I’m taking the WordPress poetry challenge but I’m not keeping up with assignments so well. I’m an Artist in Residence for performing arts in 4 rural schools, 5 classrooms. (The Robin Hood costumes I sewed are for a different program.) And I’m taking some art classes in the evenings. I’m a little distracted from my poetry assignments so I’ll share what I did with a famous poem instead of composing my own original one today.
Here’s a favorite poem I’ve adapted into a short play for 3rd graders. I left room in this first draft for kids to make changes if they think it will make the play more interesting. You can share this with teachers or youth leaders you know for education purposes. They can contact me for clarification or help, or to contract me to teach children’s theater. I love performing arts and writing plays!
The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
script adapted by Kay Addington MacDonald, M. Ed.
On a sandy beach, clear sky, no birds or clouds, Sun shining with all its might, Moon sulking because the sun had no business being there in the middle of the night.
Props: large sun working hard to shine, large moon looking sulky (might be kids in costumes), 2 or more ocean colored long airy cloths for ocean billows
Stage hands: 2 kids gently waving blue cloth near the floor to represent smooth billows (more hands, kids, could wave a second cloth)
Moon’s off stage voice (can be one of the maids or Walrus or Carpenter)
7 maids (chorus dancers)
Tableau: Sun stands boldly and begins mime when narrator tells its part, Moon stands sulking
Stage hands: create smooth ocean billows with cloth by kneeling and gently waving it
Narrator (off stage voice): The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
Moon (in sulking pouting voice): It’s very rude of him to come and spoil the fun.
Narrator: The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.
Enter: Walrus and Carpenter walking close together and weeping to DL. Walk slowly and at DL continue miming walking and weeping. Mime looking at all the sand.
Walrus and Carpenter in chorus: If this were only cleared away,’ it would be grand!’
Walrus: If seven maids with seven mops swept it for half a year, do you suppose that they could get it clear?
Carpenter: I doubt it. (shed a bitter tear)
Walrus and Carpenter tableau: crying and looking at beach and maids dancing
Enter: 7 maids in chorus dancing and miming mopping up the beach sand
Exit: 7 maids in chorus dancing and miming mopping up the beach sand
Note: include canon in movements if kids can use more challenge*
Scene: same as Scene 1, but add 1 large rock for Walrus and Carpenter to sit on
Groups of 4 oysters, all the kids are oysters, in groups of 4
Tableau: All oysters sleeping in oyster bed downstage, the Eldest Oyster is downstage center and much larger than the rest; billowing waves are center stage behind Oysters. Walrus and Carpenter are upstage. It should look like oysters in the sea and Walrus and Carpenter on the beach.
Walrus: (Sees oysters) O Oysters! Come and walk with us!
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.
Eldest Oyster: (looking at Walrus, don’t turn your back to audience) Mime: wink your eye, slowly shake your heavy head NO, meaning to say you do not choose to leave the oyster-bed
All Oysters: Mime chorus movements in groups of 4: brushing your coats, washing your faces, cleaning and shining your shoes
Note: include canon in movements if kids can use more challenge*
Tableau: all Oysters except Eldest, in groups of 4 pose as if eager to get out of the water and go for a beach walk with the Walrus and Carpenter
Stage hands: kneeling, gently wave long airy white cloth to represent frothy waves at the shoreline
First 4 Oysters: eagerly move all hopping through the frothy waves and scrambling to the shore to the Walrus and Carpenter and take their hands. Mime walking on the beach with the Walrus and Carpenter.
Second 4 Oysters: repeat and get in position behind the first 4
Third 4 Oysters: repeat and get into position behind the second 4
More sets of 4 Oysters: repeat until all Oysters are on the beach, miming walking behind the Walrus and Carpenter, except the Eldest who stays in his bed
Walrus, Carpenter, and all Oysters except the Eldest: continue miming walking on the beach until Narrator tells Walrus and Carpenter to rest on a rock.
Narrator: The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
Oysters: quickly line up in one row
Walrus: The time has come
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.
All Oysters in chorus: But wait a bit before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!
Carpenter: No hurry!
All Oysters in chorus: Thank you so very very much!
Walrus: A loaf of bread is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed.
(Looking at Oysters) Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.
All Oysters in chorus: But not on us! After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!
Walrus: The night is fine. It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!
Carpenter: Cut us another slice: I wish you were not quite so deaf —
I’ve had to ask you twice!
Walrus: It seems a shame to play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!
Carpenter: The butter’s spread too thick!
Walrus: I weep for you. I deeply sympathize.
Walrus: (With sobs and tears, holding his pocket-handkerchief before your streaming eyes, sort out the largest from the smallest, placing he largest closest to the rock. Be careful not to turn your back on the audience.)
Carpenter: O Oysters, you’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?
Narrator: But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.
All Oysters, except the Eldest: Carefully and slowly collapse dead on the beach.
*Creative movement ideas
Several underlying techniques are commonly used in choreography for two or more dancers:
- Mirroring – facing each other and doing the same
- Retrograde – performing a sequence of moves in reverse order
- * Canon – people performing the same move one after the other
- Levels – people higher and lower in a dance
- Shadowing – standing one behind the other and performing the same moves
- Unison – two or more people doing a range of moves at the same time
Movements may be characterized by dynamics, such as fast, slow, hard, soft, long, and short.
Movement space can be high, mid, low bodies and stage places, spins, leaps, lunges, use forward, side, back motions.