LIBRARY: Cultural References in Plays    

Joni Noodles

  by Walter Breen     


This was performed by its author, Walt Breen, and Susan Guzzi, his lovely assistant, before adoring fans at JoniFest '03, Full Moon Lodge, August 8, 2003: Joni Noodles (A thankfully brief 4-noodle play about Joni Mitchell's initial foray into music, and what went wrong) Cast Walberta Joan Anderbreen, Hereafter "J", a blond 7-year old girl from the prairies of Canada, who seems to love music and has been sent up the street to take piano lessons. The Teacher, Hereafter "T", a stern and bitter old woman. Intro J walks on-stage. S/he looks as unlike a seven-year-old blond girl as is physically possible (while remaining nominally within the human species). J: Good evening, and welcome to an evening of speculative theatre. Tonight, we'll be asking the question, What really happened during those fateful first piano lessons for Joni Mitchell? First of all, I want you to know that we had the budget for me to do these brief biographical skits entirely in authentic early-50s little-girl drag -- yes, in my size -- remember, I live in San Francisco, where such things can be found. But since for whatever reason, I always get my carry-on luggage searched whenever I fly, I decided not to risk having to explain what I was doing with nail clippers hidden in shiny black leather Mary Janes the size of gunboats. Instead, I'll have to ask you to use yore imagination a little bit. [Optional: J shouts "Wardrobe!" and someone walks out with a really decrepit blond wig, or even just a newspaper colored yellow and taped or stapled to look like a wig; J takes it disdainfully and puts it on.] So now picture me as a seven-year-old blond girl from North Battleford, Saskatchewan. [Looks himself up and down]. That shouldn't be so hard, eh? Okay, now excuse me while I go into character. [Covers face with hands and appears to be concentrating, for about 3 seconds; drops hands] Actually, I just realized that emotionally, I am a seven-year-old girl from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, so we might as well get started. The setting is the front parlor of an embittered, regimental old piano teacher...[Walks off, stage right] Noodle 1 J [Enters stage right, walks up and knocks on imaginary front door] Hello? [louder] Hello?! [Walks in and closes door behind her.] Hello?! [Spots piano.] Oh. [Walks over and sits down. Starts playing a mishmash of familiar intros and themes from JM's music.] T [Storms in, ruler in hand, and slams it down on or near J's fingers] J [Shrieks and pulls her fingers away.] Ow! Why did you do that?! T [Booming] Young lady, do you usually go into strangers' homes and start playing nonsense on their pianos without permission? J Sorry! I'm Walberta Joan Anderbreen, my friends call me Joan, and I-- T I know who you are, young lady, I keep a tight schedule, and you are [checking watch] two minutes late. J Well, you weren't here either, so what difference does it make if I was late? T [in full umbrage] I... BEG... YOUR... J [calmly continuing] And that wasn't nonsense I was playing, that was part of a song I wrote called "Robin Walk". T [getting control] Young lady, why on earth would you want to play by ear when you could have [theatrically:] the masters at your fingertips? J [looking doubtfully at fingers] Really? T We'll start with the key of C. Right there [gestures with ruler, which makes Joni flinch slightly] J [puts fingers on keyboard and dutifully starts playing exercises in the key of C] Blackout/Curtain Noodle 2 (a.k.a the Yankee Doodle Noodle) J [Knocking on door and letting herself in] Hello? Hello?! Where the heck does that mean old lady go after each lesson? [snickers] She probably goes out back and swats flies with that awful ruler. [J thinks that over, and then looks suddenly down at her fingers and gasps] Eeeuuuw! [Eyes piano, looks nervously over her shoulder, sits down at piano and starts to play Yankee Doodle, sort of.] T [Enters stage left and creeps up slowly, this time; once again, she slams the ruler on or near J's hands] J [flinches and yelps] T What on earth do you think you were doing? J I was playing Yankee Doodle! T You... most... certainly... were... NOT!!! And what did we say about attempting songs before we have mastered the scales and chords? J Well, "we" didn't say anything, but you said not to. T Well, then, let's hear your scales in F and Bb. J [Plays quite a bit of the exercise in F; during this time, T at first waves the ruler in the air to keep time, but gradually she moves to the left, and eventually disappears offstage. J switches to Bb and starts again, but noticing T has left the room, she slips into the intro from "See You Sometime".] T [from offstage] I can hear you!! J [Sighs, and switches back to just doing regular scales.] Blackout/Curtain Noodle 3 As usual, T is not in evidence when J knocks and enters. J [goes over to the piano and sits down. It's obviously hard for her not to just start playing, but she is very nervous. She looks over her shoulder several times, looks at her watch, and then finally shrugs and starts to play the intro to "Blonde In The Bleachers.] T [appears stage left, but doesn't immediately rush up with ruler as per usual. Instead, she keeps silent and lets J play for a little while. Gradually, she makes her way to the piano and then says in a normal tone of voice] What is that? Is that Stravinsky? J [nearly jumps out of her skin] God, you make me so nervous, my mom took me to the doctor, and he said I should take up smoking to calm my nerves. T [back to business again] Well, young lady, that's the most sensible thing I've ever heard you say. I hope you've taken his advice. J Oh, yes, ma'am, I'm at a pack a day, two on piano lesson days. T Hmmph. Well, let's see whether you've been practicing your G, D and A scales. J [Sighs, and starts the scales.] God, I need a cigarette... Blackout/Curtain Noodle 4 J [knocks and enters as usual. Calls out several times -- no response. She looks balefully at the keyboard, and then, after one more look over her shoulder, she begins playing "Ludwig's Tune"...] T [predictably, creeps up as J begins playing, hesitates briefly when J starts to sing; then she continues to sneak up on her until she SLAMS DOWN the ruler just after J finishes the line, "That don't seem like much"] J [SCREAMS outright] T [stonily] What... was... that, young lady? J [panting] Oh my god. [Checks hands, to see if all the parts still work] My doctor said that if I break -- [looks up meaningfully] -- if you break just one more of my metacarpals, I won't be able to write, dial a phone, or hold a cigarette. He gave me some pills [digs into pocket and pulls out a vial, looks at bottle and sounds out the name] VAL-LI-UM, and he told me I should give up smoking and take these instead. T Well, perhaps you should give up smoking -- J [sotto voce] That'll be the day... T Your voice does sound a bit low for your age. Now you didn't answer my question -- what was that nonsense you were playing? It sounded a bit like Stravinsky again [getting agitated] -- or even that evil jazz music I heard once by accident on a radio. J It wasn't nonsense! I learned in school how Beethoven-- T [interrupting] It's pronounced "BEE-though-ven", dear. J [ignoring her] how Beethoven lost his hearing but still went on writing music even though he'd never be able to hear it again except in his head, and that made me kinda sad, so I started writing this song about him... T Young lady, what have I told you about all this silly noodling around? J [defiantly, standing to full height] No! I don't have to listen to you anymore! T [obviously frightened] Jesus, you're big for 7!! J I'm not taking any more piano lessons! When I grow up-- T [looking her up and down] Grow "up"? J [on a roll now] When I grow up I'm gonna be an artist. I'll go to art school, where no one ever tries to force to paint any one way! [Storms off stage right, slamming imaginary door] T [Shakes head and cackles evilly] Art school, eh? [shouting at door] I'll see you there! [continues to cackle as she walks offstage left] Final Curtain

