The Clumsy Princess Sample

(LIGHTS RISE on the stage. A closed curtain stretches across the back of the stage. It will remain closed until the end. The actors hustle and bustle about, moving on trunks and crates, filled with the costumes and props that will be used throughout the story. None of them seems to notice the audience and they all talk among themselves. The YOUNG MAN and the YOUNG GIRL meet center and catch each other’s eyes. They share an intimate look. Finally, the OLD WOMAN glances up, spotting the audience.)

OLD WOMAN: (to audience) What are you looking at?

YOUNG MAN/YOUNG GIRL: Nothing!

(The YOUNG MAN and YOUNG GIRL quickly go back to work.)

OLD WOMAN: (to audience) You there. What are you looking at?

BOY: Who are you talking to?

OLD WOMAN: Them.

BOY: Them who?

OLD WOMAN: The audience.

OLD MAN: We have an audience!

ALL: An audience!

OLD MAN: Goodness gracious. Quickly everyone, take your places.

BOY: Places for what? We’ve nothing prepared.

YOUNG GIRL: We weren’t expecting an audience today.

OLD MAN: No matter! We are actors! We must act!

BOY: Act what?

OLD MAN: Act what…act what… (beat) Quickly! Get the book!

ALL: The book!

(The actors frantically start looking for the book.)

YOUNG MAN: It’s not in here.

BOY: Not here.

OLD WOMAN: Well, I don’t have it.

OLD MAN: Someone must have it. Books don’t just walk away, you know.

(The YOUNG MAN and the YOUNG GIRL find it at the exact same time. They both pull it out.)

YOUNG MAN/YOUNG GIRL: Here it is…

(Embarrassed, the YOUNG MAN lets go of it. The OLD MAN snatches it.)

OLD MAN: Here we are, here we are. An audience must have a show. Let’s do The Grasshopper and the Ant.

(The others all groan.)

BOY: Not that old thing again.

OLD MAN: Old? Old?!

BOY: We’ve done it a thousand times.

OLD MAN: It is a tale that is tried and true! With a most remarkable moral, I might add.

BOY: Must we always do plays with morals?

OLD MAN: Of course! How else will they learn?

OLD WOMAN: They’re not here to learn, they’re here to be entertained.

OLD MAN: I find morality quite entertaining.

(The YOUNG GIRL takes the book.)

YOUNG GIRL: Let’s do a romantic story. How about Cinderella?

BOY: Boring!

YOUNG MAN: I’d prefer a tale of adventure myself.

BOY: Yeah!

YOUNG MAN: With adventure and danger and swashbuckling.

BOY: I could buckle some swash! And a monster. The story has to have a monster!

(The BOY takes the book. He and the YOUNG MAN rifle through it eagerly.)

YOUNG MAN: We could do Frankenstein!

(The OLD WOMAN snatches the book.)

OLD WOMAN: Absolutely not. What the audiences really want these days is a true story.

(They all begin clamoring for the book.)

OLD MAN: It must be a play of morality.

YOUNG GIRL: Romance!

BOY: Monsters!

YOUNG MAN: Adventure!

OLD WOMAN: A true story!

(They begin to bicker angrily. As their shouting reaches a peak, the PLAYER QUEEN enters.)

PLAYER QUEEN: What’s going on here?

ALL: He/She started it!

OLD MAN: Look, we have an audience!

PLAYER QUEEN: This is not the kind of show they came here to see.

OLD MAN: Certainly not. They came to see a story of lessons learned and morals told.

OLD WOMAN: They came here to see the truth.

YOUNG GIRL: Romance!

BOY: Monsters!

YOUNG MAN: Adventure!

(The PLAYER QUEEN takes the book.)

PLAYER QUEEN: (to audience) Forgive us. It seems our manners have become a bit rusty since we last came to this village. We are King Stephan’s Players, occasionally the finest troupe of performers in the known world. That is, when we can actually agree on anything.

OLD MAN: They’re waiting for a story.

PLAYER QUEEN: So they are.

BOY: By the time we agree on which one, they’ll be half asleep.

OLD WOMAN: You’re the leader. You decide.

ALL: You decide.

PLAYER QUEEN: Very well. (beat) I choose all of them.

ALL: All of them?

YOUNG MAN: We’ll be here all night.

PLAYER QUEEN: Not if we tell them the story of our king.

YOUNG GIRL: That’s such a romantic story!

OLD MAN: With a valuable lesson.

BOY: He fought The Beast, remember?

YOUNG MAN: Of course I do.

OLD WOMAN: I remember when it happened. I was there.

PLAYER QUEEN: Then it’s settled. (to audience) Ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment, King Stephan’s Players present to you the tale of our king.

(The actors hustle about, preparing the stage. Someone plays a guitar as the PLAYER QUEEN sings. The rest set up the stage to resemble a palace throne room with a large window toward the back of the stage. Other instruments may be played, as available.)

