Six Women with Brain Death
or Expiring Minds Want to Know
Music and lyrics by Mark Houston, written by Cheryl Benge, Christy Brandt, Rosanna E. Coppedge, Valerie Fagan, Ross Fresse, Mark Houston, Sandee Johnson, Peggy Pharr Wilson
Overweight Prom Queen Candidate Loses Crown! Housewife Keeps Severed Head On Cake Plate! Bambi Goes Haywire in Forest With Uzi! To the expiring mind of a modern American woman, life can read like a tabloid headline.
A fast-paced, take-no-prisoners satire of life and pop culture at the end of the millennium, “Six Women With Brain Death” is a wild and very left-of-centre view of the world from an entirely feminine standpoint. In a series of bizarre but hysterical songs and sketches, the authors explore TV soap operas, “genuine press-on nails,” Barbie and Ken’s secret fantasy life, divas, a unique and new way of recycling, and what “is” and “is not” feminine – with an unforgettable detour through a forest where Bambi meets Rambo.
Definitely not for the faint-hearted, “Six Women With Brain Death” is a hard rockin’, harder talking’ cult classic.
This wild and womanly 'right-on' look at our contemporary culture has already become a cult classic in the USA. Tackling a large range of subjects from "genuine press-on nails" to Barbi and Ken with detours through a forest where Bambi meets Rambo and severed heads from aging prom queens have a chatty after-life decapitation, Six Women With Brain Death is a hard-rockin', harder-talkin' (the language is appropriate to the "grown-up" material and we disclaim all responsibility) six-woman roller-coaster ride through the end of the millennium, but the scattered firing finds its targets with uncanny accuracy! Songs include "David, Don't Fly Lufthansa", "Prom Queen" and "Rambi".
As houselights fade, ominous sounds are improvised by the band. Once the house is dark, the sounds swell to the downbeat of the opening and a series of headlines are recited directly to the audience. Included amongst these are: "Bizarre Disease Makes Woman Eat Kitchen Sink!" "Mom Sells Twins To Buy Lottery Tickets," and "Cannibal Cow Eats Hamburger." Basically, this opening shows the ridiculous nature of life and how attempting to fit in is what life is all about.
The music winds down like a failing phonograph and the six women speak directly to the audience. The fragmented conversations dovetail and occasionally become simultaneous on specific words. These fragments include everything from press-on nails to the theory of gravity, showing that all things are possible and not possible at the same time. These women welcome the audience to "the world of expiring minds - a snappy little revue about the collapse of culture, the demise of language and meaning, and the anxiety of lives cut loose from their moorings and set adrift on a sea of medical wastes." The show is a series of sketches with songs:
ALL MY HOSPITALS
Wanda is sitting at her kitchen table watching her favourite soap opera, "All My Hospitals." Her hair is in rollers, she has a cigarette in her mouth, and she is clutches a bottle of gin. She watches intently as she follows Veronica, the star of the soap opera who is revealing to her lover a plot finale which has been dragging on for months. Wanda watches intently and is furious when the show is interrupted with a special report about the Ozone layer. She grabs the phone and calls to complain, but almost simultaneously, the programme is restored and she missed the crucial information she was waiting for.
She yells at the television, and , in response, Veronica steps out of her role on the soap opera and addresses Wanda. She tells her just how sick she is of all of Wanda’s whining and sniveling. Veronica bursts out of the television personally to confront Wanda. Wanda tries to turn her off or push her back into the television, but nothing works. Her hallucination appears to be getting the best of her. Veronica further torments Wanda by telling her that she knows the secrets in the plot and refuses to tell Wanda. Wanda argues with Veronica saying that she's going to warn David herself about not flying on Lufthansa (the plot secret). The two women battle it out until finally Wanda pushes Veronica back into the television and shuts the top. David will fly TWA!
