: What’s the catch…?
Anansi: No catch, no catch at all! (darkly) Spend the year as humans, come back with your fears and accusations validated…and they disappear. Forever.
Dodo: Humans for a year…Woohoo!
Crane: This is too good to be true…
Anansi: (laughs, bright again) Not at all, my dear, not at all. Too good, yes.And too true. Both things! (to Lion) But I cannot perform this magic unlesseveryone agrees to it.
Gazelle: No? No! You were the one who called this meeting. The sun is almost set and we are no closer to reaching a solution than we were at midday. A god has come to answer our prayers. If you have a better idea than Anansi’s please let us know. If not, let us know why you would see us all dead, king.
Gazelle: Go on! Devour me! If you do not agree to this I will be dead anyway.
Lion: (calms himself) I have a kingdom to rule.
Dodo: Uh…i-if I may, Your Majesty.
Lion: What is it?
Dodo: Well, Anansi here is a great and powerful god…and a shapeshifter. He could take your place as king while you are away…
Anansi: You have my word as a god and friend that no drought or sickness or death by unnatural means will occur while you are away to any of your subjects. (extends his hand- Lion hesistates)
Gazelle: I don’t understand how this is a difficult decision. A god’s word is gold. Even a trickster-god.
Crane: You are our king. Do and we shall follow.
Dodo: Please, Lion! Please! Please! Pleeeease!
All But Dodo and Lion: Shh!
Lion: Do you swear to serve the best interests of my subject while I am away?
Anansi: I do.
Lion places his paw in Anansi’s hand.
Anansi: It is settled then! (moves to the middle of them slowly, extravagantly) I raise my hand. I snap (snaps his fingers, one hand then the other, and the animals begin their transformation) my fingers. Spin around and dance like so (dances and the animals transform to human) and…you are human. (the animals explore their new bodies) That’s it, that’s it…get used to your new bodies…especially you animals with four legs…or eyes on the sides of your heads. You will all travel east to the man-city. You will live there amongst the humans, telling no one of my magic or your former paws and claws and scales and feathers. We will all come to this very spot to talk of our adventures and discoveries. We will do this after one week, one month, one season and, finally, one year. Yes. That will suffice. (Pause.) Well, what are you waiting for? (shoos them away) Go! Go! Go!
Lights fade to black. Lights rise up on Anansi, who addresses the audience.
Anansi: Hello! Hello! It is Anansi, here with another story for you! This one takes place in the wetlands. Personally I want nothing to do with them. So muddy and sticky and…oh, the mosquitoes! Pesky little things. At least when I suck the blood out of something I finish the job… (catching himself on a tangent) Anyhow!…waaay back when, the wetlands were even dirtier and smellier than they are today- if that were possible- and everything that lived in the wetlands was brown or gray and filthy, filthy and ugly. Among these ugly creatures were the hippos and the mudskippers and so many other ugly things that I would have to list them for twenty-seven years to get through them all…but the ugliest of the ugly was the crane. I mean ugly! They were tall and gangly and covered in spots and lumps and things that do not even have names they are so repulsive…but they could fly. And though they did not migrate like normal birds, the cranes would fly up, up, up in a straight line so that when they looked down they could see far beyond the wetlands to the grasslands and the jungles and the deserts where the prettier animals dwelt. Fully aware of their utter hideousness they spent most of their day crying and hiding from the other animals until one crane thought to ask for the help of the greatest of all the gods…Me. Anansi. And so I descended from the heavens…but didn’t touch the ground because…yuck!…and heard him say, “Great and wise, Anansi!” – that’s me -“my kind are ugly”- I was not blind -“Please lend me your paintbrush so that I we can show our faces in public without frightening cubs and fledgings!” And so, being kind and generous, I gave him my paintbrush and told him that I would collect it in seven hours. The crane rejoiced and got to work. The sun was high when the crane took the brush and- SWOOSH “dipped it into the sunlight and painted a golden ray crown upon its head. It then dipped the brush into the sky and made his eyes sparkle a brilliant teal. He approached a young hippo, and when the hippo opened his mouth in awe at the golden crown and sparking eyes, the crane took his brush to the hippo’s teeth and ” SWOOSH -painted his great wings and parts of his face a blinding white. As the sun set he returned to his fellow cranes, who were impressed at his colorful accessories. He noticed a cluster of girl cranes looking his way with lustful eyes and- SWOOSH “the crane used my paintbrush to take the red from their cheeks and apply it to his gular sac- that’s this thing (gestures towards his nonexistent gular sac), and face. The crane then did an extravagant dance for the girls of his flock, cooing and swaying for hour after hour until, before he knew it, I returned to take his brush. “But, Anansi!” pleaded the crane, “I was so busy entertaining these girls that I lost track of time! Please give me one more hour so that I can paint my middle!” “No, no, no!” I replied. “Rules are rules!” I snatched it away and disappeared. And that, my friends, is how the crane became beautiful…except for their middles, which to this day are a drab, drab gray.
Anansi exits. Lights rise on the rest of the stage. Crane, Lion, Crocodile and Gazelle are there. Anansi enters.
Anansi: Greetings, animals-no-more! It has been one week since I made you all human. Tell me of your discoveries!
Lion: First, you tell me how my kingdom fares.
