1
WILLA IN WETLANDS
by
PEYTON LEWIS
Music: Rory Chalcraft
Music and Lyrics:
Peyton Lewis and Rory Chalcraft
copyright 1991
Draft #6, April 1991
(Willa comes up an aisle, talking to herself. As she walks beside the children, she will stop and
interact with them.)
WILLA
Today in science class, my teacher told us there was treasure in the wetland, and I'm going to
look until I find it. (She lifts someone's hair.) This looks like silk. It feels like silk. But no. I don't
think ifs real silk. I want real treasure. (She walks to the center of the stage.)
(She surveys the scene.) But ifs hard to believe there's a treasure here. It's so ...so..., well, waL
And gushy. I just know ifs filled with slippery, slimey things. (She walks around the set
examining things.) Looking for a treasure in a swamp or a marsh is a hard Job. I see nothing
that looks the least bit priceless. I guess I'll just close my eyes for a minute or two  if I can
find a decent place to sit down. Gross.
(Two lumps that have been resting on the set rise up and show themselves to be pink shrimp.)
SHERMAN
Well goodness. I thought that thing was going to step right on us. I've never seen it around here
before. Do you think we eat it or it eats shrimp like us?
SHIRLEY
I'm not sure. It's very ugly. Would you look at that? Only two legs. (They giggle uproariously.)
SHERMAN
Everyone knows you should have at least ten to be beautiful.
SHIRLEY
At least. And look at all those teeth when only one will do.
SHERMAN
I think ifs a human.
SHIRLEY
A human. Oh no. A human is absolutely the worst thing to find. You know how humans feel
about shrimp.

-------
SHERMAN
They like shrimp very much indeed.
SHIRLEY
Too well. Thafs the whole point, silly. Why there's even a rumor that humans are going to take
away our homes.
(Willa wakes up and is slightly alarmed.)
SHIRLEY
Look. It's moving.
WILLA
Hello.
SHIRLEY
(Quaking) It said hello. What do we do now?
SHERMAN
Say hello back.
SHIRLEY
(Bravely) Hello back.
WILLA
I'm Willa.
SHERMAN
Well, you're not crying, so you're not one of those weeping willows. Thank goodness.
SHIRLEY
I don't see anything wrong with weeping. I am very sensitive and weep frequently.
SHERMAN
You're telling me. You're a big crybaby in fact.
SHIRLEY
Am not. (Argue.)
WILLA
I said Willa. Not willow. It's a perfectly respectable name.
SHERMAN
Well aren't you a Miss Priss. You didn't even ask qui names. Not that we would have told you.
I'm not sure we should talk to you at all. Lefs see. Here's a test. What do you think of pink?
SHIRLEY
Answer carefully my dear. This is important.

-------
3
WILLA
When I was a little kid, I liked pink, but now that I'm older ... (the shrimp lean toward her) ... I
think I like it even more.
SHERMAN
Oh good. Very good indeed.
SHIRLEY
We absolutely love pink. We're so glad we're pink shrimp.
SHERMAN
It would be terrible to be a common grass shrimp.
SHIRLEY
Oooh! So common to be common. Of course, you must understand that I am pinker than
Sherman.
SHERMAN
No I am pinker than Shirley.
SHIRLEY
You are not. (Argue.)
WILLA
Excuse me.
SHERMAN
Of course we'll excuse you. You aren't pink at all.
WILLA
I mean I have a question.
SHERMAN
Everyone has a question. I have a question about that horrible sound you hear right now. There's
a rumor that humans make it... and that it means we're going to lose our homes.
SHIRLEY
Lose our homes? Oh no. We'll have to leave our shrimp beds.
SHERMAN
Leave our shrimp everything. Well, what do you know about it... Willa.
WILLA
Nothing. I don't know anything about this place except there's supposed to be a treasure here.
Can you tell me where it is?
SHIRLEY
Treasure? I know of only one treasure here.

-------
4
WILLA
Thank heavens. Where is it?
SHIRLEY AND SHERMAN
You're looking at it.
The Pink Shrimp Song
Stop! Don't go no further
For what you seem to seek
The treasure you are searching for
Is right here at your feet.
We're shrimp and we are proud to think
That no one else is quite as pink
Or has a more delightful smell
Than we have when we're in our shell.
Now don't be sad
Don't look so confused.
So you're lookin' for a treasure
Well I've got the greatest news.
We're pink and we have lovely eyes
All black with stalks the perfect size
And lovely graceful swimmerets
We'd make terrific household pets...
Don't be sad.
Don't look so confused.
So you're lookin' for treasure
Well I've got the greatest news.
We're pink and we have lots to say
Of what is fashion in the Bay
And pink's the leading color here
Of this or any other year.
Just one little, little glimpse
Will show you
That all the shrimps
Got the beat and got the pleasure
Of being the greatest treasure
In the world.

