6+ characters; Flexible cast. 1 page in length. Approximately 1-5 minutes running time (depending on casting). An Aboriginal pantomime play for children adapted by Janea Dahl.
The First Fire is an Aboriginal folktale about an ancient tribe from the stars. The tribe was running out of food and two brothers, Kanbi and Jitabidi, went down to earth to hunt and bring back food for them. They brought their fire-sticks with them and left them smoldering in the dry grass while they went off hunting. It caused great damage but the humans were grateful for the special gift of fire. This is a pantomime play that is read by the one reader and acted out by the rest of the characters in pantomime. It is a wonderful introduction to pantomime and an interesting addition to any folktale collection!
Janea Dahl is the creator and author of Drama Notebook. She has a BA in theatre and spent twelve years working in professional theatre. She was the founder of The Young Players, the largest drama outreach program in her state. For nearly a decade, The Young Players served over a hundred schools, and employed over thirty teaching artists each year. Thousands of public school children and teens participated in her award-winning workshops. In 2012, Janea sold Young Players to Northwest Children’s Theatre and School to serve teachers full-time on Drama Notebook. Janea originally created the material in Drama Notebook to support The Young Players teaching artists. She was aware that most drama teachers could easily teach children’s theater workshops without any additional curriculum, but that having access to a vast amount of new material could greatly improve the quality of the classes while keeping things exciting and fresh for her teachers. Janea also develops custom curriculum for Kaplan Early Learning and for Destination Imagination.
Excerpt from the play:
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Set: A bare stage. Mood lighting, and music if possible.
Long ago, before even the Dreamtime, there was a tribe of people who did not live on the earth. They lived in the sky world and their camp was near the two brightest stars so that they could light their fire-sticks from them. They were the only people anywhere who had the use of fire. The people on earth had to manage without it.
As even in the sky world, life is not always perfect, there came a time when there was not enough food. Some of the most adventurous of the sky world people decided to come down to the earth world to hunt.
“We will hunt possums and collect nuts and berries. It won’t take long and we can bring back enough food for everyone,” they told their companions.
Two brothers, named Kanbi and Jitabidi, brought their fire-sticks down to earth with them and left them smoldering while they went off hunting. Hunting possums turned out to be a lot more difficult than they had expected and the time drew out and the land was very quiet. The fire-sticks became bored and began to play ‘chase’. They were very clever at this game, running from place to place, and everywhere they touched the dry grass it caught alight. Gradually all the little fires grew together into one big fire and the smoke could be seen from a long way off. As soon as the sky brothers saw the smoke they left the hunting party and hurried back to put out the fires.
The Aboriginal people who lived in the area had also seen the smoke and had come to see what was going on. They had never seen fire before and at first they were very afraid. It did not take them long, however, to realize that this strange phenomenon could be extremely useful to them, providing them with light and warmth. They also noticed that some possums the sky brothers had caught had been cooked by the fire and smelled wonderful and savory. They realized that they too could make their food more tender and tasty with fire.
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