United Poultry Concerns
19 January 2010
Praise the Egg! New Musical by Mary Gage Premiers in State College, PA
Experience Life from the Chickens' Point of View in this Endearing Performance
The State Theatre, Saturday April 3. 2010: 3:00pm. 7:00pm
"I think you should tell your readers that you were the inspiration for the
musical." Mary Gage to UPC president Karen Davis
Praise the Egg! A New Musical is based on the bittersweet novel by prizewinning
writer, Mary Gage, showing life through the eyes of chickens. The book, and now
the musical, captures the drama and pathos of the chickenyard with a cast of
characters that includes Prudence, Granny Black, England the cock, "X and Y"
from a battery-cage hen facility, and Man and Woman, the chicken-keepers. The
story of these chickens is based on a little flock of chickens Mary kept while
living in Perth in Western Australia in the 1970s.
Mary Gage, who now lives in State College, Pennsylvania
http://marygage.net , is directly involved in
the musical production of Praise the Egg: She tells UPC: "The music is being
written by a composer who directs Broadway musicals for kids in State College.
He is casting these kids as chicks - ideal for his school, as the chicks grow so
fast that a new class can do each scene. The set and costumes are being done by
an artist whose paper cutouts of grass and trees will be projected huge on the
backdrop. Huge hands with buckets or hoses intrude whenever Man and Woman come
with the food and water."
So how did UPC's president, Karen Davis, "inspire" the musical performance of
Praise the Egg? In an email to Karen, Mary Gage writes, "Someone alerted me to
your talk about chickens in which you quoted from my book at the Yale Chicken
Conference, in May 2002. This person inquired about Praise the Egg! She wanted
to know the rest of the story. At that point the producer of the State Theatre
invited me to put on another play, so I decided to rewrite my Australian chicken
story as an American musical. Thank you!"
Here is the passage I quoted at the Yale Chicken Conference from Praise the Egg!
It appears at the beginning of Chapter Two in my book Prisoned Chickens,
Then they all settled down in the soft green shade of the lemon tree, with each
little chick taking its turn to fly up to the best and softest seat on Granny
Black's back. And while they waited for the sun to go down again, she told them
about the great big world outside the chick run, or the days when she was a
chick, or the story they liked telling best of all - her Miracle story about
Eggs. How the broken fragments they had hatched from were once smooth, complete
shapes; how every chicken that ever was had hatched out in exactly the same way;
how only chooks could lay such beauties; and how every time they did, they were
so filled with joy that they could not stay quiet, but had to burst into song;
and how their song was taken up by England the cock and echoed by every single
hen in the Run. - Mary Gage, Praise the Egg
What led Mary Gage to write Praise the Egg! in the first place? She explains:
"While working for the Festival of Perth in Australia I was given two battery
hens. I put these pristine silver-legged creatures down in our scruffy run.
Their eyes had never seen sunlight before and their claws never touched mud. The
cock strutted over at once and crowed, and the two new hens ran for their lives.
It was a sound they had never heard before. I began to think about the natural
rhythm of my chooks' lives. The book grew over my years of keeping and observing
them and their way of life. It simply wrote itself."
Please plan to attend Mary Gage's Praise the Egg! A New Musical at the State
Theatre, Centre County's community performing arts center, 130 West College
Avenue, State College, PA 16801. Saturday April 3, 2010. We hope to see you
Posted by Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns