The Gift of the Magi

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2 characters, flexible casting. Approximately 10 minutes long. Modern re-telling of the classic story by O’Henry. Siblings learn about the spirit of giving. Adapted by Jennifer Reif.

The Gift of the Magi is a modern adaptation of the short story by O. Henry. This touching version centers around two siblings who are unable to afford presents for each other this Christmas. Each sacrifices a treasure to provide a gift for the other but, in so doing, comic irony follows. This is a play about kindness, family, and the real spirit of giving.

About the Playwright:

Jennifer Reif has been teaching, directing, and performing around the Pacific Northwest for decades. Her shelves are lined with children’s books and her happy place is in the woods. She loves devising theatre projects with kids and sharing creative ideas with teachers. Jennifer holds her BA in Theatre from Morningside College and also studied at Oxford University in England.

Excerpt from the play:

Characters

SASHA -A girl who loves to paint and dreams of becoming an artist. Ravi’s sister.

RAVI -A boy who loves to read and dreams of becoming a writer. Sasha’s brother.

*Feel free to change genders of characters to suit your casting needs.

SCENE 1
(A few days before Christmas. Sasha is sitting at the table painting a picture of the ocean. Ravi is lying on the floor reading a book. Instrumental Christmas music is playing and the setting has a holiday feel. After a few minutes Ravi closes his book and begins the scene. Music fades.)

RAVI
(Closes the book dramatically. Reeling in the joy of finishing.) Done! (Exhales loudly.) I’m speechless.

SASHA
How can you be speechless if you have the words to say you’re speechless?

RAVI
Good point. I’m not speechless. I actually have a lot to say about this book.

SASHA
Was it good?

RAVI
So good! This series is the best thing ever written.

SASHA
Ever?

RAVI
Ever. I stand by that.

SASHA
Which book is your favorite?

RAVI
How can I choose a favorite? They are all so good. But if I had to, I would say this one. But there is still the elusive #7.

SASHA
Elusive?

RAVI
Yeah, it’s the final book in the series. I don’t have it.

SASHA
Maybe you can get it for Christmas.

RAVI
That would be a Christmas miracle. The whole series is pretty rare, and that one is especially hard to find. Plus, they are really expensive.

SASHA
Well maybe when you become a famous author someday you will write something even better.

RAVI
It doesn’t get better than this.

SASHA
Why do you love this series so much?

RAVI
Because it has it all…adventure, magic, mystery…There’s this one part where these three guys are on a journey to bring these special gifts to a king. They follow the stars through the desert. (He is quite animated and has now risen to a level where he can see the painting laying flat on the table.)

SASHA
That sounds vaguely familiar.

RAVI
(Seeing her painting on the table.) Hey that is really good.

SASHA
Thanks. I’m going to give it to Grandma for Christmas. You know how much she loves the ocean.

RAVI
Yeah. Remember when we were little and she would help us build those drizzle sand castles?

SASHA
Those were the best. I thought we were the only people in the world who knew how to mix sand and water to make them look drizzly like that. I think I’ll add one of those castles to my painting.

RAVI
Grandma’s gonna love it. It will make her feel like she’s at the beach every time she sees it.

SASHA
Ugh…will you hand me that towel? I got some paint on the table. It would be so much easier if I didn’t have paint on this flat surface.

RAVI
You could tape it to the wall.

SASHA
Then I’d get paint all over the wall. What I really want is an easel.

RAVI
Like they have in art studios?

SASHA
Yeah, some day. (Dreamy and visualizing.) When I’m a real artist I’ll have an easel and a space to really create. A place to put my paint brushes and paints. And I’ll be able to work right in front of me and then step back to really take it in.

RAVI
You really are a good artist. And I’m not just saying that because you’re my sister.

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