or, Mik Ado About Nothing
A Space Operetta in two acts
libretto by Sue Anderson and Mark M. Keller
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan and divers hands
Presented by the RISFA Players
The RISFA Players began as a group of eccentric Rhode Islanders who entered elaborate presentations in science fiction convention Costume Shows. They showed less skin but more originality than some other entrants: For Discon 2—September ’74—they depicted the sad fate of a Gorean slave trader who kidnapped an entire Women’s Self-Defense karate class. For Boskone 12—February ’75—they brought a life-size Sandworm of Dune on stage. (It was restrained with difficulty from eating one of the judges, which would have disqualified the entry.) Boskone 13—February ’76—saw the Players, inspired (?) by Monty Python’s Flying Circus, recount the saga of Angus Podgorny and the Blancmange from Andromeda. Alas, logistics difficulties prevented them from bringing the 90-foot helium-filled Ishmaelian wind-whale to Kansas City for the MidAmeriCon Costume Show…
When the Boskone Committee dropped the Costume Shoe for Boskone 14, The RISFA Players charged in and staked out a stage area for a full-fledged dramatic presentation in the vacated space. Discussion on what to produce was…well, “spirited.
“Let’s put on a live one-shot!” “No…”
“Suppose we steal the plot from The Music Man? There’s this con artist who goes around selling mimeo machines to neos and crudzine fans—” “No.”
“How about we each pick our favorite SF short story and we do a series of one-act plays based on the stories—five hours should be enough—and we can tie it all together with a frame from the works of Cordwainer Smith—” “No!” “Doc Smith?” “No!” “Cordwainer Bird?” “NO!!!” “Monty Python?”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. I once saw a Star Trek parody—H.M.S. Trek-a-Star—done to H.M.S. Pinafore. How about…”
(Resident Parodist) “I can’t stand Pinafore, If you want to do something to Gilbert and Sullivan, why not pick on some of their good plays?”
“Hmm—there’re lots of fannish references to Gilbert and Sullivan…Anthony Boucher…Isaac Asimov…”
“OK, we’ll do a musical, based on the Savoy Operas—as long as we don’t call it Star Trek: The New Savoyages they can’t do too much to us. Do we have a plot?
“Do we need a plot?”
After much discussion, we had the outline for a musical play, less than two hours long (oh Joy! oh rapture!). Better, we found that our resident parodist had a trunkful of fannish G & S parodies, many of which we could use with little or no modification. With unanimous enthusiasm The RISFA Players prepared for the production. (Well, there was one nut who held out for The Return of Captain Future. We threw him out the window. He flew away.)
The plot? It takes place at a world science fiction convention a few years from now, as an ambitious editor tries to take over the SF publishing world and force science fiction to fit into the mold he chooses. (Think of Snidely Whiplash—black mustache, black opera cloak, etc.) The instinctive response of fandom, faced with this dire threat (blank stares and a lot of apathy), should be an inspiration to us all. So, watch the madcap antics of these wonderful fans as they try to survive the convention. Join Seymour from Under the Swamp as he tries to stop the villainous editor Richard Deadwood and seduce Fay the SCA Lady. Listen to the pros from the Starving Fantasy Writers of America to compete for lucrative contracts. See Forrest the Neofan try to save his last dime from Ted the Huckster!
Anyway—if you aren’t familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan, don’t worry. Our versions of the songs pretty well stand by themselves (although G & S fans are in for a few shocks), and the plot and characters are original. Oh, some of the characters may seem to resemble well-known persons, but this of course is purely coincidental, and all in your mind. Of course. —Well, at least, none of the players will represent Isaac Asimov or Harlan Ellison.
We hope you enjoy the show. If this one works out, one of our insanely ambitious co-producers is already planning the fannish version of Boris Gudunov for next year.
Mark M. Keller
Reprinted from the Boskone 14 Program Book.
The libretto—with sketches by Keller and annotations by Keller and Anderson—was printed by JO ART COPY Service, Providence Rhode Island. Seymouria Press Publication #1, It was sold for $2.00 (in person); $2.50 (by mail).
This libretto is included in the NESFA Press publication Rivets!!!
Rhode Island Science Fiction Association
Fan may recognize the sources for these ideas—the live issue of Spanish Inquisition presented at Balticon, 1976; The Mimeo Man; the MidAmeriCon Dramatic Presentation. “Cordwainer Bird” is Harlan Ellison’s alter ego.