Friday, July 8

Poem: I Sit

i sit
watching the steady
river of life
as it
flows past me

i see

all i ask is a moment of

but even that
they do not give

all they see is

i am

they are

why should they care?

i sit
watching the steady
river of life
as it
flows past me

and no one looks my way

Play: Bluebeard & Rapunzel

 This is the final play in my fairytale trio, which began with Snow White, progressed to Hansel and Gretel & Little Red Riding Hood, and is now ending with one of the most chilling and lesser-known fairytales of all time - Bluebeard. Although, of course, my adaption is anything but chilling. Comic, yes. Chilling, no. Yet again, the cast numbers are very flexible, although I wrote it for a big Ensemble. It is also the longest of my three plays, but should still be around the 20 minute mark.

Narrator 1
Narrator 2

the cottage
ENSEMBLE crouch in a line CS facing SR. WOMAN and MAN are SR, NARR.s 1 & 2 standing DSC.

NARR. 1: This is a tale of love and betrayal...
NARR. 2: And hair. Lots of hair.

They split and go DSR and DSL respectively.

NARR. 1: There once was a man who had a beautiful young wife.  And although they were poor, they had everything they wanted.
NARR. 2: Apart from cabbages.
NARR. 1: Yes, I'm coming to that. Well, one day, the man's wife came to him and said:
WOMAN: I'm pregnant.
NARR. 2: Which was a little bit of a shock...
MAN: What?!
NARR. 2: But hey.
NARR. 1: That's just the way the cookie crumbles. But anyway, there they were, expecting a baby.  And as women do, when they're expecting-
NARR. 2: This man's wife started having cravings.
NARR. 1: For cabbages. Now, just across their garden wall was a lovely field, full to the brim of cabbages.
WIFE: Oh, I really could just do with a cabbage right now... You couldn't just hop over the garden wall and bring me back a cabbage, could you?
MAN: Er...
NARR. 2: The only thing was-
NARR. 1: It belonged to their friendly neighbourhood witch.
MAN: But it belongs to our friendly neighbourhood witch! (aside) Who's not actually that friendly at all - who wrote this script?!
NARR. 2: Which, as you can imagine, put a dampener on things somewhat.
NARR. 1: Indeed.
MAN: I'm sorry. I wish I could get you a cabbage, but I just can't risk it! What if she saw me? She'd turn me into a frog, or something.
WOMAN: Hey, stop ad-libbing. It says here: 'man jumps over the wall and gets his wife a cabbage'. Off you pop.
MAN: Dammit.
NARR. 1: And there's just no arguing with the script, I'm afraid.

MAN jumps over the wall and into the cabbage patch. Everyone watches tensely. He picks a cabbage and is nearly over the wall again when WITCH appears SL.

WITCH: (outraged) What are you doing in my garden?! 
NARR. 1: Aw, dammit - I thought we'd got away with that one.
MAN: I'm sorry, I really really am, but you see the script, it says-
WITCH: I'm not interested in your pathetic excuses, you little thief! But... I shall be willing to offer you a deal...
MAN: You will? Oh, that's good. Thanks, and all that.
NARR. 1: But the witch's deal was very unfair.
NARR. 2: They often are - have you noticed that?
NARR. 1: Yeah... Hmm. Odd, that. Anyway. The witch's deal was-
WITCH: Yes, thank you, I can talk.
NARR. 1: (makes some general offended noise) Fine, suit yourself. (sulks)
WITCH: In exchange for that cabbage, you must give me your first-born daughter. 
NARR. 2: And the man-
NARR. 1: Who was incredibly dim-
NARR. 2: Said yes.
MAN: Yes!

WITCH exits, cackling. MAN climbs back over the wall and presents the cabbage to WOMAN.

NARR. 2: But when the man told his wife what he'd done-
NARR. 1: She wasn't at all impressed.
NARR. 2: Nine months later-
NARR. 1: When the baby was born-
NARR. 2: They named her 'Rapunzel'. (to NARR. 1) Why do you suppose they called her that?
NARR. 1: (shrugs) Dunno. But, the long and short of it is, two things happened shortly afterwards:
NARR. 2: The witch came back for her promised daughter-

WITCH enters SL.

