The rescue of andromeda

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Here's a lesson plan and a lengthy (but adaptable) script for drawing an impromptu cast of characters out of and audience and acting out the Rescue of Andromeda (think Clash of the Titans 1978) while teaching about several prominent constellations.

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The rescue of andromeda

  1. 1. “The Rescue of Andromeda” (2010 version) Created by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe, 1992, Leadville Ranger District, Pike/San Isabel National Forest, U.S. Forest Service Script adapted from “Legend of Princess Andromeda” The Patterns in the Sky by Julius D. W. StaalActivity GuideSet up Time: 1 hour the first time (preparing name tags). 15 min. for subsequent presentationsIdeal Location: Auditorium / Theater with a stageTime to Do: 45 minutes as scripted but easy to shorten to 20 minutes if desiredAudience Age: 6 years to 106 yearsGroup Size: 9-11 actors (1-3 Nerieds), you the narrator, and the rest of the audience.What’s This Activity About?This activity allows participants to form intellectual and emotional connections to 6-7constellations (depending on your latitude) in the autumn sky by bringing them and their unitingstory to life through a narrated skit – The Rescue of Andromeda. After acting out the story, thegroup is taken outside where by the use of a green laser you show them the 6-7 constellationsand perhaps if a telescope is available some deep space objects within the constellations.MaterialsIn addition to name tags that characters wear around their necks, the following props arenecessary to develop the characters. With memorable characters and storylines, the ability ofparticipants to find the constellations in the sky will be greatly enhanced.King Cepheus – crownQueen Cassiopeia – handheld mirrorPrincess Andromeda – tiara and chainsPerseus – plastic sword (smaller = safer) and handheld mirror (later borrowed from Cassiopeia)Pegasus – foam core/cardboard wingsPoseidon – old-man-with-long-hair-&-beard mask and tridentNereid(s) – 1 hairbrush per NereidCetus – monster mask (the more marine the better) and plastic club (smaller = safer)Medusa – snake adorned/decorated mannequin head and opaque bag19 Chairs – to create kingdom’s thrones, Cetus’s cage, and Medusa’s caveGreen laser or bright flashlight – to point out constellations after the skitNonessential but FUN extra props: - 15-20 extra-large building blocks (diaper wipe containers) for the Sea Wall - Small plastic army men to represent the King’s soldiers - Candy version of cows and sheep (in muffin papers) to represent the Kingdom’s livestock - Small soft dolls representing villagers than can be safely thrown into the audience“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  2. 2. CharactersMemorable characters not only improve the acting of the participants and the drama of thestoryline, but more importantly enhance the ability of participants to find, re-find, and rememberthe constellations in the sky. Each character has a Primary Action – a defining behavior thatparticipants should be encouraged to do whenever they hear their character’s name spoken.King Cepheus – Benevolent king of his people, troubled husband to Cassiopeia, devoted fatherof Andromeda. Primary Action – bowingQueen Cassiopeia – Selfish wife of Cepheus, and vain queen who believes she is the mostbeautiful thing in the world. Primary Action – admiring herself in her mirror.Princess Andromeda – obedient teenage daughter (yes this is fiction!) of Cepheus andCassiopeia. Primary Action – curtseying politelyPerseus – wandering hero who flies on Pegasus seeking to grow his collection of severedmonster heads. Primary Action – waving his sword heroicallyPegasus – winged horse stolen from Poseidon, that travels with Perseus and is the brains ofthe team. Primary Action –whinny and flap wingsPoseidon – God of the oceans who is very protective of his granddaughters the Nereid(s) anduses his pet monster Cetus to exert his will. Primary Action – jumping up down in angerNereid(s) – The mermaid(s). Poseidon’s beautiful but sensitive granddaughters.Primary Action: brushing their hairCetus – Poseidon’s pet monster that likes to destroy kingdoms and devour princesses.Primary Action – growling ferociouslyMedusa – Snake-woman Demi-God Monster who is so ugly