Anansi: Flawlessly, that’s how, your majesty! No illness or unnatural death as promised! All are happy and none suspect your absence!
Lion: Fine. Well, humanity is worse than I thought it before. Sneaky, awful things.
Gazelle: Petty, self-indulged…
Crane: Too many problems. Too many problems… (catches Gazelle staring at her) What is it?
Gazelle: Nothing. Nothing…
Lion: Begging on the streets. Not putting in their honest effort…
Anansi: And you, Crocodile?
Crocodile: There’s nothing to say about them that I haven’t said already…
Anansi: When you say, ‘Too many problems’, Crane, what do you mean?
Crane: Life does not have to be as hard as they make it. If only they would see the beauty in simply being oneself. If only they would not want more and more and more…
Lion: We have been humans but one week and have all found homes, correct?
Lion: And these humans have spent their whole lives as humans and somehow some of them have made nothing of themselves.
Anansi: You, Lion, cannot make such judgments without knowing the reasons why these people have ended up this way. Not everyone has a god hand them a pile of gold before they enter the world, king.
Lion: Hm. (thinks) Then I will rid myself of your money upon returning to the city…and we will see what becomes of me then.
Anansi: Bold choice, your majesty.
Dodo: (enters in an excited flurry, dressed more extravagantly then before) Sorry I’m late!
Anansi: Ah, Dodo, I was wondering when you would show up. How has your week been?
Dodo: The best of my life! Wooeee! These humans are a thousand, a million, a…zillion times more wonderful than I ever could have dreamed with my Dodo brain! I have danced, oh have I danced! And the food! The fashions! I have drunken drinks that free your spirits and taken many a human woman to bed and, in bed did a different kind of dance entirely! I am in love with this life and want to be human forever!
Anansi: Ah, I see. (claps his hands together) Whelp, I guess that settles it. You are all as stubborn as before. Go then, go back to the human world and I will see you all in three weeks!
Lion and Dodo exit first. Crocodile lumbers off behind them. Crane looks longingly around her. Gazelle remains, fixated on Crane. Anansi approaches Gazelle.
Anansi: (whispers) I cannot help but notice you have taken a liking to Crane.
Gazelle: What are you talking-?!
Anansi: It’s only natural, young Gazelle. After all, you are a man…and she is quite beautiful… (exits)
Crane: Oh! I didn’t know anyone was still here.
Gazelle: I- You…you seem troubled.
Crane: No. I just want to savor as much of my animal life as I can before….
Gazelle: I understand.
Crane: I’m afraid, Gazelle.
Gazelle: We will do this for a year and then there will be nothing to be afraid of ever again.
Crane: I notice how they look at you, the humans.
Gazelle: What do you mean?
Crane: How they respond to your voice and your looks. Men and women alike, they are mesmerized by you.
Gazelle: I haven’t noticed.
Crane: They talk about you in the market and on the streets. “Who is this new guy Gazelle?” they say. “He is so charismatic, so charming and bright…and easy on the eyes as well.”
Gazelle: Ha, they say that?
Crane: They do.
Gazelle: Well…let them. I don’t care. They always need something to gawk over.
Gazelle: You know, you are “easy on the eyes” as well.
Crane: What’s that?
Gazelle: You. Everyone can tell. You are a beautiful human.
Crane: Am I?
Crane: Oh. I had no idea…
Gazelle: Everyone can tell.
Gazelle: We should go. It’s getting dark and this place isn’t safe for humans at night.
Crane: You’re right.
Gazelle: (extends his hand) Come. Come back with me. I promise I won’t let any harm come to you.
Crane: (takes Gazelle’s hand) Alright. (both exit)
Lights go down on the scene and come up on Anansi, front and center.
Anansi: (looks distant, a little upset, until noticing the audience) Ah, there you are. My friends. Ready for another story? Ha! Ha! Of course you are! (to the sky) No, father, of course these little stories are not interrupting the flow of the primary tale at hand! If anything, they amplify it! Note how each one deals with a character from the story. (Listens) I knew you’d see it my way. (clears throat) The mighty river Nile, since the beginning of time, was a happy place. A paradise! The cradle of life for the world! And of the creatures of the Nile, none were happier or more well-loved than the crocodile! They would spend the day dancing and playing in the water, singing their songs to the lion and the eagle and all who would listen. Always smiling a smile that warmed hearts and formed fast friendships, they were. Smile, smile, smile all day long! The crocodiles were guardians of the river, but would turn none away from its clear, cool waters. No, sir! That is until, one day, a mother Dodo lost one of her chicks along the shore- it was swept away in the current. Too embarrassed to admit she had not been watching her children all that closely she sang out, “It was the crocodiles who ate my baby! They gulped her right up!” “No!” the crocodiles replied, “we only dance and sing and play and smile all day and all night- eating babies is not our thing!” But the rumors spread throughout all of the Nile…and further still. One by one the lions and the eagles and all the others stopped speaking with the crocodiles. “Would you like to dance and play?” the crocodiles would ask with a grin, and the animals would pretend that they heard nothing. “Fine!” snarled the crocodiles, fed up. “If you think us so bad then so bad we will be!” and all the crocodiles did a new kind of dance: They gnashed their teeth and thrashed their tails in the water until they had kicked up the sand from the riverbed, turning the river a muddy greenish brown. Since the river was the only source of water for miles, the animals were forced to come and drink the mucky stuff. And every once and a while- SNAP! “a crocodile would rise from the murky river and eat one of them whole. And that, my friends, is how the crocodile became feared. (Crocodile enters) And if you don’t believe that they were once happy things, look no further than the smiles that they still wear to this day.