-------
5
WILLA
That was quite impressive, I must say.
SHERMAN
(Fanning himself.) We know you must.
WILLA
You dance very well, especially with all those legs.
SHIRLEY
It wouldn't be much of a dance with only two legs, now would it?
WILLA
I guess not. But as clever as you are, you're still not the kind of treasure I'm looking for.
SHERMAN
She must be looking for a lesser treasure.
SHIRLEY
I guess you'll have to speak with the Blue Heron. Maybe he can understand what kind of
treasure you're talking about. He knows everything about the wetland. I've heard he even knows
about the great sound.
WILLA
Where is he?
SHIRLEY
He's everywhere, but you can only see him when you're still and quiet.
WILLA
Surely someone can give me better directions than that. Look. Here comes a fish. I'll ask him.
SHERMAN
A fish? Oh horror of horrors.
SHIRLEY
Terror of terrors.
SHERMAN
Fish will eat us even with our heads on. We've got to get away. (They begin to run.)
WILLA
But you haven't told me ....
SHIRLEY
(Over her shoulder.) Ask the Blue Heron.

-------
(Willa gives up following them and walks back to center stage where a rockfish with
sunglasses is entering.)
JOHNNY
I am too cool. I am cool, cooler, coolest.
WILLA
Hello.
JOHNNY
Look at those stripes, man. They are coolarama. And that pretty white belly ought to be on the
telly.
WILLA
Telly?
JOHNNY
(Condescendingly.) That's television to you.
WILLA
You shouldn't talk to me that way. Why you're nothing but a fish.
JOHNNY
A fish!!! Honey, anybody cool knows who I really am. I suppose you don't recognize me because
of the shades, huh. (He takes off his sunglasses and poses dramatically.) How's that?
WILLA
You still look like a fish.
JOHNNY
What's the matter with you? Don't you watch TV? Havent you ever heard, "Here's Johnny Rock
Fish, star of stage and stream." (He strikes a rock star pose.)
WILLA
My mother doesn't let me watch much television. And I've never seen you before.
JOHNNY
I can't believe it. Maybe you'll remember when you see me with my all star band. (When he
snaps his fingers, Rita Rockfish and Wild Rice run up the aisle with great flourish.)
WILD RICE
OOOh yeah. I'm Wild Rice and am I nice! Yeah. (He exchanges high fives with Rita, Johnny,
and tries with Willa but she doesn't know how.) The birds groove on me. The fish groove on me.
You'll look twice when you see Wild Rice. (He dances wildly for a moment and then stops.)
Gotta be careful. Gotta maintain my grains.

-------
7
RITA
Please to meetcha I'm sure. I'm Rita Rockfish. Maybe you saw me on the cover of Food
Magazine. I was the dish of the month.
WILLA
This is ridiculous. What's a rock band doing in the wetlands?
JOHNNY
We live here "oh human one,' and today we're trying to find some rehearsal space away from our
fans.
RITA
We were up the river earlier, but the great sound drove us away. Not even Wild Rice can sing
louder than the great sound.
WILD RICE
Oh yeah, man. The great sound makes my head pound.
WILLA
Do you know what the great sound is?
JOHNNY
My job is not identifying other sounds. My job is making my own cool sounds. You must have
seen our latest video, "The Rice is Wild."
(Willa shakes her head no.)
RITA
So what brings you to the wetland? Are you a singer or something. Because if you are, lefs get
things straight right now. This is my territory ... rockfish city. Johnny Rockfish and Wild Rice are
the band, and I am Ihfl girl singer.
WILLA
I don't want to be a singer. I'm here to find a treasure. You seem to get around. Have you seen
one?
JOHNNY
Lefs see. We've got two gold records, not to mention our platinum one.
WILLA
A real treasure.
(Wild Rice takes her by the hand and begins to rap with Johnny and Rita providing background.)

