The Black Stuff

by Lioness Theatre

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1.
Rubber 03:13
Rubber, rubber, rubber, rubber (etc) Rubber, a miraculous substance An elastomer, rather spectacular, Used in abundance Rubber, rubber, rubber, rubber It’s an industry that’s worth big bucks (Big books? Big butts?) Big bucks! Not just for yellow rubber ducks It’s soft but strong and waterproof There’s so much stuff we can produce Rubber, rubber, rubber, rubber Doorstops, flip flops, and shuttlecocks Blow-up beds, prosthetic legs Latex gloves, sink and bath plugs Wet-weather wear And bobbles for your hair! Rubber, a miraculous substance An elastomer, rather spectacular Used in abundance Rubber, rubber, rubber, rubber
2.
[Chorus:] He just wants to be remembered Take his place in history He'll be known as the genius inventor How he's gonna do it is a mystery. He's been bankrupt before (Charles: Now I'm better informed!) He is the man for the task; He will do the graft. (Everyone that castigated me Will know they underestimated me!) [Repeat Chorus] Charles: Gonna show those who (castigated me) My mother, she (castigated me) My teachers, they (castigated me) Everyone that (castigated me) (Rap) I have worth, even if you don't see it. Ever since my birth I was destined to be it: The greatest inventor of the modern age. Quite the part to play! Why are you standing on my stage? Narrator: Oh I'm in your way? I'm a bit-part? Clarissa - an upstart? Charles: I won't be held back by a dewy-eyed sweetheart. Narrator: Mm-hmm, if she wants to grow a garden She can tend it - right? Charles: This is my purpose - I don't have to defend it - yikes! Clarissa: I haven't had a lot to say yet I'm looking after my kids most of every day, but If anyone can do it, it's my button-man Cos when he gets the bit between his teeth He's a firebrand. [Repeat Chorus]
3.
Rubber may seem miraculous, child But rubber only acts like rubber When the weather is mild! It's brittle in the winter And it's sticky after spring Then it leaks in the rain, Ain't worth a thing. Folks have sending back my goods, I had to bury tons of stuff out in the woods. Cos rubber only acts like rubber (when the weather is) Rubber only acts like rubber (when the weather is) Rubber only acts like rubber When the weather is mild! My reputation is beginning to atrophy, My company's on the verge of catastrophe. If you want to be successful In this industry, What you'll need is a new Rubber recipe. Cos rubber only acts like rubber (when the weather is) Rubber only acts like rubber (when the weather is) Rubber only acts like rubber When the weather is mild! Charles: There must be something I can mix it with Throw it all in a pot and give it a whisk I'll make its chemical state consistent Ethan: And will that make it weather-resistant? Charles: Sure! Talk to me, Ethan. Ethan: You certainly won't be the first to attempt a solution to this problem, Charles! There are scientists all over the world working on it. The main one is a fellow from England called Hancock. He's been at it for years. Ifyou're going to come up with a new rubber formula and profit from it, you'll have to manage it before Hancock does! Cos rubber only acts like rubber when the weather is mild! Fame and fortune is waiting to be piled, But rubber only acts like rubber when the weather is mild! If you want to be successful in this industry What you'll need is a new rubber recipe. Cos rubber only acts like rubber (when the weather is) Rubber only acts like rubber (when the weather is) Rubber only acts like rubber When the weather is mild!
4.
Foul Rumours 02:57
Clarissa: You have another love, She takes up all your time. You excites you in ways that I never could And robs us of every dime. Charles: What foul rumours are these? I only have eyes for Clarissa! Clarissa: But you don't have time for Clarissa! Or Bethan, or Stephan, or Ellen, or Lisa, Cynthia, William, Ann, or Amelia, Harry Petunia, RIck, or Charles Jr. You spend all your time with another With your mistress, Lady Rubber. Charles: Clarissa, I'm trying to build a career. Don't you think I would like to sit down and rest? (Rest?!) This is the path that I've chosen my dear, I'll stop when I've finished my quest. Clarissa: We used to talk for hours. You brought me wild flowers. On an evening we'd read to the little ones. Happy faces lit like suns. Charles: You won't be complaining, When we rake in the royalty payments! Clarissa: That's just a pipe dream! An ill-conceived money-making scheme. We could have everything right here. Charles: But I don't want to stagnate here. Clarissa: What do you foresee For our future, you and me? Is it really the plan that our ticket to the promised land Comes from a rubber tree? Charles: I'm reaching the end of my tether! Why can't we be in this together? Clarissa: Cos you don't have time for Clarissa! Or Bethan, or Stephan, or Ellen, or Lisa Cynthia, William, Ann, or Amelia. Harry, Petunia, Rick, or Charles Junior. You spend all your time with another. With your mistress, Lady Rubber. Charles: Clarissa, perhaps you should talk to the Lord. For he loves you and never would see you ignored. This is the cross that he gave us to bear He's not going to let us go scarce. Clarissa: I really miss the Charles that made buttons. Charles: The Charles content to make tuppence? Clarissa: Tuppence is better than nuppence! Charles: You're just like my Mom You think I'm good for nothing. Nothing I do will ever be good enough for you.
5.
