In this episode of Conversations with Dudley Dewlap, I combine my love of theater with the work of one of my favorite poets, Robert Service. Service is famous for his work while in the gold rush fields in the Yukon Territory in Canada.
One poem often quoted is The Cremation of Sam McGee. Dudley Dewlap and Miles Monitor decide to perform this classic piece on their radio show in “Service.”
Things get out of hand as they often do with reptiles.
DUDLEY: There are strange things done in the midnight sun by men who moil for gold…
MILES: Uh, Dudley, what does moil mean?
DUDLEY: You know, grub, pan for gold enthusiastically.
DUDLEY: The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.
MILES: Dudley we’re lizards. It’s not good for our blood to run cold.
DUDLEY: The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.
DUDLEY: On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail. Talk of your cold! Through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail. If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see; it wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.
MILES: Whimper? OK, this is just silly, we’re lizards, we wouldn’t be in Alaska and we certainly wouldn’t be in Alaska in the winter. And if we were in Alaska during the winter we wouldn’t be mushing our way over the Dawson Trail, because we would have frozen to death!
DUDLEY: It’s just a poem Miles. Now, please get into the story:
And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow and the dogs were fed,
MILES: Dogs! There are dogs, too? Don’t you know that they’re predators? And what did we feed them, other reptiles who have succumbed to the cold?
DUDLEY: And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low,
MILES: That’s because you’re in the Yukon, a place not known for its year round growing season.
DUDLEY: The trail was bad,
MILES: You chose it.
DUDLEY: And I felt half mad, don’t say it Miles, but I swore I would not give in; and I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.
MILES: Actually that’s a grimace. They look a lot alike.
DUDLEY: Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay; it was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.” And I looked at it and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum; then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”
MILES: Hey, let’s discuss this, shall we?
DUDLEY: And I lit the boiler fire;
(SFX: WHOOSH OF FIRE STARTING, FOLLOWED BY SMOKE ALARM GOING OFF FOR A FEW SECONDS)
DUDLEY: Some coal I found that was lying around and I heaped the fuel higher; the flames just soared, and the furnace roared – such a blaze you seldom see; and I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.
(Pause, then as if struggling) And I stuffed in Sam McGee,
and I stuffed–Miles, you’ve got to let go of the edge of the door. I’ve got to stuff you in.
MILES: There ain’t no way you’re shoving me into a fire, no matter how hard you stuff.
DUDLEY: It’s a fake fire! This is theater!
MILES: Sure, that‘s what you say, but I don’t see you leaping in there!
DUDLEY: You’ll spoil the whole scene if I can’t stuff you in and triumphantly close the door!
MILES: What do you mean? This is radio – no one can see us!
DUDLEY: Miles, you don’t understand drama.
MILES: Drama, I’ll show you drama! Here, this is the acting bug biting you!
DUDLEY: Aaaagggg. Miles, stop biting my tail, Miiiiiiileeeeeees . . . (FADES OFF)
NARRATOR: (MYSTERIOUSLY) And so concludes another exciting episode of Conversations with Dudley Dewlap. Tune in next time when we hear Dudley say…
DUDLEY: I’m ready for my close up, Mr. Demille.
NARRATOR: You’ve been listening to a rendition of Robert Service’s Cremation of Sam McGee. Doing the disservice was ___________ as Dudley and ____________ as Miles. Directed by__________.
Elaine A. Powers is responsible for this crime against literature.
Conversations with Dudley Dewlap: The World from a Lizard Point
of View is a collection of short comedy, small cast, audio scripts. Most
roles are gender neutral. The primary characters are talk show hosts who
discuss various amusing topics. The scripts can be combined or used
individually. Additional cast can be used for the sound effects. Along
with being entertaining and family friendly, many of the scripts are also
educational. The scripts are amenable to radio theater, readers theater,
or may be adapted for stage. Approximate running times vary with each
script, ranging from 5-20 minutes.