PLAYER QUEEN: (singing)
Come one, come all, come gather ‘round,
A tale I have for you.
About our good King Stephen
And all that he went through.
Through forests, rivers, windows too
And maybe there’s some kissing,
But what it was, just wait because
I’ll tell you if you listen.

ALL: (singing)
With a hey a-nony nony,
No, you don’t know what you’re missin’,
But what it was, just wait because
I’ll tell you if you listen.

PLAYER QUEEN: (singing)
Now Stephan was a handsome lad
With wealth beyond compare.
He spent most of his royal days admiring his hair.
Back then he was a prince
And all were stuck obeying him.
And everything they did
Was in accordance with his whim.

ALL: (singing)
With a hey a-nony nony,
No, you don’t know what you’re missin’,
But what it was, just wait because
I’ll tell you if you listen.

(The music ends. Everyone exits except for the PLAYER QUEEN. As she speaks, she puts on a jester costume, becoming FELICITY.)

FELICITY: Once upon a time…well, that’s how these stories usually start. But I don’t think I can begin this particular story with “once upon a time.” You see, it wasn’t upon a time at all. No, in fact, it was a matter of years ago. But, regardless of when it happened, it happened.

(MOTHER enters and takes the book.)

FELICITY: It began with the young Prince Stephan.

(STEPHAN enters. He is much younger than he will be, the rest of the play.)

STEPHAN: Read me another story, Mother.

MOTHER: “Once upon a time, there was a handsome young prince…”

STEPHAN: Like me?

MOTHER: Like you will be, someday, my handsome boy.

FELICITY: Day after day, night after night, Prince Stephan’s mother read to him from the book of fairy tales.

MOTHER: “And the prince saw the beautiful princess and instantly fell in love with her. And they lived happily, ever after.”

FELICITY: And as Prince Stephan grew, he knew the stories by heart.

MOTHER: “And the valiant, handsome prince.”

STEPHAN: “Slew the monster.”

MOTHER: “And they lived happily.”

STEPHAN: “Ever.”

MOTHER/STEPHAN: “After.”

(STEPHAN takes the book and starts reading it on his own. MOTHER exits.)

FELICITY: In time, young Stephan grew up to be a man, strong and handsome.

(STEPHAN clears his throat.)

FELICITY: Very, very handsome. And certainly well educated.

STEPHAN: Yes, a paragon of perfection. Like the pictures in this book.

FELICITY: Almost.

STEPHAN: Almost.

FELICITY: You see, there was one thing Prince Stephan needed desperately, in order to become like the princes in his fairy tales.

STEPHAN: A wife.

FELICITY: A wife.

STEPHAN: A princess worthy of a paragon of perfection.

(STEPHAN exits.)

FELICITY: But, despite his best efforts, Prince Stephan simply could not find a princess. He wouldn’t just settle for anyone. She had to be –

STEPHAN: (offstage) Beautiful as me!

FELICITY: Beautiful as him. Therefore, no ordinary princess would do. And oh, how he tried to find her. He sent to all the neighboring kingdoms on this side of the mountain. “Send your princesses! The lucky girl shall be my bride.” And one after another, they came. And one after another, they were rejected for their moles, their pimples, their split ends. There was one that almost made it.

(FELICITY steps aside. A FOREIGN PRINCESS enters. She is very beautiful with an exotic flair. STEPHAN enters and sees her.)

STEPHAN: Gadzooks, you are beautiful. Welcome to my kingdom! I assume you came in response to our opening for a princess?

(The FOREIGN PRINCESS stares at him.)

STEPHAN: No chit chat, I see. I like that in a woman. Beautiful and silent.

(She stares.)

STEPHAN: I realize my beauty is overpowering you, but please, speak.

FOREIGN PRINCESS: Funga oh ni wati?

STEPHAN: Uh…come again?

FOREIGN PRINCESS: Noos drama macaritas?

STEPHAN: Do you speak my language?

FOREIGN PRINCESS: Ni paca olama. Desproto et maca.

STEPHAN: Do. You. Speak. My. Language?

FOREIGN PRINCESS: Niska tes ama.

STEPHAN: You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?

FOREIGN PRINCESS: Oh no mi eni.

STEPHAN: Quick! There are monkeys flying about the room!

FOREIGN PRINCESS: Daka?

STEPHAN: My jester’s feet are made of mashed potatoes.

FOREIGN PRINCESS: Daka.

(A TRANSLATOR enters behind STEPHAN.)

STEPHAN: You have the most remarkable bottom I’ve ever seen.

TRANSLATOR: Og gapa dek, ala feya tasa.

(The FOREIGN PRINCESS shrieks indignantly, slaps STEPHAN, and exits in a huff, followed by the TRANSLATOR.)

STEPHAN: My nose! She hurt my nose!

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