TUNDE'S TRUMPET

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The story is simple enough: a mischievous boy named Tunde grounds himself in the study of music. He works around distractions, past laziness, and through frustration, doubt, and jealousy to become an accomplished trumpeter who makes his (hitherto exasperated) parents proud.

In this version of the story, however, distractions, laziness, frustration, doubt and jealousy are actual characters as real as Tunde. Oh, and every character is a larger-than-life-sized puppet. And of course there’s music. Lots and lots of music. Which is how this simple story becomes an epic tale. A children’s book on steroids set to music that adults will want to shake their booties to. Like if Fela Kuti lived on Sesame Street.

Read Sample

Scene 2

(Back in Tunde’s room. It is night and TUNDE is just getting ready for bed. His parents are tucking him in. Or trying to, anyway. TUNDE is still a little amped up from all his birthday excitement. He speaks with dizzying rapidity and without coming up for air.)

TUNDE
And then Aaron was like, “Man, I been asking my parents for a guitar forever! They never take me seriously! They just keep sayin’ I already make enough noise!” And I was like, “I ‘on’t know what to tell you, man, your parents just ain’t cool like mine...!”

(At this TUNDE, is jumping on the bed. His parents try to rein him in.)

TUNDE (CONT.)
Even Darcy was impressed and his parents get him everything! We’re for real gonna start lessons tomorrow?

MR.AKEREDOLU
Yes, man, so you gotta get some sleep tonight, okay?

TUNDE
Aw man, I’m so excited I don’t know if I’m ever gonna sleep again!

MRS. AKEREDOLU
Please. Try.

TUNDE
Okay. Ooo! But can I just look at my trumpet one last time before I go to bed?

(TUNDE hops off the bed and runs over to his desk, where the trumpet case rests.)

MRS. AKEREDOLU
Okay, Tunde.

(TUNDE opens the case and looks at the trumpet. He appreciatively caresses the air over it, exhaling his awe all the while, and then does a little happy dance.)

TUNDE
(sing-songy)
I got a truuuum-pet! I got a truuuum-pet! Tha’s whassup!

MRS. AKEREDOLU
You know what else is up? You. Way past your bedtime.

TUNDE
Man, I’m ten now. I shouldn’t even have no bedtime.

(MRS. AKEREDOLU puts her hands on her hips.
TUNDE notices and heads straight for the bed.)

TUNDE (CONT.)
But I will humor you, woman, and I will tolerate your arbitrary rules because I love you just that much.

(MRS. AKEREDOLU tucks TUNDE in at last.)

MRS. AKEREDOLU
Mm-hmm. I love you, too.

(She kisses TUNDE’s cheek.)

MR. AKEREDOLU
Oh, a whole lotta love in this room right now…

(He kisses TUNDE’s cheek.)

TUNDE
I know, right?

MRS. AKERDOLU
Happy birthday, baby.

(MR. and MRS. AKEREDOLU start to exit.)

MR. AKEREDOLU
(amusing himself)
Ain’t you been listenin’? He ain’t a baby no more. Woman.

MRS. AKEREDOLU
Mm-hmm, he gets that mess from you. He is his father’s son, for true…

(They exit. TUNDE is alone. Sort of.)

TUNDE
(quietly)
Best. Birthday. Everrrrrr.

(TUNDE manages to stay still for exactly three
seconds before hopping out of bed and running
over to the case on the desk, opening it and
lifting out the trumpet. He looks at it for a little
bit, then mock-plays very energetically. Then
pauses for a moment, looks off in the direction
his parents exited, and brings the trumpet to his
mouth. He blows. Rather than a trumpet blare,
we hear the sound of kalimbas.)

TUNDE (cont.)
Hunh…?

(TUNDE tries again. Again, kalimbas.)

TUNDE (cont.)
I must not be doin’ it right…

OSHUN (V.O.)
Then maybe you should wait ‘til your lesson like you said you would…

(TUNDE jumps at the sound of the voice.)

TUNDE
Whoa. Who…? Who said that?

(Silence.)

TUNDE (cont.)
Mom?

OSHUN (V.O.)
Close. But still a couple rings short of a bullseye, if you know what I mean.

(TUNDE jumps again. He starts freaking out some.)

