PLAYWRIGHT’S NOTES & SUMMARY
GABRIEL was first written in the mid 1970s and was presented to sold-out audiences as part of the initial season of Hamilton Place, the newly opened 2300 seat Arts Centre in Hamilton Ontario.
It was a time when traditional absolute values were being tested by young people, a time when many of society’s sacrosanct institutions were being questioned, challenged, and in many cases being overturned; a time when people said that society was rudderless. Rock, pot, campus riots, and radical thinking were tearing asunder the fabric not only of society, but also of the Christian ethic. It was a time too when the adult society, represented by the school, the church, government, and business seemed to abrogate responsibility to the “do your own thing” ethic. Because parents were not aware of what was happening suddenly in society, young people especially were thrust into a Sartrean existentialist “ennui”, wherein they had it carve out essence from their own experience with little, if any, guidance.
These times served as the philosophical underpinning of GABRIEL and inspired the religious dilemma that is the theme of this musical which examines the vexed questions that we are still asking today, moreover in a society that may not differ fundamentally in some respects from the time in which the musical was conceived.
What is Heaven? Does God exist? Does Satan exist?
What is good or right? What is bad or wrong?
On what precepts can young people rely?
Does mankind really have chance at salvation?
It is into this ambivalent world that the young angel Gabriel is thrust to decide the fate of mankind.
The plot is very simple. Satan opens the musical with his great apologia for man with the song It Feels So Good To Be Bad, at the same time censuring God for wanting to liquidate Earth once and for all because of mankind’s errant ways.
Heaven is portrayed as a Board of Directors of a large multi-universal corporation, chaired by God. At the annual meeting the Board is reviewing its assets. Earth is a liability. They are Tired of Picking Up the Pieces. Most Board members press for liquidation. However, a unanimous vote is required. Jesus is the lone dissenting voice. Here the New Testament attitude of “suspended judgment” is pitted against the Old Testament “summary justice”.
Satan appears unannounced before the Board and mockingly admonishes his former colleagues for their lack of understanding of human nature. They are “out of it” and he urges them in a somewhat taunting soft-shoe number to Live and Let Live.
He also suggests that since none of the Board members wants to take another look at Earth, they send the young office boy Gabriel and let him decide whether the planet should be liquidated, retained or sold outright to him. They agree reluctantly and send him off with little direction.
Satan’s motives are thinly veiled. He is sure that, as Gabriel’s tour guide, he can convince the impressionable young man that sin is fun. It is sin that people enjoy and therefore Satan should take Earth off Heaven’s hands for a reasonable price.
Before Gabriel leaves for Earth as a human being, he spends some time with Jesus, who, in his song So Hard To Show the Way, urges Gabriel to look for what he refers to as “the pearl in a sea of faceless shells: that is to look beyond the external ugliness to find the inner beauty in people.
When Gabriel first arrives on Earth, he is on his own basically with no guidance from Heaven. He finds himself in the midst of a carnival side-show in which Satan is the barker. The seven deadly sins are portrayed symbolically in dance and song….pride, avarice, lust, wrath gluttony, envy, and sloth. They are appealing just as freaks in a side-show attract the spectator.
Throughout Gabriel’s seven day stay on Earth, Satan, who will assume many identities, makes sure that Gabriel encounters actual people, stereotypes, each of whom personifies these sins. Gabriel cannot find the symbolic pearl to which Jesus referred, and as he sings the ballad near the end of his sojourn Jesus, Your World Is Dying, he is convinced that mankind does indeed worship Satan because he is much more appealing. In the depth of his despair, Gabriel has an encounter that resolves his dilemma, his own existentialist ennui.
The pearl is found in Mark10 13-16
The musical was later mounted and presented to the members of the Canadian Forces, their families and to German audiences in Germany in the mid 1990s, then later with some revisions as part of the 2009 season at Centrepointe Theatre in Ottawa.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Satan (Lucifer, Luke)
The Board of Directors of Universal Holdings:
God: Chairperson, a woman
Solomon, The CFO
The Archangel Michael
Gabriel, the office boy, early 20s
Tony, the biker
The Devil’s Disciple: Bart, and his chick
Lynette Besley, mid 20s
George Besley, Lynette’s father
Margaret Besley Lynette’s mother
Karen, Bryan, Barbara, Chris, Sharye, Bill: adults at the golf club
Ky, Andrea, Lorne, Judy: The drug users : early 20s
Mark: The social worker at the Good Samaritan Mission
Duane Adamson: The evangelist
Sarah: a member of the God Squad:
The children of the Silly Club: eight, ages 9-11
preferably late teens-early 20s: singers/dancers for the opening, at the Sin Show Carnival, the golf club, members of the God Squad, and street people at the mission.
It Feels So Good To Be Bad
- Satan & the Appletarts
So Hard To Show The Way
- Satan & the Dancers
Here and Now
- Satan, George, Margaret, Tony, Sharye
Where Were You God?
- Satan& Jesus
Turn On With Jesus
- Adamson, Sarah, & the God Squad
No Time For Us To Love
- Gabriel & Lynette
Jesus Your world Is Dying
- The kids & Gabriel
1. One copy of the script.
2. A DVD of excerpts from the musical.
NON-EQUITY (Amateur) THEATRE GROUPS
The fee is negotiable depending on the theatre size and number of performances and shall be paid by the theatre to Maple Leaf Theatre Productions for the rights to perform, and for all materials listed above: cf Production Contract for other terms.
EQUITY THEATRE GROUPS
Royalties shall be paid by the theatre to Maple Leaf Theatre Productions at a rate of 10% of the certified gross box office receipts, not including credit card charges, group sales commissions, and all sales tax, goods and services or similar government taxes. : cf Production Contract for other terms.
ONCE A STANDARD CONTRACT TO PERFORM HAS BEEN SIGNED
1. Permission to copy as many scripts as required
2. Orchestrations on CD (recorded by professional musicians at Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton, Ontario). CDs may be copied for cast and production staff for rehearsal purposes There is no need to hire an orchestra.
3. A CD of the songs with orchestration to assist non-readers
4. Vocal charts
5. A DVD of the complete musical for reference (not to be duplicated)