This is an extra or replacement audio recording for the musical play European Explorers in the New World.

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Would people risk life and limb to get their hands on spices? Could germs really destroy entire civilizations? Were there really Seven Cities of Gold in North America? It's time to find out!

Key Concepts

European Explorers mentions and reinforces the following curriculum:

  • Leif Ericson: Norse exploration and temporary settlement c.1000.
  • Prince Henry the Navigator: Portuguese exploration of Western Africa to spread Christianity, create new maps, and discover a trade route to the East (fall of Constantinople in 1453; Vasco de Gama)
  • Christopher Columbus: his four voyages and mistaken identifications (the Reconquista; the Line of Demarcation)
  • Amerigo Vespucci: his exploration of the coast of Brazil and the new continent(s) named after him (Pedro Cabral)
  • John Cabot and Jacques Cartier: the search for a Northwest Passage (importance of spices for food preservation and preparation)
  • Vasco Nunez de Balboa: the challenge of crossing Panama to encounter the Mar del Sur (later called the Pacific)
  • Montezuma (Aztecs) and Atahualpa (Incas): conquistadors, gold, and disease (Cortes in Mexico and Pizzaro in Peru)
  • Vasques de Coronado and Hernando de Soto: the search for gold and attempts at colonization in the interior of present-day U.S. (La Salle; Champlain; Seven Cities of Gold)
  • Ferdinand Magellan and Francis Drake: circumnavigation of the globe
  • British colonization of Virginia: Roanoke, Jamestown, Plymouth (Walter Raleigh)

Places Mentioned

  • Africa
  • Constantinople
  • India
  • St. Lawrence River
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Hispaniola
  • Mar del Sur/South Sea
  • Spice Islands
  • Caribbean
  • Asia
  • Mississippi River
  • Greenland
  • Newfoundland
  • Panama
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • England
  • China
  • Bahamas
  • Canada/New France
  • Cuba
  • Japan
  • The Indies
  • Granada

European Explorers in the New World is a great complement to your curriculum resources in elementary and middle school history. And, like all of our plays, this show can be used to improve reading, vocabulary, reading comprehension, performance and music skills, class camaraderie and teamwork, and numerous social skills (read about it!) -- all while enabling students to be part of a truly fun and creative experience they will never forget!


Publication Information

Author: John Heath (Book and Lyrics) and Mike Fishell (Composer)
ISBN: 978-1-886588-56-1
© 2012 Bad Wolf Press, LLC

Song Samples


Casting

This is the first third of the script.

FLEXIBLE CASTING:
From 11-40 students. Use as many Fans, Crew Members, etc. as desired. One student can easily play several roles if needed, and individual roles can be doubled up. Note especially that all roles can be played by either boys or girls; we've written most of the news team with female names, but these can easily be changed.

CHARACTERS

Isabelle Scurvy
Makeup Artist (non-speaking)
Amber, the Assistant Director
Silvia Scoop
Prince Henry the Navigator
Jennifer Ravioli
Christopher Columbus
Amerigo Vespucci and Fans
Leif Ericson and Norseman
Sonny Daze
Jacques Cartier
John Cabot
Vasco Nunez de Balboa
Diego and Francisco, soldiers of Balboa
Montezuma and Atahualpa
Wendy Wellness
Juan and Pedro, soldiers of De Soto
Alanso and Miguel, soldiers of Coronado
Peyton Pastime
Ferdinand Magellan
Francis Drake and Crew Members
British Colonists

and a CHORUS composed of all students who are not playing
roles on stage at the time.

(At the front of the stage, to one side, news anchorwoman ISABELLE SCURVY sets up to deliver the news. She can take her place behind a desk, or she can sit on a stool, or just stand. She can hold on to a small stack of papers. A MAKEUP ARTIST does final touch-up. AMBER, the Assistant Director, shouts out:)

AMBER (holding up hand with fingers outstretched): Quiet everyone! Five seconds to air!
(MAKEUP ARTIST exits as AMBER counts down with fingers)
Four! Three!
(SHE points with two fingers and then one finger to Isabelle)

ISABELLE: Welcome to a special edition of...

(AMBER always makes some silly trumpet sound with her lips
before the phrase "Best News Show Ever.")

AMBER: Bum bumbum bummmmmmmm!

ISABELLE: ...The Best News Show Ever. I'm Isabelle Scurvy. We've got a breaking story. The...

AMBER: Bum bumbum bummmmmmmm!

