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ent from most girls. But then Jo grew up and
wrote books, and there aren't many girls do that.
I wish I could have been a boy then instead of
now, and played the villain in their plays.

Next week we are to have rehearsals of the
play the first three acts to begin on. Then if it
goes all right, we can begin to fix up the Barnville.
The weather is too cold now, but by the time we
are ready to give the play it will be warm enough.
Hal thinks we can give it Easter vacation. School
is out for a week then. I have it all marked off


on the calendar. Vacation begins Friday, March
31, and school starts again Monday, April 9. Hal
and Larry want us to give the play on Wednes-
day of vacation week.

Larry's cousin, Edgar Donovan, is in the High
School Dramatic Club. He is a senior this year.
Larry told him all about the Barnstormers, and he
has promised to help us some. He let Larry have
a book called "Hints to Amateur Thespians."
Larry showed it to us to-day at noon-hour. None
of us knew what Thespians meant, but the book
was all about giving plays in double parlors, and
how to make curtains and scenery, and so on.
I think the book will be quite a help to us.

That word Thespians made me curious, so I
looked it up in the big dictionary on teacher's
desk. That said it came from Thespis, founder
of the Greek drama, and that Thespians were

But I still wanted to know more, so at supper
I asked dad if he knew anything about Thespis.
He looked funny, and said something to mother,
and they both smiled. He told me to wait till
I was through supper, and then I could read about


Thespis for myself. So we got the Sou-ViT vol-
ume of the encyclopaedia, and I found Thespis,
but it said to look under drama. So I got the
CHI-ELE volume.

That article on drama was full of terribly big
words, and had a lot of stuff in it I didn't under-
stand, but I managed to get a little out of it.

They had something like plays way back even
in Old Testament times, so this said, and then
when it came down to Greek times, the Greeks
had all sorts of plays. These plays started through
people singing in choruses. Thespis put speeches
in between the songs, so they call him the father
of Greek drama. Then nothing much happened
in a dramatic way during the Middle Ages until
about the twelfth century when the churches
began having little plays at Easter time. These
were all about Christ's birth, and were part of
the service. After a while they began giving these
plays outside the church in the churchyard, and
they became so popular that they had them for
all the other holidays and saints' days. Then
people began to write little plays about Bible char-
acters, and these were given on wagons, like the


floats we have in parades to-day. Finally, real
theatres were built, and then Shakespeare came,
and he wrote real plays like the ones we have at
the present time.

Dad talked to me a lot about plays after I had
read that article on drama. He seemed to be
quite proud of me because I wanted to know
about such things. He promised that if I made
good grades at school and kept up my deport-
ment grade to where it ought to be, that the next
time he went to the city I should go along and
he would take me to the theatre. Wouldn't that
be great!

Sunday, February 26.

It's a nasty Sunday rain and snow all mixed
up. I have a cold, and can't go out. Hal prom-
ised to come over, but he hasn't.

T have been reading the "Hints to Amateur
Thespians." I think it will help us quite a bit.
In the "Introductory Remarks," it says that, "It
must be understood that this work is intended
to aid where there are none of the facilities of a
theatre, to assist an intelligent little company


who are forced to change a parlor, lodge room, or
other large apartment into a place of amusement
with a stage and its accessories." I reckon a
barn will serve just as well as a "parlor, lodge
room, or other large apartment"! We have the
intelligent little company, anyway.

Then the "Hints" goes on to tell how to make
the curtain go up and down, and how to make
scenery, and a wind machine, and a thunder sheet,
and all sorts of things. The funniest part is the
chapter "To the Stage-Manager." It says your
company should be divided into:


Leading man, Juvenile man,

Heavy man, Old man and characters,

Light comedian, Walking gentleman,
Low comedian, Utility.


Leading lady, Juvenile lady,

Soubrette and ingenue, Old lady.

Aren't those names funny? I understood what
the leading man was, but the "heavy" sounded


queer. It says later that he is the one who plays
the villain parts. So Hal is our "heavy." I
didn't know what the "walking gentleman" could
be, but it says he's an actor to whom you can
give responsible parts of any sort. Larry is our
"walking gentleman," I suppose. Of course, I
am the leading lady. He-haw!