-------
8
WILD RICE RAP
Wha's up! Now you talk about a little treasure
But hey, you dig, you should get a pleasure
At the sight of us 'cause we're marvelous.
Johnny Rockfish (word)
My homeboy's here.
Rita Rockfish (word)
My flygirl's there.
And you as lucky as a millionaire.
And everybody knows Wild Rice, That's me,
Is served as the finest delicacy.
(we know it)
Wild Rice: That's me
(we know it, so show it)
I'm cooler than Ice-T
Bigger than Heavy - D
(word up)
Wild Rice: That's me.
I grow in the marshes, the lakes, the ponds
The rivers and the streams have my fabulous fronds.
(We know it)
Wild Rice: That's me.
(We know it, so show it)
I have flowers in the summer; I also have grains
Though I'm bumpin' and handsome, I still have brains.
I'm cooler than Ice - T
Bigger than Heavy - D.
(word up)
And I'm tellin' you, sister, I'm proud my space
Is the fresh wonderful wetland place.
(We know it)
Wild Rice is nice
(We know it)
Wild Rice is nice.
(Word up! We're siced!)
Wild Rice.
RITA
Wild Rice is right. He is a treasure. And if you were a fisherman, you'd know rockfish are a
treasure too. You'd want to get your hooks into us.

-------
9
JOHNNY
Don't talk about hooks when we're getting ready to sing. Gives me a lump in my throat. I gotta
go think about my Image. Hang loose, Canada Goose. (He gives Wild Rico and Rita high fives
and exits.)
RITA
Hooks I can deal with. But what about those six pack rings. They are the worst.
WILLA
Why do you worry about them?
RITA
They can turn you every which way but loose. Take my man, Stevie Seagull.
WILD RICE
The dude could not sing for nothing.
RITA
He had his own way of singing. Sort of a laughing call. But he doesn't sing anything any more.
WILLA
What happened?
RITA
Well, he thought he spotted some food In the water, so he made a dive straight for it... only he
didn't see the plastic ring floating in the water. He got that sucker stuck on his beak and that was
the last food he ever tried to take.
WILD RICE
He starved to death.
WILLA
That's horrible.
WILD RICE
But you don't have to be a cop to make it stop. You can do something about it.
WILLA
Me? I don't live in the wetland.
RITA
Honey, the six pack ring that got Stevie didnt start in the wetland. Somebody threw it on the
street, maybe even the street where you live. Then the rain washed it into the river, and the river
brought it down here. You wouldn't believe the trash the river brings down here.
So what can 1 do?
WILLA

-------
10
WILD RICE
Put your trash in the can, man. And cut those rings so they won't get caught on some innocent
bird. Tell your Mama and Daddy to do the same. They'll listen to you. Parents don't listen
much to rice... especially when ifs wild.
RITA
I'm ready to slide on down the road now.
WILD RICE
Ail right sister. We're moving out. (They begin to groove their way off stage.) Don't forget me.
I'm worth any price ... Wild Rice!!!
(They boogey off.)
WILLA
My goodness. This is all very confusing. I thought fish were just fish. Well ... I guess I never
thought of fish at all, except for having a goldfish once. And certainty never thought of wild rice.
Fish must be all around the wetland here. (She goes to the audience.) Maybe right here. No.
No fish. (She looks further.) Not there either. But I guess there are fish in places where we can't
even see. (She returns to center.) Oh I hope the great sound doesn't mean that the fish and the
shrimp will lose their homes. I wouldn't want to lose mine.
But I must get back to my mission, the treasure. And to find the treasure, I need to find the Blue
Heron...who can tell me all about it.
Now the shrimp said I could find the Blue Heron anywhere. So he might be here even now. (She
is quiet and looks around.
She hears a kaking sound and sees a bird approaching. The bird is black with a white tail and
a hat pulled low on its head.)
LARRY
(Approaching.) Kak. Kak. Kak.
WILLA
Kak?
LARRY
(Surprised.) Kak. Yes. Kak is what I say. I say it all the time. Now I must be off.
WILLA
Are you a Blue Heron by any chance?
LARRY
Blue? Mercy. Do I look blue? Is there a single blue feather on my body? Really I must be off.

-------
11
WILLA
Wait, I think I've seen you before.
LARRY
I'm sure you haven't. No. I've never seen anyone the likes ot you. I dont go many places. I
hardly ever leave my lovely home on a tree in the wetlands. And I never should have left it today.
I must, must, must be off.
WILLA
But I've seen a picture of you I know. Maybe if you'd just remove your hat, I could remember.
LARRY
Out of the question. Kak. Kak. Kak. I never remove my hat.
WILLA
Why I know what you are ...
LARRY
What I am is ... anxious to be off. (He moves away.)
WILLA
You're a BALD EAGLE.
LARRY
(Stopping and grimacing.) Shhhh. Oh drat! Oh snakes and toadstools! How could you possibly
know I was bald? What kind of animal are you that can see through a hat?
WILLA
I'm a girl. And I could tell you were a bald eagle by your yellow bill and your long white tail.
LARRY
But bald. You said bald. Is there nothing I can do to hide it? Oh, I'm so embarrassed. Bald.
Bald. Oh miserable me. Miserable, miserable. (He sobs.> I was bom bald and bald I shall be
forever.
WILLA
You should be proud.
LARRY
Proud? Never.
WILLA
Everyone loves you.
LARRY
No one could love me. No one even knows me. I've tried to hide my whole life.