Anansi exits. Crocodile sits, smiling. Content. Anansi enters the scene, intrigued by Crocodile’s expression.
Anansi: What is so amusing, Crocodile?
Anansi: Why do you wear that smile on your face?
Crocodile: Because I know.
Anansi: Know what, Crocodile?
Crocodile: I know that this is a trick…
Anansi: Ha! A trick?! That is rich! Besides, how could one so honorable as you know the smell of such a thing?
Crocodile: One must know a trick to know honor…
Anansi: You are most intelligent.
Crocodile: Lion knows, too, of course. We carnivores have to be a step ahead of the rest. But he will say nothing. His pride will not allow it. (Pause) Tell me.
Anansi: (Pause) You cannot trust a crocodile.
Crocodile: I suppose not. (Pause) I can help.
Anansi: Perhaps you can. (Whispers to Crocodile)
Lion enters and both Crocodile and Anansi pull away from each other. Lion looks suspicious at them both.
Lion: How is my kingdom?
Anansi: Better than ever, your majesty.
Lion: Good. (sits)
Pause. Dodo stumbles in, dressed in a dusty and disheveled version of his previous garb. He shows the beginnings of instability but is still mostly optimistic. Gazelle and Crane enter together, then find separate places to rest.
Anansi: Hello, my friends! It has been one month since you embarked on this journey. Tell me now what you have learned.
Gazelle: I was late because I was telling stories by the pier. You should see how the humans line up to hear me tell my tales, to perform and sing.
Anansi: Stories, eh?
Gazelle: Yes, Anansi. Some yours, some my own. I act them out. I entertain.
Crane: He is quite good. I watch him from time to time.
Gazelle: A man approached me. He manages a group of performers and wants me to audition for their next show.
Anansi: Interesting, Gazelle. You seem to be doing quite well for yourself amongst the humans. Not as bad as you thought them to be, eh?
Gazelle: Worse, Anansi. I smile and twirl and dance about to pass the time, but these humans drooling over me. It’s sad, really. Pathetic. Animals have far more self-respect.
Anansi: So you do not get even the least bit of enjoyment out of it?
Gazelle: (Pause) It’s just a way to pass the time.
Anansi: Very well. (Pause) Lion, what about you? How was it to be penniless?
Lion: I persevered. Through honest labor and strength of character I was able to find a job. I helped an old man drive a nail into his wagon and did it with such force of will that he hired me to work as his assistant on the spot. He is a notable blacksmith. Well-known throughout the city and the ninth in generation of blacksmiths with no children of his own. He is the president of the Smiths’ Guild. A man who knows how to maintain a kingdom.
Anansi: Well, look at you go, Lion. Surely this opportunity has opened your eyes to the generosity of the human species? The old man giving a complete stranger a chance…
Lion: You heard nothing I said, Trickster-god. There was nothing generous about it. A frail man without sons encountered a promising successor and acted accordingly. There is nothing generous about it. It was an act of self-preservation and good common sense.
Anansi: Ah, yes. Of course. I always mix the two. (to Crocodile) Crocodile?
Crocodile: I am getting by in my own way.
Anansi: That is all you have to say for yourself?
Anansi: Fine, then. (to Dodo) Dodo? You are uncharacteristically quiet today.
Crocodile: Has the poor little birdie come on rough times?
Crocodile: Low on money? Spent too lavishly?
Anansi: Settle down, Crocodile, I’m sure Dodo is doing just fine.
Dodo: (it becomes clear now that he is drunk) Yes. Yes, I am! Great! W-wonderful! You all might have you prejudices, but not me! Not me! Humans are great, I said and I still say the same! They’re great! You’ll see! (to Lion) Don’t judge me, king. You claim to be fair and generous but you are just a pompous ass hovering above all of us hard-working animals. You lie there and you roar at us about an honest day’s work and what did you do as king? You let your females do your hunting for you!
Dodo: No! We’re human now, Lion! Hu-man! I am not your subject.
Lion: I said ‘silence’.
Dodo: (to Crocodile) I know what you do, I do! I do! You talk about honor…but we all know a crocodile’s honor is worth less than this (gesturing toward Anansi) this beautiful, magical creature!
Crocodile: I will make you extinct…
Crane: Let’s all just calm down.
Dodo: Ha! Crane, quiet and beautiful. Innocent and pure. Ha! Unlike you all, I actually talk to the people! I-I hear their stories and many (gesturing at Gazelle) are about you, their new favorite- and don’t pretend you do not enjoy their applause “and I heard many interesting things about you. Do you want to know the most interesting? Anyone?
Dodo: (wildly, gesturing at Crane and Gazelle) These two are sharing a bed! (All eyes move to Gazelle and Crane)
Gazelle: I-! It’s not…
Crane: It is not safe, the human world- especially for a female. We are both pack animals by nature. This arrangement- it’s easier.
Gazelle: That’s all.