that she turns mortals to stone withher gaze. Primary Action – hissing ferociouslyVillagers – the rest of the participants that didn’t get an acting role but still participate in the playfrom seats in the audience. Primary Action – cheer, applaud, or boo and hissSetting Up the ActivityPrint, cut, and laminate the nametag (see below). Tie each nametag with string so it will hanglike a necklace. See diagram below for chair setup and character’s starting locations. Arrangecharacter nametags and props on the stage. Read, practice, memorize the script you willnarrate. Add or subtract jokes/content as you see fit. You don’t have to memorize the script but Ithink the ancients would agree that any story worth telling is also worth memorizing.“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  3. 3. Suggestions for Introducing the ActivityPresent the first few slides of the MS PowerPoint “Constellation Contemplation” that explain thebasics behind constellations. Elaborate as necessary/desired. Be sure to explain that for ancientcultures the constellations were their T.V. / Xbox.Show participants the cast slide. Explain that this is a “walk-through” skit, and actors will nothave complicated lines to remember, but must pay attention so they are ready to act as thenarrator instructs them. Recruit a cast from the audience giving out name tags, props andassigning starting locations. Explain/demonstrate each character’s Primary Action, that theyshould do it every time the narrator says their name, and have each character practice in frontof the audience his/her character’s Primary Action before you start the play. Don’t forget to havethe royal family (Cepheus, Cassiopeia, & Andromeda) build the Sea Wall.If you want, you can set out candy (ideally in muffin papers and unwrapped) to representlivestock so that Cetus can literally and immediately eat figurative cows and sheep when thetime comes. You might also arrange little plastic army men to represent soldiers to be stompedand wrapped candy to represent villagers to be thrown into the audience who temporarilyassuming the role of sharks can enjoy devouring them.Doing the ActivityAs you recite the story below, go slowly enough that you can make sure the participants are:moving about the stage as desired, getting a chance to perform their Primary Actions, and theopportunity to ad-lib as they desire. You may find that allowing every character to repeat everyline drags the story down, so instead it’s recommended that you narrate the longer lines but stillencourage participants to deliver lines in bold. The easiest way to accomplish this is after yousay “Andromeda screamed in fear!” – repeat as necessary until the Andromeda characterscreams. After saying something like “The Nereid(s) complained to their grandfather Poseidonabout the terrible things Cassiopea had said…” wait to see if the Nerieds will ad-lib. If they don’tthan you as the narrator have to keep the story going by saying. “They complained about howCassiopea, a mere mortal woman, had bragged that she was more beautiful than they!”Ultimately you’ll need to practice, adjust, and do what works best for you.ScriptA long time ago in the Kingdom of Ethiopia there was a kind and benevolent king by the name ofCepheus. He was wise and well loved by his people. His favorite thing in the world was spending time“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  4. 4. with his obedient and loyal teenage daughter Andromeda – Interrupting yourself you might as the narratorsay to the audience, “Yes, I said obedient teenage daughter. This is fantasy folks! Play along!” However,the king had a problem – his wife, Cassiopea. Cassiopeia was very beautiful but unfortunately she caredfor nothing more than admiring herself in her mirror and saying over and over again “I’m the mostbeautiful thing in the world!”One fine day, Cassiopeia was strolling along the beach when she noticed some Nereids splashing andplaying in the ocean near the beach. Cassiopeia called to the Nereids and they swam closer to have aconversation.Cassiopeia said, “You are all very beautiful.”The Nereids replied, “Thank you. You are very beautiful too!”Cassiopeia replied rudely, “Yes I know I am!” Cassiopeia continued to brag about how she was morebeautiful than sunsets, sunrises, all the flowers, pretty much everything in the world until she made thefateful