Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Golden Goose - extended version - 2nd EFL summer camp play

I wrote the short version of The Golden Goose for 6-10 year-olds, but it caught the fancy of the older ones, so this is the extended version, as performed by 6-13 year-olds last summer. The notes are largely the same as in the shorter version.

Two takes on a classic fairy tale, one set inside the other. The Prologue is set in the palace, where various characters are trying to make the princess laugh. Some of them are going to perform a play for her, but first there's a problem to be resolved.

  • You can change and expand the Prologue entertainment to suit your children: We had a 6 year old, a 7 year old, and then seven 10-13 year-olds, so we worked from our particular children's ages, interests and abilities.
  • The puppet show was a specific project with the two little ones, which was integrated into the show. The Prologue puppeteers argue about the little girl and the old man, and then play them in the main play.
  • A 10-year-old had limited English and a short attention span, but he proved to be a natural juggler and percussionist with great balance, hence the poi, and the role of the Goose (comic, only says 'Honk!), and Tom (physical role, very structured setting for language - to stretch him a bit!)
  • The Landlord and the Narrator could be split, but we had one boy who just soaked up lines, and had great presence, so the contrast gave him an enjoyable challenge. He had a trilby with a Narrator ticket in it, which he removed to indicate the change to Landlord. The narration actually passes from character to character.
  • Mother/Princess and Father/King can be split to provide two more actors with roles, but if you've got another half-dozen children to cast, I suggest you go back to the original story, and you'll find that the landlord actually had three daughters, and Dumling and the goose meet several other characters before they happen to walk past the palace window. When your kids see the way I've played with the original, they'll see what a short, structured and entertaining improvisation/writing challenge it would be to choose, script and rehearse other characters and their encounter with the Golden Goose. Then there's the pleasure of choosing and making appropriate props to indicate character, writing the programme, doing the posters and doing the show. The Prologue is as much variety show as plot mechanism. Just because the princess doesn't laugh, it doesn't mean that the performers are no good!
  • Alternatively, cut the Prologue, and the main play is short enough for a class assembly, though you'll need to tinker with the King's and the Princess's lines - or see the short version.
  • If your kids write new characters, they could do their own character-appropriate acrostics. There's a section on acrostics in Writing With Children, by Jackie Reilly and Vanessa Reilly, in the Oxford Resource Books for Teachers series for primary/junior years.
  • The play is in the narrative present, which gives second language learners lots of relatively painless practice at third person singular, contractions and weak forms. If you have lower secondary native speakers, they could try restoring the full forms to see whether they get an old-fashioned, fairytale feel or whether the combination with the contemporary tone (and their characters) produces something ironic and subversive. All good fun.
  • We did this in a rectangular room, with the audience in one half and the acting space in the other. The actors sat on chairs on two sides of the acting space, with their props and costume bits under their chairs, or on a shelf behind them. This encouraged responsibility for personal props, made for quick entrances and exits, and meant, with no backstage or wing space - there was no need for backstage noise control. Love it.
  • Silly Sally had huge yellow crepe paper bows in her hair, and a hula hoop.
  • The goose had some gold-coloured cloth tied around her shoulders, and a long-beaked half-face mask. These don't come in children's sizes, but you could build up something light, stable and comfortable with papier mache and wire, and if it doesn't fit comfortably, staple it to a hairband, and your actor can wear it like a unicorn' horn, and play it for laughs.
  • Colin, Princess Nicola, Mum, Dad and the King had tabards with their acrostics on them in large letters. Colin and Nicola's were reversible.
  • The King stuck his proclamation poster up with authentic medieval blutak.
  • Tom/Colin need a papier mache axe, but I suggest miming the Harley Davidson.

If you'd like to use this version of The Golden Goose, please do, and give me some feedback, ok?! I'd like to know about straight takes, but also what you and your kids do to make it yours.


P.S. Sorry about the formatting. No clue in the blogosphere. As I've said before!