ISABELLE: ...Best News Show Ever team has discovered a flood of people sailing away from Europe for uncharted destinations. Why are they leaving? What are they hoping to find? How long will they be gone? Can I housesit for them in August? We'll explore these and other important questions tonight, on...
(pause; nothing happens. ISABELLE glares or gestures at AMBER)
...on...

AMBER (who hasn't been paying attention): Oh. Sorry. Bum bumbum bummmmmmmm!

ISABELLE: The Best News Show Ever. Now to our reporter on the scene, Silvia Scoop. Silvia, where are you and what's going on?
SILVIA (stands in the middle of the stage with a microphone. Next to her stands HENRY): Hello, Isabelle. I'm standing here in the middle of...
(SHE pauses, looks all around)
...in the middle of the fifteenth century. With me is Prince Henry the Navigator, the patron of Portuguese exploration.
(to HENRY)
So you like to navigate, huh?

HENRY: Who, me? No, I can't stand it. You won't catch me on one of those ships. Floating death traps.

SILVIA: Then why do they call you the Navigator?

HENRY: My mother gave me that name because when I was born I had a birthmark on my back that looked exactly like a map of Mediterranean Sea.

SILVIA: Really?

HENRY: No, of course not. I'm a prince -- I send OTHERS to sail along the west coast of Africa. Spread Christianity. Make new maps. Find trade routes. I LOVE to trade.
(looks closely at SILVIA)
I'll give you a shiny trinket for that microphone.

SILVIA: I can't do that. This belongs to...

AMBER: Bum bumbum bummmmmmmm!

SILVIA: The Best News Team Ever.

HENRY (startled): What was that? I have to get me one of those.

SILVIA: Back to the trade routes. You traded with Africa?

HENRY: At first. But then in 1453 the Turks took over Constantinople, and we Europeans pretty much lost the land routes to the east. We had to find a new way to reach the silk and spices and wealth of the east by sailing around Africa.
SILVIA: And you did that?

HENRY: What, me? I told you, I hate ships. Sail right off the edge of the world. But by the end of the century, less than 40 years after my death, my countryman Vasco de Gama reached India.

SILVIA: And so that explains all these people leaving Europe.
(looks around and behind -- members of the CLASS are moving around in a hurry)
Everyone here is getting on a ship and heading east.

CLASS: Not everyone!

  Song 1 - Listen now!

CHORUS:
It's the fifteenth century
A time of great discovery
The Age of Exploration has begun.
The Portuguese are in the lead
They think their empire will succeed
By sailing eastward towards the rising sun.

But I am here to tell you that's the wrong way
Yeah I am here to tell you that's the long way.

PART of CHORUS: Sail west
OTHER PART of CHORUS: Yeah west!
CHORUS:
Oh west is best
Sail west it can't be far
Japan and China straight ahead
And India's right there, I read.

PART of CHORUS: Sail west
OTHER PART of CHORUS: Yeah west!
CHORUS:
Oh west is best
Sail west it can't be far
There's nothing there to block our quest
Come on come on come on sail west!

Prince Henry sends his sailors forth
They first head south and then head north
To sail 'round Africa -- so orthodox.
Seeking spices, gold, and silk
De Gama and folks of his ilk
Just cannot seem to think outside the box.

It's time that eastward trip got some correction
It's time to sail the opposite direction.

PART of CHORUS: Sail west
OTHER PART of CHORUS: Yeah west!
CHORUS:
Oh west is best
Sail west it can't be far
Japan and China straight ahead
And India's right there, I read.

PART of CHORUS: Sail west
OTHER PART of CHORUS: Yeah west!
CHORUS:
Oh west is best
Sail west it can't be far
There's nothing there to block our quest
Come on come on come on sail west!

(THEY exit. ISABELLE addresses audience.)

ISABELLE: Thank you, Silvia, for that update on the latest trend: sailing west. Let's go now to our Special Assignments reporter, Jennifer Ravioli, for an in-depth interview with the first great explorer to head across the Atlantic.
(JENNIFER appears with microphone)
So, Jenny, I understand you've found Columbus.

JENNY (bubbly): Oh my gosh, Isabelle, this is so cool. I've found Columbus, right here in the middle of Ohio. It's like such a great city -- I've made SO many friends. But it's weird, you know, cause there's not like an ocean anywhere around.

ISABELLE: You were supposed to track down CHRISTOPHER Columbus.

JENNY: No way! You mean that old Spanish guy who sailed on those three ships, the Fresca™, the Latte, and the Pina Colada?

COLUMBUS (entering, upset): I am Italian, not Spanish! And my ships were not beverages. Two of my ships, the Nina and Pinta, were called caravels -- they were smaller ships that could sail better into the wind. My own vessel was the larger Santa Maria, although it ran aground off the coast of Hispaniola.