-------
12
WILLA
But you're our country's favorite bird. We're so proud of you, we put you on our money. And we
love our money.
LARRY
I don't believe you. Let me see.
WILLA
(She shows him a quarter.) You're on our quarter.
LARRY
That's an absolutely grand bird, but it doesn't look like me.
WILLA
If you would stand up straight and take off your hat...
LARRY
(Starting to remove his hat.) I can't. Out of the question.
WILLA
Please. Just for a minute.
LARRY
(He starts to take it off slowly, stops, then jerks it off.) There! You'll laugh. I know you'll laugh.
WILLA
Why, you're not bald at all. You have glorious white feathers on your head. You look splendid.
LARRY
Splendid? (Increasingly excited.) Splendid? Really splendid? What does splendid mean?
WILLA
It means... Lefs see. Handsome. The best. (He begins to perk up as she says these things and
tries to strut a bit.) There aren't so many bald eagles, you know. You're an endangered species.
LARRY
Endangered? Does that mean people are trying to kill me? Oh saints preserve us. I'm going
back to my tree. Let me get my hat.
WILLA
No. It means people are trying to protect you#
LARRY
(Cleverly.) Then why am I endangered?

-------
13
WILLA
My teacher told me that for awhile bald eagles ate fish that were filled with something called
pesticides, they're a kind of poison, and eagles had trouble having babies. But its getting better
now. And everyone wants to help you.
LARRY
And no one thinks ifs ugly to be bald?
WILLA
No. You're our hero.
LARRY
You wouldn't be kidding me about this, would you?
WILLA
Of course not. Take that old hat home and don't ever wear it again. You want people to be able
to see that you're a bald eagle.
LARRY
I do? (He raises himself up to his full height.) I do! (He starts to walk off and his voice gets
louder and louder.) I'm a bald eagle. l!m a bald eagle. (He skips down the aisle, saying to the
different children as he passes.) I'm a bald eagle. I'm a bald eagle. See me? See how bald
I am?
WILLA
Don't forget. You're a national treasure. (She thinks about what she's said.) A treasure. I guess
the bald eagle is a treasure. I never thought much about it before. And the rockfish are
treasures to fishermen and to all of us who eat them. But that's not the treasure I was looking
for. I'm sure there must be jewels here somewhere, if only I could find them. Where is that Blue
Heron? I wonder if he has a special song I should listen for.
(She hears the sound of bluegrass music and Frank the fiddler crab enters, playing a fiddle,
followed by Gladys Blue crab.)
FRANK
Swing your partner, to the right, jump in the mud and dig out of sight.
GLADYS
I hate jumping in the mud. I like lurking in weed beds. That's the best way for us blue crabs to
live.
w
FRANK
(Still singing to the music.) I love a girl who's name is Sue. She loves me and my big claw too.
GLADYS
Would you stop that singing. I'm depressed enough without that noise. Hearing the great sound
is bad enough. I've heard ft means we've got to move. I know it means trouble.You mark my
words.

-------
14
FRANK
Gee Gladys. You're always depressed and blue.
GLADYS
You'd be sad too if everybody thought you were delicious.
FRANK
I like it when girl fiddlers think I'm pretty sweet. (He holds up his claw and pretends he's flexing
it like a muscle.) I mean, isn't that a claw to die for?
GLADYS
Die. Die? You're trying to depress me even more. A fiddler doesn't have to die for his claw.
No one wants to eat that old thing. It's my daws humans are after. Do you know what they call
my beautiful fifth pair of claws? (Excited.) Do you know what humans call them?
FRANK
Chill out Gladys.
GLADYS
Lump meat. They call my beautiful swimming paddles lump meat.
WILLA
Excuse me. I don't mean to interrupt you.
GLADYS
Then don't.
WILLA
Are you crabs by any chance?
GLADYS
(Mocking.) "Are you crabs by any chance?" What do you think we are, elephants?
FRANK
Behave yourself Gladys.
WILLA
It's nice to meet you.
GLADYS
Nice? I bet you think ifs nice. You probably want to take me home and throw me in boiling
water. The very thought of it makes me want to pinch someone.
FRANK
Don't listen to her. Lefs do something fun like digging in the mud. I absolutely looooove the
mud. (He sings to himself in a bluegrass way as he pantomimes digging.) Oh a dig-dig-dig.
A dtg-dig-dig. Nothing so fine as a dig-dig-dig. Makes you want to dance a jig-jig-jig. A dig-