THE GOLDEN GOOSE (extended version)

© Noëlle Williamson 2010

(9 actors doubling 17 roles)

Princess / Mother

Puppeteer 1 / Little Old Man

Puppeteer 2 / Silly Sally (Puppeteers were 6 & 7 years old, and made their own double-fronted puppets from 1.5L water bottles clothed with glued-on fabric scraps and stuffed sock heads with stuck-on wool hair and happy/sad faces drawn with felt tip – tied tightly around the bottle necks. We had a Punch & Judy-style puppet theatre, and the children were visible, holding their puppets. Alternatively, a long loop of string attached at the top of the puppet head makes a basic marionette that a child this age/size can walk along the floor.)

Narrator / Landlord

Father / King


Poi Juggler / Tom / Goose (small roles for child with good co-ordination/comic flair)

Stage Manager / Dumling (Colin)

Marcus (Injured Hero) This is a cameo for a camp leader/teacher


(3-part round to the tune of Frère Jacques - very cheesy, but useful for E2L cast practising contractions & performing to small audience.)

Everyone Hi, I’m XX. My name’s XX.

(I’m XX. My name’s XX.)

(Hi, I’m XX. I’m XX. I’m XX.)

This is our show. (x2) It’s called The Golden Goose. (x2) Now, off we go. Off we go.

Narrator This is Princess Nicola.

Princess Hello.

Narrator She’s Pretty, Rich, Intelligent, Nice, Curious, Energetic,

Princess Sad, and Soooooooooo lonely. I never laugh

King or smile.

Princess Never.

Juggler This is

King The King. I’m Kind, Intelligent, Nice…….. I’m Great!

Juggler The King has a plan to make his daughter smile.


Signed, The King.


Juggler Are you serious?

King I’m serious.

Princess What? But Daddy!

King So, who wants to marry my daughter?

Juggler Me! Here’s a riddle. What’s brown and sticky?

Princess I don’t know. What is brown and sticky?

Juggler A stick! Boom! Boom!

Princess Boom boom?

Juggler You’re supposed to laugh now. A stick…….. stick – y……… Get it?

Princess You must be joking.

Juggler Yes! No! I mean…………. (Juggler sighs and exits.)

(Stage Manager crosses the stage, puts props on a chair.)

Princess Daddy, who’s that? (Stage Manager looks round, exits)

King I don’t know, Nicola.

Puppeteer 1 I can make you laugh! Tickletickletickle! (Tickles with feather.)

Princess What are you doing?

Puppeteer 1 I’m tickling you. Aren’t you ticklish?

(Princess gives Puppeteer 1 a withering look. Puppeteer 1 sighs and exits.)

(Stage Manager crosses stage, puts props on a chair, smiles shyly at Princess.)

Princess Who - ?

Juggler Look at me! Look at me! (Juggler whirls Poi. Gets tangled, falls over.) Oops! Ta daah!

Princess Ta daah?

Juggler (on floor) You’re supposed to laugh now.

(Princess folds her arms. Juggler sighs. Tries to get up.)

Stage Manager (to Princess) Excuse me. (Stage Manager picks Juggler up and exits.)

Princess Who - ?

(Puppeteer 1 and Puppeteer 2 enter with puppets, start puppet show.)

Puppeteer 1 This is the story of The Golden Goose. It’s VERY FUNNY.

Puppeteer 2 (MUM puppet) Dumling! Go to the woods! Chop down some trees!

Puppeteer 1 (SAD COLIN puppet) Yes Mum.

Puppeteer 2 (SALLY puppet) In the wood, Colin meets

Puppeteer 1 (L.O.M. puppet) A Little Old Man.

Puppeteer 2 (SALLY puppet) A little girl called Sally.

Puppeteer 1 (L.O.M. puppet) A Little Old Man!

Puppeteer 2 (SALLY puppet) A little girl !

Puppeteer 1 (L.O.M. puppet) Man!

Puppeteer 2 (SALLY puppet) Girl!

Puppeteer 1 (L.O.M. puppet) Man!

Puppeteer 2 (SALLY puppet) Girl!

Puppeteer 1 (L.O.M. puppet) Man!

Puppeteer 2 (SALLY puppet) Girl!

Stage Manager Stop! (Either the puppet theatre falls over or marionettes get tangled up. Stage Manager rights theatre or untangles marionettes.)

Princess Who are you?

Stage Manager The stage manager. The summer camp kids are doing a play today –

(Loud crash off-stage. Yells of pain. Marcus enters limping, supported by actors, bandages wrapped around his head)

Stage Manager Marcus! What happened?