No matter what you do, I’ll have to stand by you. I’ve always known that you were broken Deep inside your psyche. The way I feel for you is potent. I hoped that love would heal you slightly. But little mouths need more than love, With twelve, there’s just not enough. While you’re in and out of debtor’s prison, I cannot feed our kids ambition. From what I’ve always seen, God doesn’t intervene. He helps the ones that help themselves The answers must be on bookshelves! If the library can teach you about science, I can learn ‘bout self-reliance! [Clarissa enters the library of Philadelphia] (Rap) Is this the library founded by Benjamin Franklin? Where free folk can enter whatever their social standing? My name is Clarissa and I’m looking for knowledge. Hello? Can I come in? Please acknowledge. Librarian: Yes, this is the Library Company of Philadelphia, There isn’t a subject we can’t find on a shelf for ya, But Clarissa, when we say free folk we mean men. You and your children can’t come in. Clarissa: UGH! I’m surrounded by men who want to hold me down. Stop me from learning skills I need to keep my children around. I’m not gonna be stopped cos I don’t have the right appendage. I’m going back as a man; my gender amended. [Clarissa dresses as a man and is allowed into the library] (Backing vocals: Smash the patriarchy, Smash the patriarchy, Smash the patriarchy, Smash the patriarchy!) [Instrumental] No matter what you do, I’ll have to stand by you. For every stupid move you make, And every time that I nearly break, You melt me with your golden voice. Love leaves me with no choice. (Ad lib) (Little mouths need more than love. No manna falls down from above) I've got no choice For my girls and boys.
6.
Charles: I told you so (he told you so) This time I know (we know) My precious rubber combo (our combo) Will make the perfect cargo My wife thinks I'm a fool for even trying Calls my passion for this substance mystifying My brother pleads for me to find a new profession Call my life's work a dangerous obsession Ethan: But all along I knew he was winning His work is done This is our new beginning Charles: I told you so (he told you so) This time I know (we know) My precious rubber combo (our combo) Will make the perfect cargo Charles: So far my kids have lived a life of gloom Sometimes I wish I hadn't settled down so soon The responsibility is so much stress I think they've probably delayed my success Ethan: But all along I knew he was winning His work is done; this is our new beginning Charles: I told you so (he told you so) This time I know (we know) My precious rubber combo (our combo) Will make the perfect cargo Ethan: It's the moment we've been waiting for since 1834 Charles: I swore I'd thwart the odds and sure enough here's my reward Where's my pen? I need to write to Benji. To tell him, "keep your nose out", It's going tremendously. I'll say it's finally the time to shout 'Eureka!" And while I'm at it I shall also write Clarissa. Ethan: Cos all along I knew he was winning. His work is done; this is our new beginning Charles: I told you so (he told you so) This time I know (we know) My precious rubber combo (our combo) Will make the perfect cargo
7.
I told him so, years ago. The children grow, Charles, But they don't thrive. No healthy glow, And I'm terrified. How much much longer Can we keep them alive? And all along he knew we were starving. We come in second place to the legacy he is carving.
8.
I just needed heat (heat!) To make the formula complete After all these years I shall extract it I needed heat (heat!) I'm glad I did not concede defeat A few more tweaks and I will soon have cracked it. I'm almost there (I'm in despair) I'm almost there (the cupboard's bare) I'm almost there (he doesn't care) I'm almost there (I'll say a prayer) We need to eat (eat!) We need some bread, we need some meat, We're surviving by the skin of our teeth We raid the bin (bin!) The farmer's patience running thin Face the facts, it's time to give in. I'm almost there (I'm in despair) I'm almost there (the cupboard's bare) I'm almost there (he doesn't care) I'm almost there (I'll say a prayer) He just needed heat (heat!) To make the formula complete After all these years he shall extract it He needed heat (heat!) And he would not concede defeat. A few more tweaks and he will soon have cracked it.
9.
How can I adequately put into words The loss of a child for a mother? This pain is physical, it actually hurts When I think of the way that he suffered I told him so (I'm almost there) Years ago (I'm almost there) Out little pride is a lion down. We have to bury him in the lonely ground. Nothing that happens now can turn this around. (I'm almost there) Do you think that I really care? (I'm almost there) How are you not in despair? (I'm almost there) No matter what you do (I'm almost there) I'll have to stand by you. (Love leaves her with no choice) I'm almost there.
10.
You can make bank-notes from rubber Rubber plates for your supper The finest of musical instruments Such stylish hats full of winsomeness Rubber cards for my business Rubber pouch for my "hisness" My autobiography's printed in it I had my portrait painted on it Rubber vest for my torso Rubber glass for my Bordeaux. Benji: Very nice! But Charles, do we have a patent? Charles: Not yet, that requires payment Benji: I don't think we should be complacent Charles: Quite right; let's make arrangements For I'm not the only working on it. Hancock is also yearning for it. It's now or it's never Let's protect our endeavours. Hancock: Unfortunately I was quicker than him. Charles sent me a sample - I stole it from him! Charles: Scoundrel! Benji: What were you thinking? Charles: Nothing in the package Should have given him an inkling. Hancock: You were mistaken! The sample that you sent me Held a clue to its making Charles: I am shaking! Every piece of me is just breaking. Hancock: Too late - I filed a patent. Charles: He is stealing all the fruit that grows from my attainment! Benji: He must be faking. Hancock: I am taking what is mine, For my work was painstaking. Charles: Back-breaking! Ethan: Ground-breaking! Clarissa: Heart-breaking! It's true what he says, There's a telegram A patent was filed in Birmingham Charles: So my work has been stolen? By my (his) opponent? Clarissa: For he wasn't the only one working on it, Hancock was also yearning for it. Too late to be clever And protect our endeavours!
11.
Rubber, a miraculous substance An elastomer, rather spectacular, Used in abundance Rubber, rubber, rubber, rubber (etc) It's an industry that's worth big buck Not just for yellow rubber ducks It's soft and strong and waterproof There's so much stuff we can produce Rubber, rubber, rubber, rubber

