If I were a good man,
I'd talk to you more often than I do.
Roger Waters (If)

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Scene 1:

A Garden in Vienna 1765

Madame Antoine, the young Marie Antoinette, sits on a swing beside a peach tree. Beyond the garden wall a Boy (Honest Bird) watches and listens whilst perched in the branches of a spreading oak. Madame Antoine daydreams about her future life as a Queen, imagining all its splendors. Her mother (Marie Therese) calls her in from a window overlooking the garden. Before Madame Antoine leaves her swing, Honest Bird, provoked by all that he has just heard, drops into the garden and challenges her. In no uncertain terms he tells Madame Antoine that her life of privilege and indulgence is made possible only by the privations and suffering of the mass of ordinary people. Unmoved, she dismisses him.

Within our humble sawdust ring
The players are arraigned
The powerful and puny
The saintly and deranged

The Honest Bird, a future queen
All innocent and green
Sparring all the livelong day
Make ready for our play
So gentles all, who will hold sway
To a garden in Vienna, let us make our way...

Madame Antoine, Madame Antoine
Its getting dark outside
Its time to come in

Oh Mother!


Madame Antoine, its time to come in

Yes, yes Mother, Im coming
One day...
One day Ill be queen
Live on peaches and cream
Wear satin and lace
And laugh in the faces
Of the teachers and priests
And the boys will all fawn
Fawn before me like beasts
Fa la la, Fa la la la...

Madame Antoine, its time to come in

Little princess, so sure you are right
Your endless day is their endless night

You can preen in the limelight
In your diamonds and pearls
But the children go hungry
In that other world

Madame Antoine, its time to come in

Little sparrow fly back to where ever youre from
You could never imagine the plane I live on
The intricate steps of the tumblers and clowns
Are above and beyond you cock robin
So just you pipe down

The Ringmaster returns to the ring and the place and time shifts to France some years before the revolution. He describes and explains the countrys social and political situation by using the extended conceit of a small bird that is prevented from singing freely by an arbitrary authority whose violence towards the bird is encouraged by all the agents of the state (priests, soldiers, and judges). Briefly and simply, the Ringmaster alludes to both the causes and the eventual outcome of revolutionary action. One day, he says, more enlightened representatives of the state will be in place that will allow the bird to fulfill itself and sing. This, he says, will be the true revolutionary achievement.

Scene 2:

Kings, Sticks and Birds

Honest Bird, who has been knocked about, then restored, by clowns in a precise mimed slapstick during the progress of the parable, is now taken in hand by Marie Marianne. Her voice is the authentic voice of liberty, reason, and the Republic. To sing freely, and without fear, Honest Bird, and all like him, need her good offices. As another mime indicates, without it he is doomed: the clowns re-enter the ring pushing a scaffold and giblet before them. Whilst Marie Marianne is restrained, the clowns goad Honest Bird up the scaffold steps to the hangman who places a noose around his head. At exactly the moment the hangman releases the trap, and Honest Bird drops into a curtained-off space below the scaffold, Marie Marianne is able to break free. Rushing to aid Honest Bird, she rips aside the curtains and reveals Honest Bird grown to maturity. He has traveled forward in time to fulfill his destiny as a Revolutionary Priest. Tearing the noose from his neck, he steps free. Together he and Marie MArianne now urge every citizen to find his or her true voice, and to express their deepest aspirations. Initially, these are ill-formed. Some citizens, for example, apparently wish to become the very people they are seeking to replace. But they grow more and more articulate, and include a succinct list of those failings that have brought France to such a pass. With added encouragement and guidance from the Troublemaker, who naturally fires them up, the people solemnly vow to create a Republic.

Ladies and Gentlemen
Imagine a bird on song in a tree
An ordinary bird like you or like me
Imagine some ruffian happening by
And beating him within an inch of his life


Then a priest from some denomination
Witnessing this abomination
Blesses not the bird but the beast
The Unknown Soldier appears on the field
And takes the birds feathers to put on his shield
Then a powerful judge from the high court
Decreed that the birds really ought

Not to be allowed to sing in the trees
But then one day
Some of the priests and soldiers and judges
Putting aside some old worn grudges
Changed their minds and the birds sang again
It was the Revolution
The Revolution is a story of birds
Of sticks and stones and bushes and bones

A story of now, a story of then
A story of women, a story of men

A story of everything to come
Of everything under the sun

Honest bird, simple bird

Just longing to be spreading the word
Feeling the rain, feeling the sun
But your time has not come
Your song is not heard
Honest bird

Singing is forbidden in the fig tree
Singing is forbidden in the olive tree
Singing is forbidden in the pear tree
No singing in the olive or the fig or the pear tree

No more singing in the fig tree
No more singing in the pear tree
Someones hanging in the olive
Theres someone hanging in the olive tree

Singing in the fig tree, thats forbidden
Singing in the pear tree, thats forbidden
Singing in the love, thats forbidden
Someones hanging in the olive tree
Someones hanging in the olive tree

