Kid superheroes take center stage in this imaginative 20-minute play about young ones learning how to use their newfound superpowers. Buck is a shy kid with a big gift. He’s really a superhero kid. So is the new girl in school, Tracy. Together they form a friendship and battle dastardly villains like The Great Chili Monster, the Monkey Bar Brute, Kid Popsicle, and more. Kid Superheroes on the Rise focuses on the importance of creativity, working together, stopping bullying, and more.
The play was written by Jonathan Joy, adapted from tales in the Bedtime Stories column he writes twice monthly for The Greater Ashland Beacon weekly newspaper. They are also featured on Professor Theo’s Mystery Lab podcast.
Jonathon Joy is the author of 50 plays that have been staged in 18 US states, including a four-week 2018 run of Darlene’s Resistance Monologue with The Open Fist Theatre in Los Angeles and Don’t Drink the Jet Fuel, winner of the University of Illinois 2018 Inner Voices Social Issues Theatre national writing contest. He is also the winner of 9 West Virginia Writers awards, including one for Beans and Franks Never Tasted So Good. His farce Little Donkeys and Elephants was named one of eight winners (out of 150 entries) of the Chappaqua Library’s 2016 Political Comedy Play Festival in New York. His Down on Sandusky Road ten-minute went on to a film production, directed by Josh Baldwin. Joy is an Associate Professor of English at Ashland Community and Technical College in Ashland, KY. He also plays the fictional part of Professor Theo on Professor Theo’s Mystery Lab, a podcast of children’s stories he writes, records, and edits with his wife and son (professortheo.com), based on his newspaper column with the Greater Ashland Beacon.
Excerpt from the play:
BUCK, a quiet kid with a big secret
CLARA, Buck’s friend/classmate
ROB, Buck’s friend/classmate
MISS ROBINSON, Buck’s teacher
DYNAMITE MAN (or WOMAN), an older superhero
MRS. ADKINS, Buck’s gym teacher (can double as Miss Robinson and, possibly, as Narrator)
THE GREAT CHILI MONSTER, Buck’s nemesis
TRACY, the new girl in school and Buck’s superhero friend
THE MONKEY BAR BRUTE, another villain
THE MILKMAN, villain #3
THE TPG (TOILET PAPER GIANT), villain #4 (depending on how it’s played, all four villains could be brought to life by one actor or a whole group of students)
PRINCIPAL FULLER, Buck’s principal (can double as Dynamite Man and, possibly, Narrator)
EXTRAS could include other students, teachers, etc.*The flexible cast is designed to be as small as 7 or as large as 30. Most roles are not gender specific.
The play takes place in an elementary school classroom, a bathroom, and a cafeteria, though nothing more than simple staging is necessary. A few chairs are all that is needed. Much is described through the dialogue and more can be pantomimed.
Kid Superheroes on the Rise
By Jonathan Joy
(Lights up on an elementary school classroom. Three children, BUCK, CLARA, and ROB are seated near their teacher, MISS ROBINSON, who is quietly pantomiming a lesson while the NARRATOR addresses the audience.)
Buck wasn’t the biggest kid in school. He wasn’t the smallest either. Buck wasn’t the smartest kid in school, but he wasn’t dumb. He wasn’t the most talented, but he was no slouch. He wasn’t the nicest kid either, but he certainly wasn’t mean. The fact is, there wasn’t anything particularly fascinating about Buck. There wasn’t one thing that he did that was particularly better than anyone else, but this doesn’t mean he was a bad student. He wasn’t at all. Buck had as much potential as anyone, but he stayed quiet most of the time. Very quiet.
Speak up, Buck. Out with it.
(shrugs, mumbles something inaudible)
I can’t hear you when you mumble like that. You are going to have to open up, come on out of that shell. Speak up, Buck. You’re a smart kid. You know the answer.
(No answer. Pause.)
Abraham Linthicum was the sixteenth President of the United States.
Close. Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln.
I didn’t see you raise your hand, Rob. She was closer than you. Lincoln.
BUCK (to audience)
I knew that. I did. I just…get nervous when everyone’s attention is on me.
No matter how much his teacher prodded, Buck kept mostly kept to himself. He had to. You see, Buck was keeping a pretty big secret.
I don’t want anyone to know.
(The next two lines are spoken simultaneously.)
He was…a superhero.
(The following directions happen as the NARRATOR is delivering his next few lines. BUCK rises and crosses to another area of the stage designated as the bathroom. The other two children rise, as well, and cross to the outside of an imaginary bathroom door to wait their turn in line. BUCK is inside the bathroom pretending to fight off imaginary bad guys. His teacher crosses, and pantomimes knocking on the door. Another knock should occur as the NARRATOR and DYNAMITE MAN finish their next few lines, and before MISS ROBINSON begins her next line.)
Not many superheroes are kids. I mean, Dynamite Man is older than Buck’s dad.
(An older, masked man or woman, as it could be Dynamite Woman, enters. If a school production, this would be a fun part for the teacher or principal to play.)
Hey, how’d I get brought into this? And I am not that old.
That’s enough. This is Buck’s story, Dynamite Man. Go away.
Well, excuse me. I’ve got plenty of crime to fight elsewhere. (starting off) Oh, my back. That hurts. I’ll be okay.
(The NARRATOR resumes after DYNAMITE MAN or WOMAN exits slowly.)
But Buck is both a kid and a superhero. Of course, he can’t tell anyone. Who would believe him? Do you think his teacher, Miss Robinson, would believe that the reason he took so long in the bathroom, was because he was fighting off two evil aliens from another planet?
You’ve been in there forever, Buck. Don’t tell me you’re battling bad guys again.
(to audience) How did she know?