WITCH: I've come back for my promised daughter!
MAN: There you go. (gives her a bundle)

WITCH exits SL.

NARR. 1: And the wife booted out her husband.
WOMAN: Off you go.

MAN exits SR.

the inside of the tower
ENSEMBLE move to make a semi-circle, facing inwards. There is a window SR. RAPUNZEL is CS, WITCH is brushing her hair.

NARR. 2: The witch cared for Rapunzel as if she were her own daughter.
NARR. 1: Apart from the 'locked alone in a tower with no door' part.
NARR. 2: Yeah, I forgot about that.
NARR. 1: And so the years passed, and Rapunzel grew into a beautiful young girl.
NARR. 2: With very, very long hair.
NARR. 1: Yeah, I've always wondered about that. Well, talking about hair, I think it's probably time we met the other hero of our story, don't you?
NARR. 2: What, the bearded one?
NARR. 1: Yes. Him.

the castle
ENSEMBLE stay in their semi-circular positions but turn to face outwards instead. The window is no longer there. BLUEBEARD stands CS facing the audience.

NARR. 1: Now, there was once a very rich man who also happened to be very ugly.
NARR. 2: It's surprising how often those two go together.
NARR. 1: Quite. Well, because he was so ugly, everyone avoided him-
NARR. 2: Actually, there was another reason as well, you see-
NARR. 1: Yes yes, I was just coming to that. Well, you see, it had to do with Bluebeard's wives...

NARR. 1 goes to stand CS just behind BLUEBEARD, who turns to face SL. ANNA enters SL and stops CS, just opposite BLUEBEARD. They hold hands.

NARR. 1: (to ANNA) Do you take this man to be your awful- I mean, lawful wedded husband?

WIVES around the circle in the ENSEMBLE quickly turn to face the audience in turn. After they've spoken, they turn back to face outwards.

WIVES: (in turn) I do.
ANNA: I do.
NARR. 1: (to ANNA) Good luck.

NARR. 1 walks back to DSR. As NARR.s 1 & 2 speak, ANNA and BLUEBEARD walk around in a slow circle.

NARR. 1: (as he walks) You see, Bluebeard had married quite a few women before, so he was a bit of a dab hand at this whole marriage lark. But it also meant that no one really trusted him. Each of his wives died shortly after their marriage, and although he said that they died in childbirth, of fever, of falling off their horse, of eating bad eels - or whatever - no one actually knew.
NARR. 2: So people sort of thought of him as a bogeyman.
NARR. 1: He was just a pretty scary guy all over, actually.
NARR. 2: Well. Anyway.
NARR. 1: Yes, where was I? Oh, yes, Bluebeard's latest wife. Anna.

BLUEBEARD and ANNA reach CS again. They immediately split and mime eating dinner at a long table. BLUEBEARD goes CSR, ANNA CSL.

NARR. 1: Good point. Okay. Anna married Bluebeard, and they were happy for a time. Anna, originally just a poor peasant girl, loved Bluebeard's beautiful chateau. But then, one night at dinner, Bluebeard said:
BLUEBEARD: I have an announcement to make. I have been called out of the country on business, and shan't be returning for a month. I leave at dawn tomorrow.
BLUEBEARD: In my absence, you are in charge of my castle. I want you to take very great care of it. (he walks over to ANNA, pulling the keys out of his pocket) Here are the keys to all the rooms in the chateau. (he hands them to ANNA) Please feel free to have a look in all of the rooms. What's mine is yours. BUT.
NARR. 1: And this was the clinch.
BLUEBEARD: (to NAAR. 1) Shut up. (to ANNA) This key opens a door that you must never enter. I want you to swear to me that you will never go in this room, whatever happens. Do I have your promise?
ANNA: Yes, you do.
BLUEBEARD: (handing her the key) Good. Now, it's late. I should go and pack.

