Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Shootout at Garsen's Saloon -- Part One
Thirty some years ago I wrote a parody of both the novel and film Shane.  Titled Shootout at Garsen’s Saloon, it was performed by one of my seventh and eighth grade drama classes.
Last year I received a message on goodreads.com from one of the students of that class.  He asked if I still had a copy of the script.  He and a friend, who had also been a member of the cast, had been talking about their long-ago performing experience.  I looked through what I had kept of six years of scripts I had written and found all three parts of Shootout.  One of my sons had also played a character -- the undertaker, “Digger Phelps” -- in Shootout.  I retyped the scripts of the three parts of the play on a flash drive to accommodate the wishes of my ex-student and to leave a legacy of sorts for my son.  Afterward, I considered sharing at least the first part of Shootout with you, my blog site readers.  It would be quite a contrast to what I regularly post, I thought.  Why not take a chance, interject a bit of humor (albeit middle school student humor), I argued. What the heck!  I’ll do it! I decided.  Here’s hoping, especially if you’ve read Shane or seen the film, you’ll have fun reading my parody.
Those of you familiar with the story will quickly discover that many of my characters are not in the novel and the film.  I added these characters out of necessity.  I had considerably more students in my class than there were important characters in either the novel or film.  Complicating this problem was the fact that the majority of my students were girls.  The only female character of any importance in Shane is Marian Starrett, the lead homesteader’s wife.  Consequently, most of my invented characters are female.  Because these characters had to appeal to seventh and eighth grade students, most are teenagers.  Because middle school girls like stories that involve romance, the female characters all have romance on their minds.  All the girls and three of the women in the play are pretty aggressive.  For comedic purposes, the play’s two invented teenage boys, whom the teenage girls chase, are dim-wits.  Part One of Shootout at Garsen’s Saloon has 20 characters.  Featuring the main characters of the novel and film amid the invented characters was a challenge.
Readers familiar with the novel or film will also recognize that I have changed the names of all of the novel’s and film’s characters that appear in my play except for the name of the hero character, Shane.  I have always had fun naming the characters in my plays.  (One day a cast member, a boy, asked me if I knew that “Digger Phelps” was the name of the current Notre Dame basketball coach.  I was surprised that any of my students knew that.  None of them had a clue why I had named the villain gunfighter “Stark Verisimilitude”) Here is a list of the characters in my play and the names of their counterparts in the novel and film. 
Characters in My Play                   Characters in the Novel          Characters in the Film
Shane                                                Shane                                      Shane
Joe Garrett, homesteader                 Joe Starrett                             Joe Starrett
Marian Garrett, Joe's wife                  Marian Starrett                       Marian Starrett
Grandma Garrett, Joe’s mother        
Johnny Garrett, 16 year old son         Bob Starrett, little boy           Joey Starrett, little boy 
Bonnie Garrett, 12 year old daughter
Cannonball Stone, homesteader        Ernie Wright                         Stonewall Torrey
Opal Stone, 16 year old daughter
Rocky Stone, 14 year old son
Svede Svenson, homesteader           Frank Torrey                        “Swede” Shipstead
Ebenezer Erp, town preacher
Alley Erp, Ebenezer’s wife
Hannah Erp, 16 year old daughter
Big Bill Wretcher, cattle boss             Luke Fletcher                        Rufus Ryker
Rachael Wretcher, 16 year old daughter
Kurt Jergens, German foreman         Morgan
George Garsen, saloon owner          Sam Grafton                         Sam Grafton
Tina Tintinnabulation, saloon girl
Digger Phelps, undertaker
Widow Winslow, 35 year old widow
Only in Parts Two and Three:
Stark Verisimilitude, gunfighter        Stark Wilson                        Jack Wilson
I will post Scenes One and Two of Part One of “Shootout at Garsen’s Saloon” five days after this posting.