a comedy in two acts for one actor
by Kent Stetson
Peter Stewart, an elderly farmer who has outlived his loved ones and who faces the utter loss of his land through the machinations of his own son, prepares for death. His past, however, is not about to let him off that easy. Stormed by spirits, memories, unfulfilled aspirations, and his own unresolved outrage, he enacts (at times literally) a wild ride through the circumstances of his life and, perhaps, demise. The rhythms of this journey are lyrical, elliptical, robust, and animated, and both the text and its performance create a poetic dance of humour, empathy, and imagination. A heartfelt and, at times, heartsick homage to both a disappearing way of life and an enduring commitment to tradition and cultural heritage, Horse High, Bull Strong, Pig Tight concludes this anthology with an impassioned and compassionate declaration of regional distinctiveness and vitality.
Bruce Barton, from his introduction to HHBSPT, in Marigraph: Gauging the Tides of Drama from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Playwrights Canada Press: 2004.
Excerpt, from Act Two
Peter and the Tight Pig
Loman McCauley on CFCY tells us the USSR
Put this little round thing called a Sputnik up into outer space.
Not that little.
I’m drinkin’ me Saturday night case of beers,
In at the Minah Bird on Sydney Street,
Tryin’ to make sense out ‘a one ‘a them Roossian sailors
Off the potato boat from Vladovlostock
Tied up there at the railway wharf in Charlottetown.
In comes this loud mouthed son of a who-oo cut your hair last
And starts going on about how he seen
A space ship full of Roossian Martians.
There was no Martians in the Spootnik, Roossian or otherwise.
Not accordin’ to Loman.
Anyways, I knew what’s what, eh?
I tell him about the 3,000 pound Spootnik
Floatin’ around up there.
He calls me a friggin’ liar.
“Nothin that heavy could stay up in the air,” says he.
“Not without no wings.”
I call him a Charlottetown fool.
He calls me a stunned country arse-hole.
And we go at it.
Everybody’s cheerin’ us on,
Even these Charlottetown police fellas, eh?
And them two RCMP lads that used t’a get drunk and waltz together.
I seen some pretty queer sights at The Minah Bird.
The Minah Bird’s some popular with the police
Even though they have to shut her down every now and then
‘Cause it’s a bootlegger, eh?
I’m strong as a bull, but slow.
He’s fast and dirty — a wiry little town fella,
Learned to fight on Douglas Street, eh?
Them Irish Catholics are an awful bunch with the boots.
They get you down on the ground at boot level
You can say farewell to your teeth.
I lost these two that night.
I hitch-hiked a ride home with the queer priest from Souris.
He was a regular at the Minah and a bugger to drink.
He was awful fond of them Roossian sailors.
And one or two of them took a fancy to His Holiness,
Which is what I took to callin’ him.
The stuff that went on at the Minah’d curl your hair.
I was a terrible lad for the ladies, myself,
Though some of the ‘girls’ at the Minah’d seen better days.
We come around the bend in Dunstaffnage —
Mind you every body’s around the bend in Dunstaffnage,
Just ask Beth MacIssac.
She cut up their Christmas tree for spite
After their school concert —
In our Hall, which we lent them every year —
Cut up their tree with a vengeance
So we couldn’t use it for our concert.
And them buggers — the big lads —
The kind ‘a fellas that gets kicked outa grade two for not shavin’…
Big, stunned, hulkin’ lads strong as oxes and just as smart,
Used to pelt us with fudge from the back of the hall
When we was doin’ our recitations.
Little kids six and seven,
Doin’ the Merry Christmas letters, eh?
Poor Wendell Acorn was at the end Merry, so he had ‘Y’.
“ ‘Y’ is for the Yuletide, the best time of the year,”
Is what he was supposed to say.
“Wha… wha… why…”
Poor Wendell stuttered something wicked, eh…
“Wha… wha… why…”
One of them Thompson lads
Or was it a MacCallum —
Let go with a huge rock ‘a Margie Dunning’s brown sugar fudge,
Clipped poor Wendell right on the side of the head.
That got him started.
“Wha… wha… WHY… is the mule tied, the best time of the year?”
The mule tide! Honest to God!
The place near come down with the laughter.
Poor Wendell never knew what hit him.
And he never stuttered on word from that night forward.
Mind you, he become a little hard of hearin’.
But it was all in good fun.
The Women’s Institute started makin’ the Divinity fudge after that.
Never hurt as bad as the brown sugar stuff.
Made a terrible splat, though.
And stuck like two-day old chewin’ gum.
They started cuttin’ the corners outa the little paper bags, eh?
So the big lads at the back couldn’t explode them
In the middle of the little kids solos.
But that’s another story.
Any way, we come around the bend in Dunstaffnage
And there’s this great big Dunstaffnage pig —
A dandy big porker —
Lyin’ right in the middle of the road.
We screech to a stop and Mr. Pig jumps to his trotters,
Trots a few paces down this little lane,
Turns and looks back, like a dog that wants you to follow.
So that’s what we done.
We come to this little tar paper shack.
Inside, buddy’s drunk.
Some queer old bachelor livin’ alone,
Just him and his pig —
A sow, it turns out, not a boar.
There was nothin’ queer about buddy!
The little pot bellied stove is glowin’ red.
Buddie’s drunk asleep,
And the heat man dear would stun a hippo.
The places smells sour.
His socks and underwear —
He wore the combinations, pure wool, eh, —
Was smokin’ — not steamin’.
They was smokin’!
The pig ‘s squealin’, agitated no end.
We drag Buddy out, lay him on the lane naked as a jay bird,
Just as the tar paper ignites.
Up she goes —
In a shower of smoke and flame,
Sparks trailin’ up past the Northern lights,
Flickerin’ out among the stars.
Down comes your dog house,
And forty feet of your barn!
The pig starts rootin’ at Buddy, eh,
And flips him, right over onto his back.
Buddy sits up,
Looks at us, looks at his hog
Takes in what’s goin’ on and says,
“Oh, me house. Me house. Me poor little house.”
The pig comes over and lies down beside him.
Honest to God.
If you don’t believe me, ask the queer Priest from Souris.
That pig lay right down beside her buddy.
Like poor Jesse Compton who was soft in the head.
Him and his old brother Albert lived alone on the farm, eh?
One day a gust of wind caught the big barn door
And poor old Albert got knocked unconscious.
Out like a light.
Like I say, poor Jesse never had any kind of a clue.
He didn’t know what to do.
So… he just lay down along side ‘a Albert
His arm under Albert’s head
Talkin’ to him.
(Sings) ‘You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine…’
Waitin’ for Albert to wake up.
Or someone to come along.
Albert never did wake up.
And no one come along.
My, my, my.
I stopped by Buddy’s a few weeks later.
He’d built himself a brand new tar paper shack…
The neighbors took up a collection, eh?
And there on this brand new second-hand couch
Lay this same great big pig.
Buddy asks me to sit down
So I slap the hog to get up and make room
And Buddy says,
“Don’t slap Iris. If you want her to move, just ask her.”
And she did!
Me and Iris and Buddy became the best of friends.
I lived there the rest of the winter.
They say ‘drunk as a pig,’ eh?
But Iris could hold her liquor better than either of us.
They was both drunk as pigs that night she went out
And lay down on the road.
The night Iris the tight pig lay down on the road
Willin’ to give her all
To save her buddy Buddy’s life.
Greater love hath no pig, what?
Horse high, bull strong, pig tight!
Dad used t’a say that when we were kids.
I got no idea what on God’s green earth it means.
Somehow or other it makes me feel good.
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It takes 10,000 hours to master a craft. The same to excel in any profession.
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