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The Life of Five Points

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The Life of Five Points

by Edna Clare Bryner

Genre: Drama
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length:

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


In the beginning there was no town at all, but miles and miles of virgin forest clothing the earth that humped itself into rough-bosomed hills and hummocks. Then the forest was its own. Birds nested in its dense leafage, fish multiplied in the clear running streams, wild creatures ranged its fastnesses in security. The trees, touched by no harsher hand than that which turns the rhythmically changing seasons, added year by year ring upon ring to their girths.

Suddenly human masters appeared. They looked at the girth of the trees, appraised the wealth that lay hidden there, marked the plan of its taking out. They brought in workers, cleared a space for head-quarters in the midst of their great tracts, cut roads out through the forest, and wherever swift streams crossed they set mills. The cleared space they laid out symmetrically in a tree-fringed centre of common ground encircled by a main street for stores and offices, with streets for houses leading out to the edge of the clearing. In the south-east corner of the town they set aside a large square of land against the forest for a school-house.


Tale of how the residents of a (very insular) town learn to work together and bond while fighting a series of fires. Rich in imagery that suggests lyrics; the metaphor of the town as a living creature is intriguing and pervasive. Large number of characters could be problematic. Love interest stories could be expanded with one couple choosing to stay and another choosing to leave.

Additional comments from a second reader: An ambitious and very unusual story, covering generations’ worth of time in 7 short pages. Very very rich material for a dance piece, or song-cycle (the language is poetic and pretty). There are “events” but no scenes; no actual dialogue; rather, a series of tableaux, and summaries of huge swatches of several of the town’s inhabitants at various times in their lives. Interesting, interesting — but you probably would NOT want to take a straightforward musical theatre approach to this material.


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