Background Information:

South Sea Islands- New Hebrides, now Vanuatu, is the location of the play. It’s in the Melanesia chain of Islands. New Hebrides during the war saw no combat. They were part of the supply route for the soldiers fighting in the Coral sea in New Guinea and northward in the Solomon Islands where some of the bloodiest battle took place like Guadal Canal. Bali H’ai is Ambae. From the East coast of Santo, the island is a clear blue pyramid rising from the ocean in the early morning light. But as the sun climbs higher, except for rare, clear days, the island quickly disappears behind a glare of sea haze. Ambae's pyramid shape is due to its volcanic origins.  East Ambae is wet and the west is a rain-shadow area. The set designer Jo Meitzner, used the island of Bora Bora as inspiration for his sets.

GI- stands for government issue. It was used in World War II for anyone in the Armed Forces, especially those in the Army.

Seabees-( CB)-construction battalions. The earliest Seabees were recruited from the civilian construction trades and were placed under the leadership of the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps. Because of the emphasis on experience and skill rather than on physical standards, the average age of Seabees during the early days of the war was 37.  They built the airstrips, roads, and bases that allowed the United States to engage in the island-hopping necessary for fighting the Japanese in World War II.

Scene 1 Act 1

Hibiscus back cover.jpg (50122 bytes) Originating in Asia and the Pacific islands, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia. The tropical hibiscus belongs to the Malvaceae or mallow family. Other relatives are the rose-of-sharon (shrubby althea), the hardy hibiscus grown in the north, okra, cotton, the Confederate Rose, hollyhock and quite a few others.

Bourgainvillaea  a vine with small flowers and purple or red leaves They are thorny, woody vines growing anywhere from 1-12 meters tall, scrambling over other plants with their hooked thorns. The thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance.

Bali Bougainvillaea

Frangipani  The flowers of the Frangipani come in gorgeous rose-pink color brushed with bronze. Frangipani flowers are highly scented during nights and often used in bouquets. Frangipani flowers have wonderful tropical essence. The frangipani flower is propeller shaped with a delicate yellow center melting into the creamy white outer petals.
Frangipani Flowers 

Dites-moi                                     tell me
Pourquoi                                       why
La vie est belle                            life is beautiful
La vie est gaie                             life is gay
Chere mad’moiselle                   dear miss
Est ce que                                    is that
Parce que                                    because
Vous m’aimez?                         You love me
Allez-vous                                 you
Vite                                            quickly, hurry up
Dans la maison                          in the house
Moi, je reste ici                        me, I rest here
Oh, oui? Nous verrons bien     oh, yes? We will see
Viens, petit moustique             turn, small mosquito
Je servirai le café                     I serve coffee
C’est tout                                 that’s all

Hick-  simple, rural person-(from a nickname of Richard, thought of as a country name.)

The sticks- (from lumberjacks)-a rural place

Knucklehead – stupid person

Cockeyed -  crazy, wrong, weird

Selling me a bill – deceiving

Marcel Proust     Marcel Proust was born in Auteuil. He published his first works, Portraits de Peintres and Plaisirs et les Jours, in 1896. Proust's unpublished works from this period, Jean Santeuil, (an autobiographical work which was never finished) and Contre Sainte-Beuve, (the latter an attack of the criticism of Sainte-Beuve), were discovered in the 1950s. 
To the age of 35 Proust lived the life of a social climber in the Paris salons, although he worked for a short time as a lawyer and was also active in the Dreyfuss affair (of which he wrote extensively in A la Recherché) like Émile Zola and other artists and intellectuals. 
In 1912 Proust produced the first volume of his seven part major work, Remembrance of Things Past. The second book, which was delayed by the WW I, appeared in 1919, and the next parts made him internationally famous. The massive work occupied the last decade of his life. 

Andre Gide  Les Cahiers d'André Walter (1891) [The Notebooks of André Walter] opened the door to the symbolist literary circles of the day. He went to Algeria and almost died from a severe illness. His works after this dealt with the tension between Puritanism, a strict discipline and desire for sexual freedom.   Les Nourritures terrestres (1897) [Fruits of the Earth], the drama Saul (1903), and later Le Retour de l'enfant prodigue (1907) [The Return of the Prodigal], are the chief documents of his new approach.