mistake of saying “And I’m much more beautiful than ANY of you!”The Nereids were so offended and surprised that this mere mortal woman would say such a horriblethings to them, granddaughters of the Poseidon, God of the Ocean, that they swam away crying.Cassiopeia teased them as they swam away and then returned to her throne feeling very full of herself.The Nereids swam down to the bottom of the ocean where they found their grandfather Poseidon. Theytold Poseidon of the horrible things Queen Cassiopeia has said to them. When Poseidon heard the news,he was so angry that he grumbled loudly and jumped up and down causing mighty waves to crashagainst the Sea Wall in the Kingdom Ethiopia (Narrator shakes Sea Wall but doesn’t cause it to fail).Though Cepheus knew his walls were strong, he looked at his wife Cassiopeia suspiciously wonderingwhat she had said and done. Cassiopeia just shrugged her shoulders and went back to admiringherself in her mirror.Poseidon decided that he would punish Queen Cassiopeia by sending his sea monster Cetus to attack theKingdom of Ethiopia. Poseidon let Cetus out of his cage and gave him very careful instructions becauseCetus wasn’t the smartest of sea monsters. Poseidon explained “Destroy the Sea Wall. Stomp on theking’s soldiers! Gobble up all the cows and sheep! Throw some villagers far out to sea so my sharks caneat them! But do NOT harm the royal family!”Just to be sure that Cetus understood, Poseidon said “Cetus, don’t hurt the King, Queen, and Princess”Cetus replied “Right boss! Me no hurt King, Queen and Princess”With that, Cetus made his way across the ocean floor to the beaches of Ethiopia. With a ferocious roarCetus arose out of the water and began to destroy the kingdom. First he took his mighty club anddestroyed the Sea Wall. Next he stomped on the King’s soldiers. Then he gobbled up all the cows andsheep. Finally Cetus picked up the villagers (wrapped candy perhaps) and threw them so far out to sea(the audience) that they eaten by sharks (the audience). With one more ferocious roar right in the faces ofthe royal family, Cetus said “I’ll be back!” and sank beneath the waves obediently returning to hisunderwater cage where Poseidon locked him up again.Eventually the survivors of Ethiopia learned that it was their horrible boastful queen that had so angeredPoseidon. The villagers call out to their benevolent King Cepheus chanting “Off with her head! Offwith her head!” explaining that it was Queen Cassiopeia’s fault that Cetus had destroyed their lands,livestock, and loved ones. Initially Cepheus didn’t want to believe his loyal subjects, but when he askedhis wife if the claims were true, she just shrugged her shoulders and said “Whatever!” and went back toadmiring herself in her mirror.King Cepheus wisely decided that he should try to apologize to Poseidon on behalf of his boastful andrude queen before Cetus returned. So, Cepheus went down to the beach and called to Poseidon.“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  5. 5. “Hello Poseidon! Great God of the Oceans, hear my apology!” When nothing happened Cetus added,“PLEASE hear my apology!”Poseidon rose up out of the waves saying threateningly “This better be good…”Cepheus started to say “I apologize for my boastful wife…” But Poseidon interrupted in a thunderingvoice “I require a sacrifice!”Poseidon went on to explain that he would send Cetus to destroy the kingdom every year until KingCepheus sacrificed something to Cetus that was very dear to him.Cepheus thought about this for a moment and suddenly had a great idea, “How about my wifeCassiopeia? Cetus could eat her!?” Cepheus offered hopefully. This of course seemed like a good idea tothe villagers who cheered! “Nice try!” bellowed Poseidon, “But I require something more near and dear to your heart – like yourdaughter the Princess Andromeda! Only then will I know that you are truly sorry!” he continued.This time the villagers booed and hisses because everybody loved Andromeda because she was such aloyal and obedient teenage daughter.