Then the "Hints" teUs aU about rehearsals and
what you should do at them. First it says you
should have "reading rehearsals." Each person
reads from his own part. That is to help you be-
fore you begin to learn the lines. You can have
as many of these as you think necessary. I think
we will need four or five, at least. Then, when you
have learned your lines, you have regular re-
hearsals. Somebody acts as prompter, keeping the
play before him ready to tell you if you make a
mistake. When you start on these regular re-
hearsals you begin to work out your positions on
the stage, and you try to remember them, just as
you would your lines.

Say, I am sure glad I had my hunch! We are
going to have more fun out of the Barnstormers
than anything we ever did before!


Monday, February 27.

It is ten o'clock! I ought to be in bed, but we
have just finished a reading rehearsal of the play,
and I want to "write it up."

We did pretty well, I think, considering that
it was our first rehearsal. We each read from our
parts, and I kept the book before me to see that
we had the lines the same as they are there. It
took an hour to get through the play, and after
that we talked about our plans for another hour.
We never would have quit, I guess, if Mrs. Jame-
son hadn't called up mother by 'phone and asked
her to send Hal and John home.

Larry says he will not be stage-manager he
doesn't like the things the stage-manager has to
do. Hal has agreed to take the job off his hands,
and Larry is to be property-man instead. The
"Hints to Amateur Thespians" tells all about the

property-man and what he has to do. He is



the one who looks after the properties, and the
properties are everything you use in the play, like
the keys Zara gets from Selim, and the scroll
with the death-warrant, and the necklace Bernardo
brings Zara, and so on, even to the furniture.
Who would ever think you would have to have
somebody just to look after little things like those!
Still, if they weren't there at the right time you
couldn't go on with the show.

Before the reading rehearsal we had a meeting
of the Barnstormers' Dramatic Club. I asked
dad at supper how we ought to do, and he said
the meeting should be run according to parlia-
mentary rules. That didn't mean much to me,
and I guess I showed my ignorance, for he went
on to explain all about it. A president has charge
of the meeting and calls it to order. Then if a
member wants to talk he says, "Mr. President!"
and if the president wants him to talk he says,
"Mr. So-and-so!" whatever the member's name
is, and then that member "has the floor," and
nobody can talk till he gets through. If you
want to vote on anything you must first make a
motion, which has to be seconded by another


member, after which you vote, and if more people
are for it than against it, it is carried.

I had my doubts about us being able to run
a meeting according to parliamentary rules, but
John knew exactly how it should be done. He's
in the first year of high school and has been
attending the Senior Senate every Friday after-
noon. John said that if we'd start out he would
see that we kept going.

I sat behind the table and pounded on it with
a ruler to "bring the house to order/' which is
what John said I should do. Then next we were
supposed to call the roll only we had to make
out a roll and have a secretary. So Hal got up
and said: "Mr. President, I move Larry be sec-

John said that wasn't the way to do it, that he
must say: "Mr. President, I nominate Mr. Don-
ovan for secretary."

Then Hal said he didn't see what difference it
made, and John said he ought to see if he had any

I was afraid they would get into one of their
brotherly fights and stop the meeting, so I pounded


on the table for order and said: "Mr. Larry-
Donovan has been nominated for secretary. Are
you ready to vote on him?"

They all said they were ready to vote, so we
passed out little slips of paper and wrote yes or
no on them. There were three yeses and one
no that was Larry's own vote, I suppose. It
isn't considered proper to ever vote for yourself.

Then John said I must announce that Mr.
Donovan had been elected secretary, so I did,
and he came up and sat on the opposite side of
the table. He made out a roll and called it, and
everybody answered "here," and then we were
ready to go on with the meeting.

John said Larry must keep the minutes of the
meeting, and Larry said he didn't see how he
could when he didn't have them. Then we all
laughed, and John said that the minutes were
the record of what happened during the meeting,
and that the secretary was supposed to write
them down while the meeting was going on.

