In this classic Grimm’s fairy tale, a magic fish grants a fisherman wishes in exchange for being set free. In this version of ‘A Fisherman and His Wife,’ the wife is the fisherwoman, and the husband is the one who wants more and more! The story centers on greed that gets out of hand.
This script includes discussion questions and director’s notes on casting and set design.
Debra A. Cole is a celebrated humanities teacher, youth theatre director, and children’s playwright with degrees in journalism, art history, and elementary education. She understands the needs of young performers and their directors and creates pieces that encourage engaging discussion, creative thought, and quirky playfulness. Her goal is that young performers discover the power and delight that theatre brings to actors and audiences alike.
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Excerpt from the play:
FISHERWOMAN — (F) kind and thoughtful
HUSBAND — (M) greedy and selfish
FISH— (M/F) thankful and keeps its word
SERVANT 1— (M/F) servant to King
SERVANT 2— (M/F) servant to King
(The action takes place in fairy tale times seaside and inside of a cottage.)
(Lights come up on a part of the stage that will be used as the seaside. An older woman stands in fishing gear casting her rod into the area that will be used as the sea.)
What a glorious day to fish. The sun is out. The weather is fair, and my husband and I have all we need to be happy. As my dear husband is cutting wood at home to cook today’s catch, I am enjoying this perfect day.
(The line starts to tug.)
Here we go!
(Begin to pull the fish in on the line.)
Come on, fish! You will make a wonderful dinner!
(Enter, from the imaginary line, a beautiful fish with sparkling fins and scales.)
My goodness! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!
(nodding with humility) Thank you.
How can I take you home to eat? You should be back in the water. But my husband and I are hungry, and we must eat.
Your life is yours to make. You have a choice, but if you throw me back, I will grant you any wishes you have.
ANY wish? What a wonderful offer. How can I refuse?
(Fisherwoman walks over to Fish and releases the hook that should be attached to Fish’s costume.)
Be free, beautiful fish!
(Fish dances gloriously off stage.)
(Lights come up on a humble, old cottage back drop. Husband is building a simple fire in front, waiting for dinner to return. Fisherwoman enters from stage left)
Welcome home, dear wife. What type of fish do you bring us for dinner? You are the best fisherwoman in the entire village.
Thank you, dear, but I have no fish. Instead, I bring a story that you will not believe.
I cast my line into the sea, and out came a beautiful fish. I was faced with such a difficult decision. Should I bring this glorious specimen home to eat, or should I throw it back. Luckily, the fish made my decision very easy. It told me that if I would throw it back, it would grant me any wishes I had in the future.
ANY wish? WHAT A GIFT! You wished for food, correct? We are so hungry.
(apprehensively) Well, no. I threw it back and came home to share the amazing news with you.
Foolish, wife. Go back immediately and ask for food!
Are you sure that THAT is our wish?
WISH? As in ONE WISH? I’m pretty sure I heard you say WISHES. This is just the beginning.