Dodo: (mutters under his breath, to Gazelle) You love it when they cheer… (gesturing toward Crane) You love it when she cheers.
Anansi: (to Dodo) Alright, my friend. I think you have proven your point. Thank you. Thank you, and now it is time for you to go. I am sure you have much to do tonight.
Dodo: I do. Thank you. (starts to exit. To Anansi) They love it. Don’t let them fool you, they love it. (exits)
Anansi: Unfortunately, I must go, too. I hear there is a feast in honor of me at sundown. I am not one to miss being honored.
Lion: Do not stay too long. You have a kingdom to rule.
Anansi: Ah, yes. Of course, Your Majesty. That is something I have indeed… (exits)
The rest start to leave except for Crocodile.
Crocodile: Wait. (They stop) Stay.
Lion: What is it, Crocodile? We have-
Crocodile: I spoke with Anansi about our arrangement.
Crocodile: And you were right to think it was a trick, Lion. This is a trick he has performed a dozen times before. A group of animals agree to give up their animality for a year in exchange for the promise of human extinction. The story unfolds like this: Four animals are certain that humanity must go. The fifth finds humans to be a absolutely fantastic.
Crocodile: Right. And when the year is up, Anansi asks the five animals if they are ready to see humanity destroyed. While the four are ready indeed to rid the earth of the human plague, the one has grown to love them even more. Anansi then explains that humans cannot be all that bad if, out of five animals, one finds them acceptable. He explains that most animals do not receive a one-out-of-five approval rating and that that alone is reason enough for humanity to remain. The four animals are then trapped as humans forever and Anansi has another tragic story to tell.
Lion: How do you know this?
Crocodile: Anansi told me.
Gazelle: Why would he do that?
Crocodile: Because I am supposed to help him. I have been in this human city for only a month, like the rest of you, but in that time I have taken to the shadows, the cover of night where another sort of person dwells. I am big and strong and terrible, you know, and my sort has a lot of pull in a world like that. Though I am only scratching the surface of this underworld I see that its claws stretch into all facets of religion and politics and other manifestations of human power. Not to mention that my world of ill repute is the one in which Dodo gathers much of his pleasures…
Lion: What are you saying?
Crocodile: I am saying that, to ensure the story pans out as Anansi wants it, the god enlisted me to make sure that Dodo remains enwrapped in the women and drink and erotic vice that only my world can offer.
Gazelle: No. No, we can’t be humans forever!
Crane: What can we do?
Crocodile: While the human underworld offers many pleasures it can tear a life apart as well. We will use what power we have to bring misery to Dodo’s life. We will make sure he despises humanity as much as we do. We will outthink the trickster.
Lion: You have done an honorable thing today, Crocodile. Your king will not forget it.
Crocodile: Trust me, I will not let you.
Crane: But what if you would have followed through with Anansi’s plan? How would you have benefitted?
Crocodile: I would have been allowed to return to my animal form…unlike the rest of you.
Lion: Dodo will be undone.
Crane: It’s the only way. (to Crocodile) Thank you.
Crocodile: Save your ‘thank yous’. I only want to make certain than manipulative little god doesn’t get his way. Nothing more.
Lights fade to black. The animals exit and Anansi returns, once again standing in a spotlight. The light this time is dim.
Anansi: (to the sky) Well, father, we’re almost at the end of your story. I hope you are happy. Yes, I figured you’d be. (to audience) Hello, people, I am Anansi, wise and handsome god and keeper of all the stories- (glances at the sky) almost all. Did you hear the one about how the Gazelle learned to leap so high? This is one of my favorites. You see, way, way back when the Earth’s clay was soft and the serpent gods had not even shed their first skin, the gazelles wobbled around, stocky creatures on stubby legs. (sighs) (to the sky) Maybe we should just move on to your story. Maybe that is best to, you know, get it over with. (listens) Yes. Yes, it is good to finish what one started. Yes, father. Perhaps quitting now would set a bad example to the audience. You are right, of course. It is my responsibility as storyteller to…tell…the story. It is who I am and what I am for. I know, father-Nyame. I took your stories willingly. I wanted them. They could have still been yours and I-Back to the story. (to the audience) Two gazelle were rolling a papaya back and forth when that troublesome Black Tom Eagle swooped down and grabbed with melon in his talons. With a sinister laugh, ol’ Black Tom sat the papaya way up in the sun singing, “Stupid pudgy little gazelle! You’ll never in a million years play with your favorite papaya again!” The gazelle, furious, could not reach as high as the sun, or even as high as the lowest branch on the tiniest tree. Upset, the gazelle trotted off to their favorite rock on the jungle to think. “Ah ha!” said one of the gazelle. He had an idea. The other gazelle gathered all the fallen vines he could and brought them back to the rock. He tied some tightly around the legs, antlers and neck of the first gazelle. Then he pulled and pulled until the vines were so tight around his friend that the gazelle’s legs and antlers and leg were squeezed long and thin. The gazelle returned the favor and soon enough both were tall and thin. Proud of their new stature, the gazelle looked up at their papaya and…
Lights up. Gazelle enters with Crane, Dodo and Lion listening to his every word. Dodo trails behind the others and is a tattered mess. Anansi exits.
