With Her Introduction: From Oral Tradition to Theater
The Chicken Made of Rags book makes available to the public my family’s favorite children’s story and musical for generations. The publication of the script in book form now makes it available for schools and theater companies to create new productions for the public to enjoy more widely. As playwright Nina Serrano says in her introduction to the book:
The Chicken Made of Rags is an old family tale, handed down through generations. As children in New York City in the 1930s and ‘40s, my younger brother, Philip Serrano, and I went to sleep listening to our Uncle Paul’s tale of the raggedy Chicken on her way to the big fiesta. Our Uncle Paul heard the story as a child in Cuba at the turn of the twentieth century from his nanny, a former slave.
Cuba had abolished slavery in 1886, ten years before Uncle Paul was born. Following the story’s Afro-Caribbean origins, each generation of my family changed elements of the story, adding other cultural layers. The Chicken Made of Rags immigrated across continents and generations, landing in the script that we present here.
Many people have loved The Chicken Made of Rags. We hope the publication of the Chicken Made of Rags book about the brave Chicken Made of Rags with her Bag Full of Dreams and her staunch friends will encourage new productions that will bring the play to future generations waiting for some fun.
Inside Chicken Made of Rags Book
In addition to the introduction, and the script itself, the book includes cast list, prop lists, song lyrics and sheet music by Philip Serrano, as well as photos from past productions showing different sets and costumes. The musical version of the play, created by Greg Landau, is available as a CD and as downloads. A digital eBook is also available for easy download by actors and others.
Together, we hope all of these elements will encourage new productions of the play for today’s children.
“What would Miss Manners say? A ragged, hardworking chicken receives an invitation to an upscale banquet and generously invites her motley flock of feathered friends to join in the festivities. The catch is, they’re not dinner guests—they’re dinner! This turn-of-the-century folktale is smartly updated with skateboards and slang, recycling and rap. But what turns the poor chicken, duck, goose, and swan’s saga into a real feast are the zingy, jazz-tinged, Caribbean-flavored songs, some featuring singer Holly Near. How the poultry eventually escape the villain chef’s pot is a charming lesson in teamwork, showing that even in the urban jungle, good can triumph over evil. And that’s a nice bit or reassurance for children.”
— Parenting Magazine