The King and Queen are worried that their daughter is too gullible to run the kingdom one day. They announce that anyone who can get her to recognize a lie will win her hand in marriage. Various suitors spin unbelievable tales with no success. Finally, a simple farmhand tells a single lie that cannot fool the princess.
Students will love the hilarious tales told by the suitors. This is a fun play that lends itself to over-the-top acting, and even Commedia dell’arte characterization. The play calls for 6 male actors, but the parts of the suitors may be played by females dressed as noblemen.
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:
(The parts of the Duke, Earl, and Baron may be played by female actors in noblemen’s attire.)
PRINCESS GRACIE— (F) simple and sweet, she believes everything told to her without question
KING — (M) proud and confident, he worries that his daughter does not have what it takes to be the next ruler of the land
QUEEN — (F) kind and loving, she trusts that her daughter will have what it takes when the time is right
MATHIAS— (M) clever and creative, he finds way out of work using elaborate stories
FARMER — (M) tired and old, he just wants his son to do a hard day’s work
DUKE OF DILLINGHAM — (M/F) odd and forgetful
EARL OF EBERLY — (M/F) silly and nervous
BARON VON BAMBERG – (M/F) hard of hearing and obnoxious
(The action takes place fairytale times in a palace garden and farmyard.)
(Lights come up on a royal garden. Queen sits on a bench as King paces back and forth in worry. The garden can be shown with assorted topiaries on stage.)
Dear husband, you must not worry so much.
How can I not worry? She is the laughingstock of the kingdom.
I am sure she will grow out of it…
(interrupting) Grow out of it? Do you know what they are calling her in the village?
(trying to calm things down) Well….
(angrily) GULLIBLE GRACIE! They are calling her gullible! Our daughter! And worst thing is that THEY ARE RIGHT!
I am sorry, my queen, but our daughter believes absolutely EVERYTHING she is told! THAT is the definition of being gullible!
She is still young. I am sure that she will become less trusting as she ages.
It’s not about trusting. Princess Gracie’s kind and sweet nature has made her a target for liars and thieves. I cannot foresee a future where she rules our fair land the way she is so… so… so GULLIBLE!
(embarrassed for him) Did that make you feel better?
(angrily) NO! I want our beautiful daughter to be not only kind, sweet, BUT CAUTIOUS! What if a rival kingdom knocks on the door one day and says, “Hello, your father said we could have all of your kingdom’s land.” I want to know that Princess Gracie has the good sense to NOT BELIEVE the scoundrel and SLAM THE DOOR IN HIS FACE!
Perhaps it is time to help her out a little bit. I am confident that when the right moment arrives, our daughter will know a lie when she hears it.
What do you propose, dear wife? I am game for anything at this point.
A contest. We send word throughout the kingdom that any eligible man who can make our daughter say the words, “That’s not true. That’s a lie.” will win her hand in marriage.
(thinking) Not bad, my Queen. If it works, the kingdom wins on two levels. One – we have a royal wedding, and two – we have peace of mind that the future of our kingdom is safe.
(Lights come up on a simple farmyard. Farmer is an older man and he is clearly tired from a full day on the farm. Hay bales sit as Farmer scatters hay around the yard. Matthias enters stage left – sees his father and tries to sneak away but is caught.)
(scolding) Wait one minute, son.
Hey, father! Still working on the hay?
Don’t you “hey” me about the hay. Did you finish feeding the chickens?
(with a sparkle in his eyes) The chickens? Oh, well, the strangest thing happened. (dramatically) There I was… chicken feed in hand, when all of a sudden, a hawk bigger than a cow came swooping down to take the food right out of my hands. The chickens never had a chance to eat with THAT big guy flying through the skies.
Matthias! What have I told you about telling lies.
Lies? Father, it wasn’t a lie. There really was a hawk.
Enough, Matthias! (looking around) Well, there are still the cows to milk. Surely you can do that without another animal “attacking” you.
Funny thing, dad… the cows don’t need milking any more. You see, I was walking near the barn, when I heard footsteps that were CLEARLY from a giant. Well, you know giants and how much they love milk, well…
(angrily) TO THE BARN NOW, MATTHIAS!
(Matthias drops his head and walks off stage right and Farmer continues to rake the hay.)
(shaking his head) If that boy could make a living off of lying, his life would be set.
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