JENNY: Cool. So who ARE you?

COLUMBUS: I'm Christopher Columbus! I sailed to the New World, although I admit that I thought I had reached the East Indies and China.

JENNY: You should get a GPS. I have one on my ankle so I can always find myself.

COLUMBUS: I claimed many lands for Spain. After my first voyage, Portugal and Spain signed a treaty to divide the new western territory with an imaginary line -- the Line of Demarcation -- through the Atlantic: all the lands to the east of the line were Portugal's; all the lands to the west belonged to Spain.

JENNY: Wait a minute. If you're Italian, how come you sailed for Spain? And what kind of food did you eat? Could you take pizza on a Spanish ship, or would you get in trouble?

COLUMBUS: My request for funding was rejected by the crowns of Portugal, Italy, France, and England. Even King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain made me wait six years until they had completed the Reconquista and driven the Muslims out of Granada. Finally, in 1492...

JENNY (interrupting, excited): Wait, wait! I know this one! I remember from school: In 1492 you sailed the ocean blue. Although that's kind of a lame rhyme. "Ocean blue" -- who says that? It should have been something like "in 1492 Columbus sailed a big canoe." Or how about, "In 1493, Columbus sailed the big blue sea." I think it's okay to change history if it rhymes better.

COLUMBUS: I DID make a second trip in 1493! And also in 1498 and 1502. I thought that I only had to sail 3000 miles westward to reach Asia and all the gold and spices waiting in Japan and the Spice Islands. But it was more like 12,000 miles, and there were a couple unknown continents and a lot of islands in the way. I never did figure out just what went wrong.

JENNY: You thought the Caribbean was Asia? Couldn't you tell from the reggae music?

COLUMBUS (shrugs shoulders, admits): Hey, I didn't know!

  Song 2 - Listen now!

CHORUS:
He didn't know
COLUMBUS (shrugs his shoulders, palms up):
I didn't know
CHORUS:
Where he was going
Didn't know just where he was
And when he got back home again
He didn't know where he'd been.

He didn't know
COLUMBUS: I didn't know
CHORUS:
What he'd discovered
Though he sailed there four times

COLUMBUS:
They tell me it's the New World
Is that so?

CHORUS:
He didn't know!
COLUMBUS:
I thought I'd hit the Indies
But something wasn't right
'Cause it was the Bahamas
A little oversight.

We landed next on China
Though people now all scoff
So what if it was Cuba?
That isn't so far off.

CHORUS:
He didn't know
COLUMBUS: I didn't know
CHORUS:
Where he was going
Didn't know just where he was
And when he got back home again
He didn't know just where he'd been.

He didn't know
COLUMBUS: I didn't know
CHORUS:
What he'd discovered
Though he sailed there four times

COLUMBUS:
They tell me it's the New World
Is that so?

CHORUS:
He didn't know!

COLUMBUS:
We didn't find the spices
The gold was missing too
The natives were not Asian
You'd think I'd get a clue.
Nine thousand miles in error
Is tricky to explain
A million misread islands
But I claimed them all for Spain!

CHORUS:
He didn't know
COLUMBUS: I didn't know
CHORUS:
Where he was going
Didn't know just where he was
And when he got back home again
He didn't know where he'd been.

He didn't know
COLUMBUS: I didn't know
CHORUS:
What he'd discovered
Though he sailed there four times

COLUMBUS:
They tell me it's the New World
Is that so?

CHORUS:
He didn't know!

JENNIFER (addressing ISABELLE at side of stage): And that's the story here, Isabelle. Gotta run. Columbus has invited me to an Age of Discovery dance. We're gonna party like it's 1499.
(THEY EXIT)

ISABELLE: Thank you, Jennifer. I think.
(to audience)
We turn now to entertainment reporter, Sophie Spectacle.
(SOPHIE enters, stands in the middle of stage)
So what's the buzz out there, Sophie?

SOPHIE: Exciting news, Jennifer. I'm here in Germany in 1507 where a map-maker has just named a new continent after an up-and-coming Florentine explorer. The crowds love this rising superstar. Oh, I think I see him now!

(AMERIGO VESPUCCI enters. HE is a cross between Elvis Presley and a lounge singer. HE is followed by two FANS who are very excited, screaming, and asking for his autograph. HE could wear dark glasses.)

FAN #1: Oh, please, please, sign my map. Here -- on that blob called America.

(AMERIGO takes the map, signs it, hands it back. To the other FAN, swooningly)

Look. He touched the map. Right there. See? It's a smudge. It's HIS smudge. I'm never going to wash this map.