-------
15
dig-dig. A fiddle-de-dee.
GLADYS
The man is worthless.
FRANK
Say. if you don't want to dig, want to dance? (He takes Willa by the hand and begins to swing
her around. They dance to his dig-dig song when he accidentally pulls her arm too hard.)
WILLA
Ouch. That hurts my arm.
FRANK
What's wrong? I didn't even pull it off.
WILLA
I should hope not.
FRANK
Who cares? You can always grow another one.
WILLA
No I can't. If I lose my arm, ifs gone.
FRANK
Gone? How very strange. I can shed my claw and grow a new one without any trouble at all.
This one's only a few months old.
WILLA
That's magic.
GLADYS
Not if you're a crab, dearie. We can do all sorts of marvelous things you humans never even
thought of. Show her your eyes Frank, (hie raises them like a periscope.)
WILLA
How did you do that?
FRANK
I'm just doing what comes naturally.
WILLA
With eyes like that, you must be able to see everything. Yes. (Thinking.) And since you're
always digging, maybe you've seen a buried treasure. Maybe a pirate chest filled with gold. Or
a sunken ship filled with coins.

-------
16
FRANK
Who in the world would think that's treasure? Give me a nice decayed plant any day...some tasty
seaweed. I bet if you ate seaweed, you'd be able to grow back your arm just like I do.
(They hear a voice in the distance.)
MORTIMER
Help. Help. Oh please help, help, help.
WILLA
Who's that?
GLADYS
It's probably that whining Mortimer Hermit Crab. I'm not interested in helping him or anyone else.
I like to ba helped.
FRANK
I hate to say it, Gladys, but ifs crabs like you that give us a bad name.
MORTIMER
(Entering.) Dreadful, dreadful. I have the most terrible aches. Oh ache of aches.
FRANK
Lefs hear it.
GLADYS
Let's not.
MORTIMER
First of all, there's the headache. You see, I can fold most of myself into my shell, but my head
still sticks out. And there's the most awful sound that goes morning til night.
WILLA
The great sound?
MORTIMER
It's not great at all. Who is this person?
GLADYS
She's a crab eater, that's who.
WILLA
I'm Willa. I've heard the great sound before.

-------
17
MORTIMER
Oh my aching head.
GLADYS
I don't know why you're worried about the great sound. You're not going to lose yoar home
because you carry it with you. But me ... what about me? What if I lose my nice weed beds?
Then where will I be? If you think I'm going to stay here and listen to you whine when I have
much worse complaints, you're wrong. I'm hungry and ifs no use being around you. You eat
everything in sight. (She starts off.) It seems to me that hermit crabs ought to act like hermits
and hide away. ...
MORTIMER
She's right you know.
FRANK
Right? Gladys? She's never right.
MORTIMER
About my eating I mean. I do eat everything in sight, but ifs just that I'm hungry all the time. And
when I'm hungry, I eat, and when I eat, I get another ache.
WILLA
A stomach ache?
MORTIMER
Precisely. Although ifs not your average stomach ache.
FRANK
Nothing about you is average.
MORTIMER
You see. I have a little snack. And that tastes so good...that I have another... and another... and
another...until the next thing I know, my shell is so tight it feels like ...
WILLA
Like eating three hamburgers, and two orders of french fries...and twelve chocolate shakes.
MORTIMER
Maybe.
FRANK
Then the thing to do is to get out of that shell. Let us help you.
MORTIMER
Oh no. I can't take it off in front of a girl.
FRANK