Gazelle: (genuinely enjoying himself) …and they stretched their necks high into the sky and…couldn’t reach that papaya. Black Tom Eagle laughed, “Haha! All that and you still can’t reach the papaya! What a shame” The gazelles grumbled. Then one of them had an idea. They trotted off to the other side of the valley where a lone tree stood, and in that tree was a nest and in that nest were four black eagle eggs. The gazelle were not tall enough to reach the sun, but with a bend of the knees and a great leap they were certainly tall enough to knock that nest right out of the tree. “No!” cried Black Tom Eagle. “Please! Please don’t hurt my babies! I’ll do anything!” “Then bring us our favorite papaya,” snapped one of the gazelle. Black Tom Eagle had no choice but to fly to the sun and return the papaya to the two gazelle. The end. (bows. Crane and Lion applaud) Thank you, thank you.
Anansi enters. Dodo notices and quickly motions toward him.
Dodo: (whispered) Anansi…
Anansi: Yes, Dodo?
Dodo: I have come upon some misfortune and- and I am in need of some more gold.
Anansi: Now you know I cannot break the rules, Dodo. Rules are rules.
Anansi: This is what you wanted, Dodo. This is what you have… (Dodo deflates)
Gazelle: (to Anansi) Ah, Anansi, my friend, you just missed my latest rendition of “How the Gazelle Learned to Leap So High”. I really think I mastered Black Tom Eagle’s objective this time.
Anansi: Performing going well, I see?
Gazelle: Oh yes. I’m starring in my troupe’s next performance. It’s a serious piece. Not something everyone can do, you know. Only the most skilled artists.
Crane: Which you are.
Gazelle: I have a long ways to go, my dear. Fortunately, I have an absolutely phenomenal mentor. Phenomenal. (to Crane) And my inspiration. (he kisses her cheek)
Gazelle: What? We have nothing to hide! You are my Muse. My sweet, beautiful Muse and I love you, I love you, I love you. There. I said it. And I’ll say it a million times over!
Crane: (overcome with emotion) I-I love you too, Gazelle. (they kiss)
Anansi: Whelp! Looks like that’s that!
Anansi: Gazelle! Crane! Look at you! In love! Surely this could only be made possible due to your humanity! Certainly the Serengeti would not allow for a love affair between a bird and a mammal! Humanity made this possible! Your minds have been changed!
Crane: No. What must be done, must be done. We understand the cost, but this is not only about us, (looking into Gazelle’s eyes) because if it were the decision would be a simple one.
Anansi: I don not follow.
Lion: We have a responsibility to our kind, Trickster. Something you will never understand. It has been a season since we were transformed. A season, and in this time I have enjoyed much good fortune as a blacksmith. I caught on quickly to the technique and my natural leadership skills have placed me as one of the old man’s advisors in the guild. I make good money. I have the respect of many. But I have not forgotten my origins. We are human, yes, but we were not always so. Our families are still gazelle, crane, lion…
Dodo: (under his breath) I have no family…
Lion: Our responsibility, to them.
Anansi: I see…
Lion: We will not stray from our course.
Anansi: You have not yet asked about your kingdom.
Lion: I’m sure it’s fine. You gave your word.
Anansi: I did indeed.
Gazelle: Where is Crocodile?
Dodo: (chokes on nothing)
Anansi: Dodo. Do you know something we do not?
Dodo: N-No! Nothing.
Dodo: Nothing at all! I swear! Leave me alone…
Crane: I hope he’s alright.
Gazelle: Of course he is. He’s Crocodile. Terrible in any skin…
Lion: (to Anansi) What if he does not show?
Anansi: Let’s not talk about that.
Gazelle: He’ll be here. Of course…
Dodo: He’s not that terrible.
Lion: What did you say…?
Gazelle: He said “He’s not that terrible!” I heard him! That’s what he said. Tell us what you know, Dodo!
Lion: Tell us.
Dodo: I know nothing! I know nothing! I- (Crocodile enters, rundown, exhausted, angry)
Crocodile: (to Dodo) You…
Dodo: I-, I-I-, um…
Crocodile: You did this to me.
Anansi: Did what?
Crocodile: He framed me. The humans, they threw me in jail…but I got out…I have friends, you know… (advances on Dodo)
Dodo: Why would I do that?
Crocodile: How am I supposed to know the inner workings of the bird brain?
Dodo: Wh-what are you doing? Stay away from me!
Crocodile: I’m going to show you what happens to anyone who crosses me…
Dodo: N-no! I don’t know what you’re talking about!
Crocodile: Oh, but you do…
Dodo: N-no! No…
Crocodile: Shut up.
Dodo: You killed a man! H-he killed a man! I saw it! I saw it with my own eyes!
Crocodile: You lie…
Dodo: You killed him and I did…what any good person would do… (Crocodile is leaning over Dodo) Go ahead! Kill me! Kill me! See what happens then! See what happens to all of you if there is one less at the end of the year! (Pause)
Anansi: Crocodile. Did you…kill a human?
Crocodile: I did not. (Pause) But if I did it would be because it is within my nature to do. You can cast your spells, give me this soft skin and these ridiculous cloths to wear, but I am a crocodile. I am a cunning killer of things. I am an animal. An ANIMAL! Just like the rest of you. You’d be stupid to think otherwise…
Crane: It’s been, what, three months- a little more “since we’ve lived the human life? In that time I have learned and seen many things. Many wonderful things. The existence of the human being is fraught with wonder. (shakes her head) But none of it can compare to flying; to spreading your wings and taking to the sky. The freedom of it. Yes, that’s what it is. The freedom. Nothing compares.
