~ The Hearts of the Sailors ~

Summary
This is one of three navigator stories within the serial “Children play Theatre”. It is set in the Indian Ocean around 1500 A.D. The main character is the navigator Ibn Majid, a historically authentic person, who navigated ships from Africa to India and even to China. The Portuguese owe the discovery of the sea route from Africa to India to pilots like him. In this play Ibn Majid demonstrates to young navigators that even the best navigational knowledge is not sufficient for safe journeys on the sea, because the hearts of the sailors are more important than anything else.

 

Excerpts:

The Hearts of the Sailors:

Prologue

The stage set is split into three parts. The left part shows a jumping dolphin,. the right part a Dhow. On the center part,( from the perspective of a roof-terrace), one can see the Port of Mombassa with several ships. All the houses are white and have flat roofs. In front of the center stage set there is a low table with four cushions placed around it. Two students come on stage (step in front of the curtain).

Pupil 1:    Dear audience, today we would like to tell you a story from long ago.

Pupil 2:    It is about brave sailors and their ships.

Pupil 1:    It is set on the Indian Ocean, its islands and coasts.

Pupil 2:    It is very exciting.

Pupil 1:    And perhaps it might render you a little thoughtful as well.

Pupil 2:    Right, let us begin. Com, let’s sit down there.

If there is a curtain it is opened now and they sit down in front of the left half of the stage set.

End of the Prologue

Scene 1

The Navigator

Five narrators come on stage and sit down (stand) in front of the right stage set. Arabian music plays.

Narrator 1:    Many years ago – at a time when Portuguese caravels could still be seen in the Indian seas – in the city of Mombassa in Africa, at the shores of the Indian Sea, lived the navigator Achmed Ibn Majid.

Ibn Majid comes on stage and sits down in front of the low table and writes. He wears a large turban.

Narrator 2:    Ibn Majid led ships from the coasts of Africa to Arabia, Persia, India, to the Sundic Islands, and even to faraway China.

Narrator 3:    Among the navigators and merchants who were travelling these seas to do trade over there, Ibn Majid was much respected.

....

Scene 2

The Typhoon

The central stage set now shows the sea and four Dhows. The sun shines and there is a small cloud on the horizon. On the stage a Dhow is set up. Ibn Majid, Captain 1 and three sailors sit and stand in it. All wear turbans and long robes or harem trousers. The other sailors call Ibn Majid “Navigator”.

Ibn Majid:    As I said, we were on the journey from India to China. I was leading a group of five ships. Our journey so far had gone smoothly. The monsoon had blown steadily and pirates and diseases had spared us. But on the 22nd day of our journey everything changed. Allah had decided to look into our hearts.

Ibn Majid now goes up and down on stage, uses the jakobstick and tries to estimate the position of the sun with it. And he says.

Ibn Majid:    As I was about to determine the height of the sun I noticed a little cloud on the horizon. (He points to it and then shouts out loud) Captain!

Captain 1 goes to him.

Captain 1:    Navigator, what is the matter?

Ibn Majid:    Captain, can you see that cloud there on the horizon

Captain 1:    Yes I can. Why are you showing it to me?

Ibn Majid:    This cloud heralds a typhoon.

Captain 1:    (frightened) Oh, Allah save us from this trial! Are you absolutely sure, Navigator?

Ibn Majid:    Yes, I am. I have seen such clouds already three times in my life

The sailors were listening to the conversation. They throw themselves to their knees and pray.

All Sailors:    Allah, save us from the most dreadful of all storms.

....

Charcters, scene by scene
  Major role Medium role Small role
non-speaking role
Prologue     Pupil 1
Pupil 2
Scene 1 Ibn Majid (old) Narrator 1
Narrator 2
Narrator 3
Narrator 4
Narrator 5
Servant
Navigator Ali
Navigator Mustafa
Navigator Hassan
Scene 2 Ibn Majid (old)
Ibn Majid
Captain 1
Captain 4
Captain 5
Navigator Ali
Navigator Mustafa
Navigator Hassan
Captain 2
Captain 3
Sailor 1
Sailor 2
Sailor 3
Scene 3 Ibn Majid (old)
Ibn Majid
Captain 1
Captain 3
  Navigator Ali
Navigator Mustafa
Navigator Hassan
Captain 4
Sailor 1
Sailor 2
Sailor 4
Caller 1
Caller 2
Caller 3
Sailor 3
Sailor 5
Sailor 6
Scene 4 Ibn Majid (old)
Captain 2
Ibn Majid
Navigator Ali
Navigator Mustafa
Navigator Hassan
Captain 1
Sailor 1
 
Epilogue     Pupil 1
Pupil 2

Proposals for sceneries:

Dhows on sea (scene 2, centre)


Photos of a production:

 

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