A Toy’s Tale of Winter

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                                                 A One-Act Modern Tragedy 

Plastic                                                                                                  Modern Toy

(Materials to the Toy)

Wood                                                                                                   Wooden Block


Enter Chorus

O For Muse of fire that would ascent
The brightest heaven of childhood invention,-
A Toy for a stage, materials to act,
And children to behold the scene!
Toy, so great an object
With the power to dissect or upheld
A child’s imagination.

Artificial and lifeless ready-made toys
Roam the rows of a toy’s store
While the craftsman’s toy
Remains buried beneath the constructs
Of a modern-day society.

Act 1

Scene 1: Eastern France, near its borders with Germany.
The Vosges Mountains, covered in snow

Enter Plastic and Wood


Now is our winter discontent made glorious
By the bourgeois status of my substance,
I am but the imperial product of chemistry,
Which has supplied all functional forms
For a child to play with and content himself
In already-built adventures and roles
Of simple undertaking.

I am moulded from complicated mixtures,
And pride myself with a hygienic appearance.
I rule over shelves packed with consumer toys
Offering freedom in choice: action figures,
Trucks, dolls, Barbies and Kens,
Dream homes, cooking utensils, and latest car models.

You Wood, have what to offer
But your insipid looks and simplistic touch?
I am the all-shiny, colorful, and imitative
With endless supplies of forms and play roles
For the child to adopt and distract himself with.


I am but one, wood call my material,
Yet I am but the product of Nature,-
The one to give the child
The pleasure, the sweetness,
The natural warmth of my touch.

Nature empowered me
To remove your chemical coldness
And give the gift of a graceful material for play.
Handle me or knock me,
I neither vibrate nor grate!
I wear out gradually, but naturally,
I live with the child.
Alter little by little the relations
Between the object and the hand.
While you, Plastic, die quickly and, once dead,
You have no posthumous life for the child.

Scene 2: Enter Modern Toy and Wooden Block
Modern-day France

Modern Toy

Oh, Wooden Block, go on with your make-beliefs,
While I witness your gradual disappearance
Behind toy shelves.
You are but a mere set of blocks.
I am the One, the Modern Toy! I embody
A microcosm of the adult world.
I dictate the rules of the play
With the simple press of a button-
Incredible Hulks that destroy
And baby dolls that urinate,
I employ the child as a medium
To expose my impressive traits.

I offer already built roles
For the child’s visual stimulation.
I am eager to detect that innocent sparkle in the child’s eyes
At the moment of physical and visual contact.
I am here to take lead in the game
By showing the child how to handle me
As object of play.

Wooden Block

You are but a fool! That innocent sparkle
Is but a glimpse of a buried hope;
This is it! This is where it all ends for the child.
After that initial connection disappears,
The child is left with nothing.
The spark of creativity has died.

I appeal to the spirit of do-it-yourself,
Dynamism in the game is my name.
You call me a mere set of blocks,-
Yet, while the child reinvents the world through me,
He turns into a little demiurge.
Through me, he creates forms which walk, which roll.
He creates life, not property.
It matters little to him whether his creation has an adult name.
That innocent sparkle, glimpse of buried hope,-
This is it! This is where it all ends for the child.

Enter Chorus

Thus far, with rough and all unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursued the story;
Reminiscing over the days of the craftsman
When wooden toys from the Vosges Mountains
Were possible, it is true.
Current toys of this uptight bourgeoisie status
Claim more territory and command over the child.
‘Tis true and shameful that the adult Frenchman
Sees the child as another self.

I say, let us go back to the rustic, blissful times
When a simple toy was medium for the child
To breed out creativity from all pores.
Remember the days of the craftsman,
And let the child feel
The natural warmth of the wood’s touch.

***The format and the language of this blog are structured on the Shakespearean model of history plays. Wood found a source in King Richard III and Wooden Block found his in King Henry V. But, it is Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, in particular his essay on Toys which inspired this blog, dedicated to all parents who find themselves scanning the shelves of modern-day stores in search for educational toys for their little ones.

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Everything Went Dark

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