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Books (116 references)

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» Icarus by Russell Andrews
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» Inconceivable by Ben Elton
» Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret  by James Gavin
» IPod, Therefore I Am by Dylan M.  Jones
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» Kiss the Sunset Pig by Laurie Gough
» Lawnboy by Paul Lisicky
» Looking Back by Thomas A. Becker
» Love Me by Garrison  Keillor
» Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen
» Men May Come and Men May Go, But I've Still Got My Little Pink Raincoat: Life and Love In and Out of My Wardrobe by Gigi Anders
» Mercy by Jodi Picoult
» Mothers Are Dangerous With Knives (Moeders zijn gevaarlijk met messen) by Do van Ranst
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» The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
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» No Touch Monkey! (And other travel lessons learned too late) by Ayun Halliday
» The Official Preppy Handbook by Lisa Birnbach
» On the Road with Bob Dylan: Rolling with the Thunder by Larry Sloman
» One Day by David Nicholls
» Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
» Other People's Dirt: A Housecleaner's Curious Adventures by Louise Rafkin
» Our Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source by Scott Dikkers and Staff of the Onion
» Paving Paradise by Craig Pittman and  Matthew Waite
» A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
» Prince: Life and Times by Jason Draper
» Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America: A Memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel
» The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth  Berg
» The Quality of Life Report by Meghan  Daum
» Rapunzel: A Groovy Fairy Tale by Lynn Roberts
» Rhymes with Useless by Terence Young
» The Ruins of California by Martha Sherrill
» A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffet
» Salvo el Crepúsculo by Julio Cortázar
» The Science of Discworld by Terry Pratchett, et al
» Seafood Lover's Guide by Rick Stein
» Sensing Others by Frank Tallis
» Shadow of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann,  Ray Lawrence
» Shadow Tag: A Novel by Louis Erdich
» Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui
» She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
» The Silk Road by Jane  Summer
» Sky Full of Ribbons by Marilyn Arnold
» Spadework by Timothy Findley
» Speaking with the Angel by Various Writers
» The Stand by Stephen King
» Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up by Pamela Des Barres
» Tea by Stacey D'Erasmo
» The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
» A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George
» True Enough by Stephen McCauley
» An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey  by Richard Brautigan
» Violets Are Blue by James Patterson
» Waist-high in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled by Nancy  Mairs
» A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
» Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore
» The World's Room by Todd London

