The Devil's Instrument by W.O. Mitchell


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The Devil's Instrument by W.O. Mitchell

Jacob Schunk, a sixteen-year old Hutterite boy, is given a mouth organ by a stranger. His love of creating music and his love for Marta, a Hutterite girl, inevitably clash with the puritan, patriarchal society of the Hutterites. In the view of the stern powerful “Bosses,” music and moon-light meetings by the straw stack are the Devil’s work. They condemn Jacob and Marta to a one-month shunning, smash Jacob’s mouth organ on an anvil, and arrange for Marta to marry someone else—all of which lead to Jacob’s final rebellion. Jacob’s dilemma is universal—like Stephen Daedalus in James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Jacob’s first stirrings of sexual and artistic energies are thwarted by a puritan, patriarchal and materialistic society.

Staged by Alberta Theatre Projects at the Canmore Opera House, Heritage Park, Calgary. Directed by Douglas Riske. Set design by Pat Flood. This production used actors for the six core roles and life-size puppets for the secondary roles which were manipulated by the six actors. This production was seen by 1600 Junior High School Students in Calgary. A booklet of “Teachers’ Preparatory and Follow-up Material” was prepared in conjunction with the production.

Keywords: Musical creativity, young love, religion, patriarchy, freedom and rebellion

Acts: 1

Run time: 100 minutes

Male roles: 14

Female roles: 8

Doubled roles: 8