DIVAS AT MOTOWN
Auditioning for Motown, a timid and polite young woman in a simple choir robe enters hesitantly. She then positions herself and reads from notecards. She thanks all the people of Detroit, the incredible staff at Motown, and especially, Michael Jackson - "bro." She then comments that she believes that it is time to wed the ongoing tradition of the classical voice with the rhythmic power and mass bass of funky Negro music. With that she introduces the new smash recording group: The Divas of Motown! The curtains part, and the other five women, in contrasting choir robes, "boogie" downstage and form the backup group. Their choreography is a unified parody of The Supremes; performed with a polish that only five opera divas could give.
Marge tells the audience that she has two children that she doesn’t understand at all. They listen to satanic records, refuse to speak to one another, and dress like Madonna — both the girl and the boy, whom she is convinced is gay. She is overwhelmed with guilty feelings that she is responsible for their … quirks. She takes her children to the movies at the mall where there are six small screens and wanders from room to room searching for Disney, but her kids search for everything from Ninjas to Rambo. She thinks it is no wonder they don’t get along; her kids are terrorists and she's just "bibbity boppity boo."
She exits and the Disney-like "Rambi" music begins. The other five women enter, dressed in costume pieces that suggest forest animals. This is Disney at its best. The animals speak in a kind, Disney-esque style, using every swear word known to man. They wait for Rambi and when he finally comes, it is Marge dressed as a combination of Bambi and Rambo carrying a machine gun helping the forest animals to protect themselves from the evil hunters. Is this the best of both worlds?
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
A woman tells the audience how excited she is to attend her twentieth high school reunion. She pulls a dress out of a box and puts it on. All of the girls are going to be wearing their prom dresses. Four women are appear in the background decorating a trellis. She then remembers that in high school they all campaigned for a friend of theirs to be Prom Queen, but she lost because she was just too fat. The poor girl, now a woman, backed up by her friends, tells the audience what it was like being too fat to be prom queen. As the song progresses, the women move into the present and begin to discuss the problems they have encountered over the last twenty years. These include divorce, pregnancy, abortion, Valium addiction, etc. Regardless of their troubles, however, the women all realise that they have survived life’s punches.
Jolene wants to know who she is! She has examined her life over and over and hasn't found the answers she is looking for. She has read every self-help book known to man to no avail. She'd give anything if someone would just tell her who she is.
A game board rolls on and Baby Ruth the host of "Wise Up or Die" rides on rolling a podium that she drives like a scooter. She has various honker horns and squeakers to use at her discression. Baby Ruth is assisted by a game show hostess who is a cross between Vanna White and Ed McMahon. The hostess has no spoken lines but operates the game board.
As "Wise Up Or Die" begins, three panelist experts enter: Type A carries a briefcase, Type B is in housewife attire, and Type C is a "bleached blonde" sex goddess. Baby Ruth manipulates the show so that the three panelists ask Jolene a series of questions. These questions, about Jolene's identity, focus mostly on her sexuality. When all is said and done, it is obvious that Jolene, while very book smart, is not a spontaneous person.
She loses the game, and the hostess turns the game board around. Painted on the board is a burning stake. Baby Ruth ties Jolene to the burning stake and places all of her self-help books at her feet. There is a sign that says "Jolene of Ark." Everyone leaves Jolene alone to ponder her situation.
The lights come up on Heather's kitchen. Barbara enters with a bag of groceries that she puts on the counter. She calls for Heather and removes a cake tin cover revealing Heather's severed head. Barbara Ann starts unpacking the groceries while talking to Heather. It is revealed that Heather was the prom queen who won because she had the perfect body. Barbara is her sincere best friend who loves to take care of Heather and give her advice - whether she wants it or not! Heather is a vain, spoiled egotistical, self-absorbed whiner who has been knocked down a peg or two by an accident that forced her head to be cut off from her beautiful body. This accident occurred because Heather loved to wear her prom queen tiara all of the time. One day, while doing the dishes, it slipped down the trash disposal. Heather jumped in and tried to save it, severing her body from her head.
The two women reflect upon their lives together. Barbara Ann kicked her husband out the door because he was having an affair with Heather. Barbara advises Heather to do the same with her husband who hasn't taken her out since her "head" accident and just keeps her under a cake tin. Heather decides that maybe she should take Barbara’s advice, but unfortunately, she dies singing the last bar of the song. Barbara, caresses the dead head, before spotting the tiara, which she takes and mischievously places on her head.