-------
18
Sure you can. And then we can help you find another home.
MORTIMER
I'd feel much more comfortable if I found another home first. That's the way I always do it. A
pretty moon snail shell. They're my favorite.
WILLA
I'd love to stay and help you, but if s getting late, and I still haven't found any treasure or spoken
to the Blue Heron.
MORTIMER
I saw the Blue Heron that way. In the same place where I heard that sound.
WILLA
Oh thank you, Mortimer. I hope your head gets better. And your stomach. I'm sure you'll find
a nice roomy shell soon. Goodbye Frank. Thanks for the dance.
(Willa walks off and the two crabs begin to leave as well.)
MORTIMER
I think I see it. A shell that looks perfect. Oh marvelous. You don't know how good it is to find
the right home. I hope the great sound doesn't take all the shells away.
FRANK
Or the mud. The wetlands is the best place in the world to live.
MORTIMER
Now when we get to the shell, you stand in front while I change. I don't want anyone to see.
Especially girls. (They go off and Willa returns up another aisle.)
WILLA
I wonder how it would feel to be like Mortimer and have your home on your back all the time.
You'd never forget your homework because it would be right with you. And whenever you got
sleepy, you could take a nap in your own bed. But you couldn't run away from home. And it sure
would be hard to play baseball or jump rope.
(She walks on.) I think crabs are very interesting, but I don't think I'd want to be one....I hope I
find the Blue Heron soon. I'm getting awfully tired of looking for treasure.
(A muskrat comes running in. She wears a hat of the fraternal order of muskrats and speaks with
a Southern accent as do all the muskrats.)
MELODY
Mercy, mercy. Honey child. You haven't by any chance seen a mink?
WILLA
A mink coat?

-------
19
MELODY
No honey. Not a mink coat. A mink animal...with beady little eyes and strong claws. You dont
exactly call it a fur coat when it's your own skin.
WILLA
Excuse me. Of course not. Why do you want to find a mink?
MELODY
I dont want to find one. That is the very last thing on my mind. I want to avoid a mink at all cost.
(She whispers to Willa.) Minks eat muskrats.
WILLA
I thought you were a muskrat. I've read about you. Let me see. You love to swim ... and you
live in lodges.
MELODY
Why yes indeedy, you're right.
WILLA
And you like to go out mostly at night. Why are you out now?
MELODY
Well it just so happens that I was out to gather a few mussels for the lodge brothers and sisters.
(Leroy and Wayne Muskrat run in and do an elaborate lodge handshake with Melody.)
LEROY
Hey. Brother Wayne, gimme the secret word.
WAYNE
Brother Leroy. You can't say the secret word in front of that one. She's not a lodge sister.
MELODY
She's not a sister now, but we could initiate her. You want to be a sister of the Muskrat Lodge,
don't you?
WILLA
I don't think ... I could possibly ... say no.
ALL MUSKRATS
Yeaaaah. We have a new lodge sister.
MELODY
By the way, what is your name.
WILLA
Wtlla.

-------
20
ALL MUSKRAT
Yeaaah. Sister Willa. Muskrat lodge brothers and sisters forever!!!
(They run around with great activity.)
LEROY
It's time for a muskrat ramble.
WAYNE
We can't ramble-dance until we've taught Sister Willa the salute.
MELODY
And the rules. Don't forget the rules.
WILLA
Does everyone go through this to be a lodge sister or brother?
LEROY
Right on. Arent we lucky?
WAYNE
Okay. Here's the salute:
Touch your head
And the tip of your nose
Then wiggle and waggle
Your web-like toes.
WILLA
(Following with the head and nose part.) I'm afraid I don't have web-like toes.
LEROY
Oh my goodness gracious me alive. Would you look at that. Sister Willa doesn't have any toes
atall.
WILLA
Yes I do.
MELODY
I know toes, and I don't see anything but ... off, maybe one big toe.
WILLA
I have on shoes.
Oh. (Dragging it out.) Shoes.
LEROY

-------
21
WAYNE
Shoes, of course.
MELODY
And, just what are shoes?
LEROY
I don't care what they are. Just as long as she can wiggle them, she can do the salute. Lefs
sing her the rules song now.
WAYNE
Okay, Brother Leroy. Sister Melody. Line up.
MELODY
Don't forget to salute first,
(TTiey line up.)
WAYNE
Salute. (They salute.) Lefs hit it.
MUSKRAT SONG
Rule number one (Rule one)
Is always have fun (fun, fun)
Sing and dance every night and day.
That's the muskrat way.
Rule Number Two (Rule two)
Whatever you do
No matter what they tell you when you go to school,
Don't build your home out of paste or-glue.
Sing and dance
When you get the chance,
Swim in the water, yeah!
With the fish and the plants.
Rule Number Three (Rule three)
Is plain to see (See, see)*
Make yourself as happy as you can be
Have a great big family.
Sing and dance
When you get the chance,
Swim in the water, yeah!
With the fish and the plants.

