Ragtime script

Ragtime script

RagtimeScript - Broadway musical

-ACT ONE-

(Darkness. We hear the sound of a doorknob turning and a door swinging open.)

1. RAGTIME (Opening)

(We see the silhouette of THE LITTLE BOY as he stands in the shaft of light from the open door.

THE LITTLE BOY's footsteps echo as he walks down the shaft of light to a stereopticon viewer on the floor.
He picks it up and brings it to his eyes.

Two scrims, each with an image of a large Victorian house,
its inhabitants and neighbours, descend, merge and leap into three-dimension.)

THE LITTLE BOY
In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Broadview Avenue hill in New Rochelle, New York,
and it seemed for some years thereafter that all the family's days would be warm and fair.

(People of New Rochelle are revealed.)

PEOPLE OF NEW ROCHELLE
The skies were blue and hazy Rarely a storm. Barely a chill.

WOMEN
La la la la la...

PEOPLE OF NEW ROCHELLE
The afternoons were lazy, Everyone warm. Everything still.

MEN
La la la la la...

PEOPLE OF NEW ROCHELLE
And there was distant music
Simple and somehow sublime
Giving the nation
A new syncopation
The people called it Ragtime!

(FATHER steps forward, a strong, commanding figure.)

FATHER
Father was well-off. Very well-off. His considerable income was derived from the manufacture of fireworks and bunting and other accoutrements of patriotism. Father was also something of an amateur explorer.

(MOTHER steps forward, a gracious, appealing woman.)

MOTHER
The house on the hill in New Rochelle was Mother's domain. She took pleasure in making it comfortable for the men of her family, and often told herself how fortunate she was to be so protected and provided for by her husband.

YOUNGER BROTHER
Mother's Younger Brother worked at Father's fireworks factory. He was a genius at explosives. But he was also a young man in search of something to believe in. His sister wondered when he would find it.

GRANDFATHER
Grandfather had been a professor of Greek and Latin. Now retired and living with his daughter and her family, he was thoroughly irritated by everything.

PEOPLE OF NEW ROCHELLE
The days were gently tinted
Lavender pink, lemon and lime.

MOTHER
Ladies with parasols.

YOUNGER BROTHER
Fellows with tennis balls

FATHER
There were gazebos, and...
(Spoken) There were no Negroes.

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
And everything was Ragtime!

1b. RAGTIME (Harlem)

(COALHOUSE WALKER, JR. is playing for a lively crowd of dancers.)

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
Listen to that Ragtime!

COALHOUSE
In Harlem, men and women of colour forgot their troubles and danced and reveled to the music of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. This was a music that was theirs and no one else's.

SARAH
One young woman thought Coalhouse played just for her. Her name was Sarah.

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
Oooooh...

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
Booker T. Washington was the most famous Negro in the country. He counseled friendship between the races and spoke of the promise of the future. He had no patience with Negroes who lived less than exemplary lives.

PEOPLE OF NEW ROCHELLE
Ladies with parasols,
Fellows with tennis balls.
There were no Negroes
And there were no immigrants.

(IMMIGRANTS are in a line to board a rag ship bound for America.

TATEH and THE LITTLE GIRL join them. They, to, are, poorly clothed and undernourished. THE LITTLE GIRL is the same age as THE LITTLE BOY. TATEH looks old and we will think he is THE LITTLE GIRL's grandfather.)

TATEH
In Latvia, a man dreamed of a new life for his little girl. It would be a long journey, a terrible one. He would not lose her, as he had her mother. His name was Tateh. He never spoke of his wife. The little girl was all he had now. Together, they would escape.

(HARRY HOUDINI appears above the crowd)

LITTLE BOY
Houdini! Look, it's Houdini!

CROWD
Ooh...aah!
Ooh...aah!

(HOUDINI spins in the air. He throws the strait jacket to the crowd below. HOUDINI'S MOTHER frees him.)

HOUDINI
Harry Houdini was one immigrant who made an art of escape. He was a headliner in the top vaudeville circuits.

(HOUDINI'S MOTHER points with pride)

HOUDINI'S MOTHER
Ich bin die Mutter des grossen Houdinis!

HOUDINI
He made his mother proud. But for all his achievements, he knew he was only an illusionist. He wanted to believe there was more...
(He notices THE LITTLE BOY.)
Hello, Sonny

THE LITTLE BOY
Warn the Duke!

HOUDINI
What did you say?

(CROWD silently applauds. The moment is broken as HOUDINI is enveloped by his crowd of admirers.)

PEOPLE OF NEW ROCHELLE
And there was distant music
Changing the tune, changing the time.

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
Giving the nation
A new syncopation

ALL
La la la

MEN
La, la, la, la...

J.P. MORGAN
Certain men make a country great.

HENRY FORD
They can't help it.

MORGAN
At the very apex of the American pyramid --

FORD
--that's the very tip-top!--

MORGAN
--like Pharaohs reincarnate, stood J.P. Morgan.

FORD
And Henry Ford.

MORGAN
All men are born equal.

FORD
But the cream rises to the top.

EMMA GOLDMAN
Let me at those sons of bitches! These men are the demons who are sucking your very souls dry! I hate them!

MORGAN
Someone should arrest that woman!

(MORGAN and FORD move away.)

EMMA GOLDMAN
The radical anarchist Emma Goldman fought against the ravages of American capitalism as she watched her fellow immigrants' hopes turn to despair on the Lower East Side.

(EVELYN NESBIT appears, dressed in her costume from MAMZELLE CHAMPAGNE.)

1c. RAGTIME (Evelyn)

EVELYN NESBIT
La la la la
La la la la la
Whee!

EMMA
But America was watching another drama.

EVELYN NESBIT
Evelyn Nesbit was the most beautiful woman in America. If she wore her hair in curls, every woman wore her hair in curls.

STANFORD WHITE
Her lover was the eminent architect, Stanford White, designer of the Pennsylvania Station on 33rd Street.

HARRY K. THAW
Her husband, the eccentric millionaire, Harry K. Thaw, was a violent man.

EVELYN
After her husband shot her lover, Evelyn became the biggest attraction in vaudeville since Tom Thumb.

(The music grows eerie, echoing.)

NEW ROCHELLE WOMEN
La la la la la

(THAW takes aim at WHITE with a small revolver.)

MEN
Bang!

NEW ROCHELLE WOMEN
La la la

MEN
Bang!

NEW ROCHELLE WOMEN
La

MEN
Bang!

(EMMA GOLDMAN steps forward.)

1d. RAGTIME (Emma Windup)

EMMA GOLDMAN
And although the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906...

ALL
And there ninety four years to go!

EMMA
Whee!

ALL
And there was music playing,
Catching a nation in its prime
Beggar and millionaire
Everyone, everywhere!
Moving to the Ragtime!

1e. RAGTIME (Dance)

(The dance swirls around our three principals--MOTHER, TATEH and COALHOUSE--increasing in intensity. BLACKS, WHITES and IMMIGRANTS find themselves in moments of contact or confrontation; there is the potential for violence. The dance swells to a crescendo.)

1f. RAGTIME (Conclusion) - Ragtime Musical Script -

And there was distant music
Skipping a beat, singing a dream

WOMEN
La la la la la

ALL
A strange, insistent music
Putting out heat, picking up steam

MEN
La la la la la

ALL
The sound of distant thunder
Suddenly starting to climb
It was the music of something beginning
An era exploding, a century spinning
In riches and rags, and in rhythm and rhyme
The people called it Ragtime...
Ragtime!
Ragtime!
Ragtime!


2. ADMIRAL PEARY'S MARCH - Ragtime Musical Script -

(We hear the stentorian blasts of an ocean-going steam vessel. Immediately we hear the confident sounds of a ship's Sousa-esque orchestra playing the "All ashore" music prior to its immediate departure. We are on the main deck of the ship that will be carrying FATHER on an expedition to the North Pole with ADMIRAL PEARY.

FATHER is bidding goodbye to his FAMILY. They have all gathered to see him off. Various ship personnel, their families and an historical society mill about the pier below.)

FATHER
Everything will be fin, Mother. You'd think the world was coming to an end every time a man sailed off t the North Pole with Admiral Peary.

MOTHER
I shall miss you.

FATHER
Of course you will. But it's only a year. Nothing much happens in a year. The world will not spin off its axis. Nothing will change, Mother. We will miss each other but the world will stay the same.

