Monday, April 29, 2013
The Ugly Duckling
The production was put on by Imagination Celebration... and there were literally hundreds of children there from schools all over the Colorado Springs area. When the curtains opened, a representative came out to introduce the play and another person came out with her to translate what the first person was saying into sign language. I thought that was great! I figured there must be some children in the audience who needed the sign language and sat back to enjoy the show. I learned though that the entire show would be done in sign language and/or mime. It piqued my curiosity a bit and I began to realize that maybe this wasn't going to be like any version of The Ugly Duckling I had ever seen before.
So the story started out with the mother duck waiting for her two baby eggs to hatch - one pretty white egg, and one larger egg that was kind of gray and ugly. The pretty egg hatched first and out popped a beautiful, smaller replica of the mother duck. The mother duck taught her how to walk, how to quack and they smiled and all was right with the world.
Meanwhile, the mother duck grew impatient while she waited for her other egg to hatch. Finally, it did. From that egg came the Ugly Duckling. This duckling was a boy and very clearly not as gifted as his perfect sister. Still, the narrator made note that the mother duck loved her little boy with all the same love that she had for her daughter. She taught him how to walk - in time - and then tried to teach him how to quack. He tried and tried but couldn't figure it out. The sister tried to teach him how to quack as well, but he just couldn't get it.
Both ducklings learned how to swim and were great swimmers. In time they learned that the Ugly Duckling was deaf. He couldn't hear a thing. When the sister duck found this out, she laughed and teased the Ugly Duckling - thankfully the mom put a stop to that right away. Someone gave the Ugly Duckling a musical instrument for him to feel the vibrations of the music... the Ugly Duckling loved this and wore it on his back everywhere he went. He loved this and for the first time, he could "hear". The sister duck however got very jealous of all the attention the Ugly Duckling was getting and ended up breaking the music box into pieces and the Ugly Duckling was very sad. This is where things got strange for me...
So the mother duck comes in, sees what the sister duck did, and tells the Ugly Duckling that it's time for him to go out in the world on his own and find his way. He can't hear. He can't speak. No one has given him any tools to succeed in life. His sister just ruined the ONLY thing that he had to give him any comfort or make him happy and now his mom is kicking him out the door with nowhere to go - and the sister (who is the same age and able bodied) gets to stay home and live with the mother. What?!
So the poor Ugly Duckling goes wandering through the forest. He almost gets his hand... errr wing... chopped off by a butcher, who thankfully takes pity on him when she realizes he's deaf and starving and gives him tomatoes to eat (though I'm not really sure ducks eat tomatoes, but whatever), he almost gets beat up by a dog when he takes his bone so he can use it to beat out a rhythm on a rock (thankfully the dog realizes it's just a misunderstanding and they become friends and part ways) and then he falls asleep and almost gets eaten by a fox only to be saved by the same dog from before who happens to be wandering by. *sigh*
So this dog finally figures out the Ugly Duckling is deaf and he starts using sign language to communicate with him. The duckling looks at him like he's crazy (because dogs don't know sign language) so the dog takes the duckling home to his owner who teaches all her pets sign language. There lives a cat who does NOT want a duckling intruding on her domain (because really, what cat wants a duckling around?) so she works on tricking the duckling to leave, but not before the duckling is fluent in sign language... which is quite a feat considering he only has wings!
So then the duckling ends up swimming in a pond in the middle of winter and freezes there. He is found by a farmer who rescues him and is amazed that the duckling knows sign language (somehow the farmer happens to know sign too) and asks the duckling WHY he did not fly South for the winter. The duckling has never heard of such an idea. (Because his mother never prepared him with the basics of life!) So the farmer tells him that ALL ducks fly South for the winter so he should get going. (In real life, the farmer would have kept this amazing signing duck and made millions of dollars off of him!) So the Ugly Duckling flew South for the winter.
Many months passed and the mother duck and sister duck (who was STILL living at home) got a knock on their door. Enter the Ugly Duckling all covered up in a cape. The mother and sister are scared... "Who could it BE?!" The cape comes off and it, of course, is the Ugly Duckling who is now a beautiful swan. He is signing up a storm telling them, "I have been on so many adventures... oh but wait, you can't understand me! But I will teach you sign language and we can have conversations!" And the moral of the story is that if you love something, you must let it go and maybe it will come back to you better than before.
The lights came back on and the kids all sat there staring like, "I don't get it." And I must have had the same look on my face because I was pretty dumbfounded myself. I think I need to go read the real version again.