by Frank Zappa
sound and stage instructions for the never realized stage production written in 1972
DRAKMA (Queen of Cosmic Greed)
An evil 7 1/2 foot space-girl who lives on a mysterious unknown planet,
and who, obviously, has a sinister plan to conquer the very Earth itself.
HUNCHENTOOT (The Giant Spider)
Her miserable, hyper-negroid (harmonica virtuoso) love-slave.
A shifty Earthling con-man of the future and part-time religious fanatic who leads a group of mutant Alpha- Meditators known as the FORCELINGS, and also plays a little trumpet.
A rumpled, balding, 60 year old professor sort of scientist with excellent diction and a slight British accent.
He is not so smart.
He is not so smart also.
FORCELINGS #3, #4, #5, #6
Three female and one male; dancer-mimes who occasionally engage in choral speech and pretend to play musical instruments.
THE ORCHESTRA (22 pieces)
6 woodwinds (all tripling)
4 strings (all electric)
1 multi-keyboard player
1 synthesizer player
1 guitar (6, 12 & mandolin)
1 bass player (upright & Fender)
THE CHORUS (10 voices)
TOTAL CAST: 42 persons (including musicians)
Quadraphonic Sound System with 2 engineers (one for mixing, the other to execute the audio modification on the voices of DRAKMA and HUNCHENTOOT)
3 wireless microphones & receivers
3 ring modulators
1 balanced modulator
2 voltage-controlled filters
2 envelope generators
1 quad recorder for 4 channel echo FX
2 voltage-controlled amplifiers
2 Advent cassette decks for sound FX
1 stereo EMT (or piano-reverb device) earphone monitoring system
All orchestra instruments are to be amplified and fed to the central quad board.
THE BRASS (2 trumpets 2 trombones, 1 bass trombone / tuba) are all taken by individual microphones (close range).
THE WOODWINDS (assorted) are all transducerized or bugged. Their initial output is fed to individual volume/wah-wah pedals, the into individual Echoplexes, finally into 6 [rented] ACOUSTIC STUDIO AMPS (which contain individual microphones directly in front of each speaker, allowing a balanced EQ’d feed to the mix board as well as individual monitoring for each player.
THE STRINGS (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello, and the upright bass when used) are all transducerized and fed through individual volume/wah-wah pedals (except for the upright bass which also uses an Echoplex after the pedal), also employing 5 [rented] ACOUSTIC STUDIO AMPS.
THE PERCUSSION (including ElectroVibes transducerized marimba, transducerized timpani, bells, chimes and various drums, gongs, and noisemakers) are all fed to the main board and returned to their section in a mono monitor mix. The transducerized marimba is a special-purchase apparatus that would provide individual pick-ups for each marimba bar. These pick-ups, when fed to a resistor chain would make it possible for any passage covering the full range of the instrument to zip around the audience in a quad orbit (aside from making the instrument more valuable as an orchestral voice due to improved audibility).
THE MULTI-KEYBOARDS (Hammond Organ, grand piano, tack piano, electric
harpsichord, Wurlitzer, Fender-Rhodes with ring modulator) are taken direct
when purely electronic, and transducerized when acoustic (grand & tack),
with the exception of the Hammond. The Leslie on the Hammond is to be miked
in quad and isolated from the other instruments, enabling assorted mysterious
ethereal effects to be generated in an 'audience-surround' mode. The Hammond
output is also taken direct. The keyboard player monitors his own amp.
THE SYNTHESIZER SECTION (1 ARP, 1 mini-moog) is used as an instrumental voice(s) and for sound FX purposes. The ARP output is taken stereo 'direct' into the board. The Mini-Moog output is a mono direct feed to a quad pan-pot on the master board. The player monitors himself on a small amp.
THE GUITARIST (electric 6, electric 12, electric mandolin, and transducerized acoustic 6) will require a stereo 'direct' from a pair of ACOUSTIC STUDIO AMPS.
THE BASS (upright transducerized etc., and Fender) is received from an ACOUSTIC STUDIO AMP.
THE DRUMS (snare drum, bass drum, 3 tom-toms, hi-hat, ride/crash/rivet & tiny cymbals, plus 4 cow bells and tambourine) are to be received in quad and miked in this manner: 1 bass drum mike, I snare/hi-hat mike, 1 mike each tom-tom , 1 over- head mike, favoring the cow bells. The bass drum front head should be removed, as well as the bottom tom-tom heads. The overhead and tom-tom mikes should all be KeePexed tightly, and reconstituted with the EMT in deep mode (or its equivalent). The player can monitor the whole mix via headphones.
ALSO REQUIRED: Full lighting, plus strobes (1 red, 1 blue, 1 green) and a large screen for rear-projection over the orchestra.
