(All enter making percussive sounds for 1 minute – as if working). KEN/TONY moves around to sit at front corner of triangle)
KEN/TONY: Long ago in the Dreamtime, there lived a frog called Tiddalik. He was the largest frog ever known. As big as a mountain – and as squat as a tank. When he walked he crushed trees and plants under his enormous webbed feet.
One morning Tiddalik awoke feeling extraordinarily thirsty. It was raining hard so he began to drink the rain. He opened his mouth as wide as he could until all the rain was gone.
But he was still thirsty. He looked down at the pools, and the rivulets, and the streams and he had a swift slurp. What delicious fresh water, he thought. So he drank and drank until every last drop of the earth’s sweet water was drunk.
(JEFF comes and stands inside ring behind KEN/TONY)
JEFF: The animals of the dream-time began to notice that the world was drier than ever. Even though it was the dry season they knew something strange and different was happening. And they said to each other:
OTHERS (in pairs): ‘It’s as if someone is drinking all the water of the world’.
JEFF: When the animals saw that it was Tiddalik they became frightened.
PAUL/ TUPPY: Look how the trees and plants are dying of thirst.
MARION/ BARBARA: Look how the drought is killing insects and animals.
JEFF (to Ken/Tony): Look how Tiddalik grows bigger and bigger – until all the water in the world is inside him.
KEN: The animals were angry and called a meeting to discuss what they should do.
JEFF: Some said that Tiddalik had become too big and powerful and would never give the water back.
BARBARA: Others said that someone must know a way to save the earth.
MARION: And some had become so parched they wanted to give up and die.
KEN: Then the wise old wombat spoke. (She moves forward) She took a step forward into the circle of animals, saying: I have an idea. First we must make Tiddalik laugh and then all the water will come pouring out of his mouth. It will spout like a rushing waterfall out of his mouth. We must try and make him laugh.
JEFF: The animals agreed with Wombat. (directly to KEN/TONY, patting on shoulder) What a good idea. (to audience) They would try and make Tiddalik, the great frog laugh.
(JEFF ducks down to join in SFX – all do more percussion with sense of movement)
JEFF: (up again- but in new place – on the green box to stage right): As the long trail of animals arrived at Tiddalik’s home, the giant frog didn’t even look up. He just sat there, with his enormous belly swollen with water.
BARBARA (at rear): Kookaburra offered to begin. (holds up long pole and feather duster like puppet) She cackled and cawed and flipped and flapped to make Tiddalik laugh. (B makes tickling motions with duster and mock laughter. Then stops trying and puts down pole) But Tidalik didn’t even smile. (B walks around to front) In fact he took no notice whatsoever of the poor kookaburra.
(All express commiserations, with sounds rather than words)
PAUL: Then Kangaroo tried. (Gets audience responding) He hopped about, then jumped over the emu. But Tiddalik just sat there. His puffed-up face was as frozen as green metal.
(All congratulate KANGAROO on trying)
TUPPY: (climbing to front over barrier, holding scrubbing brush): Then Lizard tried. (All respond)
KEN/TONY: She waddled up and down on two legs, (TUPPY waddles across past KEN/TONY) She made her tummy stick really far out. (TUPPY does) And she stuck out her long tongue! (TUPPY does at the WOMBAT)
KEN: No, not at me! At Tiddalak!
KEN: That’s what I said!
TUPPY: You never! You said…
KEN/TONY: Just get on with it!
(TUPPY moves towards frog and blows loud raspberry, helped by SFX crew)
KEN/TONY: But Tiddalik didn’t even blink but kept his mouth tightly closed. He was not amused.
MARION: At last when the animals were almost in despair, an eel, called Nabunum, came forward. (CLARE enters from SR with the hose) The drought had made her come onto the land. She was searching for water when she chanced across the great meeting of animals. She slid across the scorched earth until she was near, for she had a very soft voice. She said
CLAIRE: ‘I am a stranger in your midst’ she said. But I would like to try and make the great Tiddalik smile. May I please try?’
(All look at each other, make sounds, and nod agreement)
JEFF: The animals agreed. They had all tried and failed. Maybe this strange eel could do the trick.
MARION: Nabunum carefully chose her place. Not too near and not too far away. She returned Frog’s stare with a steady gaze and slowly raised herself off the ground. Then she began to sway. It was the beginning of her special dance.
(CLARE sways about and others at front holding hose follow)
BARBARA: Then the eel began twisting and turning herself into funny shapes.
MARION: Faster and faster!
(With PETER on guitar, all start to waggle bums facing away, then change to face front and kick legs about. All sing loudly – inc. Steamheat and PETER)
JEFF: Frog’s eyes gleamed with reluctant pleasure! He held his belly because the last thing he wanted to do was laugh.
MARION: But suddenly, the great Frog’s big mouth opened.
(SILENCE. All singing and music stops here. Pause)
BARBARA: Tiddalik burst out laughing.
(SFX echoing raucous laughter)
JEFF(after a pause): As he laughed the waters burst forth gushing out from his mouth…
MARION: and flowing away to replenish the lakes,
PAUL: and swamps
BARBARA: and rivers.
STEAMHEAT (singing) And the streams and ditches. And the bore holes and the wells.
CLAIRE: Big streams of clear, beautiful fresh water.
ALL: The plants grew again and the animals drank until they were no longer thirsty.
KEN: It had been Wombat’s idea. It happened in the Dreamtime.
(SFX The actors leave the space)