You come to earth, you had no choice
Could be a seamstress or serving girl or butchers boy
Could be a deadbeat
Or one of the elite
Maybe the bird will find his voice
And make a choice
From all the wheat and all the chaff

Its the knowledge that you glean
Makes you what youll be
And the knowledge that you lack
A rod for your own back
Leaves you in purgatory
Honest bird, simple bird
Make your choice, find your voice

Make your choice, find your voice

I want to be King, Queen, Courtesan, Dauphin
I want to be Cardinal, Capitaine, King of Kings
I want to be God

I want to be the King

And I want to be the Queen

I want to be a Courtesan

I want to be the Dauphin

I want to be the Cardinal

I want to be the Capitaine

I want to be the King of Kings
I want to be God

I am a great big pig

I am the King of France

His wife likes to dance

I am the Church of Rome
I stand behind the throne

I am the public purse; they think Im bottomless

I am the public accounts; I admit Im a bit of a mess

I am the American war; they say Im rather greedy

I am the national debt; Im big but needy

I am a noble

I am the clergy

I am the ordinary man

I am hungry

I am starving!

The cake needs re-carving!

Im a ravening wolf

Im a, Im a, Im a ravening wolf

Im a, Im a, Im a heart of thorns

Its the end of the shield of divine law

Im the oak tree

I am the oak tree and I am the columbine
I am a pig searching for truffles

And I am a peacock whose feathers are ruffled

Let us break all the shields
And soil the ermine
Take the oak and the olive tree
Make their philosophy our own
The pigs eat acorns
The rich eat the pork
The poor eat the olives and spit out the stones

We only ask a little tax from the nobility
The spat out stone will grow in time into an olive tree
We will smoke our pork over a fire of basilic

And we will plant the laurel tree

To make

To make

A wreath

A wreath
A wreath to crown the Republique

We will smoke our pork upon the pyre of privilege
The flames of castles burning will dance from ridge to ridge

Well break all the shields
Spit out all the stones
Make the oak and the olive trees philosophy our own
The pigs eat acorns
The rich eat the pork
The poor eat the olives and spit out the stones

We will smoke the pork on a fire of basilic
We will plant the laurel tree to make our laurel wreaths
To crown, to crown, to crown the Republique!

Scene 3:

The Grievances of the People

It is now the very eve of the revolution. The Priest sits at a table at which a number of forlorn and hungry citizens are lined up. He is writing their grievances into a ledger, one of the Cahiers de Doleances established by the King for the election of the Estates General in 1789. The grievances for the most part, and certainly those of these ordinary citizens, go unregarded: the King and Queen watch the proceedings with barely concealed disdain from the royal box in the circus audience. Preoccupied, they pick at the culinary delicacies arrayed before them. The Ringmaster describes conditions in France, points to the Kings neglect and lack of concern, and reveals that the country is broke. The state, no longer able to pay its way, has cut off all payments to its agents and institutions. The bishops, so the Priest proclaims, have been hiding and hoarding grain. Ragged children distribute pamphlets, and issue appeals but no one in authority either reads, listens, or cares. We learn from the Priest that in the town of Manosque several bishops have been stoned to death, and the bakeries plundered. These are the unmistakable gestures of liberation, brutal and hardly rational as yet, but genuine and courageous nevertheless.

The sparrow, bedraggled, looks up through the rain
And dreams of a little more grain
The peacock, plump in his place in the sun
Ignores the sound of the distant guns
Their thunder falls upon deaf ears
The peacock never sniffs the air
He fails to see that a starvation diet brings
The scent of riot on the breeze
The King; The State; La France
Each of the above must with regret cut off all payment
The cupboard is bare
The State of France lies in disrepair

The Bishops hide the grain; to the attics its sent
If everyone is hungry, tell me, who can be content

Altogether now!

We hand out pamphlets, we join a club
We shout out slogans, that we make up
We thumb our noses, at those above
We hand out pamphlets, we join a club

We join a club, a safety net
But its more like a gin trap thats been carefully set


We write what we can on the cows flayed hide
Our grievances are noted and then brushed to one side
But the pain we feel keeps us alive

Bushes and bones and stick and stones

Now, then, women and men

In Manosque, the bishops get what they deserve
Stoned to death and we retrieve the grain from their reserves

We plunder all the bakeries

Searching for our courage in...


Searching for our courage in...

Searching for our courage in...

...this folly

Scene 4:

France in Disarray

Accompanied by sounds off-stage of marching feet, of barked orders, and of guns firing, the Ringmaster tells of the march on Paris by 100,000 hungry citizens, three hundred of whom are shot down at the barricades. He adds a warning that such violence will surely beget more violence, and together with Marie Marianne, suggests that only the application of reason to all human affairs can prevent mankind from falling headlong once again into the same old cycle of folly and barbarity... only reason will establish universal acceptance of the Rights of Man. Whilst conceding that there is always a minority of good men and women dedicated to its cause, he momentarily wonders whether there is presently anyone in France who fits the bill. The general feeling is that at this moment there isnt: even minor reforms carrying almost negligible improvements to the peoples lot are conditional upon continued obedience to the King, and to the principal of his Divine Right obedience, in fact, to the way everything presently is. It bodes ill for the immediate future.

