Synopses & Reviews
Happy Birthday, Wanda June
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
This a satirical play based loosely on Homer's Odyssey and Ernest Hemingway. It is introduced by Penelope, one of the characters, as a "simple-minded play about men who enjoy killing and those who don't." It takes place in a room with stuffed animal heads mounted all over the walls. Apparently, someone has ordered a birthday cake but never picked it up. One of. the characters in the play has bought it -- and brought it home. In typical Vonnegut humor, the girl, Wanda June, for whom the cake was purchased, appears once in the play and talks directly to the audience. There is background music and, according to Vonnegut, she is as "cute as Shirley Temple."
(Music indicates happiness, innocence, and weightlessness. Spotlight comes up on "Wanda June, a lisping eight-year-old in a starched party dress.)
Hello. I am Wanda June. Today-was going to be my birthday, but I was, hit by an ice-cream truck before I could have my party. I am dead now. I am in Heaven. That is why my parents did not pick up the cake at the bakery. I am not mad at the ice-cream truck driver, even though he was,, drunk when he hit me. It didn't hurt much. It -wasn't even as bad as the sting of a bumblebee. I am really happy here! It's so much fun. I am glad the driver was drunk. If he hadn't been, I might not have got to Heaven for years and years and years. I would have had to go to high school first, and then beauty college. I would have had to get married and have babies and everything. Now I can Just play and play and play. Any time I ., want any pink cotton candy I can have some. Everybody up here is happy-the animals and, -the deadsoldiers and people who went to the electric chair and everything. They're all glad for whatever sent them here. Nobody is mad. We're all too busy playing shuffleboard. So if you think of killing somebody, don't worry about it. just go ahead and do ft. Whoever you do it to should kiss you for doing it. The soldiers up here just love the shrapnel and the tanks and the bayonets and the dum dums that let them play shuffleboard all the time -- and drink beer.
(Spotlight begins to dim and carnival music on a steam calliope begins to intrude, until, at the end of the speech, "Wanda June is drowned out and the stage is black)
We have merry-go rounds that don't cost anything to ride on. We have Ferris wheels. We have Little League and girls' basketball. There's a drum and bugle corps anybody can Join. For people who like golf, there is a par-three golf course and a driving range, with never any waiting. If YOU just want to sit and loaf, why that's all right, too. Gourmet met specialities are cooked to your order and served at any time of night or day....
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About the Author
Lorraine Cohen recieved her B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and a Master of Arts degree in Theater from Montclair State College. In addition to teaching in the New Jersey school system, she has served as Assistant Director of New Dimension Theatre's Drama School and as drama reviewer for Grade Teacher Magazine. Ms. Cohen has also written articles for Shakespeare and Children.