So I gave Larry a sheet of paper to write the
minutes on, and Larry said he supposed he ought
to tick them out sixty seconds at a time ; and then


we all laughed again, and John said it was a rum
joke; but Larry didn't get mad just grinned like
he always does.

Hal said, "Let's drive on," so we did.

Then John said, "Mr. President," and I said,
"Mr. Jameson," just like I was supposed to do,
and he asked if he had the floor, and I said I
reckoned he did if he wanted it. Then John
looked important and began: "We should have
a constitution for the Barnstormers' Dramatic
Club, so I wish to present the following:


"The name of this organization shall be known
as the Barnstormers' Dramatic Club.


"The purpose of the Barnstormers' Dramatic
Club is to give plays.


"When they wish, the charter members may
take other members into the club, but each new
member must be voted on by all the old members,


and all must be in favor of him before he can be
taken into the club.


"Each new member shall be required to pay
an initiation fee of twenty-five cents and monthly
dues of five cents.

"The membership is limited to ten.


"The money taken in at plays may be spent
as the members see fit.

"Meetings shall be held every Monday night."

John stopped and looked around. "What do
you think of it?" he asked.

"Pretty good for a girl to do," said Larry.

John got red in the face and asked Larry what
he meant.

"Why," said Larry, "your sister Elizabeth did
most of it, didn't she?"


John looked funny, and then he said we ought
to be glad she did, because she knew more about
it than all of us put together.

I said I thought John was right, and that we
ought to vote on the new constitution.

So we voted, and everybody was for it, and we
signed it, beginning with myself, like this:


When we had all signed, Larry moved that we
adjourn, which is the way you say "Let's quit,"
and we voted on it. Everybody was for adjourn-
ing, so the meeting came to a close, and we began
the reading rehearsal. That took about an hour,
and after that was over we spent another hour
talking about how we were going to fix up the

"We will have to have some money first," said
Larry. "How much do you suppose it will cost
us to buy stuff for the curtain and scenery?"


Hal said he had been figuring on that, and he
thought we could buy everything for three dol-

"Seventy-five cents from each one of us," I

"Gee!" said Larry. "That's a lot of money!"

Hal went on to explain that he had been mak-
ing some measurements in the barn. He said
that if we made the stage opening ten feet wide
we could have it nine feet high. That would
mean that for the curtain we would need ten
yards of stuff a yard wide. Then we must have
a drop-curtain to use at the back of the stage.
That would have to be nearly as big as the other
one say nine yards for it. Then we would need
six wings to use along the sides of the stage. They
would need to be three feet wide and six feet
high, and would take twelve yards of stuff. So,
adding it all up, we found we would have to buy
thirty-one yards of material. Hal thought we
could get it for five cents a yard, which would
make it cost us a dollar and fifty-five cents.

For the costumes we would have to buy more
material, and Hal thought we could get all of it


for a dollar. We wouldn't need to buy any lights,
because we could get old lamps from home, and
the oil for them could come from home, too. But
there'd be sure to be other things we hadn't
counted on.

Larry started us on the parliamentary business
again by saying: u Mr. President, I move we each
pay seventy-five cents into the treasury."

John seconded the motion, and we voted on it.
It was passed, because everybody voted yes.
But we decided not to pay in the money till we
have the play all ready and can begin work on
the Barnville.

Wednesday, March i.

We had another reading rehearsal this after-
noon. It went better. But Larry was so funny!
Larry is always funny. He was just made that
way with a grin that won't come off.

The first thing I can remember about Larry is
that grin. The day I started to school we had
just moved here that August and I started in
September Larry sat in front of me. I was
scared because I didn't know anybody, and I felt


lonesome. The teacher put some letters on the
board and pointed to an A and asked me what
letter it was did I know? I said, "Yes'm, it
was A." Then she asked me where it came in
the alphabet, and I said I didn't know because
I had learned to read by asking what printed words
meant, and then by pointing out letters and ask-
ing anybody who would tell me what they were.
I hadn't learned the alphabet in order at all. So
I told the teacher it was just A, and that was all.
Then they laughed at me, and I wanted to cry,
but Larry turned around and grinned real f riendly-
like, and I grinned back, and everything was all
right, because I knew we were friends.