GRANDFATHER
I hope not. What this world needs is a good swift kick in the pants.

YOUNGER BROTHER
Look! Down there! On the pier! It's her! Evelyn Nesbit! She's even more beautiful in real life than she is in the magazines. I'm going to try to speak to her.

(He goes. THE LITTLE BOY wants to follow.)

LITTLE BOY
Me too!

FATHER
Edgar, stay here.

LITTLE BOY
I want to see her, too.

FATHER
You're the man of the house now. You have to keep an eye on Mother for both of us. Will you do that?

LITTLE BOY
Yes, sir.

FATHER
That's my little soldier.

GRANDFATHER
I want to go now. My legs hurt. Everyone say goodbye.

FATHER
I'll miss you, sir.

GRANDFATHER
Then stay home.

(They are gone.)

MOTHER
Come back soon and safe to us.

FATHER
That is my intention.

MOTHER
And not too many polar bear skins.

FATHER
I promise. Now, unless you want to be the only woman left on a shipful of men, you'd better get ashore.

(This is FATHER's idea of a joke.)

I'm sorry. That was coarse. Goodbye.

(He kisses her.)

Stay well. God bless you.

3. GOODBYE MY LOVE

(The other wives and families are waving their final farewells to the departing explorers. MOTHER watches as the figure of FATHER recedes.)

FATHER
And remember to cancel our subscription to the Philharmonic. I left money for an emergency under the library rug. Don't smile. You can never have enough money. And you'll remember to bring in the dahlias? Goodbye. Say a prayer for us. God bless America. God bless each and every one of us.

MOTHER
Goodbye my love
God bless you
And, I suppose, bless America too
You have places to discover
Oceans to conquer
You need to know I'll be there at the window
While you go your way
I accept that
But, what of the people
Who stay where they're put,
Planted like flowers with roots underfoot
I know some of those people
Have hearts that would rather go journeying
On the sea
Tell me
What of the people
Whose boundaries chafe
Who marry so bravely and end up so safe
Tell me how to be someone
Whose heart can explore while still staying here
Let this be the year
We both travel...
Goodbye, my love
Journey on.

(FATHER and ADMIRAL PEARY can be seen on the bridge of their ship. It is night.)

4. JOURNEY ON - Ragtime Musical Script -

FATHER
It's an honour to go on expedition with you, Admiral Peary. It's men like you who've made this country great.

ADMIRAL PEARY
It's men like you who will keep it great.

(MATTHEW HENSON appears.)

HENSON
All sails set, Admiral.

PEARY
Thank you, Mr. Henson. This is my First Officer, Mr. Matthew Henson.

FATHER (visibly startled that Henson is black)
Good evening.

HENSON
Welcome aboard.

FATHER
What's that? In the distance? Such a ghostly glow.

PEARY
They're called rag ships. Immigrants from every cesspool in western and eastern Europe. Most of them become very patriotic Americans. They're your future customers.

HENSON
My people were also brought here on ships.

PEARY
Good watch, Henson.

(PEARY and HENSON go. FATHER stares across the dark waters to the rag ship. At some distance he sees TATEH and THE LITTLE GIRL.)

FATHER
You're a brave man, whoever you are. Coming so far, expecting so much.
A salute to the man on the deck of that ship!
A salute to the immigrant stranger
Heaven knows why you'd make such a terrible trip
May your own god protect you from danger
Is if freedom or love that you pray for
In your guttural accent?
Too late, long gone
A salute to a fellow who hasn't a chance
Journey on.

(TATEH is combing THE LITTLE GIRL's hair.)

TATEH
If people ask, how old are you?

THE LITTLE GIRL
I don't answer.

TATEH
Your name?

THE LITTLE GIRL
No name.

TATEH
Where your mother is?

THE LITTLE GIRL
Dead.

TATEH
This is my father. He speaks for both of us.

THE LITTLE GIRL
This is my father. He speaks for both of us.
Is that other ship going back home?

TATEH
No, no! America is our home now. America is our shtetl.

TATEH & THE LITTLE GIRL
Amekhaye khelbn.

(A flare goes off, illuminating FATHER and TATEH.)

THE LITTLE GIRL
Look, someone is waving. Where is he going?

TATEH
He's a fool on a fool's journey.
To depart on a ship from a country like this
Why on earth would you want to be leaving?
Was it something you lost that you suddenly missed?
Are you angry, or possibly grieving?
Do you see in my face what you've lost, sir?
Are you moved by the death ship we sail upon?
Well, perhaps you're a man who's in search of his heart
Journey on.

FATHER
Journey on.

BOTH
Two ships passing
In the kinship
Of the darkness

FATHER
One going from...

TATEH
One coming to...

BOTH
America. Two men meeting
At the moment
Of a journey
For a moment,
In the darkness
We're the same...

MOTHERAnd what of the peopleWhose boundaries chafeWho marry so bravely And end up so safeI will be journeyingHere, my loveAs you goJourneyingOn the sea FATHERI salute you,My friendAs you goJourneyingOn the sea TATEHMay you findWhat you needAs you goJourneyingOn the sea

ALL THREE
We're two ships passing
At a distance
Through the darkness

FATHER
One going from...

MOTHER & TATEH
One coming to...

ALL THREE
America.
Strangers sharing
The beginnings
Of a journey

FATHER
I salute you!

TATEH
God be with you!

MOTHER
I will miss you...

ALL THREE
In the darkness
Of the dawn --
Journey on!

4a. EVELYN'S INTRODUCTION

(YOUNGER BROTHER appears.)

YOUNGER BROTHER

Mother's Younger Brother was in love with Evelyn Nesbit. Ever since that first glimpse of her on the pier, nothing else mattered. He was late for work. He forgot to shave. He dreamed of writing her name with fireworks in the sky. When she opened in a new review at Hammerstein's Olympia on West 44th Street, he took the day off and was first in line to buy a ticket!

(THE JUDGE, JURY, SOB SISTERS and CHORINES run onstage in chaos.

YOUNGER BROTHER runs to his seat in the second balcony, a spectator at the "Trial of the Century".)

JUDGE
And now, testifying for the defense, Miss Evelyn Nesbit.

5. THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY

(EVELYN NESBIT makes her "entrance".)

EVELYN
Whee!

CHORUS GIRLS
La la la la
La la la la la

EVELYN
Whee!

CHORUS GIRLS
La la la la
La la la la la

EVELYN
Your Honour
I was once the lady friend of Stanford White.

CHORUS GIRLS
He's the famous architect!

EVELYN
Yes, that's right.
He put me on a velvet swing
And made me wear...well...hardly anything!
Ruined at the age of fifteen,
Your Honour!
Then I went and married Mr. Harry Thaw...

EVELYN & CHORUS GIRLS
Eccentric millionaire

CHORUS GIRLS
Oh! Oh!

EVELYN
Harry's a jealous man.

CHORUS GIRLS
Bang! Bang!

EVELYN
That was the end of Stan.

CHORUS GIRLS
Boo hoo!

EVELYN
Your Honour, be fair!
My Harry went crazy, I swear!

CHORUS GIRLS
La la
La la la

ALL, EVELYN
Now it's the Crime of the Century
Crime of the Century
Giving the world a thrill!

EVELYN
Harry's in trouble
And Stanny's in heaven
And Evelyn is in vaudeville

ALL, EVELYN
The Crime of the Century
Crime of the Century!
All for a youthful fling
Fortune, fame
And a ruined name

EVELYN
And now I'm the girl on the swing!
Whee!

YOUNGER BROTHER
From his regular seat in the front row of the second balcony, Younger Brother would lean far over the railing, hoping his goddess would notice him. One night he almost fell. Evelyn caught sight of him and smiled. Life was suddenly wonderful and full of delicious possibilities.

CHORUS GIRLS
Oh! Oh!

EVELYN
Harry must not be hung!

CHORUS GIRLS (as JUDGE bangs gavel)
Bang! Bang!

JUDGE
Let's have that verdict sung!

CHORUS GIRLS
Boo hoo!

JURY FOREMAN (spoken)
Your Honour we find
That Harry's not guilty...

EVELYN
My Harry's not guilty!

ALL
'Cause Harry is out of his mind.
And it's the Crime of the Century
Crime of the Century
Making the world go "whee"!
Harry's in trouble
And Stanny's in heaven

EVELYN
And Evelyn gets publicity!