-------
22
Rule Number Four (Rule four)
You can't ignore (Ignore)
Cause you never know what nature may have in store,
So don't make friends
With a dinosaur.
(Refrain)
Rule Number Five
Is stay alive,
Sing and dance and you will survive
But watch the water before you dive.
(Refrain)
(Refrain)
With the fish and the plants
Just sing and dance!
(They are excited from the activity.)
LEROY
Woooooooooooo. I am a party animal.
WAYNE'
Let's shake on down to the lodge.
MELODY
We'll have some cattail grits and crawfish gravy.
WILLA
And that's where your treasure is?
LEROY
Oh yeah. We got treasure pleasure at the Lodge for sure. You just jump in the water and swim
up through the plunge hole.
WILLA
Plunge hole?
*
WAYNE
You can't have a lodge without a plunge hole.
MELODY
We couldn't very well have doors and windows or the minks would come right in and bite us on
the neck. So we build our lodge on a little piece of land that sticks out into the water and then
we have a secret entrance from the water.

-------
WILLA
So I'd have to swim underwater to get there.
LEROY
Yeah man. Isn't that great?
WILLA
But I don't have a swim suit.
WAYNE
Swim suit? The suit you're bom with is all the suit you need. Sister Willa.
WILLA
It's not that way with humans.
MELODY
You poor things. You can't go swimming any time you feel like it?
WILLA
(Shaking her head.) I guess I won't be going to the lodge after all.
LEROY
Shucks.
WAYNE
Sorry we're gonna have to leave you, Sister Willa, but I gotta be off now. You know the rules.
(He leaves.)
WILLA
The rules. Sing and dance and all that.
MELODY
If you ever want to come see us, you know where we are. Just give us a "Yoo Hoo."
WILLA
Can I have one last salute?
MELODY
Touch your head.
WILLA
And the tip of your nose.
LEROY
Then wiggle and waggle your web-like toes.

-------
24
WILLA
I'll miss you.
MELODY
We'll miss you too. (They begin to leave.)
LEROY
Don't forget you're our sister.
WILLA
I won't. I'll never forget.
(The muskrats scamper off.)
WILLA
Golly. I never knew there were so many neat creatures in. the wetland. I bet I never meet this
many interesting guys again if I live to be a hundred years old. Of course I still haven't found the
treasure or even the Blue Heron. The shrimp said he was everywhere, but I sure haven't seen
him.
(She hears the sound of a bulldozer roaring.)
There's the Great Sound again. Oh I hope it's not going to destroy the muskrat lodge. I wonder
what in the world can make that much noise. I can't see anything. I hear it over there. No
maybe its over there. I think maybe it's all around me.
(She is moving from place to place and bumps into the blue heron at the end of one of the aisles.
He is carrying a cane. The sound subsides.)
WILLA
Oh. I beg your pardon. I didn't see you there.
BLUE HERON
I saw you. i see everything. That's my job. To stand and watch.
WILL*
Don't you have to go looking for food?
BLUE HERON
No. I just stand and food comes to me. Particularly water snakes. I'm quite fond of water
snakes.
WILLA
Could you be ... maybe ... just perhaps ... the Blue Heron.
BLUE HERON
Actually my full name is the Great Blue Heron, but you can call me Blue Heron.

-------
25
WILLA
I've been searching for you ever since I entered the wetland. The pink shrimp told me you could
lead me to the treasure if anyone could.
BLUE HERON
Treasure. Yes. It's true. I know everything about treasure.
WILLA
I came here looking for gold and silver, but I think I've learned what the real treasure is.
Everyone I met was a jewel. Except maybe Gladys Blue Crab. But even she was a jewel of a
sort.
BLUE HERON
People would say so.
WILLA
I thought the wetland was a creepy place before I came here, but ifs really so interesting.
BLUE HERON
It's more than that. It's the place where life begins. You eat a fish, that ate an bug, that ate an
algae that lives right here. And without the algae, you would never have the fish.
(The Great Sound begins again.)
WILLA
There it is again. The Great Sound. Do you know what it is?
BLUE HERON
Yes. It's the sound that means the end of our homes.
WILLA
The end! That's what I heard but what does it mean?
BLUE HERON
It's the sound that machines make when they fill up the wetland with dirt so there's no more water
for the creatures to live in. No water for the plants to grow in. No more home for us. When it's
gone its gone.
WILLA
What will happen to the friends I've met?
BLUE HERON
They'll have to find new homes.
WILLA
But someone could put the water back. That would make everything all right.

