“It Could be Worse,” is an old Yiddish folktale that has been told for many, many years. The story centers on a poor man who is unhappy because his house is too small for his family. He goes to the village wise man to ask for advice, and the wise man tells him to fill up with house with animals. He does as he is told, and things are much worse. Finally, he goes back to the wise man who tells him to take the animals out of the house. With the animals gone, the man decides that his house if peaceful after all! A modern retelling of the story is a book entitled: “Too Much Noise.”
As written, there are parts for twenty young actors. Roles may be added/subtracted by doubling or eliminating various animal characters.
This short play also includes discussion questions, extension activities and two pages of suggestions for staging your show!
Excerpt from the play:
Amos-a poor man
Mama Bina-his wife
Matzah the Dog
Lox the Cat
Amah Ben haKattan Mahalalel-village wise man
Narrator One: Once there was a poor man named Amos who lived in a one-room house with his wife, Mama Bina, his four children, Matzah the dog and Lox the cat.
Narrator Two: It was very crowded in the tiny house, and the family was always getting in each other’s way and arguing.
(Everyone argues, and Matzah starts barking.)
Narrator One: All except for Mama Bina. She would sit knitting in her rocking chair, while Lox the cat slept at her feet.
Mama Bina: Eh. It’s not so bad.
Amos: What’d you mean, it’s not so bad! We have to do something about this. I’m going to talk to the village wise man.
All of the children: Amah Ben haKattan Mahalel?
Narrator Two: Wise men always have long names, and Amah Ben haKattan Mahalel was very wise.
Narrator One: So, Amos went off to talk to the wise man.
Amos: Oh, wise one, you must help me. We are so poor that my wife and my four children must live in a one-room house. We fight all of the time because it is just too crowded.
Narrator Two: Amah Ben haKattan Mahalalel thought very carefully for a moment. Then he said…
Amah Ben haKattan Mahalel: My son, you must do exactly as I say.
Amos: I’ll do anything!
Amah Ben haKattan Mahalalel: Do you have a chicken?
Amah Ben haKattan Mahalalel: Bring the chicken into the house, and things will improve.
Narrator One: This advice confused Amos, but he had promised to do as he was told. He went home and brought a chicken into the house.