ALL
The Crime of the Century
Crime of the Century
Not such an awful thing --

EVELYN
Stanny's killed
But my mother's thrilled
'Cause now I'm the girl on the...

ALL
Now she's the girl on the...

EVELYN
Now I'm the girl...

ALL
On the swing!

EVELYN
Whee!

5a. THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY (Part 2: Reporters)

(Outside the theatre. EVELYN enters. She is being hounded by an unrelenting REPORTER.)

REPORTER
Daily Journal Miss Nesbit! Is it true you haven't visited your husband in the asylum since the trial?

EVELYN
I don't know what you're talking about!

REPORTER
And you have nightmares about your lover's shot-off face?

YOUNGER BROTHER (stepping forward)
Leave the lady alone.

EVELYN
Thank you. You! You're at the theatre every night. You've never missed a performance. You deserve a reward.

(She kisses him.)

Is that what you wanted.

YOUNGER BROTHER
I love you, Miss Nesbit.

EVELYN
Would you repeat that for the press?

YOUNGER BROTHER
No, I really love you.

EVELYN
You love the Girl on the Swing. Well, now you can say she kissed you. But she could never love a man as poor or as thin or as nice as you. I'll blow you a kiss from the stage tomorrow night, if I haven't forgotten all about you.

(She goes followed by the REPORTER. YOUNGER BROTHER sinks to his knees in despair.)

YOUNGER BROTHER
I was going to change the world for you.

5a. THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY (Part 3: Victrola)

(We hear "Crime of the Century" being played a s Victrola recording now. The words seem to mock YOUNGER BROTHER. At the same time, MOTHER and LITTLE BOY will enter. He is humming along with the song, making ready to work in the garden of her home.)
YOUNGER BROTHER, CHORINES
The Crime of the Century
Crime of the Century!
All for a youthful fling

MOTHER
Fortune, fame
And a ruined name

YOUNGER BROTHER
I never want to hear that song or her name again.

(HE rushes into the house as GRANDFATHER passes through the garden.)

GRANDFATHER
I guess he met her.

(GRANDFATHER exits.)

THE LITTLE BOY
Is Evelyn Nesbit the Harlot of Babylon?

MOTHER
Where did you hear that?

THE LITTLE BOY
I read it in one of Uncle's magazines.

MOTHER
I don't want to you going in his room. I'm sure Evelyn Nesbit is a very nice person. She's just confused. She's strayed from the path.

THE LITTLE BOY
What path?

MOTHER
The right path. The one we all want to be on if only we could and if only it weren't so difficult.

THE LITTLE BOY
Not for women it's not. Men are tested almost every day of their Christian lives.

MOTHER
Not everyone's a Christian. You know that.

THE LITTLE BOY
They are in New Rochelle.

(A plane flies above, advertising an appearance by HOUDINI. MOTHER starts digging in the earth.)

5C. HOUDINI'S AIRPLANE

THE LITTLE BOY
Houdini! Houdini's coming! Can we go? I'll do anything. Please!

MOTHER
We'll see.

(THE LITTLE BOY calls up to HOUDINI'S plane as it circles overhead.)

THE LITTLE BOY
Warn the duke!

(HE stands watching the plane disappear overhead as we hear it fly away. MOTHER looks at him, troubled.)

MOTHER
Edgar! Why did you say that?

THE LITTLE BOY
I don't know.

MOTHER
What did you mean, "Warn the Duke"?

THE LITTLE BOY
I don't know.

MOTHER
The things you children say. Read Father's letter if you're not going to tell me.

THE LITTLE BOY
"Dear Mother. This letter will reach you via the supply ship ERIK:"

6. WHAT KIND OF WOMAN

(MOTHER has stopped digging in the earth. She has found something.)

MOTHER
Get Kathleen.

THE LITTLE BOY
What's wrong?

MOTHER
Get Kathleen, I tell you! Call the doctor!

(THE LITTLE BOY runs into the house. KATHLEEN, the Irish maid, and YOUNGER BROTHER join MOTHER. In silence, they look at the swaddled infant MOTHER is holding in her arms.)

KATHLEEN
Oh Holy Mother!

MOTHER
Get water, clean linens. Call the doctor.

(YOUNGER BROTHER goes back into the house.)

KATHLEEN
Is it alive? Oh, please, God, let it be.

MOTHER
It's alive. It's a Negro child. A newborn baby boy.

KATHLEEN
It's like Moses in the bulrushes.

MOTHER
It's like nothing of the sort.

KATHLEEN
What's to become of us?

MOTHER
For the last time, Kathleen, make yourself useful.

(KATHLEEN runs into the house. MOTHER holds the swaddled infant. THE LITTLE BOY silently watches them.)

MOTHER
What kind of woman would do such a thing?
Why in God's name is my husband not here?
I'm such a fool!
Why did I say he was free to go?
What am I to do?
Where are your instructions, my dear?
You left me lists
Everything in lists
Well, your little lists
Aren't very helpful, I fear!
Each day, the maids trudge up the hill
The hired help arrives
I never stopped to think
They might have lives beyond our lives...

(YOUNGER BROTHER appears.)

YOUNGER BROTHER
They're here.

(A POLICEMAN enters with SARAH, simultaneously with the DOCTOR, KATHLEEN and GRANDFATHER.)

POLICEMAN
We found her in the cellar of a home on the next block. She's a washwoman there. Her name is Sarah.

(MOTHER approaches SARAH.)

MOTHER
Are you the mother? Thank God, I found him. What if I hadn't been working in the garden today?

POLICEMAN
Don't waste your time, ma'am. She won't say a word to anyone.

MOTHER
Where will you take her?

POLICEMAN
To the charity ward. Eventually she will have to stand charges.

YOUNGER BROTHER
What charges?

POLICEMAN
Well, attempted murder, I should think.

MOTHER
What's going to happen to the baby?

DOCTOR
They have places for unfortunates like this.

MOTHER
I will take responsibility. For mother and child. Please take Miss Sarah inside.

(The DOCTOR, POLICEMAN and LITTLE BOY exit, as KATHLEEN ushers SARAH inside, led by GRANDFATHER. MOTHER is left holding the baby.)

YOUNGER BROTHER
Thank you.

(HE goes into the house.)

MOTHER
What kind of woman would do what I've done --
Open the door to such chaos and pain!
(as if to FATHER)
You would have gently closed the door
And gently turned the key
And gently told me not to look
For fear what I might see
What kind of woman would that have made me?

(We are on Ellis Island. Waves of immigrants are arriving and waiting for processing. They will go through a series of massive, forbidding gates.)

6a. A SHTETL IS AMEREKE - Ragtime Musical Script -

TATEH, THE LITTLE GIRL
A shtetl iz Amerike
Amekhaye khlebn

TATEH, THE LITTLE GIRL, JEWISH IMMIGRANTS
Es rut oyf ir di shkinele

ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS
Merica, Merica, bel massolino di fior.

TATEH, THE LITTLE GIRL,JEWISH IMMIGRANTSMir zoln azoy lebnMil khomes, biksnMentshn blutA gubernator darfMennit,A keyser orfKapores.Amerike!Amerike!Amerike!Amerike!Amerike! ITALIAN IMMIGRANTSBel massolinoDi fiorMerica, MericaBel massolinoDi fiorMerica, MericaBel massolinoDi fior.Merica! Merica!Merica! Merica!Merica! Merica!Merica! Merica!America! HAITIAN IMMIGRANTSGran mesi,WashingtonKi ba nou l'Amerik.Gran mesi,WashingtonGran mesi,WashingtonKi ba nou l'Amerik.L'Amerik!L'Amerik!L'Amerik!L'Amerik!America!

7. SUCCESS (PART 1)

TATEH
I promised you America,
And little one, we're there

IMMIGRANTS, THE LITTLE GIRL
America!

TATEH
Our feet are on the solid ground
And hope is in the air!

IMMIGRANTS, THE LITTLE GIRL
America!

TATEH
You'll soon be eating apple pie
From off a china plate
Pretty dresses, pretty dolls, just wait!
For shining in your Tateh's eyes
And just beyond this gate--

ALL
America!

(The final gates are raised. There is a surge forward and we are on New York's bustling Lower East Side.)

TATEH
Here in America, anyone at all can succeed.

IMMIGRANTS
America! Here in America!

