University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension
4-H Ceremonies

Readers Theater

This program, an untitled Readers Theater presentation developing the idea that youth and adults can find common ground for building a better life, was first presented at a concluding assembly of the 4-H Citizenship Shortcourse at the National 4-H Center in Washington, D.C. It was prepared by Steve Cates, at that time a Summer Associate in the Education Division of the National 4-H Foundation, with special assistance from David White, a former 4-H'er now with the National Security Council.

Although originally intended for presentation by three pers ber may be used. It is suggested that through the use of level and lighting, at least three definite staging areas be formed. Reader 3 takes lines relating mainly to youth's viewpoint. Reader 2 takes those pertaining to the traditional way. Reader 1, usually placed in the middle, may take those of a neutral nature, and also takes the sections where summarization and major transition is necessary.

Effective background music throughout all except the last part (the section dealing with life philosophy) is recommended. This music should be taped ahead of production time. By use of controlled volume, the background music can be played throughout the ceremony. Timing is very critical if this is done.

Readers use no special costuming. They should be very, very familiar with their lines, but memorization certainly isn't necessary. They will feel the need (or perhaps should receive special coaching) for pausing, especially before changing the pace or mood, as well as for proper expression, good pronunciation and clear enunciation. A mike on a stand should be provided for each speaker although this is not a necessity if all can hear.

The three basic parts should be maintained (the humorous introductory remarks, the mid-section of confrontation, and the section dealing with life philosophy). The content may be revised to meet individual needs or specific situations. You may feel free to add, delete, or revise as you see fit.

Speaker 1

Me spy on those British? Are you trying to be funny? Do you know what they do with the spies they catch? I'll give you a news flash, chum. They hang them!

Sure, I'm for liberty. But we've got to be a little realistic. We're a pretty small outfit. If we start pushing the British around, someone's going to get hurt!

Speaker 3 What do you mean - me ride through every Middlesex village and town? And in the middle of the night, yet! Why pick on me? Am I the only man in Boston with a horse?
Speaker 2 If you think I'm going to move in that new President's House, John Adams, you're crazy! Let Tom Jefferson have the job!
Speaker 1 Yeah, boys, if we leave now we can just make it out before the Mexicans close around the Alamo.
Speaker 3 What do you mean take down Washington's picture? The British are coming! I've got to get my hats!!
Speaker 2 Me get out there on that messy battlefield? Why, I might become the victim of an undeclared war!
Speaker 3 What, build a new capital city in that marsh! Why not go back to Philadelphia? Speakerl Well, you men enjoy your winter at Valley Forge. I'll see you in the spring after my stay in Mount Vernon!
Speaker 2 Lead Lewis and Clark across the mountains? Forget it - they'll never make it!
Speaker 1 It's kind of hard today to decide whether patriotism is good or bad. It's kind of hard to decide whether Patrick Henry was a fool or was doing the right thing. Perhaps George Washington should have gone home to Mount Vernon. In this year, when you're bombarded with establishment - kill - power to the people - right on - black power - population explosion - and when you've been, Steve Martined - Billy Grahamed - Al Gored - Faraconned - and Jesse Helmed, it's kind of hard to decide what being an American really means! It's kind of hard to decide just who you are, where you're going and what you'd like to do and be as an American ... Why don't we hear a few of these cries, both those that come from history - from the establishment - and those that are developing around us today ...
Speaker 3

When the moon is in the seventh house - and Jupiter aligns with Mars - then peace will guide the planets and Love will steer the stars; This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.

Speaker l Harmony and understanding....Sympathy and trust abounding - No more falsehoods or delusion - Golden living dreams of visions, mystic crystal revelation and the it's true liberation. Aquarius.

Speaker 3

Thru the corridors of sleep, shadows dark and deep, my mind dances and leaps in confusion ... I don't know what is real - I can't touch what I feel! I hpde behind the shield of my illusion.
Speaker 2 Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
Speaker 3 The mirror on my wall casts an image dark and small - But I'm not sure at all it's my reflection ... I'm blinded by the light of truth and right - and I wander in the night without direction.