TUNDE (cont.)
Um, how can I know what you mean when I don’t even know who you are? Who are you? Who is that?

(OSHUN laughs. It’s majestic. And a little terrifying, actually.)

TUNDE
Aw man. I can’t be losing my mind. I’m only ten.

(TUNDE looks around. Waits. Silence.)

TUNDE (cont.)
Hello…?

(More silence. Very, very slowly, TUNDE brings the
trumpet to his mouth. Tentatively, he blows. This
time when he does, in addition to the sound of
kalimbas, the trumpet emits fold upon fold of
shimmering translucence graced by the suggestion of
a benevolent and wise African face. This is OSHUN.
TUNDE can only watch in amazement as she reveals
herself.)

OSHUN
Greetings, Tunde.

TUNDE
(slowly shaking his head)
I soooooo don’t know you…

OSHUN
Your eyes may not, but your blood does.

TUNDE
I ‘on’t know about all that…

OSHUN
I am your Oshun. Guide On The Cosmic Journey. Your Ancestral Ambassador .

TUNDE
My wha…?

OSHUN
(dropping the majesty for a moment)
I’m like a Fairy Godmother only much, much cooler.

TUNDE
Oh. Okay.

(The music for Oshun Says begins to play.)

OSHUN
(spoken)
And I’m here at the behest of your mother who prayed that I would nudge you along your life’s path, but now that we’ve formally met, I’m thinking you might need more of a shove. You’ve started on a musical journey. Along the way, you will meet five visitors, five warriors who want you to turn back, who want you to stop playing music. Beware your first visitor…

OSHUN (CONT.)
HER VOICE WILL COMPLAIN
INSIDE YOUR HEAD.
SHE’LL WHINE ‘TIL SHE SEES
YOUR PASSION IS DEAD.

OSHUN (CONT.)
(spoken)
Don’t let her get to you! Your next visitors will be double trouble…

OSHUN (CONT.)
WHEN YOU NEED TO WORK,
THEY’LL ASK YOU TO PLAY.
THEY’LL DAZZLE YOU, BLIND YOU,
LEAD YOU ASTRAY.

OSHUN (CONT.)
(spoken)
Save your strength! Another visitor is coming. He’ll be tough to resist…

OSHUN
HE’LL FLATTER YOU, PRAISE
TELL YOU YOU’RE BLESSED.
SAY, “TUNDE, WHY WORK HARD?
YOU KNOW YOU’RE THE BEST.”

OSHUN (CONT.)
(spoken)
Block out his voice! And listen to me.

OSHUN (CONT.)
LISTEN, BOY, TO YOUR OSHUN.
LISTEN, HONEY, TO YOUR OSHUN.
I WILL GUIDE YOU,
STEER YOU THROUGH.
LISTEN, BOY, TO YOUR OSHUN.

TUNDE
Is that supposed to scare me?

OSHUN
It’s supposed to warn you! Don’t let these visitors keep you from your musical destiny!

TUNDE
Those guys? They couldn’t keep me from blowing my nose!

OSHUN
Good! Because your next visitor will be much, much stronger…

OSHUN (CONT.)
WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR,
HE’LL POINT OUT YOUR FLAWS,
SAY, “YOU’RE THE WORST TUNDE
THAT I EVER SAW.”

OSHUN (CONT.)
(spoken)
Don’t let him talk to you like that. Stay strong so you can fight your final visitor. She’s the most dangerous of all, a real green-eyed monster...

OSHUN
IF ANYONE TRUMPETS
BETTER THAN YOU,
SHE’LL TELL YOU TO BEAT THEM
‘TIL THEY’RE BLACK AND BLUE.

OSHUN (CONT.)
(spoken)
Don’t do it! Clear your head! And listen for my voice…

OSHUN
LISTEN, BOY, TO YOUR OSHUN.
LISTEN, HONEY, TO YOUR OSHUN.
I WILL GUIDE YOU,
STEER YOU THROUGH.
LISTEN, BOY, TO YOUR OSHUN.

OSHUN
You think you can handle that, Tunde?

TUNDE
Trust it!

Cast Requirements

5 Puppeteers who can sing-- no!-- saaaaaaang.

Set Description

Tunde's hood.

Production and Development History

Commissioned by City Parks' SummerStage (2011)
BOOM Arts (Portland, OR) (2013)