7 characters. 3M, 3F, 1 Either; 23 pages in length. Approximately 20-30 minutes running time. A teen adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale written by Gary L. Blackwood.

The Steadfast Plastic Soldier is a contemporary adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier. It tells the story of an odd assortment of action figures that are at loose ends now that their owner has discovered video games. When the parents decide to turn the playroom into an extra bedroom, the toys face an uncertain future. Do they take action or passively accept whatever happens? The play also deals with issues such as fitting in, identity, and survival in a clever and comedic way.

Gary L. Blackwood is best known as an author of novels and nonfiction books (The Shakespeare Stealer series, The Year of the Hangman, Second Sight, Bucket’s List), but has also penned a dozen stage plays, mostly for adult audiences. Dark Horse won the Ferndale (CA) Repertory Theatre’s competition in 1993; The Count of One was winner of the 2001 Festival of Firsts in Carmel, CA; Fateville took top prize at the 2003 Dayton FutureFest. His adaptation of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome is published by Samuel French. His stage adaptation of The Shakespeare Stealer has been produced by most of the top children’s theatres in the States, including Seattle and Nashville, and is published by Playscripts.com.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

MEN
BRUCE: a GI Joe-type action figure
HAROLD: a wizard
SERGEANT SAM: military action figure

WOMEN
MILEY: a dancer
ANGIE: an archaeologist
BOBBIE: a Barbie clone

EITHER
FREEDO: an alien

Lights up on a playroom with a huge toy box or trunk–large enough to hold just one actor, but with a back that’s open so other actors can enter it unseen from O.S.; it’s like one of those circus cars from which an astonishing number of clowns emerge. At some distance from the box is a doll dressed as a dancer in a leotard and short skirt (not a tutu) and dance slippers (not toe shoes). She’s practicing her dance moves.

On the apron of the stage, watching her longingly, sits Bruce, a G.I. Joe-type action figure in a uniform of WWII or newer vintage, with no stripes. There’s a fake purple heart made of paper pinned to his chest, and in one hand is a large, anachronistic ray gun, the type that shoots darts; it should look as though it’s stuck to his hand, rather than as if he’s gripping it. One leg of his uniform is wrapped with duct tape, as if it’s holding the leg together.

From inside (behind) the box we hear the sounds of the other toys having a good time. One of them tells a joke, the others laugh uproariously. Then they burst into song; they sound almost as if they’re drunk or high—though of course that’s impossible for a toy. One of the toys, Freedo the alien, talks and sings in nonsense words, the sort a kid would make up. The dancer, Miley, casts a look of disgust toward the box. Bruce actually looks a bit wistful, as if he’d like to be part of it. The voices start in on one of those word games kids play on road trips.

MILEY
Could you possibly get them to quiet down? I can’t concentrate.

BRUCE
I’m not in command, here. I’m just a grunt.

MILEY
Well, then, go grunt at them, okay? (bats eyes) As a special favor to meeee?

(Bruce sighs, approaches the box and raps on it with the ray gun. No response. He raps harder.)

BRUCE
Um, hello in there? (still no reply) Helloooo? Ahoy! Hotel Echo Yankee! (Noise stops)

VOICES
What did he say? / (nonsense words) / Something about a hotel, I think. / And an echo . . . echo . . . echo . . .

(The lid opens a bit and a head peers out. It’s HAROLD, an apprentice wizard whose wand has been lost and replaced by a large toothpick or wooden match. He has a crude wizard mark on his forehead that looks a lot like a big zit.)

HAROLD
What did you say?

BRUCE
I said ‘HEY’. Using the military alphabet.

HAROLD
Ohhhkay. What do you want?

BRUCE
I just wanted to ask you if you could, you know, kinda keep it down. It’s gettin’ a little loud.

HAROLD
That’s because we’re having fun. You know what fun is? Have you ever had any? Of course you haven’t. All you know how to do is shoot people. But maybe that’s fun. Is it fun?

BRUCE
Not really. Anyway, do you think you could tone it down some? She’s having a hard time concentrating.

HAROLD
Oh, well, why didn’t you say so? You hear that, you guys? The new girl can’t concentrate, so she sent Moose, here—

BRUCE
It’s Bruce.

HAROLD
Whatever. She sent Broooce to ask us to keep it down. So, what do you say, guys? Shall we keep it down?

OTHERS
NOOOOO!

HAROLD
No! N-O! November Orange? Now go away! (disappears)

BRUCE
It’s Oscar. November Oscar. Idiots.(to Miley) Sorry. I tried.

MILEY
Uh-huh. (Goes back to her dancing, ignores him)

BRUCE
(very awkward) So. Where you from?

MILEY
(rolls her eyes) Originally? Or recently?

BRUCE
Huh?

MILEY
(sighs) I was in the sofa. Stuck behind the cushions.

BRUCE
Oh. So. You used to belong to the sister, then?

MILEY
Good guess.

BRUCE
(another awkward pause) You’re real good at that. Dancing, I mean.

MILEY
And how would you know?

BRUCE
Well, I don’t. But it looks good to me.

MILEY
(glancing at the ray gun) Uh-huh. Could you point that thing in some other direction?

BRUCE
Oh. Don’t worry; it’s not loaded. He lost all the ammo.

MILEY
What kind of gun is that, anyway? It looks like something from Star Trek.

BRUCE
It is. I used to have an M-1, but He lost that, too.

MILEY
He’s kind of a loser, isn’t he?

BRUCE
Hey. Don’t say that. It’s disrespectful. He’s the CIC.

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