“Silence!” Thundered Poseidon repeatedly until the villagers fell silent. He continued by warning, “Ifyou want to save the kingdom you much chain Princess Andromeda to a rock near the beach tomorrow. Ifshe is there Cetus will devour her and leave your kingdom unharmed forever. If she is not there, Cetuswill forever attack your kingdom.” And without another word Poseidon sank beneath the waves.MEANWHILE…. In another section of the world, a bold, young hero by the name of Perseus waswandering around the countryside looking for monsters to kill. Not only did he have a sharp sword, healso had a very shiny shield and a very smart flying horse named Pegasus that he had stolen fromPoseidon. After Perseus killed each monster, he would cut off its head and take it home to mount on thewall as a trophy. With the help of Pegasus, Perseus had a rather large collection of monster heads. But ashe travelled about from town to town, villagers kept telling him that the greatest trophy of all would beMedusa’s head. Back when Medusa was beautiful she was Poseidon’s girlfriend, but Athena, Goddess ofWar, was so jealous that she turned Medusa into a hideous monster. Once Medusa became ugly Poseidon“dumped” her and ever since she has been living at the bottom of a deep dark cave. Medusa is so uglythat anybody or anything who dared look at her face would instantly turn to stone! Perseus, scared ofbeing petrified, kept making excuses about why he wasn’t interested in killing Medusa, but town aftertown villagers kept teased him calling him: “coward”, “wimp”, and “big sissy” until he finally agreed togo in search of Medusa.As Pegasus and Perseus landed outside the entrance of Medusa’s cave, Medusa hissed loudly from herthrone, “If you come down here little boy, I’ll turn you to stone!”Pegasus warned Perseus, “Don’t look at her!”“But how can I chop off her head with my eyes closed?” Perseus asked nervously.“Duh!” said Pegasus who was really the brains of the duo. “You don’t have to close your eyes becauseyou can use your shiny shield as a mirror and attack her that way!”“Right!” said Perseus and holding his mirror-like shield (borrowed from Cassiopeia – her mirror becomeshis prop) in front of him he began to back slowly down the mouth of Medusa’s cave, trying not to banginto the sides of the cave walls as he steers by using the mirror to look over his shoulder.“I’ll wait here,” explained Pegasus. Did I mention that Pegasus was the smart one?“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  6. 6. As Perseus slowly neared the end of the cave, Medusa charged from her throne and hissed ferociouslytrying to get in Perseus’s face so that he would look directly at her. However, Perseus kept his eyesglued to his mirror like shield and GENTLY hacked off Medusa’s head. Medusa’s head fell to the groundand her body dropped to the floor hissing and wriggling violently… until she died with one lasttwitch. Her head, (with the help of the narrator) conveniently rolled into a bag that Medusa justhappened to have laying around.Perseus picked up the bag with the head in it and returned to the cave entrance where Pegasus waswaiting. Together they flew back to the villagers who cheered and applauded wildly.Meanwhile back at the Kingdom of Ethiopia, the royal family was eating dinner when Cepheus droppedthe bomb that Andromeda must be sacrificed to Cetus for the good of the entire kingdom. Andromedaburst in to tears repeatedly saying “I don’t want to die!”Cassiopeia patted her on the head saying “There. There. Don’t cry… You should be happy that atleast this way I, your very beautiful will be safe”“Don’t listen to her dear daughter!” said Cepheus frowning at his wife Cassiopeia. “Think abouthow your sacrifice will spare the lives of the entire kingdom!”And so as the villagers shouted, “Thank you Andromeda” and, “You’re so brave!” Andromeda let hermother and father take her down to the beach and chained her to a rock (Andromeda’s throne moved tothe edge of the stage) just in case their normally obedient teenage daughter decided to change her mind atthe last minute.Cetus began swimming toward the beach and as soon as Andromeda was securely chained, he rose upout of the ocean with a ferocious roar! The king and queen quickly returned to the safety of theirthrones. As Cetus the sea monster moved closer, Andromeda began to scream in fear!Far away in another land, Pegasus with his super horse ears, heard Andromeda’s screams and toldPerseus, “I hear cries of princess about to be eaten by a monster!” Pegasus listened carefully, cockinghis head from side to side, and then added “And she sounds kind of Hot! We should rescue her!”