Our trio wants to set their play in the Ancient Egypt, and the old technician suggests to adapt “The Prophecy of the Third-Rank Scribe”. While the story appeals to both kids, the girl laments the lack of a feminine role. That’s not a problem for the old man who prods her to turn one of the characters into a female. Excited, she wants to be a female Pharaoh, and to counter the boy’s scepticism the old technician informs them that while it wasn’t usual for women to rule in the Ancient Egypt, some did. Hatshepsut being one of them.
The girl will do fine without the fake beard Hatshepsut assumed in her official representations, and instead searches for the more queen-like vulture crown. The boy’s costume is way simplier, a loincloth and a wig, since he’s just a fellah( peasant).
Now, all they have to do is get used to the unique Egyptian art style, with their heads, legs and feet facing the side while their torso facing the front. Easy as pie, isn’t it?
Boy and Girl: Yes! (Oui!)
The old technician: The Fig Boy (Le garçon des figues)
It’s winter, and a young fellah, perched on a fig tree, listens to his neighbor bragging about meeting the Queen. When the fellah says that he can meet her anytime as well, during a public audience, the neighbor snickers: “You couldn’t! You have nothing. You are nothing!”
The fellah begs to differ: he has his fig tree! But that only amuses the neighbor, mocking his tree unable to bear figs in winter. The fellah doesn’t mind since it’s also his house and he loves it, thankyouverymuch. Scoffing, the neighbors goes, telling him not to fall from it when dreaming about figs. Closing his eyes, the fellah says to himself that he’d rather dream about queens…
Waking up the next day, he’s flabbergasted to see figs hanging on his tree. One has even ripened and he takes it to enjoy this miraculous treat when he stops himself, stating that he should not eat it. Cautiously carrying it on a plate, he jumps from his tree and walks away.
Meanwhile, at the Queen’s palace, the neighbor his pleading his case. But the Queen criticizes his attitude and punishes him to be flagellated 100 times for wasting her time. That’ll surely make him think twice next time.
The Queen notices the fellah and abruptly asks what he wants. He’s so scared he stutters, making the Queen more curious but also more annoyed, and she orders him to come closer and to speak distinctly. He does, and offers his fig to her. Offended, the Queen first thinks he brought her a dry fig (it’s winter) but then marvels when she sees the fresh fruit. She delights in eating it, and tells him to bring the next one when it’s ripened.
She instructs the Palace’s Intendant to give 10 bronze and 10 gold coins to the generous boy, and though he respectfully nods, he mentally gasps at the Queen’s prodigality.
Going home dancing, the fellah prays for an other fig to ripe soon, as he wants to meet the Queen again. Seems like one of the countless Egyptian Gods listened to him because a brand new fresh fig waits for him the next day. Gleefully taking it, he goes again to the Palace.
Finding it as delicious as the first one, the Queen thanks him by giving him a golden ewer and two alabaster bowls on an electrum tray. Having a mental fit, the Intendant thinks that’s going too far for one little fig, and decides to put the kibosh on this folly.
Running after the fellah, he warns him he may not receive gifts but be caned the next time he comes, for the Queen thinks his breath stinks of garlic. Pffft, I know some people this Queen wouldn’t want to meet. Playing the altruistic soul, the Intendant advises the boy to cover his face with a cloth. Uh oh.
Indeed, the next day sees the young fellah coming with a covered face and the Queen looks extremely surprised, though she doesn’t comment on it. It also doesn’t prevent her from enjoying her fig and once again she steps up her gift, rewarding him with 30 longhorn cattles. That’s hard to swallow for the Intendant, but he controls himself thinking to the fellah’s oncoming fall.
The boy gone, the Queen asks the Intendant why did he keep his face covered during the whole audience. The Intendant fakes being scared she’ll kill him if he reveals it, but the Queen replies that it’s quite the contrary and he’ll die right now if he doesn’t says what he knows. Falling on his knees, he painfully explains that the boy protects his nose for he thinks the Queen stinks of garlic. Not very creative aren’t we, dear Intendant?
But his strategy seems to work as the Queen’s jaw drops, though she quickly starts to ponder and states that this strange fellah will receive the reward he deserves. Ha, it backfired.
The boy, still covering his face, comes the next day to offer his fig, still as delectable as the others, judging from the Queen’s reaction. Only this time she asks for ink, a reed pen and some papyrus, which makes the Intendant go wild. After writing her letter, she orders it to be sealed and tells the young fellah to carry it to her Great Treasurer who’ll reward him better than she did until now.
Horrified at this turn of events, the Intendant runs to catch the fig boy and fibs that the Queen changed her mind. Giving him 3 bags full of gold coins, he says that this was what the Great Treasurer was going to give him anyway, and asks for the letter.
Wistfully thinking that she’ll never see this fig boy again, it’s with great surprise that she sees him enter the audience room. Calling out the Intendant over and over, it’s finally the Great Treasurer who appears, carrying a big sac. Furious that he didn’t abide by her message, she grows more and more confused when he reveals the Intendant’s head. Putting two and two together, the fig boy offers to explain everything to her.
For deceiving her and the fig boy, the Queen deems that the Intendant received the punishment he deserved, but she’s now without an Intendant for her palace. Thinking fast, she appoints the fig boy as the new Intendant and wonders if now he’ll keep his figs to himself. Haha, does she think greediness comes with the title? The new intendant proves her wrong, respectfully giving the fig he brought for her, and she eats it with relish, savoring its sweetness, its fragrance…
I have an Egyptian tales book that I got as a child, and I loved the story which served as source material for this play. Ocelot did changed and adapted it a lot, but I think this new version is perfectly fine. After all, tales are bound to evolve as proof they’re alive.
I love how they insert bits of actual history and explanations of the Ancient Egypt’s culture along the plot for the kids (and adults) to learn in a fun way. Here, the girl got to play a Queen, the only female character in a story full of men.Though the story is quite short and does not delve into the Queen’s fonctions, I do appreciate that she’s a severe but fair ruler.
Moral of the story: don’t be too greedy, you’ll lose your head. Ok, kids? ♥