Shows R

THE RAGGED CHILD A Musical in 2 Acts. Music by David Nield, book and lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor and Frank Whately Sadler's Wells Theatre, London - 20 January, 1988 SYNOPSIS A stark and moving account of child deprivation in London in the 1850s which won the coveted Edinburgh Fringe Festival Award, The Ragged Child is about the plight of the poor and destitute, mirrored in the tragic lives of Joe Cooper and his sister Annie. We see Lord Shaftesbury fighting for the education of the ignorant and illiterate poor in the House of Lords, and, from an inauspicious beginning, the 'Ragged Schools' are founded with Lord Shaftesbury as President, but it is too late for Joe and Annie. Based on an important chapter in social history, this show is an ideal vehicle for school projects involving the music, drama and history departments. STORY Act 1 London, 1849. A seething mass of humanity becomes visible from where they have been huddling under blankets. The Earl of Shaftesbury addresses the House of Lords about the more than 30,000 orphaned and abandoned children in the city. He claims that cholera is the best solution to the problem, having already claimed the lives of 60,000 ragged and poverty-stricken people the previous year. In a courtroom, 13 year-old Joe Cooper is in the dock, accused of robbing Sir Giles Merridew. His sister Annie encourages him to defend himself, but Joe remains silent. The Judge says he must have a motive to convict. The Crossing Sweeper steps forward and declares the motive as "need, cold, and hunger." Annie tells the judge that she and Joe are orphans and points to Leary, also 13, as the true culprit. Leary denies any responsibility and the Judge sentences Joe to seven years in the penal colonies in Botany Bay. At the London docks, the Patterer, emerges from the crowd and sings to the health of the motley criminals. The new transports, including Joe, arrive at the dock in chains. The ship is said to be infested with cholera, sending the crowd into panic. The Patterer sings of the sad life of Joe Cooper as Joe makes his escape. Annie Cooper cries in a corner at Connie Crimple's Lodging House, devastated over the loss of her brother. The other Lodgers gather. Charlie and Bill black themselves for the minstrel show, Alice arranges flowers as Leary sulks. Syd and Perkins arrive, back from selling cauliflower. Mrs. O'Lafferty remarks that once someone ships for Botany Bay, they're never seen again. To everyone's amazement, Joe arrives at the door. Annie begs Joe to stay away from Leary from now on and asks if they can emigrate for a fresh start. At Lord Shaftesbury's home, Sir Giles Merridew regales the guests with the story of his run-in with young Joe Cooper. The Aristocrats talk about how hard it is to be upper class - there are the Corn Laws to deal with, the trouble in the Crimea and, of course, the topic of what to do with the city's poor. They cheer the upper class and deride the poor, wishing they could transport the entire lot. Outside, Shaftesbury is approached by the Crossing Sweeper who gives him a look at life on the other side. The Patterer joins them as they see how the poor really live. A party of drunks appears, singing. The Crossing Sweeper shows Shaftesbury the urchin Leary, just at the moment where he steals from a laundry girl. They see a rat fight, a group of young prostitutes, children playing at hanging each other. Connie Crimple approaches Shaftesbury and offers him a room. The poor surround them. The Crossing Sweeper and Shaftesbury arrive at the Lodging House where Annie is coughing. Joe is concerned for her and considers going out with Leary to steal so he can buy her food, but Annie is against it. The focus shifts as the other Lodgers joke about prostitution and cholera. Alice says that a woman from the Board of Health came in trying to tell her how to prevent the dreaded disease. Syd shows the guests a letter