4 characters; 3M; 1F. 10 pages in length. Approximately 10-20 minutes running time. A comedy for young performers written by Seth Freeman.

Stinky Bird tells the story, based on real science, of a young bird forced to come to terms with his unique and challenging background. Deep within the Ecuadorian jungle, lives a family of hoatzins, otherwise known as “stinky birds.”  Being a stinky bird has made it difficult for young Eddie to fit in and make friends.  When he makes the decision to give up eating the plants that make him special but also protect him from predators, he finally makes a new friend– a very dangerous one.  A great play for young performers!

Seth Freeman is a playwright, a journalist, and a writer/producer of television, for which he created the series Lincoln Heights. His work in television and film has been recognized with multiple Emmys, Golden Globes, Writers Guild, Peabody, P.E.N., First Amendment, and numerous other awards. His published articles have appeared in The New York Times, Southern Theatre Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, California Magazine, the Huffington Post, The Hill, YaleGlobal, and many other periodicals. His full- length play Legacy won First Place in the New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest and was read in NYC in June,2017. He contributes non-writing time to community and international organizations dealing with health care, education, and human rights and is a graduate student at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Eddie: a young bird
Walter: Eddie’s father
Liela: Eddie’s mother
Jake: a young jaguarundi

SETTING
Ecuadorian jungle, near the Rio Napo (suggested by a simple set, nothing fancy or elaborate)

TIME
The present

(A clearing in the Ecuadorian jungle, near a tributary of the Amazon.

Leafy and shaded by the canopy high above – but really some fronds and a couple of impressionistic, easily moveable trees will do.)

(WALTER and LEILA, two birds of unusual appearance – a cross between turkey and parrot – munch on leaves. Yes – leaves.)

(Note: the idea is not to put actors in bird costumes in the manner of Big Bird, but to suggest birdness with, perhaps, an impressionistic beak, skinny legs, creative head and tail feathers – but simply, and more interestingly, by the performers acting birdlike.)

(Establish the leaf-eating for a moment. Leila tries for some higher leaves just beyond reach. Walter gets them for her, then he stuffs a bunch of these juicy ones in his mouth.He burps with satisfaction. She gives him a look. And then –)

(EDDIE, a juvenile version of the same species, runs in, extremely upset.)

EDDIE
Omigod. Omigod. Omigod.

LEILA
Eddie, what is it, dear? What’s wrong?

EDDIE
It happened again!

WALTER
What happened, son?

EDDIE
Every time I try to make friends with someone in this stupid jungle, they run away from me.

WALTER
Ah.

LEILA
Ah.

EDDIE
(sensing something) What?

LEILA
I think it’s time.

WALTER
Clearly.Eddie,come here. Have a seat.

EDDIE
Why?  What is it? What’s going on?

LEILA
It is time for us to have…The Conversation.

(Eddie looks uneasily at his parents.)

WALTER
There are things, son, which you are old enough now to know: not all creatures in this jungle — or on this planet — are the same. Our particular species, the hoatzin, is unlike any other.

EDDIE
Unlike…?

WALTER EDDIE
Different. We’re different?

LEILA
What your daddy is trying to say, Eddie is that we are special.

WALTER
(nods) The hoatzin is very special.

EDDIE
Watson? Like, “elementary, my dear Watson?”

LEILA
Not W-A-T-S-O-N. H-O-A-T-Z-I-N.

(Eddie takes out an iPad and taps keys as his father spells. Eddie reads.)

EDDIE
Omigod. Omigod. Omigod. (reading) “The Hoatzin, commonly known as Stinky Bird…” (looks up at his parents) We’re stinky?

LEILA
We are not stinky.

WALTER
That’s a misnomer.They refer to us as stinky because we taste bad.

EDDIE
We taste bad?

LEILA
Think about it, hon. That’s really a good thing.

WALTER
It’s more than just the taste.We’re —

EDDIE
(reading) Poisonous! Omigod!

WALTER
So, nobody in the jungle wants to eat us.

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