HUE MANATEE’S QUEST: A Watery Musical Memoir

As told to JAMES DURST (Synopsis)

When our central character Hue Manatee is nearly dispatched by an angry boat propeller in the opening scene, the close call is witnessed by a passing itinerant musician, fiddler and singer Flickati Cricket. The two opposites find commonality in their mutual awareness of environmental degradation and somehow vaguely know that the responsibility lies with the Two-legged Ones. Rather than accept this condition as inevitable, the two set off in search of a solution, seeking the counsel of renowned teacher and change agent, Leon Chameleon. When they find Leon he is scurrying about getting his affairs in order. The two youngsters try to engage him in answering their questions, but he remains distracted and aloof until Hue mentions the “change” in their respective environments. Leon’s attention sharpens upon hearing mention of his favorite subject and he acknowledges the presence of the two. They soon learn that Leon is about to embark on a long and arduous journey to his ancestral homeland, the Galápagos. When the two younger ones protest the imminent loss of their new mentor, Leon invites them to join him in the hope of learning more about their questions. But before setting out Leon takes them to meet Shining Eagle, the shaman of the Northern Hemisphere Imáji Nation, to bless their journey. Shining Eagle gifts them with one of his own feathers to enable them to transcend gravity and speed them on their way.

En route to the Galápagos the three travelers meet and share songs and perils with a whale and a trio of dolphins, and are ultimately rescued on the back of Ella Condor, the medicine woman of the Southern Hemisphere Todos tribe, who delivers the three seekers to their final destination. Upon arriving on the rocky shores they’re welcomed by the well-known street corner vocal quintet, Acapellago. They sing together, after which Leon reveals that for him this has been a one-way trip, and he prepares to take the ultimate journey. Flickati realizes that her mission is to employ her music as a teaching medium, and Hue understands that his function is to “act locally” and return home to clean up his own backyard and hopefully, inspire his neighbors to do likewise. As the three are about to go their separate ways, Hue awakens from semi-consciousness with a bump on his forehead from the early morning boat propeller incident. Seeing only the faces of his concerned manatee family about him — no wise chameleon or rapscallion cricket, no eagle or condor spiritual leaders, no dolphins, whale or Galápagosian singers — Hue realizes that his colorful odyssey was all just a strange and beautiful dream from which he has awakened wiser and more determined than ever to make a difference in the life of his troubled planet.

Hue Manatee’s Quest is available as 1) a Screenplay, 2) a Stage Adaptation in several forms, 3) a Book Manuscript and 4) a CD: Songs from Hue Manatee’s Quest.
Contact James Durst:

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