TATEH
Do what you do, and the world will come to you, guaranteed!

IMMIGRANTS
America! We're in America!

TATEH
I may be just a maker of art
But here you could start with less
And make a success!

(TATEH begins to set up his cart and begins to address people on the street.)

TATEH
Step right up and have a silhouette made by a real artist! With ordinary paper, a pair of scissors and some glue, I will give you a thing of such beauty! A life-like portrait of someone you love. Silhouettes of your favourite celebrity.

71. SUCCESS (PART 2)

Evelyn Nesbit, hey look!
She's on her vaudeville stage
Harry Houdini, he practically escapes
From the page
Only a nickel
Don't walk away!
Someday these will impress
When I'm a success!

(EMMA approaches TATEH's cart. SHE examines his silhouettes.)

EMMA
J.P. Morgan! You should be ashamed of yourself, comrade.

TATEH
Don't make a lecture, Mrs. Goldman. I'm here to work, not make politics.

(He begins to cut her silhouette.)

EMMA
Work is politics.

TATEH
You are barking up the wrong tree, Mrs. Goldman. I am an artist. I work for no one. Trade unions are fine but they are not for me. Now be nice and don't move. This is a complimentary silhouette because I admire you anyway.

(EMMA starts to say something.)

Sshh! That doesn't mean I have to listen to you. I was in your socialist frying pan over there; I'm not jumping into the same fire over here.

EMMA
What's your name?

TATEH
They gave me a name I can't pronounce so you can call me Tateh like everyone else.

EMMA
What about her mother?

TATEH
Dead. I said I worked for no one. Not true. I work for my child.

(HE hands HER the silhouette.)

With my compliments, Mrs. Goldman.

EMMA
You can call me Emma.

(SHE reacts to the silhouette.)
Mein Gott, what a kisser!

(SHE reaches in her pocket.)
Here.

TATEH
You're insulting me, Mrs. Goldman.

EMMA
It's not for you. It's for the child.

TATEH
Thank you.

IMMIGRANTS (2 GROUPS)
America, America

TATEH
Look at the silhouettes
Here in the tenements
Bent over sewing or dancing or arguing
Thousands of silhouettes
Thousands of stories to tell

Look at them, little one
Such opportunity!
Right on the corner of Orchard and Rivington
We'll make our silhouettes
Think how they'll sell
We'll join the parade
Of Americans all doing well!

(Now J.P. MORGAN thunderously appears high above the masses on a "bridge". As he sings, the bridge lowers until it practically crushes the IMMIGRANTS.)

IMMIGRANTS
Success!
Success!

7B. SUCCESS (PART 3)

MORGAN
I'm J.P. Morgan, my friends
The wealthiest man on this earth!

IMMIGRANTS
Success!

MORGAN
You immigrants, look up to me
And you'll see what money is worth!

IMMIGRANTS
Success!

MORGAN
One day your immigrant sweat
Might get you the whole U.S.!

(The IMMIGRANTS are squashed beneath MORGAN. HOUDINI magically appears and sings directly to TATEH.)

HOUDINI
And if you're trapped
And failure seems imminent
Think of Houdini
That fabulous immigrant!
Break those chains with all you possess!

(He has freed himself again. He holds his chains above his head in triumph.)

MORGAN, IMMIGRANTS
This is America!
This is the land of success!

MORGAN, IMMIGRANTS, TATEH
Success!

(The streets return to "normal". As the seasons change [we have begun in summer and will end in bitter winter] TATEH's attempts to "succeed" as a silhouette-maker become more and more desperate. IMMIGRANTS continue to leave the stage until it is nearly bare.)

EMMA GOLDMAN
The angry, fetid tenements of the Lower East Side were worse than anything Tateh and his wife had suffered in Latvia. The little girl was often sick now. Tateh wrapped her in his prayer shawl. What rabbi would disapprove?

(A chill wind begins to blow.)

IMMIGRANTS
America!

EMMA
Are you a rich man yet, Tateh?

TATEH
Don't make fun.

EMMA
I'm not making fun. I think you are already rich in spirit and good of heart. It's just your pockets that are a little empty.

TATEH
Please, Mrs. Goldman. I'm working. This is my busiest time. You're blocking the sidewalk.

EMMA
I'm sorry.

(The streets are empty of course.)

TATEH
Step right up! Without art, what is our existence but chaos?

EMMA
Tateh, there's a rally tonight at Union Square.

TATEH
I told you, Mrs. Goldman, no politics. My daughter needs to eat!

(A MAN has stopped and addresses TATEH.)

MAN
How much?

TATEH (delighted, to EMMA)
You see? Opportunity knock, I answer.

7C. SUCCESS (PART 4)

MAN
I said, how much?

TATEH
Five cents but for you I'll make it three. You have a small head, I'll save on the paper.

MAN
Not for a silhouette, you idiot Yid. How much for the little girl?

(TATEH takes a moment to digest this and then violently attacks the MAN. A POLICEMAN rushes forward to pull TATEH off the frightened MAN.)

POLICEMAN
Hey, easy, you want to kill him?

TATEH
Yes! I want to reach inside and pull his heart out!

POLICEMAN
You people.

TATEH
I am not "you people." I am Tateh. And she is not for sale.

7d. SUCCESS (PART 5)

(TATEH holds THE LITTLE GIRL close to him. He can no longer escape the reality of his failure and unfulfilled dreams.)

TATEH
Look at my daughter, God.
Why have you brought us here?
How can I feed her or clothe
Or protect her here?
Where's the America
We were supposed to get?
Was it a silhouette?!
Hey, mister!
Here in America
Anything you want, you can be!
Sucker, step up!
And I'll cut you out your own guarantee!
Come see the artist!
Big shot, oh yes!
Red, white and blue!
Hooray and God bless!
I'm a success!
I'm a success!
Success!
Success!!

(A large silhouette image of HOUDINI forms and grows on the drop behind TATEH.)

HOUDINI
If you're trapped
And failure seems imminent
Think of Houdini
That fabulous immigrant
Break those chains with all you possess!

TATEH
I promised you America
And little one...
(spoken) We will find it.

(TATEH and THE LITTLE GIRL pack their belongings onto his peddler's cart and aggressively push the cart offstage.)


8. HIS NAME IS COALHOUSE WALKER

(Harlem. The lights come up and we are in The Tempo Club.)

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
His name was Coalhouse Walker

SOLO MAN #1
Was a native of St. Louis some years before

SOLO WOMAN #2
When he heard the music of Scott Joplin

SOLO MAN #2
In St. Louis

SOLO WOMAN #2
Bought himself some piano lessons
Working as a stevedore.

SOLO MAN #3
Here was a music that truly inspired him

LADIES
Dancers required him.

MEN
Club owners hired him.

ALL
The strivers of Harlem
Respected and admired him

SOLO MAN #4
For turning Harlem into art

COALHOUSE
But Coalhouse had a broken heart.

The Good Lord looked down, saw me lonely and loveless, and thought to Himself: "Enough is enough. I'm putting Sarah in Coalhouse's life."

9. THE GETTIN' READY RAG (PART 1)

And he did.
This wasn't a woman. This was an angel, a gift of God. Coalhouse loved this woman,
but not wisely and not too well. She left me without a word or trace. There was no pity for me.

SARAH'S FRIEND
None at all, Coalhouse.

COALHOUSE
Now she is haunting me
Just like a melody
The only song I seem to know
Sarah, my life has changed
Sarah, I miss you so
Sarah, I did you wrong
Sarah, where did you go?

And then this morning, the miracle happened. I found out where she is, and I'm going to do my damnedest to see she takes me back. Ladies and gentlemen, the Gettin' Ready Rag!

9A. THE GETTIN' READY RAG (PART 2)

ALL
Gettin' Ready Rag...
Gettin' Ready Rag...

(The dance becomes more joyous, more frenzied. The scene opens out from the dance club to become other part of Harlem as COALHOUSE re-creates himself.)

ALL
Gettin', Gettin', Gettin' Ready Rag

WOMEN
Anything it takes.

MEN
Anything you need.

ALL (except COALHOUSE)
You gotta find your girl, Coalhouse
And win her back!

(Dance break continues.)

ALL
Gettin' Ready Rag!

MEN
Ready as you'll ever get...

COALHOUSE
Not yet!

WOMEN
Gotta win the girl, Coalhouse.