He exits SR.

the tower 
ENSEMBLE remain in their semi-circular positions, but turn to face inwards again. They make the window SR again. RAPUNZEL is CS, reading a book. Or something.

NARR. 1: Okay, back to Rapunzel now.
NARR. 2: Now, here she was, in a tower with no stairs and no door.
NARR. 1: So every day, when the witch wanted to visit Rapunzel, she would stand at the bottom of the tower and shout:
WITCH: (from offstage) Rapunzel! Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!
NARR. 1: Actually, I'm sure she didn't shout that. She probably shouted something more like:
WITCH: (from offstage) Oi! Rapunzel! Chuck your hair down, will you?
NARR. 2: Yeah, that's much more realistic.
NARR. 1: Okay. So. After about nineteen years of chucking her hair down the outside of a tower every five minutes, Rapunzel started to get a little bit bored.
NARR. 2: She did a lot of daydreaming, too.
RAPUNZEL: Oh, I do wish that something would actually happen, just once. Anything. (Within reason.)
NARR. 1: And then, you know what? Something did happen.

the outside of the tower
Most of ENSEMBLE stand around being trees and shrubs, while the taller ones gather SL in a sort of semi-circle, like the base of the tower. WITCH enters SR and walks SL.

NARR. 1: One day, when the witch went to see Rapunzel... 

PRINCE enters SL, walking slowly, trying not to be seen by the WITCH. A couple of times, WITCH glances round and PRINCE hides behind a tree.

NARR. 1: A prince who happened to be riding by saw her, and decided to follow her.
NARR. 2: As you do.


WITCH: (from offstage) Oi! Rapunzel! Chuck your hair down, will you? 
PRINCE: What the... ?

As NARR. 1 speaks, PRINCE looks gradually further upwards (like he's watching WITCH climbing).

NARR. 1: The prince watched in surprise as the witch climbed up the outside of the tower.
PRINCE: I must find out what beautiful maiden lives up in that tower!
NARR. 2: He decided.
NARR. 1: (He was particularly poetic, this prince.) And so he waited patiently as it grew darker and darker. Eventually, he saw the witch climbing down the outside of the tower again, and hid as she passed.

WITCH enters SL, looking around her, and hurries offstage SR.

NARR. 2: And then he decided to pay a visit to Rapunzel.
PRINCE: I shall pay a visit to that beautiful maiden!
NARR. 1: Huh. Not very original, is he?

the tower 
ENSEMBLE move to make a semi-circle, facing inwards. There is a window SR. RAPUNZEL is CS.

NARR. 1: Rapunzel was sitting in her tower, all alone, felling pretty rotten and lonely, when-
PRINCE: (from offstage) O fairest maiden, let down your golden hair!

She runs SR to the window and looks out.

RAPUNZEL: (in a stage-whisper) Who are you?
PRINCE: (from offstage) I am a prince, O fairest maiden!
RAPUNZEL: OMG (spelling it out) A real actual prince! Sure, come on up!

She throws her hair out of the window.

NARR. 1: And so the prince climbed up Rapunzel's hair... And through the window.

PRINCE appears SR and climbs through the window.

RAPUNZEL: Hi. I'm Rapunzel.
PRINCE: O fairest maiden! Song of my heart!
NARR. 1: (aside) Definitely poetic.
PRINCE: You are all that I dreamed you would be and more! Please, say you will come with me to my palace where we shall be wed and live for ever in peace and harmony!
RAPUNZEL: Sure, I would, but there's just the small problem of me being in this tower. With no stairs and no door. So... Do you have a plan, or... ?
PRINCE: Ah. Yes. Well... Um. I'll think of something. Don't worry, my love, I shall invent a plan so cunning that-
NARR. 1: Yeah yeah yeah, you get the picture.
NARR. 2: Did he come up with a plan?
NARR. 1: Yes. Eventually.
PRINCE: I've got it! I'll come to you every day, after the witch has been, and I'll bring you silk which you can weave into a ladder!
RAPUNZEL: Or, you could bring me a rope ladder. Just a thought.
PRINCE: Good point.
NARR. 1: Okay. Well, folks, we're going to leave Rapunzel for a bit and jog on back to Bluebeard. Or rather, his latest wife, Anna.

a corridor
ENSEMBLE move into a straight line US with their backs to the audience, apart from two who are standing SL facing each other being doors. ANNA enters SR and as NARR. 1 is speaking, enters the room.