Until the twenties Gide was known chiefly in avant-garde and esoteric literary circles (he was one of the founders of La Nouvelle Revue Française), but in his later years he became a highly influential, although always controversial figure. He travelled widely. His trip to the Congo led to a report on economic abuses by French firms and resulted in reforms.  He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947.
Eh bien                                    what, pardon me
Nous chantons, bien, aussi      let us sing well, also
Attends                                    wait

Scene 2 Act1

Tapa cloth- Bark cloth-Most commonly the bark of the paper mulberry or breadfruit tree is used. The bark is stripped from young saplings, and the white inner layers are peeled off for the tapa.  These narrow strips are soaked in water until softened; then they are pounded with grooved mallets, which spreads the bark into increasingly wider strips until they are about ten inches wide. The edges are then overlapped and glued with manioc root juice, breadfruit, or arrowroot starch to make wide sheets.

Betel nuts- the fruit of the Areca catechu palm tree, also known as the Betel Palm, contain the stimulant arecoline. Native to SE Asia, the ground nuts are often combined with mineral lime and wrapped in the leaf of a Betel pepper plant, although they are sometimes chewed alone. Frequent use can stain teeth black and its daily use is associated with increased risk of mouth cancers. Variants of the betel and lime combination are extremely common in many Asian cultures and have a long history of human use.

Joe DiMaggio-            Joe DiMaggio

Joseph Paul DiMaggio (Joltin' Joe and The Yankee Clipper)
born as Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio
Position: Centerfielder
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2", Weight: 193 lb.

Born: November 25, 1914 in Martinez, CA
High School: Galileo (San Francisco, CA)
Debut: May 3, 1936
Team: Yankees 1936-1951
Final Game: September 30, 1951
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 1955     

May 14, 1941: DiMaggio goes hitless in a 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. He won’t have another hitless game for more than two months running, 56 straight games.


Sadsack  - ( from 1920s students and World War II armed services) an awkward maladjusted person.

Droopy-drawers- (from 1940s) a dull and stupid person

Scene 3 Act 1
Boar’s tooth -                         image23

Knock it off  -(from 1850s Navy) to stop doing or saying something

Tokyo Rose-a woman who tried to demoralize American soldiers and sailors during the war by highlighting their hardships and sacrifices through broadcasts on the radio. . “Tokyo Rose” was not an actual person, but the fabricated name given by soldiers to a series of American-speaking women who made propaganda broadcasts under different aliases. As far as its propaganda value, Army analysis suggested that the program had no negative effect on troop morale and that it might even have raised it a bit. The Army’s sole concern about the broadcasts was that “Rose” appeared to have good intelligence on U.S. ship and troop movements.

Musette bag-The lightweight and easy to use Musette Bag was a popular alternative pack for many soldiers. Although the Musette Bag was never the standard backpack, it was used widely in all theaters of World War II.
Soldier with Bag, Canvas, Field, M-1936 (Musette Bag) worn as a backpack


PBY- The PBY Catalina (also known as the Black Cat, Dumbo or P-Boat) is a flying boat mostly used by the US Navy in the Pacific Theater of World War II. However, they were used in every theater, by US, British and Soviet forces. It is the most diverse aircraft used in the war, as it was capable of being applied in conventional bombing, torpedo bombing, mine laying, depth charging, reconnaissance, rescue, or cargo transport and could land on the water or a runway. The PBY is credited as the most successful flying boat in WWII and consequently was the most produced, with 3,000 in service.

Tonkinese- North Vietnamese

Bali H’ai- Ambae. From the East coast of Santo, the island is a blue pyramid rising from the ocean in the early morning light. But as the sun climbs higher, except for rare, clear days, the island quickly disappears behind a glare of sea haze. There was a real Bali Ha’i. Michener mentions in his book . In the Treasury Island in the Melanesian chain, he came across a village with scrawny residents, ramshackle huts and 1 pig. It was desolate and hopeless looking. On a cardboard sign, he saw the word, Bali Ha’i. The name stuck with him.

Shooting war- area in which there is shooting and fighting

Rectius vives Licini - to sell

Neque altum Semper urgendo dum procellas- Worthless nourish Always to drive until storm (?)

Jerry cans –large metal cans to hold gasoline or other liquids-usually strapped on jeeps

Scene 5 Act 1

Chow- food

Get off  its can-(variations-butt, ass, duff) to stop being lazy or inert.