COALHOUSE
Think of what a better man she'll see
When Mr. Henry Ford puts me
At the wheel of a Model T!

10. HENRY FORD

(COALHOUSE sees an assembly line in motion and a Model T being built. HENRY FORD appears and sings to COALHOUSE.)

FORD
See my people?
Well, here's my theory
Of what this country
Is moving toward.
Every worker a cog in motion
Well, that's the notion of Henry Ford!

One man tightens
And one man ratchets
And one man reaches
To pull one cord
Car keeps moving in one direction

ENSEMBLE
A genuflection to Henry Ford!
Hallelujah!
Praise the maker
Of the Model T!

FORD
Speed up the belt
Speed up the belt, Sam

ENSEMBLE
Hallelujah!

COALHOUSE
Hell, I'll take her!

ENSEMBLE
Sure amazin'
How far some fellas can see!

FORD
Speed up the belt
Speed up the belt, Sam
Speed up the belt
Speed up the belt, Sam!

ENSEMBLE & FORD
Speed up the, speed up the, speed up the, speed up the belt!

ENSEMBLE
Mass production
Will sweep the nation
A simple notion
The world's reward

FORD
Even people who ain't too clever
Can learn to tighten a nut forever
Attach one pedal
Or pull one lever

ENSEMBLE
For Henry Ford!
Henry Ford!
Henry Ford!
Henry Ford!

FORD
Grab your goggles

ENSEMBLE & FORD
And climb aboard!

COALHOUSE
I'm ready, Lord!

10a. HENRY FORD (PLAYOFF)

(COALHOUSE drives off in his new car as MOTHER and THE LITTLE BOY appear at
the trolley stop in New Rochelle.)

MOTHER
You have to wear a tie for the same reason I'm wearing this very unflattering dress. We have to look businesslike if we're going to take care of Father's affairs while he's gone.

THE LITTLE BOY
Father says a woman's place is in the home.

MOTHER
Then your father should have stayed home and your uncle shouldn't spend all his nights prowling around New York City looking for God-knows-what.

THE LITTLE BOY
I know what.

MOTHER
I hope not.

(TATEH and THE LITTLE GIRL appear on the opposite side of the trolley tracks. TATEH has put a rope around her arm, which he keeps tied around his own waist. They both carry their belongings. Only the peddler's cart has been jettisoned. As TATEH approaches a TROLLEY CONDUTOR, MOTHER and THE LITTLE BOY watch, fascinated.)

TATEH
Mister, please, where is this?

CONDUCTOR
You're in New Rochelle.

(TATEH shows him a handful of coins.)

TATEH
How much farther can I get on this?

(CONDUCTOR looks at coins.)

CONDUCTOR
That should see you and the little girl clear to Boston and environs.

TATEH
What's further than Boston?

CONDUCTOR
Nothing's further than Boston. You can take the rope off her. This ain't the city.

(He laughs, smiles at THE LITTLE GIRL and goes.)

THE LITTLE BOY
Mother!

11. NOTHING LIKE THE CITY - Ragtime Musical Script -

MOTHER
I see! I see. He's afraid of losing her. Immigrants are terrified of losing their children. So are we, but just not so conspicuously. Don't stare. It's not polite to stare.

TATEH
He's a rude little boy. Ignore him. People of good breeding do not stare at other people. They acknowledge them politely with a bow. Like this.

(He bows across the platform to MOTHER.)

TATEH
Good day.

MOTHER
Good day, sir.

TATEH
She called me "sir".
Without a doubt
We're really out of New York City!

MOTHER
Fine weather, isn't it?

TATEH
Isn't it?
Now that we're out of the city, isn't it?

BOTH
Nothing like the city...

THE LITTLE GIRL
He's still staring.

TATEH
Never mind.

THE LITTLE BOY
My father's at the North Pole,
With Admiral Peary and Eskimos!
Where is your mother?

THE LITTLE GIRL
Dead.

MOTHER
Edgar!

THE LITTLE BOY
My name is Edgar. We're off to visit our fireworks factory.
What is your name?

THE LITTLE GIRL
No name.

THE LITTLE BOY
That's impossible.
Everyone has a name.
Even the little Negro baby who lives in our attic!!

MOTHERSshh. Do not by rude!He talks.TATEHI see that.MOTHERHe also stares.You'd thinkHe'd neverSeen someone From New York City.TATEHThat's children,Isn't it?MOTHERIsn't it?BOTHAlways another surprise,Isn't it? THE LITTLE BOYI never knew anyoneWho stayed on a ropeLike a puppy dog.What does it feel like?THE LITTLE GIRLSafe.THE LITTLE BOYSafe?THE LITTLE GIRLYes.THE LITTLE BOYEveryone's safein New Rochelle.THE LITTLE GIRLSafe?THE LITTLE BOYyes.

CONDUCTOR
Boston Post Road trolley! Boston!

MOTHER
Well.

TATEH
Well.
Have a pleasant day, ma'am.

MOTHER
Have a pleasant trip, sir...

MOTHER & TATEH (to themselves)
Nothing like the city...

(TATEH and THE LITTLE GIRL depart, leaving MOTHER and THE LITTLE BOY looking after them.)

CONDUCTOR
Mamaroneck! All aboard for Mamaroneck!

THE LITTLE BOY
We know those people.

MOTHER
That's ridiculous. They're poor foreigners.

THE LITTLE BOY
Then we're going to know them.

MOTHER
Who put such thoughts in your head?

(MOTHER and THE LITTLE BOY exit to board the trolley.)

11a. FIREMEN/COALHOUSE CROSSOVER

(COALHOUSE's search for SARAH has taken him past the Emerald Isle firehouse. The FIREMEN and their chief, WILLIE CONKLINE, are outside in their shirtsleeves horsing around. They stop at the sight of COALHOUSE.)

COALHOUSE
Good day, gentlemen. I'm looking for Broadview Avenue in New Rochelle.

WILLIE CONKLIN
This ain't it. This is the Emerald Isle volunteer firehouse and this is a private road, nigger. Try turning around and going back where you came from.

COALHOUSE
I can see that I am not going to receive the courtesy of an answer from you gentlemen. Good day.

(He tips his hat and drives off.)

FIREMAN
Did you see that, Will? That impudent, cocky, king of the road smirk?

WILLIE CONKLIN
That, gentlemen, is a man to be pitied: A nigger who doesn't know he's a nigger. If he's smart, he won't pass this way again.

(THE FIREMEN exit, as lights come up on SARAH, alone rocking her baby.)

12. YOUR DADDY'S SON

SARAH (rocking her baby)
Ooh...
Daddy played piano
Played it very well
Music from those hands could
Catch you like a spell
He could make you love him
'Fore the tune was done
You have your daddy's hands
You are your daddy's son
Ooh...
Daddy never knew that you were on your way
He had other ladies,
And other tunes to play
When he up and left me
I just up and run
Only thing in my head--
You were your daddy's son
Couldn't hear no music
Couldn't see no light
Mama, she was frightened
Crazy from the fright
Tears without no comfort
Screams without no sound
Only darkness and pain
The anger and pain
The blood and the pain!
I buried my heard in the ground!
In the ground--
When I buried you in the ground
Daddy played piano
Bet he's playin' still
Mama can't forget him
Don't suppose I will
God wants no excuses
I have only one:
You had your daddy's hands
Forgive me.
You were your daddy's son

13. THE COURTSHIP

(MOTHER gently takes the baby from SARAH.)

MOTHER
Sarah, let me take him for awhile. You haven't slept.

(MOTHER takes the baby to the kitchen and puts him in a small crib. THE LITTLE BOY is there. There comes a knock at the screen door.)

MOTHER
Yes?

COALHOUSE
I'm looking for a young woman of colour whose name is Sarah. She is said to reside in one of these houses.

THE LITTLE BOY
She's here. She's living in our attic.

COALHOUSE
Will you tell her, please, that Mr. Coalhouse Walker, Jr., desires to speak with her?

MOTHER
Certainly. Please wait there.
Edgar?

(MOTHER goes upstairs.)

THE LITTLE BOY
This is Sarah's baby. You want a cookie.

(THE LITTLE BOY goes into the pantry.)

MOTHER
Sarah, you have a caller. A Mr. Walker. Will you come down to the kitchen?

SARAH
No, ma'am. Send him away, please.