DIVAS AT NASHVILLE
The same auditioner as the Motown sketch comes on stage wearing the same choir robe, but now donning a cowboy hat. She carries a guitar. She first thanks all the people of Nashville and the staff of the Grand Ol' Opry for the opportunity to wed the great traditions of classical music and American agricultural music together. Once again, the other ladies join her in a desperate attempt to get down to the grass roots of country music.
BARBIE AND KEN
The women roll on a Barbie and Ken unit containing all the necessary props for a slumber party. As they do this, they remember just how much easier life was when they could count on a life like Barbie’s and Ken’s. Looking back, they realise that Barbie and Ken represent a fantasy world that never came true for any of them. They reflect on their experiences in life and with Barbie and Ken.
GOD IS AN ALIEN
From some high promontory, five women function as a Greek chorus. Below, one woman enters rather hesitantly. She is dressed in a very bizarre Brain-Death-Meets-The Jetsons fashion. The woman tells how she and her girlfriends, while driving down the road one night, were zapped into the interior of a spaceship where they met God. The song conveys God's message to sell Amway, Mary Kay, Shaklee, etc. The six women finish this section by pushing imaginary doorbells asking “May I have just a moment of your time?”
As each woman enters, she carries a tyre, which she will "ride" during the song. All six women wish to escape a poor situation at home (alcohol, children, husbands, boyfriends) by letting loose on the road in their car. These angry women relieve their stress through aggressive driving and give new meaning to the phrase road rage.
The six women all say good-bye.
- Expiring Minds - All
- David, Don't Fly Lufthansa - Wanda, Veronica
- Divas At Motown - One, Other Five
- The Real Thing - Barbies, Kens
- Toll Road - All
- Prom Queen - Candidate, Backups
- We've Arrived - All
- I Think I Read Too Much - Jolene
- Rambi - Rambi, Flower, Squirrel, Thumper, Badger
- Divas At Nashville - One, Other Five
- Get Proud Of Me - Barbara Ann
- God Is An Alien - One, Other Five
Cast: 6 women (no substitutions)
- WANDA - A frustrated woman, addicted to her soap operas, her cigarettes and her gin. She has transferred all her dreams and energy to "All My Hospitals", and all her libido to David.
- VERONICA - A tough, glamorous "bitch" star, completely fed up with the unappreciative "Wanda"'s of the world.
- LEAD DIVA - Honest, completely sincere and full of a genuine - if naive - hope to bring about world peace through music.
- OTHER DIVAS - Eager and enthusiastic, with vibrators through which trucks can be driven.
- MARGE - A tired, disillusioned woman, whose children have exhausted her. She cracks jokes to cover her discomfort - and, as Rambi, wreaks revenge on some old lies.
- WOMAN NO. THREE - The organiser of the reunion, she is the only one of the group that is 100% sincerely excited about it. She maintains a stiff upper lip, despite the ensuring debacle.
- PROM QUEEN CANDIDATE - Must be a "round" or full-figured woman. In the "past" she is sweet and genuinely hopes to win, but obviously becomes the "bitch who came to dinner" during the reunion.
- JOLENE - A sincere woman who is honestly searching for wisdom, insight, and the meaning of life by reading the latest self-help books. She is easily influenced by the most recent therapy or fad.
- BABY RUTH - A combination of a manic Dr. Ruth, Harpo Marx and Satan. She loves to stir up mischief, and perhaps speaks with a German accent.
- BARBARA ANN - A gutsy, happy, "good ol' gal", with a big mouth full of advice (whether you want it or not). She's truly a good friend to Heather.
- HEATHER - Vain, spolied, egotistical, and a selfish whinner - but saddened and knocked down a peg or two by her life on a cake plate.
- WOMAN NO. ONE - She has the honest, inspiring conviction of a true believer whose life has been changed by an alien redeemer.
percussion, piano, synthesizer, bass guitar