The winter of eighty-eight and nine
Was aching cold, it chilled the very soul
They came from the country in twos and threes
A trickle, a river, a torrent, a sea
Driven by hunger, driven by pain
A hundred thousand reached the barricade

Company... Halt!
Present... Fire!

Three hundred dead, shot down like rats
Three hundred lives, snuffed out like that
Have a care if you treat your people like vermin
You could end up with bloodstained ermine

But soft as ever in the ebb and flow
Sweet reason, deft and incorrupt
Adoring of the human kind illuminates mans plight
Should he embrace
The brute and base
Tilt blindly at the carousel
Or note, at least, that other voice
And entertain the choice
Between the darkness and the light?

To laugh is to know how to live
To see is to know everything
To read is to hold the key that you need
The key you need to set you free

All the world can see that in this great library

Theres a good medicine against tyranny
And the movement of the heavens
Though it may last forever
Sees no right, no wrong, no weak, no strong
And the star you see in the sky and the moon and the sun
Shine on prince and pauper alike and favor no one

The politics of the Rights of Man
Is the sharing of apples with an even hand
To plant a tree where birds may sit
But who in France will nurture it

Slavers, Landlords, Bigots at your door

Aristocrats, Democrats, survivors of the North American war
Some with heart, some with hate
Some with faith in the human race
And so the loan sharks
Selling dreams in honeyed tones like skylarks
And rats who speak like cats of sacred rights
The sacred rights of the family

And all those brave souls both brave enough and crazed enough
To spill their blood for truth alone
That one or two ideas survive, always survive
Writ in blood on paving stones

Writ in blood

On paving stones

And the noble class who rule
Having been to all the best schools
Have thought it through and are good enough
To explain what is best for us
It came to them in a dream
In a blinding flash of light
Equality, fraternity and not just in the afterlife
And they promise us reading
And they promise us writing

If we kneel before the King
If we kneel before the King

So this is the State of France

And on the street corners
The broadsheets all carry the usual story
A people dying to believe in some benign authority
To lead them down a road thats paved with glory
To lead them down a road thats paved with glory!

Scene 5:

The Fall of the Bastille

An ominous atmosphere prevails. The Ringmaster enters. We hear the sounds of birds flocking before migration. This, in its turn, suggests the accumulation and concentration of energy that occurs immediately prior to a profound event.

The forces and conditions that inspire mass action have come together. Revolutionary ardor and activity is everywhere at large. Priest, Ringmaster, and Chorus relate the sequence of events that is the taking of the Bastille, the most potent symbol of despotism and injustice. The mob, having raided the arsenal at Les Invalides, marches on the prison, kills the jailer, and sets its three prisoners free. The Ringmaster, surveying the carnage, muses on the responsibilities that out devolving to the revolutionaries now that they are beginning to seize power. How will they exercise them? Carrying an injured child in his arms, the Troublemaker, weary though elated after the event, answers the Ringmasters concerns by proclaiming that the demise of this hated emblem of state oppression will eventually initiate a new order and ethical system based on justice and fairness the Rights of Man, no less that future generations will inherit and live by.

Birds flock, when winter settles in
The Harlequin with dunces cap and silver horn
All mournful, mocking eye and painted tear
Has seen it all before
The sparrows hurl in face of glazed imperium
Then stunned, affronted, fall
Then, picking up perch braggart on the wire
And launch towards the south, towards the land of fire

To freeze in the dead of night
To burn in a law divine
Deep in the crucible brine
The sorrow and the rage entwine

And coil and climb towards the light
The quill is poised above the page
Words like falling rain slake the thirst and dowse the flames
Cooling in the crucible an idea forms
A nugget of belief in the hearts of the poor
That maybe in the dawns new light
They have a right to the law

So to the streets in the pouring rain
The dispossessed and the drunk and the lame
Gathered in bands and took the Law into their own hands
Like the daring young man on the flying trapeze

Like birds flying into a storm
They took the great leap
And launched themselves into the void

We broke into the arsenal, Les Invalides
Found cannonball and powder, everything we need
We marched on the Bastille
The home of tyranny
Killed the jailer
And set two madmen free

When you have an army of your own
You get to choose
Who will live
Who will die
Who will win
Who will lose

A piece of prison stone
Is all I have to call my own

Insight to see the other side
Strength and weakness, love and pride
Is all I have to leave my child
If my child survives
Hell judge men by their deeds and not their smiles
Hell keep his taste for good red wine
His pride, his friends, his lust for life
These are the things that will avail him
If my child survives...


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