MOTHER
Well, that's the most words you've spoken since you've been here.

(COALHOUSE opens the screen door, comes into the kitchen and looks down at his son. He picks him up.)

COALHOUSE
Hmmmm...

(MOTHER comes back into the kitchen and is upset to see that COALHOUSE has presumed to come into the house and pick up the baby.)

MOTHER (taking back the baby)
Sarah is unable to see you. Good day.

COALHOUSE
Thank you, ma'am. Tell her I'll come back next Sunday.

(He goes.)

GRANDFATHER (entering)
Such was the coming of the coloured man in the car to Broadview Avenue.

(YOUNGER BROTHER and THE LITTLE BOY join GRANDFATHER in the front parlor.)

ALL
Each Sunday he'd come driving
Curtains would part
Neighbours would peek

(MOTHER opens the door for COALHOUSE.)

MOTHER
I'm sorry, Mr. Walker. Sarah still will not receive you.

COALHOUSE
Will you see that she gets these flowers, ma'am?

MOTHER, ALL
Week after week!
And after weeks of Sundays

MOTHER
Sending him off seemed a crime...
(spoken)
Mr. Walker, it must be a long drive for you. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea before you go?

ALL
It was the music of something beginning:

(COALHOUSE sips his tea without any embarrassment.)

COALHOUSE
I am a professional pianist ma'am. I'm now with the Jim Europe Clef Club Orchestra. They're quite well known. It's important for a musician to find a place that is permanent, a job that requires no traveling. I am through traveling. I am through going on the road.

MOTHER
Won't you play something for us, Mr. Walker?

(COALHOUSE tests the piano.)

COALHOUSE
This piano is badly in need to a tuning.

MOTHER
Oh yes. We are terrible about that.

(COALHOUSE plays a few more notes.)

GRANDFATHER
Do you know any coon songs?

(COALHOUSE stops playing.)

COALHOUSE
Coon songs are made for minstrel shows. White men sing them in blackface. This is called Ragtime.

(He resumes, now in earnest.)

YOUNGER BROTHER
Small, clear chords hung in the air like flowers. The melodies were like bouquets. There seemed to be no other possibilities for life than those delineated by his music.

GRANDFATHER
Ill-tuned or not, the Aeolian had never mad such sounds.

ALL
And months flew by in moments
Hearing those melodies climb:

(FATHER returns from the North Pole. He stands in the front hall, bearded, rough-hewn, laden with exotic gifts. BRIGIT, the new maid, enters with a dust mop. From the parlor, we can hear COALHOUSE playing.)

FATHER
I'm home! Mother! Grandfather!

(BRIGIT screams at the sight of him.)

BRIGIT
Who the hell are you?

FATHER
Who in God's name are you?

BRIGIT
I'm Brigit! All right, that's enough, the back door for you, you brazen peddler.

FATHER
This is my home. I live here.

THE LITTLE BOY
Father! Father!

BRIGIT
Oh Holy Mother, it's the master!

(She runs out, embarrassed.)

FATHER
You were in short pants.

THE LITTLE BOY
Short pants are for little boys!

(MOTHER enters. She has pencils in her hair. She carries the baby under one arm and a ledger book under the other.)

MOTHER
Hello. I hope that's you under all that or I am going to kiss a strange man.

(SHE kisses FATHER.)

MOTHER
It's him! Welcome home. We've missed you terribly. Did you get all the way to the North Pole?

FATHER
No, only Admiral Peary and his first officer, Mr. Henson did.

MOTHER
Well, they're professionals.

FATHER
I got to 72 degrees, 46 minutes, a very respectable way.

MOTHER
I should say so!

FATHER
My left heel kept freezing.

MOTHER
Well get you into a nice hot tub then. I look a fright. You weren't expected. You're just in time to help with the six-months audit. Business is wonderful. I adore going down there. I think you should pay me a salary.

FATHER
What are you holding?

MOTHER
Sarah's child.

THE LITTLE BOY
We found him in the garden.

FATHER
Who's Sarah? What is that music?

THE LITTLE BOY
Coalhouse. He's courting Sarah. That's their baby. He comes every Sunday.

MOTHER
He's hoping Sarah will eventually take pity and come down to him.

FATHER
How long has this been going on?

MOTHER
I don't remember.

THE LITTLE BOY
Five months. I've been counting. Coalhouse is teaching me to play the piano.

MOTHER
I think what we are witnessing is, in fact, a courtship of the most stubborn Christian kind.

FATHER
Yes, if you can call a courtship what has already produced a bastard child.

MOTHER
I find that an unkind remark.

FATHER
I find your welcoming of such a situation unfathomable.

MOTHER
There was suffering and now there is penitence. It's very grand and I'm sorry for you that you don't see it. I did not expect you to come home a different man but I had hoped to find you a kinder one. I'll see about your tub.

(SHE goes. FATHER is alone, confused. HE reacts as COALHOUSE strikes up a new tune on the piano in the parlor.)

14. NEW MUSIC

FATHER
Where have I been?
How did we change,
Caught in this strange new music?
Say, was I away too long?

MOTHER
Just like that tune
Simple and clear
I've come to hear

BOTH
New music

MOTHER
Why,
Why can't you hear the song?

YOUNGER BROTHER
His fingers stroke those keys
And every note says, "Please",
And every chord says, "Turn my way"

MOTHER, FATHER
I thought I knew what love was
But these lovers play...

MOTHER, FATHER, YOUNGER BROTHER
New music!
Haunting me, and somehow taunting me,
My love was never half as true

FATHER
And I ask myself
Why can't I sing it, too.

WORKERS, NEIGHBOURS
His fingers stroke those keys
And every note says, "Please",
And every chord says, "Turn my way"

WORKERS, NEIGHBOURS & FAMILY
I thought I knew what love was
But these lovers play
New music!

ALL
Haunting me, and somehow taunting me,
My love was never half as true

COALHOUSE
Sarah, my life has changed
Sarah, you've got to see
Sarah, we've got a son!
Sarah, come down to me...

(SARAH stands upstairs, undecided. She slowly moves toward the door.)

SARAHYou and your music,Singing deep in me,Making nice to meSaying something so new...Changing everythingMeaning everythingCalling my heart to youPlay that melodyYour sweet melodyCalling my heart to you COALHOUSENewMusicAll for you, girlYou, SarahYou

(SARAH comes down the stairs. The FAMILY reacts as she walks into COALHOUSE'S embrace.)

ALL (except COALHOUSE and SARAH)
Just like that tune,
Simple and clear
I've come to hear new music
Breaking my heart
Op'ning a door
Changing the world!
New music!
I'll hear it forevermore!

14a. NEW MUSIC PLAYOFF

(SARAH nods a happy, tearful assent. The music changes into the vamp for "WHEELS OF A DREAM" as we find ourselves on an idyllic hillside in the country. COALHOUSE has been polishing his car. SARAH, amused at his fastidiousness, holds their son.)

SARAH
You've been polishing that car so hard there ain't gonna be anything left for us to ride home in!

COALHOUSE
You laugh but you wait, you'll see. This is no ordinary car, Sarah. This car is going to take us to a better day and a better time.

SARAH
Who have you been talking to, Coalhouse?

COALHOUSE
No one, but I've been reading the words of Mr. Booker T. Washington. He's a great man, Sarah.

SARAH
I think you're a great man, Coalhouse.

COALHOUSE
Not like that, Sara, not like that. Harvard University awarded him a degree. Imagine that. Imagine what this child's life can be.

15. WHEELS OF A DREAM

(SARAH gives COALHOUSE the baby.)

COALHOUSE
I see his face.
I hear his heartbeat.
I look in those eyes.
How wise they seem.
Well, when he is old enough
I will show him America
And he will ride
On the wheels of a dream.

COALHOUSEWe'll go down SouthAnd see your peopleWon't they take to himLike cats to cream! SARAHGo down South,See my folks.They'll take to himMmm...

COALHOUSE
Then we'll travel on from there

SARAH
California or who knows where!

BOTH
And we will ride
On the wheels of a dream.

COALHOUSE
Yes, the wheels are turning for us, girl
And the times are starting to roll
Any man can get where he wants to
If he's got some fire in his soul
We'll see justice, Sarah,
And plenty of men
Who will stand up and give us our due
Oh, Sarah, it's more than promises
Sarah, it must be true
A country that lets a man like me
Own a car, raise a child, build a life with you...
With you...