Larry never could read well, so it's funny to
hear him read his part. He reads it all in one
tone not one word any different from the others,
and with a funny little pause in between each one.
Like this (which is one of Selim's speeches to
Zara): "Lady thou hast made a
slave's life happy by thy care and

through the long years I have

served thee hast never bid me

do aught that was not right."


It does sound funny, but he will do better when he
has learned the lines.

Hal is just the opposite. He gets his lines out
so fast that you can scarcely tell when he is
through, for you think he surely can't have
reached the end in such a short time.

John reads his off in real actor style very im-
pressive and dignified and fine. He is going to
make a good hero, all right.

I try to say mine like I think a girl would but
it isn't easy! My voice has begun to change, so
I can't tell what it is going to do next. One time
it's real ladylike, and the next minute it sounds
like a bass viol. I know that if I come out and
say, "Heaven help me," way up high, and then
finish up "whither shall I turn," way down low,
that everybody will roar. But I simply can't
help it.

We haven't told anybody about the Barn-
stormers yet except our own families, of course.
We are planning to keep it all a secret until a week
before the play, and then Hal will tell all about
it in the Gimlet.

The Gimlet is Hal's newspaper. He has a press


that his Uncle Jim, who owns a big paper in Chi-
cago, gave him, and he prints the Gimlet on it
every week. It costs five cents a month, or two
cents a copy. He has fifty subscriptions and
sells several extra copies every week, but he doesn't
make any money, because it takes all that the
paper brings in to buy ink and the other things
he must have to get it out. And then some peo-
ple don't pay their subscriptions either! Mr.
Wharton, who is editor of the Jordan Blade
that's the paper here in town copies from the
Gimlet every week and calls it "our leading ju-
venile journal," and he gives Hal old type and
old cuts to run, and helps him lots of ways.
Some day Hal is going to grow up and own a
paper like his uncle in Chicago.

When Hal prints the Gimlet for March 24, he
will fill it up with the story of " The Captive of
Castile," and the cast, and all about the Barn-
stormers. Then before the play comes off we will
print some bills, and take those around all over
town to the people we know. We do not want
any strangers at our show because they might
make trouble. We aren't going to sell any tickets


to the West-Enders because they would make
trouble sure. They have been sore ever since the
East-End beat them in football last fall and
Larry played on the East-End team.

We are to have printed tickets with a little
blank to fill in with the number of the seat. All
the seats will be reserved, just like they are at
the Masonic Hall for the lecture course.

Oh, the Barnstormers are going to have some


Sunday, March 5.

Yesterday was a fine, warm day, so we had a
rehearsal in the Barnville. Of course it isn't any-
thing but a barn now, but we call it the Barn-
ville, because that is to be the name of it when
it is made into a theatre.

The rehearsal was our first without using parts.
We went through three of the eight scenes. We
marked off the size of the stage and the entrances
with chalk, and used a soap box for a chair. The
"Hints to Amateur Thespians" says you should
"rehearse as soon as possible, and as many times
as possible, on the stage where your play is to be
given." We are trying to follow instructions.

When you begin to rehearse without parts it
seems much more like a play. But all sorts of
things you never thought of before come up.
First of all you must find out which side you



come in from, and then you must know just
where you are to be for every speech, and just
what you are to do. You can't stand and say
your lines as if you were a wooden Indian. You
have to act and it isn't easy. But it comes
easier than you would think. Somehow, when
you get the swing of the thing, you just act with-
out thinking much about it.

In "The Captive of Castile" there are never
more than two people on the stage at one time,
and that makes the play much easier for us. The
book says that the plays were written so that Jo
and Meg could take all the parts, and because of
that you never have more than two characters
appearing at once. Jo took all the male parts
and Meg took all the female parts. If two male
characters came in one scene, Jo would change
from one to the other while Meg said a long speech.
I think, though, it is better to divide the parts
up as we have done, because then no one has so
much to learn.

