How the Whale Got Its Throat

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Denise Jakel
May 20, 2024
 by Denise Jakel on Drama Notebook

I...

3-30+ characters, flexible casting. Approximately 5 minutes long. An origin animal origin story about how the whale got its throat. Based on the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

In far-off times, the Whale did not have a tiny throat as it does today. It gobbled up the biggest creatures in the sea. An imaginative origin story of how the whale got its throat, this short play is inspired by one of The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. This is a perfect piece for exploring movement and ensemble work.

There are enough roles in this piece for everyone in your class, and we have four more plays in this series. Perform them one at a time or all together for an entire show-length presentation! Narrators can be “on book” to prompt other cast members.

Suggested Order for Show-Length Presentation:

How the Rhinoceros Got Its Wrinkly Skin
How the Kangaroo Got Its Jump
How the Camel Got Its Hump
How the Whale Got Its Throat
How the Elephant Got Its Trunk

You may also inspire your students to write their own origin stories with our popular Myths Drama Activity.

About the Playwright:

Greg Cummings is a member of Dramatists Guild. His plays are published by Concord Theatricals, Smith and Kraus, Brooklyn, Dominion, and Heuer, and have been produced at regional theatres, colleges, arts centers, high schools, and middle schools in all fifty states, Canada, and England.

Excerpt from the Play:

CHARACTERS:

ENSEMBLE transforms into

WHALE
HUMAN
‘STUTE FISH (‘Stute = astute)

SETTING
The Ocean

AT RISE: ENSEMBLE, as ELDEST MAGICIANS, enters, with great style, and stand in a line from stage right to stage left.

MAGICIANS
Good evening, O my Best Beloved! We are The Eldest Magicians! MAGICIANS bow. And welcome to our production of: ”How the Whale Got Its Throat”, based on one of The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling! Ahem! In the High and Far Off Times lived: the Whale, O My Best Beloved, The Whale in the Sea! But, back then, in the High and Far Off Times, The Whale in the Sea did not have the tiny, tiny throat it does today! No, no, no, O my Best Beloved! Nowadays, with its tiny, tiny throat the Whale in the Sea can only eat the teeniest, tiniest of sea creatures. In the High and Far Off Times, however, the Whale could and did eat the biggest creatures in the sea!

MAGICIANS link elbows and become WHALE.

WHALE Pointing straight ahead.
I! Am! The! Whale! Come here, big sea creatures! You are my lunch!

Actors in the middle of the WHALE line unlink elbows to open the “WHALE mouth” and, with a loud gobble sound, gobble a large, mimed sea creature, loudly chewing it.

WHALE
Yummmmm!

Actors in the middle of the WHALE line link elbows to close the “WHALE mouth”.

But I’m still hungry! But I want more! I want to eat an even bigger fish in the sea! I want…

WHALE points stage left. An actor at the stage left part of the WHALE line steps forward and becomes a very scared ‘STUTE FISH

‘STUTE FISH
S…s…stute Fish?

WHALE
Yes! Yes! ‘Stute Fish! You’re big! And I’m still hungry! You’ll do just fine!

‘STUTE FISH
Wait! To the audience. I’m a ‘Stute Fish! And ‘Stute is short for astute, and astute means smart, which means I’m smart, which means I’ll be just fine! Watch this! To WHALE Oh, Whale!

WHALE
‘Stute Fish! Prepare to be eaten!

Actors in the middle of the WHALE line unlink elbows to open the “WHALE mouth” again.

‘STUTE FISH
Wait, Whale! I… have a better idea!

WHALE
A better idea?

Actors in the middle of the WHALE line link elbows again, closing the “WHALE mouth”.

‘STUTE FISH
A tastier idea!

WHALE
A tastier idea?

‘STUTE FISH
A better, tastier, bigger idea!

WHALE
Better, tastier, bigger? Sounds perfect! Where?

‘STUTE FISH
There!

‘STUTE FISH points to stage right. An actor at the stage right part of the WHALE line steps forward, faces forward, and becomes a HUMAN.

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