SARAH
With you...

BOTH
Beyond that road,
Beyond this lifetime
That car full of hope
Will always gleam
With the promise of happiness
And the freedom he'll live to know
He'll travel with head held high
Just as far as his heart can go
And he will ride --
Our son will ride --
On the wheels of a dream.

16. TATEH AT THE LOOM

(The lights come up on TATEH. HE is now labouring in a mill. EMMA GOLDMAN enters.)

EMMA GOLDMAN
I have just returned from Lawrence, Massachusetts. I met an old friend there, an artist, a poet with scissors and paper, but who now stands at a loom sixty-four hours a week. His fingers were bleeding. I almost did not recognize him. His pay is six dollars.

TATEH
My daughter is shivering. There is no heat. There are worms in the scraps they feed us.

EMMA GOLDMAN
He looked like his own daughter's grandfather.

TATEH
I will not bow down to these mill owners. I will dine on their coffins, she will dance on their graves.

EMMA GOLDMAN
This is not the America he came here for. None of us did. None of us!


16a. THE NIGHT THAT GOLDMAN SPOKE AT UNION SQUARE (PART 1)

(STRIKERS enter, shouting and we see that EMMA GOLDMAN is addressing a rally. YOUNGER BROTHER is in her audience. It snows.)

EMMA GOLDMAN
But there is hop comrades. Eight weeks ago, these same workers - Italians, Poles, Belgians, Russian Jews - with one voice said "No!" to the mill owners and went on strike. They are starving, their children are dying but they are holding firm, and we must support them.

YOUNGER BROTHER
It was winter in New York
As the snow began to fall
And the workmen's hall had not a seat to spare
When a young man ducked inside
Just to warm himself, was all,
The night that Goldman spoke at Union Square

EMMA
What is happening in Lawrence is happening everywhere. Let us at last make this the land of opportunity for all people, not just the owners. The land of opportunity for Tateh and his little girl. We cannot rest!

YOUNGER BROTHER
She was speaking loud and fast
Through a haze of noise and heat
And the smell of sweat and anger in the air
The police were standing by
But the crowd was on its feet
The night that Goldman spoke at Union Square.

EMMA (pointing at YOUNGER BROTHER)
You!

YOUNGER BROTHER
He thought he heard her say...

EMMA
What brings you here today?

16b. THE NIGHT THAT GOLDMAN SPOKE AT UNION SQUARE (PART 2) - Ragtime Musical Script -

EMMA, RALLYERS
Poor young rich boy!

EMMA
Masturbates for a vaudeville tart!
What a waste of a fiery heart, dear

YOUNGER BROTHER
He thought she said...

EMMA, RALLYERS
Poor young bourgeois!

EMMA
There are things that you've never thought
Come to Emma and you'll be taught here!

YOUNGER BROTHER
His head was spinning!

EMMA, RALLYERS
People feathered and tarred, my friend
Unions broken, and why for?
Children labouring, women still enslaved!
Leave your little backyard, my friend
There are causes to die for!

RALLYERS
Strike!

YOUNGER BROTHER
In the gutters of the city
I have tried to find some meaning

RALLYERS
Strike!

YOUNGER BROTHER
In the arms of fallen women
In the thought of suicide

RALLYERS
Strike!

YOUNGER BROTHERLike a firework unexploded,Wanting life but never knowing how...RALLYERSStrike!YOUNGER BROTHERTill now! EMMAMy brother,Life has meaningI'll show you how!My brother, you are with us now!

He was calling out her name
Shouting what, he did not know
And he found that he was standing on a chair
With a heart as clean and new
As the freshly fallen snow
The night that Goldman spoke...

EMMA (to YOUNGER BROTHER)
I've been waiting for you.

YOUNGER BROTHER
At Union Square.

16c. LAWRENCE, MASS. SEQUENCE

WORKERS
Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!

(EMMA is being arrested. YOUNGER BROTHER picks up the challenge. We are now in Lawrence, Mass. Men with rifles assemble. STRIKE ORGANIZERS try to calm the STRIKERS.)

YOUNGER BROTHER
The strike in Lawrence became famous. The press called it the Children's Crusade. Public indignation grew. The mill owners were not slow in calling in the militia to protect their property.

VARIOUS ORGANIZERS (to Tateh)
Take the bread. It's not charity. Your bosses want you weak.

WORKERS
Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!

(TATEH and THE LITTLE GIRL are in their room, getting ready for her departure.)

TATEH
This is a wise plan. It's too dangerous here. You're going to a nice Jewish home in Philadelphia. Kosher. I made certain. These are your mittens. See? I put a string so you don't lose them. Your Tateh thinks of everything.

Mrs. Whitstein will be on the train with you children. I'll come for you soon. Now hurry! You'll miss the train!

(Train whistle.)

MRS. WHITSTEIN
Put the children on the train! Get them out of here!

(TATEH gives THE LITTLE GIRL to a woman boarding the train for Philadelphia and safety. MILITIAMEN raise their rifles. WOMEN scream. Suddenly, violence is everywhere. Another woman runs near TATEH, she is struck down by a militiaman and falls to the ground. As TATEH bend to help her...)

TATEH
I hate you, goddamned America!

(...a POLICEMAN cracks him on the head with his nightstick. TATEH stumbles away. He is dazed and nearly vanquished. The platform around him is crowded with bloodied bodies and victims. We hear the sound of the train beginning to move off.)

THE LITTLE GIRL
Tateh! Tateh!

(TATEH is suddenly aware of what is happening. HE begins to run in the direction of the train.)

(farther off)

Tateh! Tateh!

(almost inaudible)

Tateh! Tateh!

(TATEH jumps on to the back of the train. He climbs onto the caboose and holds the LITTLE GIRL.)

17. GLIDING

TATEH
Sshhh. Don't cry. Don't be afraid. I'm here. We're together. Sshhh. Look! Ssshhh. Look what I've made for you.

(He shows her a small handmade "flip book".)

See the silhouettes.
It's a little book of silhouettes
When you flip the pages, they move.
Look how nice!
This is you on skates
Turning pretty figure-eights
On the smooth, cool ice...
We are gliding, gliding on a pond.
Close your eyes. Close your eyes.
We are gliding, gliding far beyond
Close your eyes. Close your eyes.
Feel the wind as you pirouette...
Are you happy yet?
Are you happy yet?
Your Mameh would tell you:
"Imagine you're fearless.
Imagine you're fearless
And soon, you won't fear!"
When I am afraid
I imagine your Mameh
She skates just ahead
Can you see her?
She's here!
And we're gliding, gliding far away
Pirouettes, figure-eights, silver skates...
Just down the track
Glide with me, little one
Glide with your Tateh
We'll never look back!

CONDUCTOR
Philadelphia! Last stop, Philadelphia!

(calling to an unseen engineer)

All clear!

(TATEH and THE LITTLE GIRL disembark from the train. The conductor notices the flip book.)

CONDUCTOR
My kid would like that. How much?

TATEH
It's not for...A dollar?

CONDUCTOR
It's a deal. What do you call it?

TATEH
I...

CONDUCTOR
It's gotta have a name. I'm not paying this much for something without a name.

TATEH
They move. I call them...movie...books!

(The CONDUCTOR goes.)

17a. GLIDING (PART 2)

Your father is a smart man! With this money, we'll get a clean bed and a hot bath, and tomorrow we will make more of these and we will sell them for two dollars. Tateh's movie book! Everyone will want them. They just don't know that yet!

We are gliding, gliding far away
Pirouettes, figure-eights, silver skates
Just down the track!
Glide with me, little one
Glide with your Tateh
We'll never look back!

18. BOOKER T. WASHINGTON'S SPEECH

(Lights come up on BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, making a speech.)

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
And I say to you, gentlemen, that every race or notion that has ever got upon its feet has done so through struggle and persecution; and out of this very resistance to wrong, out of the struggle against odds, they have gained strength.

(COALHOUSE and SARAH and the baby are returning to New Rochelle in the Model T.
WILLIE CONKLIN and his MEN appear, goofing off in front of the firehouse. We hear the familiar sound of a Model T coming toward us. The MEN begin to fan out. COALHOUSE and SARAH find their way barred by WILLIE CONKLIN and the EMERALD ISLE FIREMEN. Nastiness hangs in the air.)

COALHOUSE
Sarah. Go down the road and wait.