“Never mind the princess!” said Perseus. “What about the monster? Did it sound like it would have anawesome head to add to my collection?”“Yes” Pegasus sighed with disgust “The monster’s head sounds like it will be so large you’ll probablyhave to build another trophy room.”“In that case, we’re off to rescue Andromeda!” shouted Perseus, and waving his sword heroically heand Pegasus charged the sea monster.Though Perseus GENTLY hacked at the sea monster, Cetus’s skin was so hard, it was sword proof! Eventhe sharp hooves of Pegasus couldn’t hurt Cetus as Pegasus GENTLY kicked at him. Perseus and Pegasuswere both getting pretty beaten up by Cetus’s club as the sea monster GENTLY fought back.Finally Pegasus came to his senses and reminded Perseus, “Dummy, you are still holding the bag!”Then Perseus, remembering the power of Medusa’s head, first warned Andromeda “Close your eyesAndromeda!” Which she did. And as both Perseus and Pegasus closed their eyes, Perseus reached intothe bag (perhaps with the help of the narrator) and pulled out the severed head of Medusa. Holding it up(and so the audience could also get a good look at it) Perseus thrust the head in the face of Cetus. Withone look Cetus turned to stone not being able to move a muscle. After Perseus put the head safely back inthe bag he told Andromeda and Pegasus “Okay we can open our eyes now!” Then Pegasus with oneGENTLE kick, kicked the petrified Sea Monster with one of his sharp hooves and the monster crumbledinto rubble, including it’s head, and sank beneath the waves.“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  7. 7. At that point Perseus started to cry.“Why are you crying Perseus?” asked Pegasus. “Did you get hurt?”“No…” sobbed Perseus “I just really wanted to keep that head.. but now it’s gone… boo hoo!”Perseus used his sword to cut though Andromeda’s chains and set her free. Andromeda was so beautifuland Perseus was so rich, that after Andromeda made Perseus promise to sell his disgusting collection ofsevered monster heads, they decided to get married. The king and queen agreed and everybody EXCEPTCetus and Medusa lived happily ever after….(applause)Epilogue (if you choose this could also be acted out but makes the play longer)…Until the wedding. At the wedding of Perseus and Andromeda a fight broke out between Perseus andAdromeda’s former fiancé . Perseus, overreacted and once again drew out Medusa’s head turning mostof the attendees including his father-in-law and mother-in-law to stone.And if that wasn’t bad enough, suddenly Poseidon shows up crashing the wedding! In typical god-likefashion he was angry about everything! Poseidon was furious that King Cepheus and especially QueenCassiopeia has escaped his wrath by being turned into stone. Poseidon was pretty mad at Perseus forstealing his winged-horse Pegasus who was actually the secret love-child of Poseidon and Medusa.Poseidon felt betrayed that it was his son Pegasus who had delivered the final kick that had killed hisfavorite sea monster Cetus. And finally Poseidon was stomping mad about Perseus killing Medusa – notbecause he felt much sympathy for ex-girlfriend and mother of Pegasus that he had abandoned, butbecause now thanks to Medusa’s head, Perseus, a mere mortal, had god-like powers.For a while Perseus let Poseidon stomp around, cursing, and yelling threats but because Perseus waseager to start the honeymoon, he finally said. “Hey Sea God! You should relax. Perhaps a closer look atmy latest trophy head might cool you off a bit?”“Yeah!” laughed Pegasus. “Probably make you stone-cold…”“And as quiet as a rock” added Andromeda catching on with the threat.“And as still as statue!” suddenly spoke up the severed head of Medusa startling everybody.With that Poseidon knew he had been beaten so he stomped into the Ocean and never bothered Perseusand his friends again.Zeus, King of the Gods and brother to Poseidon, enjoyed seeing his rival sibling so thoroughly humiliatedthat he decided to immortalize the entire cast of characters and placed them in the sky as constellations.So that whenever Poseidon ever came to the surface of the ocean at night he would have to be remindedof his defeat. Zeus also had is own agenda. He wanted to make sure that Medusa’s head, which Perseusalways carried was so far up in the sky that’s petrification powers were harmless. And finally to remindall future generations of queens (and for that matter princesses) not to be obsessed with their beauty, Zeusmade sure that as the sky turned, Cassiopeia’s throne would be upside down. This for several hours at atime she have to put down her mirror and concentrate on clinging white-knuckled to her throne or slipfrom her honored place in the sky.