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Posted: Thursday December 10, 2015
Read a scene from Cerulean Blue by Drew Hayden Taylor

Cerulean Blue is a comedic play by Drew Hayden Taylor – who else? – about a struggling blues band invited to participate in a benefit concert for a First Nation community in conflict with governmental authorities. Upon arriving, the band discovers the entire lineup of musical acts has cancelled and they’re left trapped behind barricades. Complicating the matter, there is conflict within the band and the sudden appearance of an old girlfriend makes the event even more perilous. This play is an homage to fast-moving farces while also addressing Aboriginal issues, and it’s original blues soundtrack (score by Andrew Clemens) and large ensemble cast make it one heck of a performance!

The excerpts below come from Scene Four (pages 41–45) of Cerulean Blue.


PAULINE
Hey, we got good news for the band!

RUSSELL
We’ll be the judge of that.

BILLY
I’ve got us a gig.

RUSSELL
You got us a gig?! Hey, I get the gigs. You can’t get us gigs. You haven’t even started the first day of rehearsal yet. How can you get us a gig?

PAULINE
Seems Billy did.

JOANNE
Let him talk, Russell.

RUSSELL
Did you not hear me talk about the gig-making hierarchy in this band?

JOANNE
Ah yes, Russell’s I-arrange-the-gigs rule. You’ve got us four in the next seven weeks. I think we can fit in one or two more, if we use a crowbar. Billy, tell us what’s going on.

BILLY
Are you all familiar with what’s happening up at Dead Rat River?

RUSSELL
Did you say “Dead Rat River”? What the hell is a Dead Rat River?

PAULINE
Let him finish. Billy …?

BILLY
It’s a First Nations community up north.

JOANNE
And why is it called Dead Rat River?

BILLY
Somebody probably found a dead rat in the river … probably a muskrat actually.

JENNIFER
So they called it Dead Rat River after that? That sounds kind of … nasty. “Hi, I’m from Dead Rat River.” Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

BILLY
You have to understand how things used to work a hundred years ago. White people would come into communities and meet people whose names they couldn’t pronounce. So often they would just make up names to make their lives easier. My last name is Burroughs. Not exactly the most Aboriginal of names. Dead Rat River is what white people called the place. It’s Anishinabe name is actually Gizhi Waawaabagonoojibon.

JOANNE
Wow. That’s a mouthful. What does it mean in English?

BILLY
Dead Rat River … Anyway, anybody here familiar with what’s going on up there …?

RUSSELL
… in Dead Rat River …

BILLY
That’s the place.

ANDY
(rhyming) Wait a minute. Wait a minute. That place has been in the news.
People are fighting. Some big politician proposed a truce.

BILLY
Yes. Big land issues. Aboriginal rights.

RUSSELL
And where does Cerulean Blue come into this?

BILLY
There’s a big fundraising event happening up there at the end of this week, to help the community. Anybody who’s anybody is going to be there. There’s talk of Blue Rodeo being there, Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Cockburn, and maybe even Buffy Sainte-Marie …

JENNIFER
Ooohh, I loved An Officer and a Gentleman.

JOANNE
What?

JENNIFER
“Up Where We Belong.” She co-wrote the theme song for the movie.

BILLY
Among a few other things. Anyway, I know some people who know some people, who owed money to other people. Knowing I was going to be a part of this band and had to pull my weight, I made a few calls, talked to a few people. I know I probably exceeded my authority as the new guy but I knew things were happening very quickly up there and I had to act fast. So I got us an invitation to the music festival!

PAULINE
Isn’t that great?!

The other members of the band don’t know how to react.

JOANNE
Wow. Cerulean Blue at Dead Rat River. One night only. I don’t think we know any Robbie Robertson tunes.

ANDY
(rhyming) I am all for new experiences, man.
But this has got to be a new one for the band.

RUSSELL
Okay. And just how much does a fundraising concert at Dead Rat River pay?!

BILLY
Oh. Well … you see … the thing is … maybe I should have put more emphasis on the word “fundraiser.”

JOANNE
Oh shit.

ANDY
(rhyming) I read in the papers that it’s kind of far away from here.
What is it, a four-hour drive to where we’re close, or at least near?

BILLY
More like five.

PAULINE
You’re all missing the point. Think of the cause … and … and this is an excellent opportunity to be a part of something big and important. It’s good karma. There’s more to life than just money …

RUSSELL
There’s more to life than just food but it’s kind of difficult to get through the week without some. (to JOANNE) You see, this is why I book the gigs.


Cerulean Blue is available now for $18.95.