red shoes

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5 characters. 4F, 1M. Approximately 10 minutes running time. Short play about a girl who finds herself in an unfortunate situation, yet finds her strength to overcome adversity.

Malin is an orphan who is sent to live with her evil aunt. Everyone around her warns her about what she is about to go through, but Malin has a secret magic weapon in the red shoes her mother had given her.

This play can empower young people to find strength within to overcome obstacles.

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:


AUNT VALTRAUT (VAHL-TROUT) — (F) evil aunt and guardian to Malin
MALIN (MAH-LEEN) — (F) beautiful orphan in need of kindness
NANNY SABINA — (F) kind and loving nanny who cares for Malin – she clearly has a secret
MRS. ESSEN — (F) creative cook who understands the value of good food
MR. BLOOMEN — (M) house gardener who has a few tricks up his sleeves

(The action takes place in the early 1900s in a dingy bedroom.)

(Lights come up on a dingy bedroom that lacks character and charm. The windows are dirty with heavy black drapes. The bedding is old, gray, and dusty. Nanny Sabina opens the bedroom door stage left and enters with Malin following reluctantly behind.)


Here we are, my dear. Not much to look at, but the roof doesn’t leak. (looks around) I guess that’s the best we can say about this entire, sad home. (pats the bed and dust rises and makes everyone cough) Oh dear, I’m so sorry. I will be up later to help clean. Until then, try to make yourself comfortable. (looks down at Malin’s red shoes) What beautiful shoes, Malin. Where they a gift? They are so familiar…

(quietly) They were a gift from my mother.

(puts her head down) I knew your mother, sweet girl. She was an honest and loving woman. (looks at the door where they entered) Unlike her sister, your Aunt Valtraut. She has ugliness in her soul. So many people have suffered from her bitterness. (catches herself and pulls herself back to sweetness) Never you mind that. The weak receive what they deserve. (breath) You can call me Nanny Sabina. I will be your governess. I am here to educate and guide you while you stay here in the house with your aunt.

(quickly) I won’t be here long. My mother has other siblings. Perhaps they will hear the news, and they will come to bring me to their homes. Perhaps (looking around the room) they will be better than… my current situation.

Oh, sweet child. The odds of that are very slim. Your Aunt Valtraut has made it very difficult for them to do anything. She found their weaknesses and made them pay dearly. I am sure they want to help, but do not have the courage to go up against their sister Vantraut. (big breath) But that is a story for another day. For now, (looks around) settle in as best you can. Your studies start in the morning.

(sadly) Thank you, Nanny Sabina. I’m sure it will be just fine, if I just take it one step at a time. She is my mother’s older sister; how bad can Aunt Valtraut really be?

(Nanny Sabina exits stage left through the bedroom door. Malin walks around the room examining the sad surroundings.)

(talking to the sky) Oh, Mother. You would hate where I have found myself. The portrait on the wall of your sister Valtraut looks so cold and unkind. I fear she is nothing like you. How could you have grown up in a house that is so bleak and dark? What about your other sisters and brother? Are they just as bitter? Will they every find me?

(The bedroom door opens, and Aunt Valtraut enters with heavy footsteps.)

(with an evil tone) Talking to yourself, Malin? Oh, how much like your mother you are. She was a dreamer too. I am your Auntie Valtraut. You may address me a ma’am, madam, or…miss. (looks down at Malin’s red shoes) Oh, my, I bet my dear baby sister gave you those garish, red shoes, didn’t she? She always had a flair for the dramatic and gaudy. Take them off.

(bravely) My mother was a loving and generous woman. These are the only things I have left from her. I will not take them off. I will give up all my possessions before I will give up these precious shoes.

(grabbing Malin’s suitcase) Then give up all of your things you will. Everything has a cost, my dear child. You will learn that here.

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