NARR. 1: So, for three wonderful weeks, Anna enjoyed herself by looking through all the rooms in the castle, exploring all the different chests and cupboards and wardrobes. She found statues and tapestries and dresses, and goodness only knows what else. 
NARR. 2: In the fourth week, she started to get lonely, so she invited her sister to come and stay with her.

Enter SISTER SR. ANNA comes out of the room and closes the doors behind her. She goes to meet SISTER CS. They embrace.

ANNA: I'm so glad to see you!
SISTER: Me too! Well, are you going to show me around?

SISTER runs off SL.

NARR. 1: But not even the arrival of her sister could keep Anna's mind off that last room, the one she hadn't yet entered...

ANNA, CS, pulls the key from her pocket.

SISTER: (from offstage) Anna! Are you coming? I can't show myself around, you know!
ANNA: One minute!

ANNA runs off SL.

NARR. 1: (looking after ANNA) Do you suppose she'll go in the forbidden room?
NARR. 2: She might...
NARR. 1: What, without us? Let's go catch up with her, eh? After all, we want to be there when she opens the door...

a corridor
ENSEMBLE don't really move, except the door is now CS. All the WIVES are hidden behind it. ANNA enters SR and starts towards the door.

NARR. 1: Oh yes, we were right!
NARR. 2: The next day-
NARR. 1: Five days before Bluebeard was due to return-
NARR. 2: Anna left her sister finishing dinner-
NARR. 1: And decided to open the last door.

ANNA stops CS in front of the door. She looks at the key in her hand.

ANNA: (to herself) What should I do? Argh, I really want to see what's inside! But Bluebeard did tell me not to...
NARR. 1: Oh, stop being stupid. What could he possibly have in there? Go on - open it!
ANNA: Alright. Okay. Yes. Fine. C'mon. Right.

She unlocks the door. Immediately, all the WIVES fall out of the door. ANNA screams, jumps backwards, and drops the key.

NARR. 1: No! Anna, you idiot!
ANNA: What've I done now? Look what he's got in his cupboard! 'Nothing bad' you said! Yeah, right!
NARR. 2: You've dropped the key!
NARR. 1: (longsufferingly) In a pool of blood. I know.
ANNA: Oh my god, please, can one of you help me close this door?
NARR. 1: Fine.

NARR.s 1 & 2 help ANNA to shut the door and lock it.

NARR. 1: (to ANNA) You'd better go wash the blood of that key before Bluebeard gets home.
ANNA: Oh, of course, I forgot about that. I'll go do that now...

She exits SL.

NARR. 2: (looking after her) I hope she'll be okay...
NARR. 1: Yeah... Me too...

the outside of the tower
Most of ENSEMBLE stand around being trees and shrubs, while the taller ones gather SL in a sort of semi-circle, like the base of the tower. PRINCE enters SR and walks CS.

NARR. 1: Back at Rapunzel's tower, the prince was waiting for the witch to leave so he could help Rapunzel to escape with the rope ladder he'd just bought...
WITCH: (from offstage) Bye, see you!
RAPUNZEL: (from offstage) Bye!

WITCH enters SL and walks SR. PRINCE hides behind a tree. WITCH exits SR and he comes out again and goes SL.

PRINCE: (staring up at the tower) Rapunzel?
RAPUNZEL: (from offstage) Oh, I thought you'd never come! Have you got the rope ladder?
PRINCE: Right with me!
RAPUNZEL: (from offstage) Okay, I'll chuck my hair down, then.

PRINCE exits SL. NARR.s 1 & 2 are watching him climb up but then NARR. 2 glances over SR and notices WITCH, who's entering SR.