Corny- over-sentimental, naïve, and trite

Bromidic- boring, tedious person (from the use of bromide as a sedative)

C’est ca                                                  that’s it  

Scene 9 Act 1

T’appelle                                               I call
dans le jour                                           in the day      
dans la nuit                                           in the night    
dans ton Coeur                                      in your heart
toujours resonne                                    always calling
par ici                                                    by here
me voici                                               Here I am
Si tu veux                                             If you want
tu m’trouvera                                      You will find me
ou le ciel                                              or the sky
trouve la mer                                       find the sea
laisse moi te prendre                          Let me take you

Scene 11 Act1

Je parle francais-un peu                     I speak french-a little
moi, aussi, un peu                              me, too, a little
cette vielle femme…votre amie ?      this old woman…your friend ?
ma mere                                            my mother

Scene 13 Act1

Je suis enchante de faire votre connaissance  I am overjoyed to meet you
Merci mille fois                               Thank you a thousand times
Maintenat au lit    vite                        to bed soon
Venez petits                                       come small one
Bon soir                                             good evening

Scene 2 Act 2

C’est lui                                             he   
Tois-toi il est malade tu comprends    is ill you understand

Scene 3 Act2

Hurly-burly-  a disorderly outburst or tumult

Pips – (pippero, pippon-early 1900s) a person or thing  who is remarkable, wonderful

Scene4 Act 2

In a jam- in serious trouble

Scene 6 Act 2

Zinc oxide     This medication is used to treat or prevent minor skin irritations (e.g., burns, cuts poison ivy, diaper rash).

Had sand enough- courage, stamina (grit)

Bettys – Japanese bombers

Scene 8 Act 2

Immelmanns -The Immelmann turn is a simple and effective maneuver. The name is derived from its inventor Max Immelmann, a WWI German Ace who devised the method.He would make a high energy pass at his opponent, pulling up into an efficient vertical climb until he was sure he was out of guns range of his enemy, then he would use a rudder reversal to drop back down from a position of advantage and repeat his attack.

Wingover  A flight maneuver or stunt in which an airplane enters a climbing turn until almost stalled and is allowed to fall while the turn is continued until normal flight is attained in a direction opposite the original heading.

Scene 10 Act 2

Piffle  (from late 1800s England) nonsense-a mild exclamation of rejection, disbelief.
Pinhead    a stupid person

Scene 11 Act 2

Eager beavers –(from WWII armed forces) energetic, ambitious striver
LCT- clip 14Landing Craft Tanks

Scene 12 Act 2

P-40s—A fighter plane-Even though it served brilliantly, frequently fighting against the odds, and amassed an exceptional kill to loss ratio, it is still often thought of as a slow, unmanuverable, and obsolescent fighter. It fought in the Pacific against overwhelming enemy numbers, flying in some of the harshest conditions to be found on earth, and held the line for two years, until newer planes could be brought into service.
clip 16

Heel- a contemptible person (from early 1900s-shit heel)

Scene Breakdown:

Act I Scene 1
 People: Ngana, Jerome-children, Henry-servant, Nellie, Emile
Location: Emile’s plantation on South Pacific Island
Time: early afternoon, 1943
Words/ Phrases: - running away, running to
Research Notes: glossary-flowers, French terms, Proust, Gide, slang terms-hick, sticks, cockeyed, knucklehead, selling a bill- Life in America-Little Rock- The Islands,
Transitions: lights out, then people run on


 Act I Scene 2


People- sailors, Seabees, marines, Bloody Mary

Location  edge of palm grove by beach

Time: same time as scene 1

Words/Phrases- stingy, cheap, you buy?

Research Notes- glossary- tapa cloth, GI, Joe DiMaggio, sadsack, droopy drawers, betel nuts, Seabees

Transition: lights down at end of song


Act 1, Scene 3

Pg- 16-40

People- Bloody Mary, O’Brien, Billis, Professor, Quale, Stewpot, Nellie, Cable, Harbison, Brackett, nurses, sailors, marines

Location: Bloody Mary’s kiosk

Time: immediately following scene2

Words/Phrases: Bali H’ai, sexy, dame, come to me

Research Notes: glossary-boar’s tooth, knock it off, dame, musette bag, PBY, tonkinese, latin terms-The Islands-Bali H’ai, Life in America-different areas of country

Transitions- Cable ends song, lights fade


Act 1, Scene 4


People- Billis, Stewpot, Cable, sailors, Seabees, nurses, Professor, natives

Location: Company St

Time: a week later

Words/phrases: boat, bali h’ai

Research notes: glossary-jerry can

Transitions: Billis stalking off, curtain falls


Act 1, Scene 5

Pg- 43-49

People:  Brackett, Cable, Harbison, Nellie

Location:  Brackett’s office

Time: soon after scene 4

Words/phrases: know him

Research Notes- WWII-Pacific, glossary-chow, can

Transitions:  Harbison leaving, lights fade


Act 1 Scene 6

Pg- 50-52

People: nurse, GIs, natives, Cable, Nellie

Location: Company Street

Time: next day

Words/phrases: letter, mother, difference

Research notes: none

Transitions: lights down


Act 1, Scene 7

Pg- 52-64

People: Billis, Nellie, Dinah,













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