Marcus (groaning tragically) I fell over the Cubeecraft (whatever project the kids associate with him) display. Owwwwwwwwww!

Stage Manager Oh no!

Puppeteer 2 You’d better lie down.

Puppeteer 1 Call a doctor! (They help Marcus exit.)

Narrator But the play is about to start.

Stage Manager And he’s playing the hero!

Narrator Well, you’re the stage manager. You’ll have to go on in his place.

Stage Manager But –

Princess (trying not to smile) What a good idea!

Narrator (noticing) Yes. What a good idea! Would you like to sit down, your Highness? (calls out) Places everyone! (Everyone gets into position for the start of the play.)

Narrator Ready? O.k. This is Colin. He's the hero of this story. Colin is Cheerful, Optimistic, Loyal, Intelligent and Nice. The only people who don’t think so are his parents and his brother, Tom. They don’t call him Colin, they call him Dumling. These are Colin’s parents. They're always arguing.

Mum (to Dad) You are Dirty, Awful and Disgusting! I hate you!

Dad (to Mum) Me? You are Mean, Useless and Miserable!

Narrator The only thing Colin’s parents agree about is Colin.

Mum As for you!

Dad You are

Mum Daft

Dad Useless

Mum Messy

Dad Lazy

Mum Idiotic

Dad Nerdy

Mum and Grumpy!

Both You’re a dumling!

Narrator ….and Colin’s brother, Tom

Mum Terrific

Dad Outstanding

Mum Marvellous

Dad That’s my boy!

Narrator Poor Colin. (Colin sighs) Colin’s father is a lumberjack. He chops down trees, and sells the wood. However, he's also very lazy, and h's always thinking of excuses not to go to work. One day,

Dad Ow. I’ve got a headache…No. That was yesterday... Owwwww. I’ve got ear-ache... No. That was last week... Oh! I know! (holds up one hand, with one finger bent out of sight) OOOOOWWWWWWWW! I’ve lost my finger! I can’t find it anywhere! I can’t go to work today. Here, Tom. Take my axe, go to the woods and chop down some trees.

Tom Oh Dad. I don’t want to. I’m playing …………………………….

Mum Never mind, Tom. I’ve made you a little packed lunch. Look: cheese sandwiches, ham sandwiches, egg sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, chocolate cake, apple pie, three bananas, a strawberry milkshake, a peach smoothie, and a litre of orange juice. Do you think that’s enough?

Tom Got any crisps?

Mum / Dad (proudly) That’s my boy!

Narrator Tom gets on his Harley Davidson and rides to the woods. (Tom makes motorbike noises). When he gets there, he's so tired that he goes to sleep under a tree. When he wakes up, he sees

Little Old Man a little old man. Hello Tom.

Tom How do you know my name?

Little Old Man I know lots of things…….. I'm hungry and thirsty. Will you share your packed lunch with me?

Tom Are you kidding? I’ve only got enough for one person: me! Go away old man!

Little Old Man I see. Well you didn’t help me. So I won’t help you.

Tom Well I don’t care! – He’s gone! Huh! I suppose I ought to do some work.

Narrator Tom picks up the axe and swings it, but as soon as the blade hits the tree

Tom (axe bounces and hits him on the head) Ow! Ow ow ow owwwwww! Mum!

Narrator and he runs all the way home.

Mum Oh! My poor baby!

Narrator The next day

Dad Ow. I’ve got a headache… No… Ow. I’ve got ear-ache… No... Ow. I’ve got (holds up one hand) No! Oh! I know!.OOOOOWWWWWWWW! I’ve lost my leg! I can’t find it anywhere! I can’t go to work today. Dumling! Here, Dumling. Go and do some work, you lazy, useless boy.

Colin Sure. Er, can I have a packed lunch, Mum?

Mum A packed lunch? Do you think I’m you’re slave? If you’re hungry, find something in the cupboard.

Colin Is there anything in the fridge?

Mum Only some cheese, ham, egg, chicken, chocolate cake, apple pie, bananas, milk, yoghurt and orange juice, and we need that for your poor sick brother. Don’t we, Tommykins?

