The Clearing

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6-20 characters, flexible casting. Approximately 30 minutes long. 10 vignettes are set in a clearing in the woods and woven together with wit, wonder, and wisdom. Written by Jennifer Reif.  (5 credits)

It’s early summer when teenagers find themselves in a clearing in the woods. Some are searching and some are hiding. Some are lost and some are found. The Clearing is a series of ten vignettes: sweet, witty, and poignant. Each scene stands alone but when woven together they make for a magical and refreshingly good-natured play. Perform with as few as six actors or as many as twenty. A perfect choice for competitions, one-act festivals, or classroom scene study.

This play is a nice companion piece to The Crossroads. When performed together, there are roles for up to 40 actors. This script also contains a character development worksheet.

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 creative theatre projects with kids and sharing ideas with teachers. Jennifer holds her BA in Theatre from Morningside College and also studied at Oxford University in England.

Excerpt from the play:

Scene Order/Characters:

1. Finders– 2 teens search for the perfect spot to bury something.
2. Orion’s Belt– 3 teens take Grandma’s ashes to her favorite spot.
3. Scouting– 2 teen scouts on an overnight camping trip.
4. Birds-2 teens on a photography field trip.
5. Namaste– 2 teens commune with nature.
6. Hansel and Gretel-.2 teen siblings lost and found in the woods.
7. Hope– 2 teens doing research for science class.
8. Summer Camp– 3 teens hang out and talk about life.
9. Discovery– 2 teens discover magic under the stars.
10. Keepers– A teen returns for treasure. Character B from Finders is the Keeper.

Scene 1 Finders

Lights up on early morning. 5:00 A.M. Two teens enter with small backpacks. They have been hiking through the forest and are a bit winded. There is a slight sense of urgency. They wear headlamps or have a flashlight because it’s still quite dark.

A Aha!

B Are you sure this is the right spot?

A There is no right spot for what we are doing.

B Of course there is.

A How do you know? Have you done this before?

B No. But it needs to feel special.

A Special?

B It needs to be safe. And we’ve gotta be able to find it again.

A Fair enough.

B I’m sorry. I’m just kind of nervous you know?

A Hey. Don’t be nervous. You trust me, don’t you?

B Yeah.

A Okay then.

B I mean, I think so.

A You think so? Come on. We’ve known each other forever. You trust me.

B Okay. I trust you. What do we do now?

A We start digging.

B Maybe you should dig, and I keep a lookout.

A Look out for what? Bears? Nobody saw us. We’re a million miles away.

B Okay. Well, if it’s all the same to you, I’m gonna keep my eyes open while you do it.

A Fine. (A takes a trowel or small shovel out of a backpack and begins digging upstage out of site or slightly off stage. B stands guard and begins singing “You are my Sunshine.”)

A That’s a weird song to sing.

B This is a weird thing we’re doing.

A Fair enough. Okay, hand me the bag. (B hands A the bag. We don’t see what was inside.)

B Here you go. Be careful.

A I got it.

B Speaking of weird things, I am still amazed that I found that.

A It’s not weird, it’s lucky.

B Maybe.

A Don’t chicken out now!

B I’m not. It’s just that I want to do something good with it. Make a difference you know?

A Good Schmood. You found this, and now we are the rightful owners. (Comes out with dirty hands and the shovel or trowel.) Okay, let’s go.

B Wait! I think we should say a little something.

A Like what?

B Like…I don’t know. A prayer?

A A prayer?

B Yeah, a prayer.

A Okay fine…Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…

B Really?

A What?

B That’s not what I meant.

A It’s the only prayer I know.

B We’re not sleeping here.

A Fine. You do it.

B Okay. Um…Dear God, thank you for leading us to this safe spot. Please protect this site and give us a sign that we are doing the right thing. (Noise from offstage) Oh my God!

A Nice prayer!

B We gotta get out of here!

A Let’s go.

B But is it all…?

A Yes! Nobody is gonna find it. Let’s go.

(Exit in a hurry. Lights rise a bit as we transition into the next scene.)

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