16 characters. Flexible casting; 14 pages in length. Approximately 10-15 minutes running time. A Greek comedy for teens (with classroom materials) adapted by August Mergelman. (3 Credits)

The Magpies is a Greek comedy. Fed up with the endless wars that ensue on four neighboring moons, the nine superior life forms of Parnassus take matters into their own hands. A chorus of chattery magpies narrates as the nine bohemian glamazons kidnap the rulers of the neighboring states and interfere with their creative and intellectual attributes. One ruler alone has the power to decide whether the whole affair is to go down as a comedy or as a tragedy. This wonderful play also includes added materials including improvisation and acting exercises, a project for students and questions for discussion and research. You can find these other fantastic plays by August Mergelman in our Script Library: Spider Besider, Fancy Nancy & the Ants, Persephone, By Jove, A Merry Interlude at Camelot, Mum’s the Word, The Vixen, Couth, Pantalone’s New Pantalones, The Honest Impostor, The Weaver Girl & the Cowherd, The Dragon & the Pearl, Polly Peachum & the Pirates, Lady Scottish Play, Penny from Heaven, The Cat Noir, Trade Trade Secrets, Jackie & the Beans Talk, North Paws.

As a playwright, August Mergelman has one simple goal: to bring classical works to the modern audience. It seems that so many of the world’s great dramas are obscured by their own magnitude. August does not believe that any of history’s great playwrights would truly want their works to be intimidating or bewildering. First and foremost, they were showman; they crafted their works to be engaging, challenging, and most importantly, entertaining. As a fourth-generation Colorado native, August is proud of his western heritage, which is manifest in several of his western settings. His works have been featured in the Playwrights’ Showcase of the Western Region and the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association’s Playwrighting Competition.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Ursula — an astronomer
Cleo — a historian
Callie — an epic poet
Eunice — a musician
Tess — a dancer
Erica — a romantic poet
Polly — an inspirational poet
Tally — a comic playwright
Melanie — a tragic playwright
Surgeo — the ruler of Europa
Jinski — the ruler of Ganymede
Orfeo — the ruler of Io
Thesper — the ruler of Calisto
Galileo — a chattery magpie
Copernicus — another
Ptolemy — another

(The action takes place on the Moon of Parnassus, which orbits the giant planet with the watchful eye.)

(Surgeo, Jinski, Orfeo and Thesper lie sleeping on the stage. Enter Ursula, followed by her eight companions. They line up behind the captives, Ursula in the middle.)

Ursula
Alright, my friends, they’re here. Let’s quickly get to work.

Polly
They look so very harmless when they’re fast asleep.

Ursula
And so do cobras. Don’t be fooled. They’re enemies.

Eunice
We’ve never interfered in politics before.

Tess
I’m nervous. Maybe we should send them home instead.

Ursula
Endure their endless warfare? No. We’ve come too far.

Callie
She’s right. I stand with Ursula.

Cleo
And so do I!

Erica
Then count me in.

Tally
Oh, what the heck?

Melanie
Through thick and thin.

(One by one, the girls place their hands in the center.)

Ursula
I knew you wouldn’t let me down, and now it’s time to take a pledge.

Polly
What kind a pledge?

Ursula
Of loyalty. So raise your hands up high. Repeat the words I say… I shall not give any mortal.

Others
I shall not give any mortal.

Ursula
Any kind of inspiration.

Others
Any kind of inspiration.

Ursula
Only once they’ve stopped their fighting…

Others
Only once they’ve stopped their fighting…

Ursula
Shall I show them any mercy.

Others
Shall I show them any mercy.

Ursula
Let’s go now to our stations. Ladies, make me proud!

(Exit the girls. Enter the magpies, taking their places. The four captives begin to wake.)

Copernicus
From a dream, you awake.

Galileo
You are left without words.

Ptolemy
We were once in your shoes.

All Three
We were changed into Birds.

Copernicus
You are neighbors, and yet you have long been at war.

Galileo
You’ve experienced bloodshed, but only want more.

Ptolemy
So be warned! You must lay down your swords.

All Three
Make amends, for there will be a treaty before this night ends.

Orfeo
I must be dreaming.

(In an instant, all four of them awake from their stupor and ready themselves for combat.)

Surgeo
What the heck!

Jinski
Get back! (Trying to engage a weapon.) I’ll kill you on the spot!

Thesper
If you were armed, you would.

Orfeo
What kind of joke is this?

Surgeo
My enemies, conspiring against me!

Jinski
I am not with them!

Thesper
Nor I with them!

Orfeo
A vessel must have brought us here. I’ll find it and escape.

Surgeo
You better beat me to it.

Jinski
I’ll have my revenge on he who masterminded this affair!

(Exit the captives. Enter the magpies.)

Thesper
Make way for me, you chatty Birds!

Galileo
Who’s he callin’ chatty?

Copernicus
You are chatty, dude. Just own it.

Ptolemy
What happens next?

(Reenter Surgeo. As Galileo explains what happens next, Surgeo demonstrates.)

Galileo
Oh, you know… They walk and mutter and stop and look around and walk some more, and pretty soon they realize they’re on a barren moon, and it doesn’t really matter where they walk, so they just sit down, and then they lie down, and pretty soon, they’re asleep again, dreaming away.

Ptolemy
Oh, yeah.

Galileo
Only this time, they have pleasant dreams.

Ptolemy
Those are my favorite!

Galileo
Well, the dreams start out pleasant enough.

Copernicus
Oh! (Seeing Surgeo.) There’s one now. Let’s see what happens.

(Enter Cleo and Callie, who sit casually. Surgeo is half dreaming, half awake.)

Surgeo
Indeed, he was a great hero… but of all the warriors on our great moon, none was mightier than… uhm… uh…

Why Subscribe?

kk-question box coloredInside Drama Notebook, you will find a huge collection of well-organized lesson plans, scripts for kids, drama activities, 50 drama games on video and more! Membership is only $9.95 a month. Join today and dramatically reduce your planning time while delivering fresh, innovative drama lessons to your students!

If you are new to teaching drama, this site will be a Godsend!

You will immediately feel confident about teaching drama like an expert. The site guides you step-by-step and provides you with materials that you can use right away with your students.

If you have been teaching for years, Drama Notebook will inspire you with a fresh new approach and innovative ideas!

The site is packed with original, innovative lessons and activities that you will not find anywhere else—and new materials are added monthly.