NARR. 2: Err...
NARR. 1: (seeing WITCH) Uh-oh. Um... Rapunzel?
RAPUNZEL: (from offstage) What?
NARR. 2: The witch is here!
RAPUNZEL: (from offstage) Oh no!
PRINCE: (from offstage) What do I do?!
RAPUNZEL: (from offstage) Quick, hide in here!

WITCH exits SL.

WITCH: (from offstage) Oi! Rapunzel! Chuck your hair down, will you?
RAPUNZEL: (from offstage, flustered) Er... Yes! Just coming!
NARR. 1: Oh dear...

the tower
ENSEMBLE move to make a semi-circle, facing inwards. There is a window SR. RAPUNZEL is SR, pulling on her hair. PRINCE is hiding behind some item of furniture SL. WITCH enters SR and climbs through the window. RAPUNZEL goes CS.

RAPUNZEL: Hello. Um. Did you forget something? 
WITCH: Yes... Actually, no. I heard voices. Is everything okay?
NARR. 1: (despairing) Oh no!
RAPUNZEL: Uh, yes, everything's absolutely fine, completely wonderful, is there anything you need, only I'm a little tired...
WITCH: Don't worry my dear, I won't keep you long...

She starts looking around the room for PRINCE.

NARR. 2: Oh no...


WITCH: Aha! I knew something was going on! 
RAPUNZEL: Well, would you look at that - I wonder how he got there?
WITCH: (rounding on RAPUNZEL) You betrayed me!
RAPUNZEL: What? No, I-
WITCH: Get out!

WITCH grabs RAPUNZEL and cuts off all her hair.

RAPUNZEL: No! My hair!

RAPUNZEL exits SR through the window.

WITCH: (turning to PRINCE) You too! Go on. Out.

PRINCE exits SR through the window.

WITCH: (to NARR. 1) What're you looking at?
NARR. 1: Err... (to NARR. 2) I think maybe we should go now...

the castle
ENSEMBLE stay in their semi-circular positions but turn to face outwards instead. The window is no longer there. ANNA stands CS facing the audience. An ENSEMBLE member is crouching in front of her as a sink. ANNA is trying to wash the key.

NARR. 2: Hey, Anna.
NARR. 1: Whassup?
ANNA: Urgh, I'm trying to wash the blood off this key, but it's not coming off!
NARR. 1: That's odd.

NARR. 1 stands beside ANNA and has a look.

NARR. 1: No, it's not, is it? Hmm. Ah well, you've still got... Five days? Four days? Till Bluebeard comes back.
NARR. 2: Four, I think.
ANNA: Okay. I'll keep trying.

The doorbell rings.

ANNA: Oh, that's the door. You couldn't get it, could you?
NARR. 2: Of course.

NARR. 2 exits SL.

NARR. 1: I wonder who that is... ?

NARR. 2 enters SL leading PRINCE, who is walking unsteadily.

ANNA: Who on earth is that?
NARR. 1: Oh, I recognise you! It's the prince!
PRINCE: What is this? Where am I?
NARR. 2: (aside) He's finally gone mad.
NARR. 1: All that poetry, I think. (to PRINCE) What's the matter with you?
PRINCE: When I fell out of the tower, I landed on some brambles, and managed to blind myself.
NARR. 1: Well, that sucks.
PRINCE: Yeah. (to ANNA) So, I was wondering if I could stay here for a bit.
ANNA: Sure, but my murderer husband is due back in a couple of days, so you might want to leave just before he comes back.
PRINCE: Okay, will do.

The doorbell rings again.

ANNA: Now what is it?
NARR. 2: I'll go check.

NARR. 2 exits SL.

NARR. 1: I'm beginning to feel a bit like a spare part... I mean, I haven't really done any narrating recently... And I don't actually know what's going to happen next... This is all a bit of a learning curve for me...
ANNA: Don't worry, I think you're doing just fine.
NARR. 1: Thanks.

NARR. 2 enters SL at a run.

NARR. 2: It's Bluebeard!


