My story is based on legend. Some of this story is true. Much is sheer fabrication. According to legend, Princess Sheila Na Geira did exist. She lived in the 17th century, the daughter of Sir Hugh O'Connor, (questionable!!), an heir to the throne and the Duke of Connaught. She was a descendant of old Celtic Kings of Western Ireland. On her way to France, apparently to study, her ship was captured in the English Channel by a Dutch pirate. She was saved by the famous English privateer Peter Easton, who seized the Dutch ship and liberated her. Peter Easton, who at that time had been commissioned by Queen Elizabeth to enforce British law in the new colony of New Founde Land, took his liberated passengers with him.
En route, Sheila met and fell in love with Easton's first mate, Gilbert Pike. They were married after ten days by Peter, the ship's captain, and arrived on the Avalon Peninsula as man and wife in 1602.They eventually settled in Carbonear and were among the first English speaking pioneers. Gilbert left Easton's crew when Peter became a pirate during the reign of James I.
The tradition is that Sheila's first child was the first European child born in New Founde Land. (at least after the Vikings!!) Sheila became a model pioneer woman, Gilbert, a successful fisherman. She also became renowned for her leadership in the community caring for the sick, planting the crops etc., while the men were away at sea.
There is a headstone on the Soper property in Carbonear that reads….
Sheia (no "l") Nagera (no "i"), wife of Gilbert Pike,
and daughter of John Nagera, King of County Down,
died August 14th 1753 at the age of 105 years.
So the date of her death and the lineage here both raise a lot of questions either about the accuracy of the headstone or the other dates and sequence of events mentioned above.
One thing is sure:Through time and the lure of tourism, SHEILA NA GEIRA has become to Carbonear what ANNE is to Green Gables.
I have chosen not to let the truth, whatever it is, stand in the way of art. Her story here is somewhat different even from unsubstantiated legend. Much of what you read in the script never happened, but will have a reality of its own on stage.
1: The King of France did not propose to her. She did not therefore refuse him.
2: Nor did the Dutch Captain who found her equally as ravishing.
3: Peter Easton did not suffer from unrequited love for Sheila and vow to avenge her rejection of him.
4: He was therefore not responsible for Gilbert's mysterious disappearance after their meeting in the Ketch Anchor Ale House in St. John's….. because they never met there, if the Ketch Anchor even existed.
5: He did take Sir Richard Whitbourne, ( the King's representative in the colony) prisoner on his ship, but certainly not in order to force him to intercede on his behalf to convince Sheila to marry him and go back to England.
6: There is no evidence that Peter was "The World's Greatest Lover" as he describes himself in song.
However, through all the uncertainty of this legend, one fact is beyond question.
FREDDY, the fairy, and his happy leprechaun factotum did exist, and did accompany Sheila from Ireland to serve as her protectors, and eventually did free Gilbert and save Sheila from Peter. And what's more, they still do live on today in Newfoundland.
It is also a memory piece told by Old Sheila at the age of 103. So maybe she has forgotten some of the facts, or like many a Newfoundlander knows how to embellish hem to weave a good story.
I have also attempted to write the musical with many of the ingredients of the traditional English Panto. It should therefore be played broadly…..the valiant hero(s), the villain surrounded by his comical, inept and bungling swashbuckling pirates, and the sheer magic of Freddy, the fun-loving song and dance man. Like the Panto, it has an interesting twist at the end to resolve the plot. I hope too that there are at least a few good dramatic moments in the piece to challenge both director and actor.
The reader will notice that I have recommended using Freddy and his assistants to orchestrate some scene changes, accompanied by change of music. I feel strongly about this for two reasons: First of all, it is keeping with their pre-eminent role in directing the sequence of events throughout the story and the audience will certainly accept their role as "creative stagehands".Secondly, it helps create seamless scene changes.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
The Narrator: 103 years old
Sheila Na Geira: 30 years old, wife of Gilbert Pike
Gilbert Pike: a former pirate, now a fisherman
Freddy: the head fairy, from Ireland, ageless
Kathleen Pike: daughter of Gilbert & Sheila, age 12
John Pike: son of Gilbert & Sheila, age 9-10
Peter Easton, a pirate captain
Peter's pirates: number to be determined
The Fishermen and Women of Carbonear: number to be determined
The children of Carbonear: number to be determined
The Innkeeper: at the Ketch Anchor in St.John's
Mary, the Barmaid: as above
"Ladies" of St John's: as above
Sir Richard Whitbourne: the King's representative to the Colony
The action takes place in the 17th century aboard Peter Easton's ship, outside Sheila's house in Carbonear, in the port of Carbonear and in the Ketch Anchor ale house in St. John's
Once Upon A Time
- Old Sheila
The Jolly Roger Reel
- Peter Easton, the pirates, Sheila
My Land By The Sea
- The townspeople, Sheila Gilbert, the Fairies, the children
All I Wish
- Sheila and Gilbert
Livin' A Life Upon The Sea
- Gilbert, the Fishermen the wives
A Pirate's Life For Me
- Peter Easton and the Pirates
The Plague Theme
- The company
The World's Greatest Lover
- Peter Easton and the pirates
One Must Die
- Gilbert, Peter, Sheila
- Freddy, the Fairies, Gilbert. Sheila the children.
Epilogue Once Upon A Time
- Old Sheila
- Gilbert Sheila and the Company
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)