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Act One
Act Two
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Ian Anderson's lyrics for Jethro Tull's 'A Passion Play


Mark Ridley, Derek Small, Max Quad, Ben Rossington, John Tetrad

The Annotated Film, and Lyrics


The film opens in the entrance to a 'woodland path' (a tree is in a pot in the left foreground, an ancient tree in the right foreground). Two ballerinas, dressed exactly as the one on the album cover - in fact, I'm pretty sure one is the 'cover girl' - enter down the path, into a wide, roughly circular clearing. A white pole with a white-spotted red cap stands in the centre. A huge 'apple' hangs from the side of the pole, at head height.

As the camera zooms out for a wide shot, the clearing looks a lot like a theatre stage - trees as a backdrop, with a row of potted bushes masking tatty undergrowth and defining the back of the 'stage', and a row of smaller (artificial) flowers forming the front of the stage, like footlights. The path enters in the middle of the 'backdrop', with the pole centre stage.

... There was / a hush in the Passion Play. The ballerinas dance into the clearing (entering exactly as the music begins, with the last word of Act Two), discover the pole, then return to the path, beckoning others to approach.
Kangaroo and Newt appear from the bushes bordering the path.
The 'cover ballerina' (hereafter Ballerina 1) approaches the huge 'apple' (resembling a pumpkin in size and approximate shape), and plucks it from its branch (in the gap between the ballerina and the 'apple', we see Owl appear from behind a tree stump). She hesitates, then bites into it.
From the top of the pole (which has tiny side branches, not previously visible), red, white and blue ribbons burst out - it's a maypole. The ballerina turns to camera, drops the 'apple', smiles and speaks:
"Something wonderful is happening!" There is a superimposed sparkle in each of her eyes, then she spins out of view.
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INSTRUMENTAL: 'Forest Dance #1' Cut to theatre stage, reproducing the previous clearing indoors - trees painted on the backdrop, cut-out of undergrowth masking footlights from the audience, green stage, same maypole in the centre. The ballerinas dance in a ring formed by the animals - Owl (wearing a tiny red mortarboard and shedding feathers), Kangaroo, Hippo (in a pink tutu), Tiger, Bee (with a green head, pink face and spike nose), Newt (in top hat, white waistcoat, black tailcoat, riding boots and cane), Lion, Gorilla, Tortoise, and Hare (white, wearing patched black dungarees, waistcoat and a yellow bow tie). The ballerinas tug the animals, urging them to dance; they all do, in a ring, then grab the hanging ribbons (all white - no red or blue) and continue, interweaving round the maypole.
In a puff of smoke, John Evan appears (in a spotlight; rest of stage black) in his trademark white suit, cream shirt, red tie (with white spots, like the top of the maypole) and totally white face.
"This is the Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" With grand, proclaiming gestures (he wipes his nose on the back of his hand with a sniff).
Back to open air 'stage'. Empty for ~6 seconds...
Owl loved to rest quietly whilst no one was watching. Sitting on a fence one day, he was... ... then Jeffrey appears stage left, in a strongly-patterned houndstooth suit (the overall effect is black & white, not the brown/grey of a tweed suit), purple shirt, bottle-green bow tie, spectacles & carrying a microphone. He has tiny horns at his temples.
Camera pans right, to reveal Owl, crouching on a concrete plinth, itself bordered by a picket fence. Ballerina 1 runs in from the right, carrying a stuffed kangaroo soft toy, chased by Kangaroo, followed by Ballerina 2. Ballerina 1 dodges Kangaroo, passes the kangaroo to Ballerina 2, who passes it to Jeffrey, who hides it behind his back as the camera returns to him.
... surprised when suddenly a kangaroo ran close by.
Now this may not seem strange, but when Owl overheard Kangaroo...
Owl jumps up, beak open in a gasp, then spins round to face the group, shedding a cloud of feathers. Once Jeffrey has the soft toy, Kangaroo stalks away into the undergrowth whilst Jeffrey continues the story, bracketed by the ballerinas.
...whisper to no one in particular, the ballerinas approach Jeffrey.
"The hare has lost his spectacles," well, he began to wonder. Close-up of Jeffrey and Ballerina 1 [Photo 5 (p.4, top left) in the Remastered CD booklet]. The audience won't have noticed at this point, but this close-up is back in the theatre. Jeffrey stresses the words with his eyebrows.
Camera pulls out to reveal the empty stage. After 'wonder' Jeffrey looks down and keeps his head down until...
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Presently, the moon appeared from behind a cloud and there, lying on the grass, was Hare. He extravagantly indicates to his left (viewers' right); the ballerinas walk to stage right, followed by the camera, until they bracket Hare, lying on his side, reading an upside-down book (I can't read the title!). As the camera pans right, Hare is partly out of shot; it has to pan down to him, neatly including the cut-out 'grass' at the front of the stage.
Close-up of Ballerina 1, Ballerina 2 in the background [Photo 6 (p.4, top right) in the Remastered CD booklet].
In the stream that flowed by the grass
- - - - - a newt.
They move stage left, with a 'flowing' motion, simulating waves with their arms. The camera follows, revealing Newt, leaning on his cane, standing by Jeffrey. Jeffrey kicks the cane away; Newt stumbles offstage. The ballerinas continue the 'wave' motion of their arms until Jeffrey re-enters stage left.
And sitting astride a twig of a bush
- - - - - a bee.
He indicates upwards, to Bee, sitting with crossed arms on a (improbably slender) branch, itself tipped with cherry blossom.
With the 'bee music', Bee flaps his elbows and takes off, flying down towards the ballerinas but not landing; instead he disappears up out of shot as the ballerinas pirouette back to bracket Jeffrey, standing centre stage. We're looking from the wings of stage left across the stage, not from the audience - we see the cut-outs end-on and are dazzled by the side-fill lights. Jeffrey skips backwards with the ballerinas, to stand by Hare.
Ostensibly motionless, The viewpoint shifts back to the audience.
the hare was trembling with excitement, for without his spectacles he appeared completely helpless. Jeffrey turns, indicating the trembling Hare. Ballerina 2 strokes Hare's forehead, then both ballerinas move to the front of the stage and bend down, concealed by the cut-out grass as the camera moves down to the viewpoint of the front row, looking up at the stage.