The right side of the stage is 'THE EARTH" during the FORCELINGS pre-flight warm-up and the finale. The FORCELINGS' secret headquarters is represented by a table, 7 chairs and a brick wall flat with 'modern groovy posters' on it. Once the FORCELINGS have made their arrival on DRAKMAS planet, the brick wall is whisked away on little rollers to reveal another flat with outer space decor.
The left side of the stage is "THE UNKNOWN SIZABLE CHUNK OF SPACE DEBRIS", represented by a grotesquely tufted maroon sofa (large), an obviously fraudulent mountain (small), with a cave in it (front wall is cheese-cloth translucent), housing a common brass bed, a bed table, a lamp, and hot magazines. Also visible outside the cave is a pink bullet-head hair dryer, an illuminated (obviously cheap) control panel, and an assortment of tiny papier-mâché volcanoes emitting quaint smoke.
The center-rear-elevated-to-various- levels part of the stage is occupied by the orchestra. The chorus is housed in a glass isolation booth behind the FORCELINGS' brick wall. Suspended over the orchestra is a large screen for rear projection.
The NARRATOR speaks from a formal lector at the top of a scaffold tower located center stage at mid-depth, rising to the height of the screen and obscuring a corner of it.
NOTE -. DURING THE FINALE SPECIAL PROPS INCLUDE SEVERAL BUSHELS OF RELIGIOUS PAMPHLETS, A 10 FOOT REPLICA OF A PROPHYLACTIC VENDING MACHINE (INCLUDING DECAL OF SEMI-NUDE MAIDEN WITH INFLAMED SCARLET NIPPLES) AND A SPECIALLY MADE FILM CLIP DEPICTING THE RETURN TO EQUIVALENT EARTH AND SUBSEQUENT LANDING IN A FUTURISTIC SLUM
HUNCHENTOOT’S costume head-gear will provide concealment for wireless mike #1, which is received and processed through the first ring modulator (to make his voice deeper and gruffer) before it is broadcast through the PA.
DRAKMA’S costume breastplate will contain a sort of cosmic telephone operator's microphone holder for wireless mike #2, to be processed through phaser #1 (for vocals) and/or the balanced modulator for dialog. The balanced modulator (Moog Frequency Shifter) has-a stereo output which will enable DRAKMA’S voice to ascend in pitch on the right side of the theater and descend in pitch on the left side simultaneously providing a suitably mysterious effect (which is easily controlled).
DURK'S lines will be received via wireless mike #3, which is a small hand-holdable version, dangling like an amulet around his neck (he can fondle it to speak), and is unprocessed before amplification.
THE FORCELINGS' dialog is to be picked up from concealed fixed position mikes.
THE NARRATOR'S mike is a fixed position mike and is processed through reverb before amplification.
THE CHORUS is received from 5 mikes on stands behind the right hand flat. Ring Modulators #2 and #3, as well as phasers #2 and #3 will be used to process their voices. Their amplified output is to be broadcast in an evenly panned surround mode. They will monitor themselves and a mono mix of the accompaniment through headphones.
THE ORCHESTRA is subject to mixing and processing through the 2 voltage-controlled filters, the 2 envelope Generators, the 2 voltage-controlled filters, the 4 channel tape delay (Sony Quad 1/4 inch machine) and the EMT reverb. Sectional outputs may be governed by keying from other voices or instruments via the KeePexes.
THE KEEPEXES will be used to eliminate noises (shuffling, mumbling, waiting., coughing, etc.) from the chorus mikes, the three wireless mikes, the NARRATOR mike, and the brass section mikes. This device automatically turns the volume down on a given audio channel when there is not sufficient information coming through to trigger it. This will greatly relieve mixing problems. The device can also be used to turn other instruments or voices on or off in relation to a specific pulse [the bass drum could key the intermittent entrances of a held chord in the brass].
THE LESLIE isolated backstage will be received via 4 mikes. It will not only broadcast the Hammond organ, but will be equipped with a feed from the mix board, making it possible with careful scheduling, to use it as a modifying device for vocals and instruments. Because it is being miked in quad, material fed through it, when finally broadcast into the theater, will appear to swirl ethereally or hang in space over the audience, the rate of travel being easily controlled by the KEYBOARD PLAYER using the speed switch on the Hammond. The receive from the 4 Leslie mikes should be tightly KeePexed and reconstituted through the EMT to avoid any unpleasant mechanical noises when not in use.
FOR ANY FURTHER PRODUCTION INFORMATION, CONSULT COSTUME DESIGN ILLUSTRATIONS, STAGING BLUEPRINTS, MUSICAL SCORE, WIRING DIAGRAMS, AND/OR THE FOLLOWING SCRIPT.
As the performance begins, the only thing lit and visible on the stage should be the orchestra (garbed in space suits). They begin The Overture, and, as they play, THE NARRATOR (with dumpy scientist clothes, including white smock and protruding slide rule) creeps stealthily toward the scaffold, climbs it, mops his brow, waits for the music to subside, and, finally announces . . .