Films (47)

» 200 Cigarettes (1999)
» 9 1/2 Weeks (1986)
» After Hours (1985)
» Alice's Restaurant (1969)
» Almost Famous (2000)
» The Bridge (2006)
» The Brothers Bloom (2008)
» The Brothers McMullen (1995)
» Camp
» Changes (1969)
» City of Ghosts (2003)
» The Commitments (1991)
» DIVA (1981)
» Down To You (2000)
» Elizabethtown
» Fight Club (1999)
» Foxes (1980)
» Get Over It  (2000)
» Gone Girl (2014)
» Grace of My Heart (1996)
» High Fidelity (2000)
» Hustler White (1996)
» Into The Wild (2007)
» Just Wright (2010)
» The Kids Are All Right (2010)
» Laurel Canyon (2003)
» Life As a House (2001)
» Live Nude Girls (1995)
» Love, Actually (2003)
» Married to It (1991)
» Midnight Cowboy (1969)
» Out of Sight (1998)
» Practical Magic (1998)
» Songcatcher (1999)
» Starting Out in the Evening (2007)
» Still Crazy (1999)
» The Strawberry Statement (1970)
» Swing Vote (2008)
» Switch (1991)
» Tarnation (2003)
» Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991)
» Two Weeks Notice (2002)
» Under the Cherry Moon (2004)
» Vanilla Sky (2001)
» Waking the Dead (2000)
» A Walk on the Moon (1999)
» You've Got Mail (1998)

Television (99)

» The 70s (2002)
» Absolutely Fabulous
» Alias
» Alias (2002)
» Ally McBeal
» Ally McBeal (2000)
» As Told By Ginger
» The Brady Bunch
» Brothers and Sisters (2009)
» C-SPAN White House Meeting & Barangrill (2009)
» Canadian Idol (2004)
» Catterick
» Chicago Hope (1996)
» The Chris Isaac Show
» The Colbert Report (2006)
» The Colbert Report (2008)
» The Colbert Report (2008)
» Dawson's Creek
» Design by Surprise
» Dharma and Greg
» Dr. Phil
» Ellen (1997)
» Emmerdale
» ER
» ER (2002)
» Frasier
» General Hospital (2006)
» Gilmore Girls (2003)
» A Girl Thing
» Grandeur et décadence (1986)
» Guiding Light
» Hey Arnold! (2007)
» I'm Alan Partridge
» Jam and Jerusalem / Clatterford (2009)
» Jeff Buckley
» Jeopardy!
» Jeopardy!
» Just Shoot Me
» Kathy (2013)
» Late Night With Conan O'Brien (Quentin Tarantino) (2005)
» The Late Show with David Letteman
» The Late Show with David Letterman
» The Late Show with David Letterman (1986?)
» The Late Show with David Letterman (2000)
» The Late Show with David Letterman (2000)
» The Late Show with David Letterman (2000)
» The Late Show with David Letterman (2002)
» The Late Show with David Letterman (2002)
» Melrose Place
» Melrose Place
» Melrose Place
» Mercy (2010)
» My Family
» New Girl (2012)
» Nip/Tuck
» Northern Exposure
» Nurse Jackie (2010)
» Once and Again
» Oprah interviews Julia Roberts
» Parenthood (2013)
» Providence (2002)
» Re:Covered (2002)
» Rose Parade coverage (2003)
» The Rosie O'Donnell Show  (2002)
» Saturday Night Live (2003)
» Second City TV
» Six Feet Under (2002)
» The Sopranos
» Southland (2009)
» Star Search
» Strangers with Candy
» Strangers With Candy
» The L-Word (2006)
» The Today Show (2005)
» The Voice (2014)
» The Wendy Williams Show (2013)
» Third Rock from the Sun
» thirtysomething (1987)
» thirtysomething (1987)
» thirtysomething (1989)
» Today Show interview with Mandy Moore
» The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Goldie Hawn) (2002)
» The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Louise Goffin) (2002)
» Tracey Takes On
» Two and a Half Men (2010)
» University Challenge
» The Vicar of Dibley
» Walk On By (2005)
» The Weakest Link  (2002)
» The West Wing (2004)
» When Hippies Ruled the World
» Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (2002)
» Will & Grace (2000)
» Will & Grace (2002)
» Without a Trace (2005)
» The Wonder Years
» The  Wonder Years
» The Wonder Years
» The Wonder Years (1992)