Where were his spectacles? Jeffrey moves forward and bends down towards the audience (probably a very good effect projected in a concert hall). This gives the impression that the question is confidential, directed to the audience.
Could someone have stolen them? The camera shifts to Jeffrey's left, for an even more confidential question.
Had he mislaid them? He turns to his right, repeating the effect.
What was he to do? The camera shifts to the centre of the balcony (i.e. looking down at the stage) as Jeffrey and the bracketing ballerinas appeal to the audience [Photo 7 (p.4, bottom left) in the Remastered CD booklet].
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Bee wanted to help, and thinking he had the answer began: "You probably ate them thinking they were... Cut to centre stage, front of stage empty, ballerinas dancing in the background. Jeffrey enters stage right, Bee from the left. When Jeffrey reaches the middle, he turns his back on the audience and walks to the ballerinas, but Bee turns to the audience, bows slightly then, surprised, runs to catch up with Jeffrey, who is addressing his words to Bee.
The ballerinas dance off stage right.
... a carrot." The viewpoint shifts to just off stage, facing the audience, to see behind the scenes (literally!). The second she's offstage, the graceful Ballerina 1 walks 'normally' and her beatific grin vanishes as she meets Ballerina 2 at a tea trolley. The view fades to black & white. The tea lady, smoking a cigarette, with rollers in her hair, gives the ballerinas cups of tea.
"No!" interrupted Owl, who was wise. "I have good eye-sight, insight, and foresight. How could an intelligent hare make ... A cameraman (Eric Brooks, Tull's tour manager 1969-73) suddenly appears from onstage, pointing his absurdly long lens at the tea lady, whose cigarette drops to the floor as she screams (silently; there is no sound with this black & white footage; Jeffrey continues the story of The Hare, just as voiceover). Ballerina 1 also screams as she flees, the cameraman chasing her up a curving flight of stairs to the dressing room; the length of the phallic lens is stressed, intercut with a view up the ballerina's skirt as she stumbles - subtle, eh? She flees into the dressing room.
... such a silly mistake?" The cameraman drives her into a corner.
But all the time, Owl had been sitting on the fence, The camera turns to reveal Jeffrey is also in the room, applying makeup to his forehead;
scowling! we see him in the mirror, scowling. [Photo 3 (p.3, bottom left) in the Remastered CD booklet]
  Colour fades back in, then cut to the outdoor stage, empty.
Kangaroo were hopping mad at this sort of talk. She thought herself far superior in intelligence to the... Jeffrey abruptly pops in from the right, with distinctly longer horns at his temples. He is right at the front right of the 'stage', but walks to the centre middleground as Kangaroo enters from the rear left carrying a clipboard (to which she points as she leaves front right), and followed by the ballerinas, who stay on stage as they pass Jeffrey.
... others. Jeffrey removes his glasses and turns to the left, to announce, direct to close-up camera, that:
She was their leader; Back to the top of the page
their guru. She had the answer: "Hare, you must go in search of the optician." A member of the film crew, wearing a leather jacket and headset, appears on screen to hand Jeffrey the clipboard, with a sprig of foliage on the clip. The crew member turns - it's Ian, who smoothes his moustache, looks directly at the audience [Photo 8 (p.3, bottom right) in the Remastered CD booklet], and leaves.
Jeffrey barely glances at the clipboard and...
But then she realised that Hare was completely helpless without his spectacles. And so, ... as the view returns to a long shot from the position of the notional audience (i.e. from the equivalent of the front row, with the row of 'footlight' flowers between the viewer and the action) he throws it over his shoulder into the bushes. Kangaroo enters from front right, followed by the ballerinas. As Jeffrey continues to speak and the ballerinas dance, Kangaroo stands at stage left, the stuffed kangaroo in her pouch.
Kangaroo proudly proclaimed: Kangaroo approaches Jeffrey, making a proclaiming gesture.
"I can't send hare in search of anything!" Jeffrey turns to Kangaroo and speaks the line directly into her face, leaning forward as she leans back, until Kangaroo falls over backwards.
"You can guru, you can!" shouted Newt. "You can send him with Owl." But Owl had gone to... Cut to the dancing Newt, bracketed by the ballerinas. The camera pulls back to reveal Owl sitting amongst the flowers at the front of the 'stage'.
... sleep. As Newt points to Owl with his cane, Owl falls over sideways, asleep. Newt turns to leave, but is stopped by Ballerina 2 standing on his tail.
Newt knew too much to be stopped by so small a problem - - - - - "You can take him in your pouch." But alas, Hare was much too big to fit into... Newt continues to dance with the ballerinas. [Photo 1 (p.3, top left) in the Remastered CD booklet]
... Kangaroo's pouch. The action returns to the indoor stage, exactly reproducing the outdoor positions of Newt and the ballerinas.
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  The view switches to behind Jeffrey, watching Newt & the ballerinas from an aisle seat several rows back from the stage.
All this time, it had been quite plain to Hare that the others knew nothing about spectacles. And as for all their tempting ideas well, Hare... Jeffrey turns to camera. As he speaks, the animals plus the tea lady and a frogman join Newt & the ballerinas on stage; the camera cuts back to them as they dance in pairs; Lion with Tiger, Bee with Kangaroo, Gorilla with Tortoise, Ballerina 2 with Newt, the tea lady with the frogman, Hippo with Owl and Ballerina 1 with the Hare.
... didn't care. This couple are shown last, as they bow to each other.
  Cut to blacked-out stage with an empty spotlit er, spot.
The lost spectacles were his own affair. Jeffrey jumps from the darkness into the spot.
And after all, Hare did have a spare Then back to a close-up of Jeffrey on the lit stage,[Photo 4 (p.3, bottom right) in the Remastered CD booklet] held until...
pair. ... the view suddenly zooms out to show the cast taking their final bow. Hare is lying at the front with his book, waving his spectacles to the audience. Flowers are thrown on stage. Ballerina 1, to Jeffrey's immediate right, picks one up as she bows, sniffs it and passes it to Jeffrey. Close-up of his hand as it closes around the pink/orange flower and on the repeated 'A-pair' squeezes it until green sap runs from between his fingers. The cast bow again and Hare returns to his book (the right way up). Jeffrey rather clumsily jumps over Hare and catches a pitchfork thrown to him from offstage.
INSTRUMENTAL: 'Forest Dance #2' Back to the top of the page