about

Rubber - a miraculous substance! But until Charles Goodyear came along in the 1830s, it was sticky and useless. In a race against his rivals and battling incredible odds, Charles turned natural rubber into a product that revolutionised industries around the world. But it took everything he had, and his children's lives hung in the balance.

Meanwhile, his wife Clarissa faced the age-old struggle of women everywhere in this patriarchal society - the fight to have her voice heard.

Through theatre, art, humour, and song, “The Black Stuff” tells the dark true tale of how a bankrupt button-maker became one of the most important inventors of all time – and the terrible cost to his home and family life.

"Wonderful! I didn't expect it to be quite so comical and enjoyable"
Rony Robinson, BBC Radio Sheffield

"Absolutely loved it! So impressed. The songs are brilliant.
One of the funniest things I've read in ages, and I also learnt a lot!"
Chris O'Connor, Writer for Red Ladder Theatre Company

Performances:

*DN Festival*

Sat 28th July, 1.30pm
Waterdale Centre, Doncaster
Free entry

This project is supported by Right Up Our Street, Arts Council England, and the National Lottery Fund.

credits

released July 8, 2018

Written and composed by Holl Morrell.
Show directed by Liz Kearney.

Performers:
Danny Dixon as Charles Goodyear.
Moureen Louie as Clarissa Goodyear.
Alex Wilson as Ethan, Benji, and Father Godfrey.
Andy Pilkington as Narrator and Hancock.
Brian Morrell on piano / arranging.
Additional keyboards by Holl Morrell.
Recorded and engineered by Holl Morrell.

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