19+ characters; 2M, 1F, 16 Either; Flexible casting; 36 pages in length. Approximately 45 minutes running time. A musical play about Latin folktales written by Carlos Perez.

How the Beetle Got Her Colors focuses on popular folktales from Latin America. Storyteller Ricardo teaches his niece Armida, nephew Miguel, and the audience songs and tales that emphasize the importance of being kind to one another while learning new words in Spanish. In the tale from Mexico called Rabbit’s Last Race children learn a lesson about humility. Ricardo then teaches everyone a Mardi Gras song from Bolivia called The Morenada. In a tale from Brazil, a parrot has the power to change the colors of any creature in the forest and demonstrates the importance of getting to know one another before passing judgment. This wonderful interactive play will leave everyone feeling muy bueno!

Carlos Perez has a M.A. in English from the University of Missouri—Kansas City (a professional writing degree in playwriting and screenwriting) and a B.F.A. in Speech and Theatre from Avila University.  His recognized stage plays include Caught Between Two Worlds, published by Dramatic Publishing and Folktales for Fun, published by Pioneer Drama Service, Inc.  Carlos’ latest stage play In Hyding, an adaptation of the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, recently received a staged reading at the Monster Box Theater in Waterford, Michigan.  His one act stage play Two Good Reasons placed second the 2016 William Faulkner Literary Awards, giving him two years in a row of success for that competition, with his original play Cleansing Acts placing in the 2015 William Faulkner Literary Competition.  A full production of Cleansing Acts premiered at the 2013 LaBute New Theatre Festival in St. Louis, Missouri by the St. Louis Actors’ Studio, and was named winner of the Riverfront Times newspaper’s Best of 2013 Stage Plays.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Ricardo
Miguel
Armida
Frog/Rana
Rabbit/Canejo
Butterfly/Mariposa
Gray Beetle/Besouro Cinza
Rat/Rato
Beautiful Beetle/Besouro Lindo
Parrot/Papagaio
Two Banner Bearers
Two Map Carriers
Five Frog Placard Carriers

The play opens with all characters beginning the song ‘Brother John’ backstage and continuing to sing as they enter. They stop singing when Miguel sees the audience.

All Actors
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing,
Morning bells are ringing,
Ding, Dang, Dong
Ding, Dang, Dong

Miguel
(Seeing the audience) Oh, hi!

The actors stop singing.

Armida
Look Uncle Ricardo, they’re already here.

Ricardo
Buenos dias! Good morning! (Buenas tardes for good afternoon or Buenas noches for good evening.) It’s good to see you. My name’s Ricardo and this is my niece Armida and her brother Miguel. (points to other performers) And these are our friends.

All Actors
(to audience) Hello! Hola!

Ricardo sets a basket to the side of the stage.

Ricardo
(to audience) I’m here to tell you some stories from countries south of the border of the United States of America, and everyone here has offered to help me.

Armida
I have an idea Uncle Ricardo, why don’t we start to get to know each other by singing a song
together.

Ricardo
That’s a good idea, Armida. But what song should we sing?

Miguel
Why don’t we sing Brother John? That was the song we were singing when we got here.

Ricardo
Excellent idea, Miguel. (to audience) Do you know the song, Brother John? (audience response)
Well, how about we start it for you so we can all learn it?

All Actors
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing,
Morning bells are ringing,
Ding, Dang, Dong
Ding, Dang, Dong

Ricardo
(to audience) Now let’s sing it together. (to rest of cast) Ready?

All Actors
Ready!

Ricardo
(to audience) Ready? (audience response) Then let’s begin.

All Actors
(with audience)
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing,
Morning bells are ringing,
Ding, Dang, Dong
Ding, Dang, Dong

Ricardo
(to audience) Very good. Muy Bueno. Now we’re going to sing it in Spanish because our first folktale is from Mexico and Spanish is the main language spoken there. Don’t worry if you don’t know Spanish, we will help you. May I have the translation please?

Two of the actors hold up a banner for the audience to see. On the banner are the lyrics to the song written in Spanish. Seeing the banner, Ricardo looks at the banner then back to the audience.

Ricardo
Okay, since it’s in Spanish, let me read it to you slowly so you will understand it better. Then I’ll
sing it once. Then we’ll sing it all together. Okay? Okay, here I go.

Ricardo (cont.)
(spoken)
Hermanito Hermanito
Duermes tu’? Duermes tu’?
Suenan las campanas,
Suenan las campanas,
Din, Don, Din
Din, Don, Din

Now I’ll sing it once.

(singing)
Hermanito Hermanito
Duermes tu’? Duermes tu’?
Suenan las campanas,
Suenan las campanas,
Din, Don, Din
Din, Don, Din

(to audience) Okay, now let’s all sing the first two lines together.

The actors on stage will encourage and help the audience to sing with them.

All Actors
Hermanito Hermanito
Duermes tu’? Duermes tu’?

Ricardo
One more time

All Actors
Hermanito Hermanito
Duermes tu’? Duermes tu’?

Ricardo
Very good. Now the next four lines.

All Actors
Suenan las campanas,
Suenan las campanas,
Din, Don, Din
Din, Don, Din

Ricardo
Let’s do those four lines one more time.

All Actors
Suenan las campanas,
Suenan las campanas,
Din, Don, Din
Din, Don, Din

Ricardo
Now let’s all do the whole song.

All Actors
Hermanito Hermanito
Duermes tu’? Duermes tu’?
Suenan las campanas,
Suenan las campanas,
Din, Don, Din
Din, Don, Din

Miguel and Armida
One more time!

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