CANARY IN A COAL MINE

J. Bowman 2001

There are 4 characters.  Names could be anything at this point.  But I will mix them up with males and females.  (Use the names according to the actors/actress's you can get)

John, Geraldine, Billy, Sara.

There are essentially three scenes.

Scene 1:  They are entering a coal mine

Scene 2:  They are working in the coal mine.

Scene 3:  They are exiting the coal mine after an explosion.

 

It will be written four times, one for each actors view point. (Or telling of the story)

 

John: MINER 1 had a tendency to cut people off in the middle of their sentences. This would be the base character trait.   However, MINER 1 would change only very slightly to bring out the perceptions of his fellow miners, but enough to see that, even when several people experience and see the same thing at the same time, that perception of reality somehow always becomes skewed.

 

Geraldine: MINER 2 saw MINER 1 as more arrogant, MINER 2 is the most accurate observer of what is happening.

 

Billy: MINER 3 saw MINER 1 as more novice.  MINER 3 is wussy.

 

Sara:  MINER 4 is the deceptive one.

 

The concept of Canary in a Coal mine is thus; "Miners have taken canary's and other small animals in a coal mine with them to detect harmful gasses.  I think the one they detect is Carbon Monoxide (I will check my sources to make sure and get the wording correct as I progress with this script).  The reason Canaries are chosen is that they sing all the time and when they quit singing that means they are dead or passed out.  It is a warning to the miners to leave the mine because deadly (odorless/invisible) gasses are present.

 

The script is written to be between four and seven minutes long.

NOTE FOR LINCOLN:  I Started writing this in a Narrative form but found it was to ordinary and it starts to be like a book and not a visual thing.  Narration is the easiest most efficient way to get the personalities across so they may not come through as thoroughly as you expected.

 

The first script I write will be that of MINER 2 and he/she will be the most competent observer.

NOTE FOR LINCOLN: This is written as the eyes and ears of the observer are the camera lens and the audio pick up.  In other words it is not written as the observer is telling a story or an independent narrator telling what he saw Miner 2 do.

MINUTE 1

The whistle blows.  Two miners get up from the bench they are Miner 1 and 3.  Miner 1 walks toward the mine shaft opening.  There are small circles of light bouncing off the timber walls to the left and to the right.  Behind are the sounds of heavy boots sloshing in the mud beneath.  The lights from their lights move across to the left and right but on the floor level instead of the walls.  The other front miner (number 1) is silhouetted by a glow from the carbide light in front of him.

Miner 4 says, "It smells different in here. You got the bird (Miner 3)?

Miner 3 says, "yep".

The chirping sound  from the canary was obvious.

 The miners continue on with the sound of the sloshing boots on the wet floor.

MINUTE 2

There is a strange thud behind.  Like something hitting the timbers.  Miner 1 says:  "What was that?"

From the distance you could hear Miner 4 say, "My lunch pail is packed today.  It just bounced off the wall."

The light stops in front and the other lights continue to get brighter as Miner 3 and 4 get closer.

Miner 1 gets his pick out of his bag and says as he points to the left, "I am gong to start over there".

Miner 3 takes the bird cage and holds it near the ceiling for 30 seconds.  The canary continued to sing as he had always.

To the right Miner 4 put his bag against the wall of the mine.  He turned his back to the rest of the miners and fumbled with his bag.  An alarm clock with the bell ringers was about half visible as Miner 4 glanced to the left.

Miner 4 closed the bag and said "The bird sounds weak today."

Miner 3 said, "He sounds normal to me."

MINUTE 3

Miner 3 put down the bird cage and got his pick from his bag.  He then walked off in the direction of Miner 1.

Within a few seconds the pick, pick, could be heard.

Miner 2 walked forward with the carbide circle of light getting bigger and bigger as it approached the coal vein.

Soon there was the sound of  two picks from the left and loud pick directly in front of Miner 2.

MINUTE 4

From a distance away, Miner 1 said in a loud voice so all could hear him.  "We should get a lot of coal today.  We want to earn our pay."

There was the sound of three consistent picks

MINUTE 5

Miner 4 yells from the right, "I don't hear the Canary.  I don't hear the Canary." 

Miner 1 and 3 quit picking and walked quickly over the canary cage.  The canary was laying limp in the cage.

"We gotta get out.  We gotta get out. " Said Miner 3.

Miner 1, 2, and 3 grabbed their lunch bags and started toward the entrance.

Miner 4 quickly passed them as the all walked quickly toward the front.

 

MINUTE 6

After about 30 seconds of hastily walking toward the entrance an explosion occurred with a loud bang and bright flash. The Miners were flattened into the mud.

Miner 4 (ahead of the others) got up quickly and ran toward the front.  Miner 3 started crying and saying, "We are going to die.  We are going to die."

MINUTE 7

All stumbled out of the mouth of the mine with the smoke following them.

Miner 4 had beat them out by a few seconds and was setting on  the bench with a slight smile on his face.