“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  8. 8. Wrap-upTake participants outside and with the aid of a green laser pointer (or bright flashlight) showthem how to find the constellations. It’s a good idea to practice with a planisphere orplanetarium type software.DIPPERSFirst find the big dipper. Following a line drawn through the two stars on the side of the bucketopposite the handle locate the “North Star” Polaris – Last star in the handle of the “Little Dipper.”“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  9. 9. CASSIOPEIAFinding: Look on the side of Polaris opposite the direction of the Little Dipper and you will findCassiopeia the bright zig-zag “W” shaped constellation.Depiction: Queen is clinging to an upside down throne – part of her punishment.Deep Sky Object: Owl Cluster (NGC0457) – 2 bright gold stars make eyes “X” pattern of starsmakes wings and legs. Also known as “E.T. Cluster” and “F-18 Hornet Cluster”PERSEUSFinding: Using the center star (the middle point of the “W”) you can draw a line through thelower bottom point to find the “K” shaped constellation Perseus.Depiction: Hero with spread arms and legs – holding severed head of Medusa. Algol eclipsingbinary star that changes brightness every 3 days is Medusa’s winking eye.Deep Sky Object: Double Cluster (h & chi) – 2 dense open star clusters side by sidePEGASUSFinding: Starting back at the center star in the “W” this time you draw a line through the upperbottom point to find the “Great Square” of Pegasus.Depiction: The horse is upside-down so corner of square farthest from Cassiopeia leads out aneck to a head and nose and back for backwards pointing ears. Other far corner leads out totwo very horse looking legs complete with fetlocks & hooves. Closest corner of “Great Square”starts two “hind legs” lines extending back toward Perseus. These ARE ALSO Andromeda’sbody and legs! (Greeks had no problem reusing same stars for different constellations).ANDROMEDAFinding: Pegasus’s hind legs are also Andromeda’s body and legsDepiction: Her head is the corner star of “Great Square.” Her shoulders connect Pegasus’s“hind legs” at second stars (count corner star of Great Square as 1). Her arms are long andcrooked and are both shackled by two 2-stars lines. Her ankles also have 2-star shackles! Herwaist connects Pegasus’s “hind legs” at third stars down and points to Andromeda GalaxyDeep Sky Object: Andromeda Galaxy (M31) 2.6 million light years away and twice the size ofMilky Way Galaxy, Andromeda is the largest and most distant thing you will ever see with theunaided eye!CEPHEUSFinding: Draw an imaginary line that perfectly divides the “W” in two and passes through thecenter of the “W” toward Polaris. This will put you on the roof top star of Cepheus.Depiction: Cepheus looks like an upside down house or a triangle on top of a box.CETUSFinding: Cetus is in the southern sky and barely “surfaces” above the horizon in northernlatitudes. It is a challenging constellation to locate, with no easy star-hopping routes from betterknown constellations. One method is to first locate Pisces a large “V” shaped constellation thatopens into the hind end of Pegasus. “The Pisces Circlet” tops one leg of the “V” and is asquished octagon ring of bright stars above Pegasus’s back. The other side of “V” ends nearAndromeda’s waist. Once found, the point of Pisces points to Mira the “neck” star in Cetus.Depiction: Cetus is basically 2 polygons, a round head and whale tail connected by a neck.Materials Sources:The various props can be obtained and approximated for any costume shop.Green lasers can be obtained from www.z-bolt.com REMEMBER federal law forbids the outdooruse of green lasers more powerful than 5mW“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  10. 10. Name Tags:“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  11. 11. “The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe
  12. 12. Planet Neptune“The Rescue of Andromeda” by Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe

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