The Device: A Heuristic Fable


A New Children’s Musical in Progress by Navarro and Stamps

libretto by John Navarro

music by Jack W Stamps

This work is currently under construction.

Here’s what we have so far:

The Device: A Heuristic Fable

Once upon a time, there was a device that made thoughts into reality. If someone was thinking of music, music was heard. If someone thought of a dream they had last night, it would appear as a picture or a sculpture instantly. There was no limit to what could be done.

Then, one day, for no apparent reason, The Device stopped working.

No one knew why it stopped working. No one knew how to fix it. Everything was silent and dark.

John Henry always liked the sounds he could make with The Device. He didn’t know how to make them

without it. So he tried tapping.

Alice was most fond of making pictures and colors appear with The Device. She tried very hard to understand how to make them without it.

The Device appeared to them and explained that it was tired of making other people’s dreams come

true. It had ideas of its own and wanted to explore the universe. It saw that John Henry and Alice were

creative and decided to teach them how to play music and draw.

Some time passed. People were still lost without The Device and wandered through a blurred gray city.

John Henry and Alice came into the midst of the people and announced they had made The Device start working again. Everyone gathered around.

John Henry began to sing as he played a simple guitar. Alice drew him while he was singing. The people

were amazed. They had lived with the device for so long, they never knew how to use their minds and

hands to create. And so a new era of discovery began.



John Henry

The People

The Device (in electronic accompaniment)

Epigraph 1


Run transfixed, the cricket exclaimed

The bar and the branch and the frame

Rely on the monster in repose

The barnacle blanched in the flame

Reprise and alight in a moment you chose

The moment you take on your name



A sound world with colors and images projected. The atmosphere is positive, surprising and delightful also, mysterious, dense and lush. The images that are projected correlate loosely to the lyrics but the production designer has leeway to interpret them.

The people cross back and forth as the music and images emerge. They are creating a synesthetic experience of sound, imagery and movement. They all hold an object that represents The Device. As they engage The Device, music and imagery emerges.


The world you see is next door to yours. The people you see are creating music and pictures with their

minds. It happens with the help of a device known simply as…The Device. They are very good at using

The Device but as time has passed, they stopped using anything else. All of the instruments disappeared,

all of the pencils and paintbrushes. Everyone used The Device…everyone.

That Thing We’ve Been Working On


I am all men everywhere

I am all women everywhere

Though we look only like ourselves

We represent everyone

This is the song of the people

A slow burning sun

In an interstellar cloud

This is the song of the people

That thing we’ve been working on

This is the sun

It represents everyone

This is the moon

It represents our hearts

It represents a dream

This is our song

This sun, this cloud, this moon

This heart, this dream, this song

This thing we’ve been working on


Music, as colors and images are projected. The images increase in speed and complexity, as does the

music. As it crescendos, there is a breakdown and everything stops. The stage is dark for a few moments

and then the house lights come up. The actors are walking around the stage aimlessly. They try to sing

but they’re out of tune.

PERSON 1: What happened? What happened?

PERSON 2: I don’t hear music anymore.

PERSON 3: All of the pictures are gone.

PERSON 1: What does the sun mean?

PERSON 2: I don’t know.

PERSON 3: I can’t remember.

They bang on The Device, look at each other desperately and eventually leave the stage. Possibly one or

two leave through the audience.

end of act 1

Epigraph 2


The sound that forms all music, resonate

The wheel that forms all colors, resonate

The dynamic dance, the patterns of chance

The whirling waves that float the stars

The lines that touch an atom’s heart

The lights that fill the ocean


click to view ongoing electronics-vocal score

Act 1 is basically done, save for some score formatting - JWS