Gazelle: Nothing, Crane…?
Gazelle: No. No, you’re right. We love so that we might survive. That’s all this is. For nine more months and then we are both free.
Lion: I should be going. There is much I have to do for the old man before sundown. (starts to leave. The others follow, except for Crocodile and Anansi)
Crocodile: (to the animals) Our next meeting is our last. Remember what I told you the before. This is it. Do what must be done…
Exit all but Anansi. Lights down. Anansi moves forward into a dim spot.
Anansi: (he is quiet for a time. Incurably sad, perhaps a little lost in thought. The energy, playfulness and optimism that had been with him before is now nowhere to be found) The dodo went extinct at the hands of man in 1693. (The other animals enter, soundlessly, taking the spots they had taken at the play’s start) They were discovered by the Dutch in 1581 on the island of Mauritania. They lived in peacefully on an island without predators. Discovered in 1581 by man. In 1693, extinct. That’s a little over a hundred years. Man came in with guns and livestock and that was it. There’s your story. The end. Exit now, single file. Single file. There are refreshments in the lobby and feel free to tip the- (looks up to the sky,listens) (Venomously) Right. Of course, Nyame. Father. Finish what you started. Right. Of course. Rules are rules. Without further ado, the truestory’s end…(sits in a dark corner of the stage)
Lights come up over the animals. There is tension in the air, practically fuming off of each of them. Crane and Gazelle have a special tension that only exists between the two. Lion and Crocodile wear expressions that are too serious to be easily read. Dodo sits, defeated, shaking. The final scene begins with a near unbearable stretch of silence.
Gazelle: Where is Anansi?
Crocodile: He’ll be here…
Gazelle: Well I wish he’d hurry up. I think we’ve waited long enough for this.
Dodo: You were right. You were all right. I couldn’t see it at first, but how could I? I was so afraid. So afraid! I am the last of my kind. The last of the Dodos. I wanted to continue my life. I’ve been so alone since my parents and my brothers and sisters died off. I needed to have something; to live. And I would hear about these humans and about their accomplishments, about how every year there were more and more of them. And then this opportunity arose. This impossible opportunity. How could I not want it? So we became human and I, finally, lived a life without this looming doom hovering over me. You should’ve seen me that first night. You all would have laughed. I sat on the docks, looking out to sea while the fishermen were getting their boats ready for the morning. I thought to myself, “Dodo, you can have everything now. You can meet a nice pretty mate and you can raise a family and be a father. You can teach your little ones the things that your father taught you, now, and everything will be wonderful. Sadly, those thoughts did not manifest in the best of ways. When you are faced with not just your own mortality, but the mortality of your entire species, your vision is clouded. I took my money and I used it to buy the things I wanted: Delicious food, beautiful clothing, family and love- How could I know money could not buy the latter? It could do so much else. But all it did was turn me down this path of pain and suffering. Drinking and eating things that made me forget…or helped me escape. I lost all of my money, you see. I asked Anansi for more gold but he refused- something about the unspoken, unbroken rules of…something. (Pause) I remember one night months and months ago… I had just been kicked out of a brothel because I couldn’t pay. I was drunk, of course, and I stumbled into the night and ended up on that dock- the one from my first night. I started crying, uncontrollably, and I swore, right then and there, that I was going to change my ways. I was going to make an honest man out of myself and do it right this time. But no matter how hard I tried everything went wrong. My friends abandoned me. I could not get a job of any kind. People on the street would look away when I would come around, as if I had done something awful. In the wild, everything heals. Seasons change. Dry ones come, but wet ones follow and everything is okay. With humans there is only one long season and the healing never comes. If I must end it will be as I began. Because to die as an animal has meaning. The scavengers will use every piece of me to build the families I will never know. To die a human is…nothing.
Crane: I’m sorry.
Dodo: What do you have to be sorry for, Crane?
Gazelle: (to Dodo) Nothing. (to Crane) Keep your mouth shut.
Crane: Do not speak to me that way. Dodo…
Gazelle: You’re being real stupid right now.
Crane: …we did this to you…
Dodo: That’s absurd, I was the one who-
Crane: Crocodile told us that if we did not convince you to become an animal then Anansi would force us all to remain human forever.
Dodo: I-I don’t understand…
Crocodile: You were going to ruin everything so we used our newfound influence to make your life miserable. Lion used his connections in the guilds to make sure no one would employ you. Gazelle spread unsavory rumors and so on and so forth…
Crane: I’m so sorry.
Dodo: (to Lion) Is this true?
Lion: It is. (Dodo lowers himself to the ground) It was the only way.
Gazelle: (to Crane) Now look what you did…
Crane: I told the truth.
Gazelle: And now he’s more hurt than he ever was before. He feels betrayed!
Crane: That’s because we betrayed him!
Gazelle: This wasn’t the right time…
Crane: The right time…? So that’s what you’ve been waiting for all these months? The right time. And what is the right time, oh wise one? Is it when you happen to overhear a conversation by two strangers about how that poor Crane had no idea her handsome mate is going to bed with other women?! Is that the right time?!