SARAH
I'm not going to leave you.

COALHOUSE
Do it, Sarah.

SARAH
Stubborn, righteous man.

(SARAH hurries off with the baby.)

COALHOUSE
Let me pass.

CONKLIN
Gladly. That will be twenty-five dollars. This is a private toll road.

COALHOUSE
Since when?

CONKLIN
Since some high-falutin' nigger and his whore and his whore's baby thought they could drive that goddamn car of their any place they pleased, that's since when.

(COALHOUSE gets out of the car.)

CONKLIN
Running away, nigger?

COALHOUSE
I am going to find a policeman. If anyone touches my car before I return, he will answer to Coalhouse.

CONKLIN
Tell him Fire Chief Will Conklin sends his regards!

(The FIREMEN laugh as COALHOUSE walks away.)

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
We must exhibit patience.

18a. THE TRASHING OF THE CAR

(The FIREMEN descend on the car and destroy it.)

Self-control. Forbearance. And dwell above hatred and acts of cruelty.

(BOOKER T. WASHINGTON disappears.)

COALHOUSE
Coalhouse found a policeman but he refused to help. When he returned to his car, the Model T was spattered with mud. There was a twenty-inch tear in the custom pantasote top. The tires had been slashed and all the windows broken. Deposited on the seat was a mound of fresh human excrement.

CONKLIN
Come on, fellas, let's roll her into the pond and see if she floats!

(CONKLIN and the FIREMEN exit, laughing and pushing COALHOUSE'S car as SARAH returns.)

SARAH
Come on, Coalhouse. Come on. It doesn't matter.

19. JUSTICE - Ragtime Musical Script -

COALHOUSE
We'll see justice, Sarah
And plenty of men
Who will stand up and give us our due!

TOWN HALL BUREAUCRAT
Well, you can sign another complaint, Mr. Walker, but volunteer firemen are not municipal employees, and therefore do not come under the jurisdiction of the city. I'm sorry.

SECOND BUREAUCRAT
I'm still tracing your first complaint, Mr. Walker. Are you sure you filed it with this office. Let me look again.

COALHOUSE
Justice, Sarah.
This is America.

MOTHER
I am ashamed that our community is represented in his mind by that bunch of toughs.

FATHER
Let me talk to my lawyer.

YOUNGER BROTHER
That's all it will be: talk, talk, talk!

COALHOUSE
The law's the law.
The law's been broken
Why should I turn the other cheek?
What about justice!

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
The bureaucrats and bunglers
The attorneys who smiled

WHITE ATTORNEY
My advice is recover your car and forget the whole matter.

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
The clerks and the officials
And the forms that were filed

CLERK
This is to get a place on the court calendar. This for change of venue...

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
So many roads to justice
Around the bend

BLACK LAWYER
I want justice for our people so bad I can taste it. But I won't waste my time on a mere case of vandalism when I have real injustices to take to the courts.

PEOPLE OF HARLEM
And every road a new dead end!

COALHOUSE
I will not move
From where I'm standing
Till what's mine is restored to me
I'm not some fool
I'm not their nigger!
I will have what's fairly owed me!
And till then, I will not marry...

(MOTHER approaches SARAH.)

MOTHER
We understand Mr. Walker's outrage. We share it. All decent people do.

SARAH
He said, "Wheels are turning for us, girl."

MOTHER
But I'm sure there's some way to settle this affair without calling off the wedding.

SARAH
He said, "Times are starting to roll."

MOTHER
To be so close to the happiness you both deserve and have it come to this!

(SARAH moves away from MOTHER.)

SARAH
Well, I know he'll get where he wants to
'Cause he's got that fire in his soul
Said, "There's justice, Sarah,
And plenty of men who will stand up and give us our due."
Well, you'll have your due, Coalhouse,
Yes, you'll have your due.

19a. PRESIDENT

YOUNGER BROTHER
The Republican vice-presidential candidate was to be in the city that evening to attend a rally. The Secret Service was at the ready. The recent assassination of President McKinley had been a lesson well learned. Guns were going off everywhere.

(The Vice Presidential campaign enters. Posters, banners, a marching band, the incumbent candidate waving. He poses for photographs with J.P. MORGAN on the back of a train. But it's all slightly surreal, as filtered through SARAH's consciousness.)

SARAH
I'll tell him...
President, I am coming to you
On behalf of Coalhouse Walker
He don't know I'm here...
He's much too proud!
And I ain't much of a talker
But President, he needs your help, sir
You're the only one
'Cause Coalhouse, he won't marry me
Till this thing is done
And President, we got a son!

(The march music is suddenly very loud, very real. SARAH breaks through the police barricade and rushes towards him, her arm outstretched to him.)

SARAH
President! President!!

MORGAN
She's got a gun!

(The police officers club SARAH with their nightsticks. She falls to the ground.)

20. TILL WE REACH THAT DAY

MORGAN
I saw a gun!

(The CROWD, MORGAN, THE CANDIDATE and POLICEMEN disappear. COALHOUSE enters and rushes to SARAH'S lifeless body.)

COALHOUSE
Noooooo!!!

(People lift SARAH up. The dirge begins.)


MOURNERS
Oh...
Oh...
Oh...

(We are now at Sarah's funeral. To the slow rhythm of a drum, a processional enters bearing SARAH'S coffin.)

SARAH'S FRIEND
There's a day of hope
May I live to see,
When our hearts are happy
And our souls are free
Let the new day dawn
Oh, Lord, I pray
We'll never get to heaven
Till we reach that day

OTHER MOURNERSIt's a day of peace.A day of prideA day of justiceWe have been deniedWhen a man can liveAnd a child can playWe'll never get to heaven Till we reach that day SARAH'S FRIENDA day of prideIt's been denied

COALHOUSE
What they did to her
What they took from her
She had life in her
Lord, she had my baby!
Look what they left of her
Left of her, left of my girl!

EMMAShe was nothing to themShe was a woman.MOTHER & EMMANothing and no one to them COALHOUSEMy girl.

EMMA, MOTHER & COALHOUSE
So they beat her
And beat her and beat her and...

MOURNERSA day of peaceA day of prideA day of justiceWe have been deniedLet the new day dawnOh Lord... COALHOUSEThere was blood on the groundCOALHOUSE, EMMA, MOTHERShe was only a girlCOALHOUSE, EMMA, YOUNGER BROTHER, MOTHER, FATHERIt will happen againABOVE, PLUS IMMIGRANTS, HARLEMIt will happen againAnd again and again

TATEH
Why does nobody care?

YOUNGER BROTHER, EMMA
There is blood in the air!

WOMEN
We have voices and souls!

COALHOUSE, MOTHER, EMMA, YOUNGER BROTHER
What is wrong with this country?

IMMIGRANTS
She was somebody's child!

HARLEM MEN
There are Negroes out there!

IMMIGRANTS, BLACKS, WOMEN with EMMA (shouting over)
There are people out there!

ALL
Give the people
A day of peace
A day of pride
A day of justice
We have been denied
Let the new day dawn
Oh, Lord, I pray...
We'll never get to heaven
Till we reach that day


END OF ACT ONE

-ACT TWO-

21. ENTR'ACTE

23. COALHOUSE'S SOLILOQUY

COALHOUSE
Say goodbye to music.
Say goodbye to light.
Anything I care for,
Take it from my sight.
Let me see no future
Let me hear no sound
Only darkness and pain
The anger and pain
The blood and the pain
They buried my heart in the ground....
In the ground...
When they buried you in the ground.
I see your face...
And we will ride
On the wheels of a new dream, Sarah,
A new time, Sarah,
Now, I'll play them the music
Of something beginning
An era exploding
A century spinning--
My law and my justice
In rhythm and rhyme!
Listen to that Ragtime!

(Three gun shots are fired--Headline projected: "Three Firemen Dead".)

24. COALHOUSE DEMANDS (PART 1)

NEWSBOY #1
Extra! Arsonist destroys Emerald Isle Engine Company!

NEWSBOY #2
Negro gunman shoots three dead!

NEWSBOY #3
Extra! Terror stalks New Rochelle! Murderer's demands revealed!

COALHOUSE
One--that my car be returned to me in its original condition.
Two--that the white excrescence known as Fire Chief Will Conklin,
the one who instigated this crime, be turned over to
Last Update:March, 01st 2019

Ragtime script
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