Bugs drop curtain on school play

The Buzz

May 21, 2004

A correspondent writes:

In the spring of 1970, my fifth-grade students in Carney Elementary School decided to perform The Pied Piper of Hamlin for the whole school at the end of the year.

On one side of the school there is a steep hill rising about 15 feet and topped by a grove of trees. I had the brilliant idea that this would be a wonderful setting for our play. The audience could sit at the bottom and watch the actors perform at the top. When the pied piper played his flute, the children would follow him and "disappear" into the woods.

A few days before the performance, we had a dress rehearsal. Children who were in the first act went to the top of the hill and the rest of the cast sat on the grass at the bottom.

No sooner had the actors begun to speak than the audience started screaming, jumping up and down and waving their arms wildly. The cicadas were flying about, landing and crawling all over them.

However, the show must go on, so we brought out chairs for the audience and started over. Unfortunately, we had not considered an element essential to the presentation ... sound! The noise made by the cicadas was so loud that even if the actors yelled, they could not be heard above the deafening shrillness of the mating insects.

We had to concede defeat. But because the youngsters had worked so hard on the play, we recorded it in the classroom and offered the tape to other classes. We received many compliments from them ... but they don't know what they really missed!

- Doris Forster Carney

Any cicada musings of your own? Send them by mail to Cicada Buzz, c/o Features Dept., The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; or by e-mail to sun.features@ baltsun.com, subject line Cicada Buzz.

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