Gazelle: Not here…
Crane: Then where?
Gazelle: Look! I know what this is all about! I’m not stupid. You got jealous! You got jealous of all the attention, all the fame I was getting and you weren’t!
Gazelle: Oh, don’t play the innocent victim now, Crane! You became unbearable. The more they loved me the more you made me feel like I was worthless.
Crane: That’s not true!
Gazelle: Do you know why I ran off late at night and let those girls take off my clothes and give me whatever I wanted?
Gazelle: Do you know why I laid with them until the morning and gave them my passion again and again, whispering “I want you, I need you” into their ears and laughing at how you had no idea…
Gazelle: It’s because you never loved me!
Gazelle: It’s true! You loved the safety of being with me. You loved the way I made you feel and the songs I would sing, the stories I’d tell…then my fame. But you never loved me. (Pause. He is in tears by this point) I did what I did because I knew… that when this day came…when the choice came between this and me…you would choose to fly.
Gazelle: Please. Don’t say anything to me. Let’s just wait for Anansi to come and…and get on with it.
Crocodile: (to Lion) You’ve been uncharacteristically quiet this meeting, Lion. And in the last one, if I recall correctly. What does our mighty king have to say on this momentous day?
Lion: When Anansi comes…
Anansi leaves the stage, distraught, and enters the animal’s scene, pretending to be upbeat.
Anansi: Greetings, greetings, my friends. Today is the day of days. The moment we have all been waiting for. One year ago I struck a deal with you five, one that might result in the removal of the entire human raise. Just. Like. That. Let us talk. Now, in order to gather the magic involved in making a species- disappear “I’m going to need all of you to be in absolute agreement about this. All of you. Starting with Dodo…
Dodo: I don’t care. I am done with humanity. (to the others) I am done with animals, I think. I don’t want my children to grow up in any of this. Whatever the group decides. That’s what will happen.
Anansi: Interesting. Interesting, indeed. Who’s next? Gazelle? Crocodile? Crane?
Lion: How is my kingdom, Trickster-god?
Anansi: More perfect than you could ever imagine. All are happy. No one wants for anything at all.
Lion: Then I will remain human.
Anansi: I-I’m sorry. What did you say?
Lion: I will remain human. The old man has died and I am needed. I am to become master of the Smiths’ Guild. And perhaps I will be master of them all one day. There is an uphill journey ahead that I have just begun to climb. At the end of this journey is wealth, influence…
Lion: There is.
Anansi: And what about your kingdom?
Lion: You have assured me it is better than it ever was.
Anansi: Hm. I guess I did, didn’t I?
Lion: Then I have done my job as king. One of my children can take my place…
Anansi: What about you, Crocodile?
Crocodile: I am and will always be a crocodile. And to be a crocodile is to feed, to hunt, to sneak, to kill…and there is no better place to be a better crocodile than in human skin. I will remain as I am. The city is my water hole and I exist beneath its surface, always waiting, waiting to strike when my prey least suspects it.
Anansi: There seems to be no honor in that lifestyle, Crocodile.
Crocodile: That is the point, Anansi.
Anansi: Gazelle. What about you?
Gazelle: I am beloved and treated as a god. Human. Obviously.
Anansi: That leaves you, Crane.
Crane: Yes, Dodo?
Dodo: What part did you have in my misfortunes?
Crane: Well, I…I never once tried to stop them. My shame is the shame of inactivity.
Dodo: That is not so bad a thing, Crane. And I have always found you beautiful.
Crane: What are you saying?
Dodo: Your heart was broken and I want to give my own to someone else. Become an animal. We can be mates. We were both birds once, you and I. We can start a family. You are beautiful, Crane. And I will treat you like you deserve to be treated and nothing less for as long as we both live.
Crane: (Pause) I’m sorry, Dodo. I can’t. (Pause) I love Gazelle.
Dodo: But he hurt you!
Crane: (to Gazelle) I choose to stay.
Gazelle: You do? (Crane nods) What about flying?
Crane: My feet never touch the ground when you are beside me, Gazelle…
Gazelle: (to Crane) I’m sorry… (they embrace)
Dodo: Explain to me this: Why, if you all were so intent on staying and betraying your kind- why did you have to ruin my life?! Why keep pretending that you hated your lives and wanted humans to disappear?!
Crane: Humans are a complex thing, Dodo. They…we double-talk and we are doubtful and proud and shy and hateful and ignorant and…and loving, and our path to discovery leaves none unscathed…but it is within these complexities that our beauty lies.
Dodo: That is no answer! I have nothing! Nothing! (to Anansi) I change my mind, Anansi! Make me a dodo again! Please! I can’t be a part of this! They’re all crazy! They make no sense! They do things for no reason, no reason at all! I must die as I was born! They taught me what I could not teach myself! Change me back, Anansi! Change me back!
Anansi: I’m sorry, Dodo. But there are rules. Four out of five. Majority. You are a human forever now. Make the best of it.
Dodo: That’s not fair! They all got what they wanted! Why not me! Why not me?!
Anansi: But you did, Dodo. You wanted this more than any of them.