Speaker 2

Ride, ride though the night be cold Ride, ride, so the truth be told Ride, ride with that man of old ... Ride with Paul Revere.
Speaker 3 No matter if you're born to play the king or pawn - The line is thinly drawn 'tween joy and sorrow ... So my fantasies become realities - and I must be what I must be and face tomorrow.
Speaker 2 These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.
Speaker 1

Over there! Over there! Send the word, send the word, over there! That the Yanks are comin- the Yanks are comin'and we won't be back till it's over, over there!

Speaker 3 How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? How many times must the cannon balls fly before they're forever banned?
Speaker 2

Yes, we'll rally'round the flag, boys - rally once again! Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

Speaker 3 What if they gave a war and nobody came?????
Speaker 1

Hell, no, we won't go! Hell, no, we won't go!

Speaker 3 How many years will it take till he knows that too many people have died?
Speaker 2 America - Love it or leave it!
Speaker 3 Ripped open by metal explosion - Caught in firefly - fireball - bullet shot - Bayo- nets - electricity - shrapnel robbing me.
Speaker 3 Mail order rifle - shoot the muscle Two hundred fifty-six Viet Cong captured Prisoners in Higgertown - it's a dirty little war.
Speaker 2

Fighting soldiers from the sky

Fearless men who jump and die

Men who mean just what they say

The brave men of the Green Beret....

Speaker 2

Silver wings upon their chest These are men, America's best!
Speaker 3 Oh, many, would it be that the girls and boys are tryin' to be heard above your noise?
Speaker 1 The old man turned off the radio and said, "Where'd all the old songs go? Kids sure play funny music these days; they play it in the strangest ways! It looks to me like they've all gone wild; it was peaceful back when I was a child!"
Speaker 2 Which way, America? Which way, America? Which way to go? You are my country, and I want to know which way America is going to go.

Speaker 1

We hold these truths to be self-evident......
Speaker 3 How many years can a mountain exist before it's washed to the sea? How many ars can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?

Speaker 1

With malice toward none.....with charity for all......
Speaker 2 How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend he just doesn't see?
Speaker 1 To every man and every woman there comes a time of testing......

Speaker 3

To the young man sittin' on the witness stand the man with the book said, "Raise your hand. Repeat after me, 'I solemnly swear' (The man looked down at his lomg long hair.). And, although the young man solemnly swore nobody seemed to hear any more and it didn't really matter if the truth was there - it was the cut of his clothes and the length of his hair ... And the lonely voice of youth cries, 'What is truth?"

Speaker 2

An old man goin'a lone highway,
Came, at evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
The sullen stream had no fears to him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

Speaker 1

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide
Why build you this bridge at eventide?"

Speaker 2

The builder lifted his old gray head;
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may be a pitfall be.
He,too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

Speaker 2

We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility ...
Speaker 3 I can't be contented with yesterday's glories. I can't live on promises winter to spring. Today is my moment and now is my story....
Speaker 3 A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know what it is today. The nation which forgets its defender will be itself forgotten.
Speaker 2 America will be the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave....
Speaker 3 The young girl dancin' to the latest beat has found new ways to move her feet and the young man speaking' in the city square is tryin' to tell somebody that he cares. Well, the ones that you're callin'wild are goin'to be the leaders in a little while ... This whole world will awaken to a new born day and I solemnly swear that it will be their way. You'd better help that voice of youth cryin' What is truth?"
Speaker 1 In Flanders Fields the poppies grow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place....
Speaker 2 I have died but you are living.
Speaker 1

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with those who die
We shall not sleep though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

Speaker 3

The little boy of three sittin' on the floor
Looked up and said, "Daddy, what is war?"
"Son, that's when people fight and die!"
The little boy of three says, "Daddy, why?"

