2 characters. 7 pages in length. Approximately 5-10 minutes running time. A puppet play written by award-winning playwright, Barbara Henderson.

Captain Stragglybeard’s Apprentice is a puppet play about a young pirate who must get back into the Captain’s good graces if he wants to remain onboard the ship. With the audience’s help, he’ll get things in ship-shape. Will it be enough to impress Captain Stragglybeard or will he be forced to walk the plank? This short puppet play is perfect for one or two land lubbers!

Barbara Henderson is a German-born novelist and playwright and has lived in Scotland since 1991. She acquired an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. She now teaches drama, although if you dig deep in her past you will find that she has earned her crust as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist among others. Barbara is the author of Fir for Luck and Crystal-Kite, shortlisted Punch, both historical novels for children, and children’s eco-thriller Wilderness Wars, all published by Cranachan. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has won several national and international short story competitions. She lives in Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Captain Stragglybeard
Boy

(Only two characters, so ideal for a single puppeteer to perform.)

Pirate-type music – fades out as CURTAIN OPENS to Capt. Stragglybeard’s (CS) shouting.

CAPTAIN STRAGGLYBEARD
That’s it! You’re useless. Worse than useless – ye’re a landlubber! Off ma ship, or I’ll make ye walk the plank!

BOY
Arh-harr, but Captain… please! Please give me one more chance – I’ll prove to you I can truly be a pirate! Aharr!

CAPTAIN STRAGGLYBEARD
Don’t make me laugh! Ye can’t shoot, and ye can’t burgle; ye can’t drink rum without fainting and ye can’t sail. Lads! Come ‘here and let’s show this ‘ere landlubber the sharks! From the inside!

(BOY shivers in fear. Both puppets wait. No-one is coming.)

BOY
Erm, Captain Stragglybeard, Sir?

CAPTAIN STRAGGLYBEARD
(ignores him) LADS! Where’s ma pirate crew!

BOY
(taps him on the shoulder) Erm, Captain Stragglybeard, sir – I think you scared them all away.

CAPTAIN STRAGGLYBEARD
(hesitates) What?

BOY
They abandoned ship…

CAPTAIN STRAGGLYBEARD
WHAT!!!????

BOY
Look over there, sailing towards the sun on the raft? That’s them. You’re scarier than the sea, more revolting than the rat poo in the ship’s hold, scrappier than the skeletons in the cabin cupboard…

(Realizes what he has said and ducks, but Captain S. is very pleased)

CAPTAIN STRAGGLYBEARD
(Touched) Do you really think so? (Remembers what went before and shouts) Don’t ye flatter me, ye landlubber, ye water rat, ye sloppy scallop! But as ye’re clearly intelligent, I might give you ONE MORE CHANCE! One, do ye hear? Take this! These ‘ere be the pirate jobs that need a-doing!

(Hands boy the list)

BOY
Aharr, Captain Stragglybeard. Aye, aye!

CAPTAIN STRAGGLYBEARD
No more mistakes. Ye can’t be half-hearted as a pirate. Ye’ve gotta be scary and hairy and sweary. Now, would ye kindly fetch me ma hot water bottle – even a pirate needs his naps. Thank you very much.

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