Cut to the outdoor stage at night - the cast run into the clearing along the same path as started the piece. Now the ballerinas are in sequinned red leotards with matching skullcaps, the 'widow's peaks' of which might be considered theatre shorthand for devils. They carry flaming torches.

At the centre of the clearing, the white maypole with a red top has been replaced by a giant fly agaric toadstool (white stem with a spotlit red cap, spotted white (like John's tie, 'coincidentally'). Water spouts from the tip of the toadstool, falling to a pool round the base. Jeffrey is already sitting by the fountain, yellow sou'wester on his head (even longer, red horns poking through), yellow wellington boots on his feet, and pitch fork firmly set on the ground like a staff of office.

The ballerinas hand their torches to Hare & Owl. While the animals dance around the toadstool, Ballerina 1 climbs onto the edge of the fountain and Ballerina 2 fills a chalice from the pool. Bee sits down beside Jeffrey. Ballerina 1, strongly backlit by a white light, dips her hand in the chalice and anoints (baptises?) each animal with a horizontal line on its forehead. Hare is first.

As soon as each animal has been anointed, Jeffrey jumps up and drives it away with his pitchfork. Things become chaotic; suddenly there are more torches, the ballerinas are dancing with the animals, there are several shots directly into the strong lights illuminating the scene. All, including Bee, still dance in an anticlockwise circle round the fountain [Photo 2 (p.3, top right) in the Remastered CD booklet]. Jeffrey is suddenly wearing full waterproofs to match his sou'wester & wellies. He gestures at the fountain and the jet of water drastically increases (ejaculates?), Hippo is hit by a flying rock (?) , Bee falls into the pool, the ballerinas dance with each other, and Jeffrey (without horns) uses his horned sou'wester to pour more water on Bee.

Jeffrey chases everyone then, on the final three 'electronic' noises, suddenly without his waterproofs, blocks their way when they flee left, then right, then he gestures with his pitchfork at the toadstool and its lights go out. Everyone freezes, except for Jeffrey, who jabs the pitchfork into the ground and stands, hands in his pockets.

Ian Anderson
Magus Perde

All lyrics © 1973 Chrysalis Records, Ltd. Used with respect, but not permission.

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