-------
26
When it's gone, it's gone.
Oh no. But ifs all still here now.
That's true.
Then we can save it.
That's possible.
So what can I do?
Let people know you love the wetland.
That's it?
BLUE HERON
WILLA
BLUE HERON
WILLA
BLUE HERON
WILLA
BLUE HERON
WILLA
BLUE HERON
If enough people love the wetland, no one will hurt it.
WILLA
Are you sure about this?
BLUE HERON
Tell me, who knows your home better than you do?
WILLA
Nobody.
BLUE HERON
So. You know your home, and I know mine.
WILLA
I've got to go home right away and tell my family about everything I saw.
BLUE HERON
You can tell them, but most of the time, people have to leam for themselves.
WILLA
Okay. I can bring them here. And we can see everything together. And we can tell lots of other
people to come.

-------
27
BLUE HERON
You dont want to overdo it. Let them come a few at a time.
WILLA
I hope Mom and Dad can meet the muskrats and Wild Rice, and you too. (As she says this,
Melody Muskrat and Wild Rice return.)
BE A FRIEND OF THE WETLANDS
Go to your Mother and Father
(Go to my mother and father)
Tell them of all the treasures you found
(Tell them of all the treasures I found)
Promise that you'll come back later
(I'll come back later, I promise)
Be a friend of the wetlands now.
(I'm a friend of the wetlands now.)
(Over the sound of do/do/do)
BLUE HERON
You can tell them, but most of the time, people have to learn for themselves.
WILLA
Okay. I can bring them here. And we can see everything together. And we can tell lots of other
people to come.
BLUE HERON
You don't want to overdo it. Let them come a few at a time.
WILLA
I hope Mom and Dad can meet the muskrats, and Wild Rice, and you too.
Time is running out,
The clock is ticking by,
(You gotta save the wetlands)
Together we can work it out,
We can try.
(You gotta save the wetlands.)
Where the wild rice grows
The muskrats dance
The pink shrimp sing their song
And the crabs complain
That there's too much rain
But they always get along, (do do do)

-------
28
CHORUS
Life begins
In this place of wonder
Magical things abound (magical things abound)
Let your song
Be the whispering thunder
Tell everyone you see
That the wetlands are for you and me
The wetlands are for you and me.
Sing and dance when you get the chance
Like a muskrat
(You gotta save the wetlands)
Wild Rice rapping, feet are tapping
And the crabs are clapping
(Save the wetlands)
You and you and you and you
You know what you must do
Tell your parents, friends and teachers
Of the treasures that are true, (do do do)
CHORUS
Life begins
In this place of wonder
Magical things abound (magical things abound)
Let your song
Be the whispering thunder
Tell everyone you see
That the wetlands are for you and me
The wetlands are for you and me.
Life begins
In this place of wonder
Magical things abound (magical things abound)
Let your song
Be the whispering thunder
Tell everyone you see
That the wetlands are for you and me.
The wetlands are for you and me.
The wetlands are for you and me.
The wetlands are for you and me.
The wetlands are for you and me.

-------
WILLA IN WETLANDS*, Peyton Lewis and Rory Chalcraft. National Children's Threatre
for the Environment; Washington, D.C.; 1991; 28 p.; pre-kindergarten to grade 2 to view play
and grades 3 to 5 for viewing and reading; E
Summary: A very creative, funny and engaging play, with catch, upbeat songs Includes
players, Willa the student, Sherman and Shirley the pink Shrimp, Johnny Rockfish with
sunglasses, Wild Rice, Blue Heron and many other treasures in the wetland. Begins with
Willa announcing her decision to go the wetland because her teacher had mentioned to her
that day "there was a treasure in the wetland" and she's going to look for it until she finds it,
but soon discovers:
"looking for a treasure in a swamp or marsh is a hard job. I see nothing that looks the least bit
priceless."
Discovering that treasures she finds were not what she expected, her search leads her to a
Bald Eagle, the Muskrat lodge, the fiddling Fiddler Crabs and many more. Willa continues:
"I came here looking for gold and silver but I think I've learned what the real treasure is.
Everyone I met was a jewel."
Comment: As play continues, Willa and the audience become aware of the impending threat of
the constant "Great Sound" of development in the background to the homes of Willa's new
friends in the wetlands. Willa in Wetlands does more than highlight the priceless treasures of
wetlands as it presents realistically the real threats to wetlands and offers practicable ways
children might help in reducing the loss by sharing wetlands and their treasures with others.
Copies of Willa in Wetlands are available at no charge from the Wetlands Information Hotline.
Call toll free 1-800-528-7828. Accompanying teacher's guide also available.

-------