SOPHIE (approaching him with microphone, trying to get through FANS to AMERIGO): Excuse me. Pardon me.
(To AMERIGO)
Hi. I'm Sophie Spectacle with...

AMBER (from out of nowhere): Bum bumbum bummmmmmm!

SOPHIE: The Best News Show Ever! Are you Vespucci?

AMERIGO (very cool): That's right, little lady. Vespucci.
(perfect pause, like James Bond)
Amerigo Vespucci.

BOTH FANS (squeal in delight): Eeeeeeee!

FAN #1: They named America after him!

AMERIGO: I like to think of the new continent as "Vespucci Land." But "America" is cool too.

FAN #2: He sailed several times to South America, and he claimed that whole bump on the eastern side of the continent for Portugal.

SOPHIE: Wait...but didn't Columbus land on South America several years before you?

FAN #1 (upset by question): Why are you hatin' on Amerigo?

SOPHIE: And what about Pedro Cabral -- didn't he get blown off course and bump into Brazil too?

FAN #2: Stop with all your facts! You're freaking me out!

AMERIGO: Hey, it's all good. See, I figured out that this place wasn't Asia at all, but a new continent. I sailed up and down the coast looking for a passage through. Didn't find one, but hey, you don't have to be first to be the best.

(music starts. AMERIGO should ham it up.)

  Song 3 - Listen now!

AMERIGO VESPUCCI and FANS:
I'm not the first to cross the ocean
I'm not the first to fill the gap
But still off I went
And hit a continent
And now my name is on the map.

I sailed to find a western passage
Three thousand miles along the coast
Though it wasn't there
Well why should I care?
There's still one thing of which to boast.

FANS:
Amerigo
Amerigo
People know your name no matter where you go
Amerigo
Well there ya go
You represent a continent, Amerigo.

AMERIGO and FANS:
My name lives on in every atlas
Both North and South now if you please
'Cause I sailed with skill
And I hit Brazil
And they're still speaking Portuguese.

FANS AND CHORUS:
Amerigo
Amerigo
People know your name no matter where you go
Amerigo
Well there ya go
You represent a continent, Amerigo.

FANS (salute):
Amerigo
Amerigo
Vespucci is his name.

FANS and CHORUS:
Amerigo
Amerigo
People know your name no matter where you go
Amerigo
Well there ya go
You represent a continent, Amerigo.

(THEY exit. LEIF ERICSON and a fellow NORSEMAN hurry onto stage from opposite side, just missing THEM.)

LEIF (shouting their direction): Hey, wait a minute!
(disappointed)
Where'd that reporter go? Man, I can't catch a break.

NORSEMAN: I know, Leif. It isn't fair.

LEIF: But I landed on North America 500 years before those guys. Remember? We Norsemen sailed from Greenland.

This concludes the first third of the script.


"Having used the play 13 Colonies for over 10 years in my 5th grade classroom, I knew the power of teaching concepts through musical theater. Never did I imagine how much my students would learn about the Age of Exploration with the the play European Explorers in the New World. Our Common Core focus demands that we teach concepts more fully using higher levels of learning that ultimately focus on creativity. This play truly met that goal. My students found the play not only humorous, but through singing these songs, they were able to clearly convey the major concepts and accomplishments of exploration. I was so impressed with this year's class's deeper understanding of the Age of Exploration and I know it was because I incorporated this play."

---Nona Reimer, Teacher (5th grade), John S. Malcom Elementary School, Laguna Niguel, CA

Common Core and Other National Standards

History/Social Studies

Language Arts

Fine Arts

  • National Music Standards 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standard 1 for 5th-8th
  • National Theater Standards 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standards 2 and 6 for 5th-8th
  • National Dance Standards 1 and 2 for K-4th

Vocabulary

Names and Terms from the Curriculum

Vikings Queen Isabella Spanish Inquisition Queen Elizabeth Henry VII Spanish Armada
King Ferdinand Reconquista        

General Vocabulary-Building

uncharted patron trinket orthodox vessel GPS
reggae atlas binger cumin legume exploitation
proliferation quaint allure pacific dominion domain
schlepp trek scour ad-lib scrappy wily
résumé epitaph roving scurvy caravel circumnavigation
conquistador Florentine turnover thwart figurative  

Phrases and Expressions

housesit death trap egad tip of the iceberg run aground fill the gap
hot seat tears your heart out well-honed shoo-in like a sardine pillage and plunder
did us in catch a break come to terms bite the dust up-and-coming  
"book" someone (for a show) think outside the box    
Number of questions: 0

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