ANNA: Oh, Bluebeard! What a... um... surprise. I thought you weren't due back for a couple of days...
BLUEBEARD: Yes, I was. But I came back early. Who is this?
ANNA: Um, I'm not really sure, but he (motioning to NARR. 1) seems to know him...
NARR. 1: Er, hi. I'm Narrator One, this is Narrator Two. We're not really part of this story at all, actually. We're just going now. Bye.

NARR. 1 goes DSR, NARR. 2 goes DSL. PRINCE exits SR.

NARR. 1: (aside) That was close.
BLUEBEARD: How are you, my dear?
ANNA: (trying to hide the key behind her back) Um, fine, thanks. Er... I'm really tired, so...
BLUEBEARD: Do you have my keys? 
ANNA: Er... yes... (she reluctantly hands him the bunch of keys - all except the bloodied one)
BLUEBEARD: (looking at them) One seems to be missing.
ANNA: Um. Here you go. (she gives him the bloodied key)
BLUEBEARD: Thank you. (he examines the key) What is this? Blood?! You've betrayed me!
ANNA: No, please!
BLUEBEARD: Now you shall join my previous wives, Anna. Say your prayers!
ANNA: Oh, please, can I? Just give me fifteen minutes with my sister to say my prayers. Please!
NARR. 2: Bluebeard was a God-fearing man.
NARR. 1: Apart from the whole serial killer bit.
NARR. 2: So he allowed Anna fifteen minutes with her sister to say her prayers-
NARR. 1: While he prepared to kill them both.

the castle
ENSEMBLE remain where they are. ANNA and SISTER are CS.

ANNA: Narrators! You have to help me!
NARR. 1: What do you want us to do?!
ANNA: I have three brothers who live near here. Go and tell them my husband is about to murder me! Quickly!
NARR. 2: Okay, I'll go.

NARR. 2 exits SL.

ANNA: (calling after him) Be quick!

the castle
ENSEMBLE don't move from their previous positions. PRINCE is CS. NARR. 2 enters from SR and is walking towards SL. The doorbell rings.

NARR. 2: Who can that be? I'll go see.

He exits SL. Moments later he returns, followed by RAPUNZEL. When she sees PRINCE, she runs to him.

RAPUNZEL: My prince!
PRINCE: Rapunzel!
RAPUNZEL: What happened to you?
PRINCE: Ah, it was stupid. I managed to blind myself on some thorns. Silly mistake.
RAPUNZEL: Oh no, you poor thing!
NARR. 2: I've really got to go and find some guys. Matter of life and death, so... Bye!

He exits SL.

the castle
ENSEMBLE remain in their positions. ANNA and SISTER are CS. BLUEBEARD suddenly enters SR.

BLUEBEARD: Your fifteen minutes are up. Prepare to meet thy doom!
ANNA: I'm sorry, but that's just so clich├ęd.

BLUEBEARD draws his sword.

NARR. 1: Oh, I can't look! (cringes) Oh, no wait, I have to, don't I? (to the audience) But luckily, at that moment... 

BROTHERS enter SL, followed by NARR. 2, who takes up his DSL position again.

BLUEBEARD: Hey, no fair!
NARR. 1: And so, because of Narrator Two's quick thinking-
NARR. 2: Credit where credit's due.
NARR. 1: The day was saved. Anna's three brothers killed Bluebeard-
BLUEBEARD: Well, they haven't yet.
NARR. 1: Haven't they? (to BROTHERS) What're you waiting for?


NARR. 1: Right. The three brothers killed Bluebeard, and everything was lovely.


NARR. 2: Oh, hello. I wondered where you'd got to.
PRINCE: I can see again!
NARR. 1: That was a surprisingly quick recovery. What happened?
RAPUNZEL: I cried on him.
PRINCE: Her tears have healing powers!
NARR.s 1 & 2: Ri-ight.
NARR. 1: Anyway, the long and short of it is-
ALL: Everyone lived happily ever after.
NARR. 1: The end.

Exeunt omnes.
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