27 July 2012

‘The Schrooning’

Redrum! Redrum! Noorhcs!

An exchange with one of my favorite artists, soprano Jennifer Aylmer, has inspired me to write yet another of my “treatments,” rough outlines for movies that really, really ought to be made — about opera singers. And in this case, there’s an excellent role for Jen herself. Currently sharing her wisdom with the kids at the Seagle Music Colony at Schroon Lake, NY, Jen is a winning actress, as well as a fine singer, and easily one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Jen was trapped in her cabin during last night’s deluge in the Adirondacks, and — well, I’ll let you judge the rest for yourselves.

The real Jennifer Aylmer


A group of young SINGERS are gathered around a campfire. RICO CARUSINO, a young tenor, is telling a ghost story, while the others listen in terror.

So the soprano spurned him, saying she wanted to sing nothing but “The Shepherd on the Rock,” and she sent him out into the night.

(a comic baritone):
(Mocking) And he never accompanied again! Boo-wah-bwah-ha-ha-ha!

(a dramatic soprano):
You can laugh all you want, Sal, but everybody knows what happens next! Not three days later, Erik Tyson-Deaton’s lifeless body washed up on the banks of Schroon Lake!

(a soubrette):
But before his body could be identified and buried —

(a mezzo):
— He disappeared!

(a bass):
And they say that, on dark nights, the Lone Arranger still roams the trails and peers into the cabins —

(a kindly older man or caretaker of some sort):
Now, stop it! That’s just an old story, kids. There’s absolutely no truth to the rumor that we’ve lost 37 students at the Colony in the past 75-and-nine-tenths years! Or that, every two years after a freak thunderstorm, we find brutally dismembered body parts all over the woods! No truth to that at all! [Pause.] By the way, did everybody remember to fill out those life-insurance forms last week?

(a heroine):
Come on, everybody. Looks like it’s starting to rain, and besides, we’ve all got to be singing like birds first thing in the morning!

[As the group breaks up and STEVEN begins to put out the fire, JEN turns to him.]

Say, I was pretty good at math in school. If those completely fabricated and untrue incidents occur every two years, aren’t we due for another one right about —

No! Stop talking about this! And while you’re at it, don’t go wandering off the trails, and for the love of God, don’t go up to that little clearing on the hill, where that is NOT a makeshift cemetery and Satanic altarpiece up there that you see sometimes when the moon is full!

Oh. Okay. Good night.

[The rain begins to pour as JEN walks back to her cabin. Thunder crashes, and through the wind, JEN can hear a faint, unearthly music: the flute obbligato to “The Shepherd on the Rock.” Nervously, she hurries, then stumbles. A hand grabs her by the shoulder.]


Gee, watch your step, Ms. Aylmer! We’d hate for anything to happen to you!

(As she gets to her feet.) You startled me!

It’s a bad idea to walk alone on these trails at night — especially in a rainstorm like this one.

[As THEY enter Jen’s cabin, JAMIE continues.]

I heard ol’ Pete say he was expecting this storm to be the biggest one Schroon Lake has seen in two years!

(Doing the math.) I — I don’t think I know Old Pete.

Set designer’s proposal for Jen’s cabin.

Oh, sure. He works down to the gas station down the road. I understand he’s got the only working telephone within miles of this place.

[Suddenly, the lights go out. Both JEN and JAMIE gasp.]

Ms. Aylmer, are you still here?

I’m right over here, Jamie. Where are you?

Right by the door!

[Outside the cabin, the obbligato is drawing nearer. Nearer. Nearer. Then — a knock at the door.]

Sh-should I answer it?

I’m sure it’s just somebody bringing us a spare flashlight, Jamie! It’s not as if the undead monster Erik Tyson-Deaton is going to burst through the door the moment you —

[Suddenly, the door bursts open.]


I won’t let anything happen to y —

[Blackout, end of scene]

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