Dodo collapses to the ground. Leaves the scene and returns to the darkness he had found himself in before, with the same abysmal expression on his face. Lion, Crocodile, Gazelle and Crane leave one by one. There is quiet.
Dodo: (he sounds different than ever before- more confident) Are you going to say it?
Dodo: Well, you must. The story is over, you must finish it.
Dodo: Do it.
Anansi: (as if reciting) And that is how the Dodo lost its will to live.
Dodo: Marvelous. (joins Anansi, sitting down beside him) But it perplexes me. Why not create a positive spin on it like you usually do? Why not end it with, ‘And that is why humans come in so many shapes and sizes and dispositions.’ Something like that. I’m no storyteller like you.
Anansi: Was it you all along?
Dodo: It was.
Anansi: You played the part well.
Dodo: Your old father still has some tricks left in him, boy.
Anansi: I see that. (pause) Why did you make me tell that story, father-Nyame?
Dodo: Because you needed to do it. It’s been almost a week and you have not told it once.
Anansi: I hate that story…
Dodo: I know…and I’m curious as to ‘why’. You are the architect of thousands of adventures, but none have affected you like this one. You are Anansi, the great and fabulous conductor of trickery and tales…which are, more or less, the same thing. It was you who left open that hole in the darkness that the great Demon king climbed through which made the lion mighty. It was you who gave the Crane that magic paintbrush. You who took the form of a Dodo and ruined the crocodile’s reputation. You who turned into Black Tom Eagle and took the Gazelle’s papaya, forcing them to grow tall and leap to the sky. So many lives you’ve tampered with…
Anansi: I know.
Dodo: But such is the nature of the storyteller. To tell a tale you must make a tale…and to make a tale you must tamper with the truth.
Anansi: I know.
Dodo: I used to have all the stories. But you thought that they should be spread out into the world for everyone to enjoy…
Anansi: I was young.
Dodo: You were right to take them. Because without stories there can be nothing. No changes. Nothing to make us any better or worse than we were before. When you brought me Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, the dwarf and the rest you invented stories on Earth. You made them, my son. And with those first stories you created life…and for that the gods were glad. It has been ten thousand years to this day since you did so and in that time you have always taught and told but never really learned anything for yourself. So I transformed myself into a Dodo and took audience with Lion and, infuriating him with my talk of the wonders of humanity, orchestrated the meeting that you so excitedly thrust yourself upon. I chose the animals that you would see most of yourself in. The power of the Lion, the trickery of the Crocodile, the longing of the Crane and Gazelle’s spritely love of leaping higher, wanting more. All characters of tales that define the sort of god you are.
Anansi: Why, Father?
Dodo: Because it was time for you to learn something.
Anansi: And what was that?
Dodo: You tell me…
Anansi : (thinks) I was king in the place of the lion for that whole year.
Dodo: Mm hm…
Anansi: After one week I hated it. Being bound to the earth. The responsibility. Nothing could have been further from the life I lived.
Dodo: Go on…
Anansi: After one month I was better acquainted with the position. The idea of being actually needed…not imposing, imposing on other people’s lives…was strange…but different. After a season it was no longer strange. It was special. Magical. I was necessary. Really and truly. I got to know the other animals. Know them. What lives they lead. And after a year the only thing I hated about living on the earth as a creature of the earth was that it would soon end.
Anansi: I realized that I am tired of telling stories. Each time I met with you and Gazelle and the rest, I found myself truly affected by their lives. By the results of my actions in their lives. By the power of their experience. I realized that I want to live.
Dodo: Well, there you are.
Anansi: Just like that?
Dodo: Just like that.
Anansi: So who will tell the stories?
Dodo: The stories tell themselves. Life is stories. Stories are life.
Anansi: And what will become of the animals I turned human?
Dodo: The same thing that always happens to every character you touch- any animal you’ve turned human or human you’ve turned animal. They become something more than they were before…or in the very least different.
Anansi: And what did you learn, father?
Dodo: I learned that I have spent so much time up in the clouds that I have completely forgotten how to live down here on the ground. I made quite the fool of myself, didn’t I?
Anansi: Ha. You certainly did. Just think, you could be laying eggs with Crane right now.
Dodo: If people ask I will say that that was part of my plan to get her to acknowledge her love for Gazelle.
Anansi: Life is not to be taken lightly.
Dodo: Certainly not.
Anansi: What will I do now? If I am no longer Anansi the storyteller… I am empty.
Dodo: I’ll be on my way, I think. (exits)
Anansi: Lion. What are you doing here?
Lion: I thought I would come back to see my old kingdom. See how they were doing from a safe distance… The plants not as green as I remember. The animals do not seem so alive. My son is not the ruler I was, I suppose, or maybe this is just what humans see through human eyes…and then I remembered something. A year ago you made me a promise…a promise to rule my kingdom for as long as I was away. And, well, look at me…I am very much away.
Anansi: Lion, what are you-
Lion: Will you rule my kingdom, Anansi? There are none better suited to be king than you, if I remember correctly…
Anansi: I- Yes, Lion. Of course.
Lion: Good. By the way, you had no choice in the matter. Rules are rules, after all. Enjoy your life. (exits)
Anansi: You as well, Lion. Take care of each other! I won’t be around to help you anymore! (thinks to himself) And that is how the storyteller came to be alive… The end? No. Not for some time… (exits)