12 characters. 4M, 7F, 1Either; 11 pages in length. Approximately 10-15 minutes running time. Lyrical fairy-tale that can also be performed as a puppet show.

In this charming fairy tale, a young girl (Kind Little Miss) sets out to find work so that the family does not starve during winter. In her quest, she comes to the aid of several characters, such as a brown cow, an oven, and an apple tree. She eventually finds work with a wicked old witch, who asks her to never, never look up inside the fireplace. Eventually, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she does what is forbidden. When she flees from the wicked old witch, she is aided by the characters she had helped before.

This is a cute play for grades 2-5 (ages 7-11). The language is lyrical and repetitive, and the play also works well for puppet theatre!

August Nigro is the author of three books, The Diagonal Line, The Net of Nemesis, and Wolfsangel: A German City on Trial, the last of which led to the only memorial in Germany to American fliers killed by German citizens during WWII.  At the unveiling of the memorial in Russelsheim, he gave the keynote speech.  Nigro has had four one-act plays – Identity Theft, The Piano Lessons, Mengele in Budapest, Early Though the Laurel Grows, —  and one full length play — The Long Shadow — produced at regional theaters in Hamburg, PA, Cumberland, MD, Acadia, OR, Chicago, IL, and Hamilton, Ontario.  His screenplay, Wolfsangel, based on his book, was read at Towson University.  He has also had six short stories – Beneath the Waters of Windrush, Epiphany in Venice, Holland Tunnel, The Long Wait Until Then, Pinnacle Peak, and The Woman in Emerald Green published in the United Kingdom.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

NARRATOR: Teller of the tale behind the play.

MOTHER: Poor, destitute, and desperate, she allows her older daughter, KIND LITTLE MISS, to leave home to seek a place in service.

FATHER: An idler by birth, he is incapable of providing for his family.

KIND LITTLE MISS: Seeking to alleviate the poverty of the family, she sets out to find a place in service in the house of a lady.

MEAN LITTLE SIS: Eyeing the great fortune her older sister finds, she sets out to claim her own but finds only misfortune.

OVEN: Having baking bread confined within her for seven years, she pleads for the sisters to deliver it.

BREAD: Baking for seven years, he pleads for the sisters to remove him from the oven.

COW: Neglected for seven years, she begs the sisters to milk her.

APPLE TREE: Burdened with fruit on her branches for seven years, she pleads with the sisters to pluck her apples.

APPLE: Fearing the over ripeness on the tree for seven years, he too begs the sisters to pluck him from the tree.

WICKED OLD WITCH: Employs both sisters as servants in her cottage but warns both not to look up her chimney.

HANDSOME YOUNG MAN: Hides the KIND LITTLE MISS from the WICKED OLD WITCH and comes courting her at home.

(LIGHTS COME UP on the NARRATOR on a black box stage.)

NARRATOR
Once upon a rhyme, a family of four lived in a cottage in a dark and dim dell. Mother Nature let fall upon that glen a drought, and all was bare about.

(LIGHTS COME DOWN and UP on MOTHER, FATHER, KIND LITTLE MISS, and MEAN LITTLE SIS.)

MOTHER
The larder is bare, my dear.

FATHER
Aye, the larder is bare in here.

MOTHER
Will ye not seek wages to replenish the stock?

FATHER
I’m done looking for wages here for there’s no work to be found.

MOTHER
Where there’s a will, there’s a way; so, why not try there instead of here.

FATHER
There’s no Will abiding here, there’s only you and me; and I’m done working for wages to pay for the porridge. So bare the larder must be, my dear; so bare the larder must be.

MOTHER
But how will we feed our two daughters dear; oh, how will we feed the pair?

KIND LITTLE MISS
Oh, we’re not small at all, mother dear; we’re not small at all. We’ll find us a place in service; we’ll find a position near.

MEAN LITTLE SIS
Speak only for thee sister dear, speak only for thee, not me. I’d rather starve here at home than sally forth out there.

KIND LITTLE MISS
Then I’ll go alone, mother dear, I’ll go alone, you’ll see. Then one less mouth to feed there’ll be; one less mouth in need.

MOTHER
You may go this day, my dear, but only this one day. So quicken your pace and hasten your speed and find you a place that’s near. But if none you find ‘fore darkness falls, then back you must come to dwell, back you must come to the dell.

KIND LITTLE MISS
And will you bless my quest, oh mother dear, will you bless my quest this day?

MOTHER
I’ll bless your quest this day my little miss, I’ll bless your quest this day.

(LIGHTS COME DOWN and UP on the NARRATOR.)

NARRATOR
So the kind little miss set forth apace to find a place in a lady’s house. As she skipped along the well worn path, she came upon an oven, one abandoned by the road.

(LIGHTS COME DOWN and UP on the KIND LITTLE MISS and the OVEN. At the foot of the oven are three empty baskets. The KIND LITTLE MISS stops to sniff the bread baking in the oven.)

OVEN
Oh, kind little miss, please open my door. My bread’s been a baking these seven years long.

BREAD V.O.
Oh yes, kind little miss, our yeast too has been arising; and soon our buns will all be scorched along the oven wall.

KIND LITTLE MISS
Why doesn’t the baker open your door and deliver your bread from within?

OVEN
The baker has chucked his chores, kind little miss; I’ve grown too hot for him.

KIND LITTLE MISS
Oh, yes, dear oven, I’ll deliver your bread; your loaves and rolls as well.

(The KIND LITTLE MISS opens the oven doors and takes out a tray of rolls and fills one of the baskets.)

BREAD
For this relief, much thanks, kind little miss; for this relief much thanks. But you look so pale, my dear; you look so wan and gaunt. Be there any thing you want?

KIND LITTLE MISS
I feel a slight hunger pang, dear bread, a slight hunger pang, I fear.

BREAD
Then help yourself to one of us and have a golden roll; a golden roll will keep away the hunger troll.

(The KIND LITTLE MISS helps herself to one of the rolls and puts another in her pocket.)

KIND LITTLE MISS
Oh, thank you, thank you oven dear; and thank you too sweet roll. A taste of you has kept away the ever hunger troll. And, if you don’t mind, I’ll take one more. It will ease my sister dear; she feels the hunger troll more than even I.  Oh, oven and bread, I feel so blessed, but now I must renew my quest for service in yon lady’s house.

(The LIGHTS COME DOWN and UP on the NARRATOR.)

NARRATOR
The kind little miss continued on until she met the cow. What cow you now may ask? What cow, indeed? Why, the little brown cow, of course; of course the little brown cow.

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