Giving plays is great fun. We had a perfect
circus yesterday, because we all felt funny, and
we put funny lines into our parts. John said we


shouldn't do it, that it wasn't the thing to do
at all. I suppose it isn't. But we can't be seri-
ous all the time; and Hal was so funny that
even John had to laugh.

The fun started in the second scene. John
doesn't come in that scene at all, so he sat down
in front of us and kept the book before him to
prompt. Hal and I start the scene, and then
later Larry comes in as Selim.

I had the first speech. I said that right. It
is all about how Zara longs to see Ernest again.
Those two surely had a case of love at first sight,
because they just couldn't forget each other.
Why, Zara didn't seem to think about anything
but seeing Ernest again. And Ernest was just
the same way about Zara.

Well, after Zara has told all about how she
longs to see the noble English stranger, Ber-
nardo Hal comes in. He is supposed to say:
"Joyful tidings, Zara! Grenada is free. Here,
love, are gems for thee. They have shone on
many a fair lady's neck, but none more fair than

What he really said was something like this:


" Halloo, kid ! Come kiss papa ! Cheer up ! The
country's saved. Here, little one, are some gum-
drops " and he reached in his pocket and brought
out a pink one and put it in my mouth. But that
was all the further he got with the speech. John
was yelling at him to stop, and Larry was on his
back in a pile of hay laughing till the tears rolled
down his face. I sat down on the soap box and
laughed till I choked on the gum-drop. John
couldn't help himself and laughed too.

Hal was the only serious one of the bunch.
"Well, what's the matter?" he asked. "Nothing
funny to that. I just couldn't think of my first
speech, so I fixed it up to suit myself."

After we had all laughed till we couldn't laugh
any more, and they had pounded me in the back
to get the gum-drop out of my Sunday throat,
we went back to the beginning and started the
scene all over. This time we did it right, be-
cause Hal was serious and said his lines as they
were written. Everything went well until Hal
was ready to make his exit. He is supposed to
say "Adieu, love; I must to the council." I
am sure I don't know what made him do it, but


what he really said was "Adieu, love; I must
to the pig-pen!"

Of course, that broke up the show again. But
we went back a few speeches and did the finish
right, and so John was satisfied.

After Bernardo leaves, Selim comes in. Of
course, Larry thought he must do something funny,
too, since everybody else had tried it. But he
couldn't think of any funny lines to put in place
of the real ones, so he just said some of those so
they sounded funny. John didn't like it, be-
cause he thinks we should do the whole thing very
seriously. Of course, he is right, but we have to
have a little fun as we go along.

When my last speech came I tried to be serious.
It goes: "Oh, Ernest, Ernest! Thy brave heart
shall pine no longer. Another hour, and thou
art free. Chains cannot bind, nor donjons hold,
when woman's love and gratitude are thine."
But Larry and Hal spoiled it for me. They both
pretended to be shedding tears in their handker-
chiefs, and then wrung them out as if they were
soaked with water. No one could be serious with
all that going on.


The third scene is in Ernest's cell. John said
his first speech in real actor style, and Hal and
Larry listened without bothering him. Then I
came in. At first Ernest thinks Zara is a slave
girl and the servant of the lovely lady he res-
cued from the forest. Then, when she turns to
go, her veil falls, and he sees that it is none other
than Zara herself. Of course Ernest and Zara
have to have a love-scene then it just couldn't
be prevented. Well, John and I tried to do the
love-making as we thought it should be done,
but we couldn't, because Hal and Larry made
noises like kisses, and giggled and snickered.

I thought the whole business was funny, too,
and I wanted to laugh, but John was mad. He
told them they didn't know how to behave at
all they carried on just like little kids in the pri-
mary grades, and he didn't know what would
ever happen to them when they got into high
school and had to act grown-up and civilized.

Then they behaved for a while, and we finished
the scene. But we were all ready for some fun,
so we gave a show that we made up as we went


It was a Western drama like one that came
here to the Opera House once. We decided that
I should be the heroine, so as to get in practice,

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Online LibraryMax AleyThe barnstormers; an account of the barnstorming of the barnstormers of the Barnville → online text (page 2 of 12)