A young onion farmer seeks to finally leave the onion farm and set off on an adventure. His uncle allows him to bring the onions to market, but warns him that the world is not always a kind place. Eric decides to go anyway. He encounters one nasty person after another, but he maintains his helpful demeanor, and is eventually rewarded for his kindness.
This fun play teaches students that they can always practice kindness, despite how others behave toward them!
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:
ERIC — (M) a simple boy with big dreams of adventure
UNCLE — (M) hard-working farmer who cares for Eric
WOMAN — (F) elderly baker woman who is selfish and rude
GIRL — (F) young milk maid who does not trust strangers
MAN— (M) elderly, feeble man just trying to get home
QUEEN — (F) wounded queen of the land in need of help
FOOTMAN 1 — (M/F) arrogant and reckless
FOOTMAN 1 — (M/F) arrogant and reckless
(The action takes place in fairytale times on an onion farm and on a country road.)
(Lights come up on Eric and Uncle hard at work in the onion fields. Each reaches down with purpose to pull the beautiful onions from the earth. Eric wears a colorful bandana around his forehead. A stack of onions sit near them both.)
(wipes his brow) Only seven more rows, Eric.
This year’s crop is perfect, Uncle. Look at the color of these delicious onions. This could be our best crop yet.
A good crop doesn’t just happen, nephew. Day in and day out, we have tended these crops: planting, watering, nourishing, and now picking for market.
Is this ALL there is to life, Uncle?
Ha! You want more, do you?
I don’t want to be ungrateful, but I feel there is a big world out there, and I have yet to be a part of it. You always take our onions to market, and I always wait at home.
(smiles) The onions are quite heavy, Eric, and we have no cart. Do you think you are strong enough for the task?
(excited) I am so ready, Uncle. Please let me go.
I worry, Eric. The world is not always a kind place. The road to the marketplace is full of people who may not help you. Everyone is so worried about their livelihood; Everyone forgets. You have lived in the safety of our farm, and I worry that YOU will forget YOUR goodness when faced with the rudeness of others. We are just poor farmers, but character and kindness have always been our guiding force.
I will not forget, Uncle. You have taught me well. Hard work, character, and kindness grows healthy onions, and surely that applies to people too.
If only, Eric. (thinks for a moment) Nonetheless, I feel you are ready. Let’s finish these rows and prepare for tomorrow. You have a big day ahead.
Dare I ask what is for dinner, Uncle? Maybe lasagna… or hummus?
Onion soup, my boy. Same as every night before.
(sighs and grins) I thought you might say that.
(Uncle lovingly tussles Eric’s hair)
(Lights come back up on Eric with a string of heavy onions tied around his neck, along with a bandana. He is straining from the load, but in good spirits. Eric enters stage left where the space has now become a road. An elderly woman is sitting on a stump with her back to Eric far stage right. She holds a basket full of bread.)
(to himself) Uncle was not kidding when he said these onions would be heavy, but I can do this. If I could just rest a moment and enjoy some nourishment, I could continue my journey to market. (sees the elderly woman ahead) Ah, a baker woman, perhaps she will trade a piece of bread for one of my onions.
(calls out) Hello, ma’am!
(frightened, she falls off the stump onto the ground) What? How dare you scare me, child.
(apologizing and running to woman) Forgive me, ma’am. I just wanted to get your attention, not cause you harm.
Well, you did! Look at me! I am an old woman, and I am frail.
(reaching to offer a hand up) Let me help you…
(yelling) NO! You’ve hurt me once. I will NOT let you hurt me again.
My greatest apologies. That was not my intent. I just wanted to ask if you would be willing to trade a piece of bread for one of my delicious onions. The road is long to market, and it’s good to have help along the way.
Help? Why would I help you? You are a scoundrel. I would never trade bread with you!
(Woman hobbles off stage.)
(Eric is left dejected.)