Plays (19)

Poetry (19)

» A Alejandra Pizarnik by Julio  Cortazar
» Bericht aan de reizigers by Ingmar Heytze
» For Joni by Kerry  Furber (Kezz)
» I Met A Woman In A Joni Mitchell Song by David Geary
» jammin' with joni by Terry 
» Joni Mitchell  by Joseph  Hutchinson
» Joni Mitchell Can Bite My Ass by Curtis Meyer
» Joni Mitchell, Coffee & the Rain by Carmina Gitana
» Learning the Hard Way by Jane McGuinness
» Libro de Manuel by Julio  Cortazar
» Lonely With Joni by Rebecca  Stang
» Pas de Deux from a Distance by Nora Maria Iancu
» Paved Paradise  by Heidi  Lerner
» Practical Water by Brenda Hillman
» Purr by James Servin
» Radical Sentimentality by James Sevin
» Somewhere in the Buddha Night by Lester Hirsh
» Upon hearing Joni Mitchell's Travelogue by Peter Tadd
» You Don't Know What You've Got . . . by Paula  Harris

Miscellaneous (75)

» 2nd Avenue Grill Drink  by Craig Silliphant
» Coyote Inspired Briefs & Bras by Marlies Dekkers
» My Old Man residing in Shangri-La
» A music store named Sharon in Maidstone
» Anna Quindlen column
» Ashley Judd in Reader's Digest interview
» Ben Whishaw: “I can’t write poetry. I’ve written love letters”
» A bench at Princeton
» A Bermuda tour boat narration
» Big Yellow Taxi - New Hampshire
» Big Yellow Taxi in a political column
» Bissell Commercial
» Capitol Steps Political Parody of Both Sides Now
» Cartoon in The New Yorker Magazine by Victoria  Roberts
» Celebrity Taboo - The Game Of Unspeakable Fun!
» CHUM-FM questionnaire
» Clean White Linen by Mark Aster
» Cloud Physics Course
» Coldwater Creek catalogue
» Desert Island Discs - Jack Vettriano
» Dirty Car Art
» Doonesbury by Gary  Trudeau
» Doonesbury by Gary  Trudeau
» Edie Falco in Watch! interview
» Esquire Magazine, July 2002 by Jeff Gordinier
» Extra-credit question for 5th grade students
» From a New Yorker article by Ian Frazier
» Graham Nash radio interview
» Guardian review of Partick McCabe book
» Hotel Isolabella OUR HOUSE Room - Trentino, Italy
» How Keith Richards Inspired Dr. Evil by Unknown 
» Jacksonville Transit Poster Art
» Joni mention on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Disk
» Joni mention on high rotation TV commercial
» Joni-inspired painting names by Jack Vettriano
» Ken Bruce's BBC radio show
» Lafayette Electronics & Larry
» Lorrie Moore in Reader's Digest interview
» Mermaid Café in Nantucket
» Metro interview with Adrian Edmondson
» Motorsport Journalism - Formula One Diary by Simon  Arron
» My prom date, the spy by Lisa Zeidner
» National Lampoon parody
» National Lampoon/Bernie's column
» New South Wales Higher School Certificate Exam  by Unknown 
» The Night Before Christmas by Bob Muller
» Night Ride Home by Lindsay Stamhuis
» NPR science show promo
» Obama Town Hall Webcam by Reginald  Cunningham III
» A paper from War Resisters International Triennial Conference
» Parade Magazine Article by Bruce  Feiler
» Parody of Woodstock
» Peggy Baker Dance Projects
» PhillyBaseballNews.com column by Cole Hamels
» Pop The Question: The Ultimate Pop Trivia Quiz Card Game
» Postcard for Common Good Planning Center in Rochester, NY
» Prop O poster in Paradise, California
» Radio 4 program about natural foods
» The Reptile Garden by Louise Erdrich
» A Sacrifice for Friendship, Chapter 3 by DS  Bauden
» A Sacrifice for Friendship, Chapter 5 by DS  Bauden
» Salon.com political commentary
» Spaceship "Stardust" news story
» A Spray-painted cardboard sign
» Starbucks Calendar
» Stevie Nick's Moonlight Video & Wild Things Run Fast
» Summer music and drink suggestions
» The Laura Ingraham Show
» The Times of London interview with Brian Cox
» Tori Amos radio interview by Toyah Wilcox
» Tristam Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story by Steve Coogan
» Valentine's Day Editorial
» Whole Foods ad
» Windy City Media Group online interview of writer Paul Lisicky
» The Writer's Almanac by Garrison  Keillor

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