Speaker 2 Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. His truth is marching on!
Speaker 3 Where do I go? Follow the river. Where do I go? Follow the gulls. Where is the something, where is the someone that tells me why I live and die?
Speaker 2 I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Speaker 3 All I am saying is GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!
Speaker 1 Follow the windsong, follow the thunder, follow the neon in young livers' eyes - Down to the gutter, up to the glitter - into the city where the truth lies. Where do I go?
Speaker 3 Follow my heart beat. Where do I go? Follow my hand.
Speaker 1 Where will they lead me? And will I ever discover why I live and die?
Speaker 2 Columbus gave the world its grandest lesson - Oh, sail on!
Speaker 1 America was promise - a government of the people, by the people and for the people!
Speaker 2 Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free
Speaker 3 How can people be so heartless? How can people be so cruel? Easy to be hard. Easy to be cold. No. Especially people who care about strangers, who care about evil and social injustice. Do you only care about the bleeding crowd? How about a needing friend?
Speaker 2 My lamp I lift beside the golden door!
Speaker 3

How can people have no feelings?

What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason; How infinite in faculties; In form and moving, how express and admirable; In action, how like an angel; In apprehension, how like a god. The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals

Speaker 2 Back home a young wife waited - Her Green Beret met his fate. He died for those appressed - Leaving her his last request - Put silver wings on my son's chest - Make him one of America's best!
Speaker 1 The young man of seventeen is being taught the gold rule - and by the time another year had gone around - it was his turn to lay his life down.
Speaker 3

Come, mothers and fathers throughout the land,
And don't criticize what you can't understand.
Your sons and daughters are beyond your command"Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend you hand
For the times they are a'changin'!

Speaker 2 Give me some men who are stout hearted men.......
Speaker 1

Come, senators, congressmen, please heed the call -
Don't stand in the doorway - don't block the hall.
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'.

Speaker 3 I want to be me!
Speaker 2 A million and more of my countrymen have died for freedom!
Speaker 3 I have a dream!
Speaker 1 I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear.
Speaker 2 And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there....
Speaker 1 I have died but you are living.
Speaker 3 We have passed the torch to a new generation of Americans.....
Speaker 1

Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies ..

Speaker 3 Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me
Speaker 2 This land is your land, this land is my land.....
Speaker 3 America
Speaker 1 America
Speaker 2 America
Speaker 1 The sacred fire of liberty burns steadily on today and the glow from that fire, in the words of John F. Kennedy, can surely light the world!
Speaker 2

We are very much aware of the extremes today. Seeing extremes sometimes seems to destroy the good in each side. Rather than dwelling on the harms, how can we blend these two divergent ideas into a plan for the future?

I do not pretend to say what we must do. But I do know that America because a great nation because we have stressed individuality, flexibility, and the ability to learn, develop and grow as new ideas arise about us.

Possibly one of the best things that will come of this will be a growing awareness of each other. I can't give an answer, but I would suggest in the words of others, that life is what it should mean to you.

Speaker 2 Samuel Johnson -"Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle delib- eration how it shall be spent."
Speaker 3 Julian Huxley - "I believe that life can be worth living. I believe this in spite of pain, squalor, cruelty, unhappiness, and death. I do not believe that it is neces- sarily worth living, but only that for most people it can be."
Speaker 2 Samuel Butler -"is life worth living? This is a question for an embryo, not for a man."
Speaker 1

Bertrand Russell -"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me higher and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching the very edge of despair .... Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, vic- tims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer."

Speaker 3 Julian Huxley -"We have the fact that ninety-nine people out of a hundred are concerned with getting a living rather than with living, and that if for any reason they are liberated from this necessity, they generally have not the remotest idea how to employ their time with either pleasure or profit to themselves or to others."
Speaker 2 Henry David Thoreau - "To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?
Speaker 2 Cardinal Newman - "l fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning."

Some material used in preparing this program was taken from the following:

  • "Aquarius" and other selections from the musical, "Hair", written by Gait MacDermot.
  • "Over There" by George M. Cohan.
  • "What Is Truth?" recorded by Johnny Cash.
  • "Which Way, America?" from the "Up With People" series.
  • "Paul Revere's Ride" by Longfellow.
  • "Building the Bridge" by Will Allen Dromgoole.
  • "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae.
  • "The Green Beret" by Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler.
  • "Today" recorded by the New Christy Minstrels.
  • "The Times They Are A' Changing" and "Blowing in the Wind" by Bob Dylan
  • "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" recorded by Simon and Garfunkel' and other selected quotes.

Select a Ceremony