Tom Got any crisps?

Mum / Dad (proudly) That’s my boy!

Narrator Poor Colin. (Colin sighs)He finds some stale bread and some water, picks up his father’s axe -

Dad You be careful with that axe! It’s worth a lot of money!

Narrator and sets off for the woods.

Colin When he gets to the wood, he's tired, and sits down under a tree. Suddenly, he sees

Little Old Man a little old man. Hello Colin.

Colin How do you know my name?

Little Old Man I know lots of things…….. I'm hungry and thirsty. Will you share your packed lunch with me?

Colin I've only got a piece of stale bread and some water, but you can have half.

Little Old Man Thank you. (They eat) Now, you helped me, so I'll help you. Look over there.

Colin What is it?

Little Old Man A golden goose. Take her. She'll bring you luck.

Goose Honk!

Colin Thank – He’s gone! Wow! A golden goose. Maybe you’re magic? Can you speak?

Goose Honk!

Colin No…… Can you lay golden eggs?

Goose Honk!

Colin No….. Oh well. Maybe you’ll bring me luck, like the old man said!

Narrator Colin decides to go and seek his fortune. Colin and the golden goose walk a long, long way, until they come to

Colin an inn.

Landlord Welcome to my inn. Rooms 55 euros a night. But your duck can stay in the stable for nothing.

Goose Honk!

Landlord Pardon?! This is my daughter, Sally.

Sally Hello, I’m Sally, and I’m seven.

Landlord This is Sally, and she’s silly!

Sally What’s that?

Landlord It’s a duck.

Goose Honk!

Colin She’s a golden goose.

Sally She’s pretty. Can I have one, Dad?

Landlord No.

Sally Please.

Landlord No.

Sally Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?

Landlord Nonononono…………… 55 euros, please, sir.

Colin But I haven’t got any money.

Landlord Goodbye. (leaves)

Colin Oh dear. I’m so tired.

Sally You can sleep in the stable if you like.

Colin Great! Thanks.

Landlord But Sally wants a golden feather from the golden goose. That night, while everyone is asleep, she creeps into the stable, and tries to steal a feather. But when she touches the golden goose –(right hand)

Goose Honk!

Colin What?

Sally Oh! I’m stuck! Help! Help! Dad!

Landlord What’s going on? Sally!

Colin But when the landlord touches Sally – (right hand)

Goose Honk!

Colin What?

Landlord Oh! I’m stuck! Help! Help!

Colin So we all stay in the stable all night long. (All lie down)

Landlord The next morning,

Colin (fresh as a daisy, stretching comfortably) Off we go!

Goose Honk!

Landlord and Sally struggle up. All line up side by side, facing audience, and walk on the spot. Colin enregetic, both arms swinging. Goose waddling, waggling bottom. Landlord and Sally trudging dejectedly)

Landlord We walk miles

Sally and miles

Landlord and miles!

Sally My feet hurt.

Landlord I’m tired.

Sally I want to go home.

Goose Honk!

King At last, they come to a kingdom. My kingdom. Remember me? Kind, intelligent, nice, absolutely great, in fact! And my daughter -

Princess Princess Nicola. Hello again.

King My daughter is pretty, rich, intelligent, nice, curious, energetic,

Princess sad, and soooooooooo lonely. I never laugh

King or smile.

Princess Never.

King But if you remember, I’ve got a plan.

Princess Daddy, no…… Please….. This is so embarrassing!

King Now Nicola, Dad knows best! Everyone, look at this poster.



The King

King So, do you like my plan?

Princess No!

Colin Yes! Hang on, I know a very funny joke….

Sally No!

Landlord What?

Sally I want to marry him!

Landlord But you’re only seven.

Sally and a half!

Landlord Right! We’re going home now!

Sally No!

Colin/Landlord Yes (tug-o-war – King joins in)

Lots of shouting and honking. Princess starts laughing.

Little Old Man Look! Look!

Colin Will you marry me?

Princess What? Wait! You’re the Stage Manager, right?

Marcus (Colin) (puzzled) Yes!

Princess O.K. then. Yes!

Goose HONK! (chain breaks, Landlord and Sally fall over)

Narrator/Landlord And we all live happily ever after.


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