Baba Yaga Reader’s Theater Play Script ~ Sample

Baba-Yaga

CHARACTERS

NATASHA
GRIGORI
• NARRATOR
• INGA
• AGATA – gate
• ANASTASIA
• YAKOV  dog
• BABA YAGA
• DMITRI – cat

Scene 1 – Natasha’s house

[Stage set: A decrepit, ramshackle hut made of wood. NATASHA and her father GRIGORI sit at a dinner table talking quietly and laughing. There is a set of Russian nesting dolls on the table. That’s a classic kind of Russian toy doll.  If you’d like to see what they look like, Google: “Russian nesting dolls.”]

[NARRATOR enters.]

NARRATOR:
Hello, everyone.  This play is “Baba Yaga.”  It’s as famous in Russia as “Cinderella” is here.  The story is brought to you by Stories to Grow by.

[NARRATOR steps forward.  Hugs shoulders and shivers]

NARRATOR:
It’s cold out here in the tundra of Russia. “Tundra” means no trees, and this land is flat and COLD. But inside the hut where Natasha lives with her father, Grigori (pronounce: grih-GORY) (gestures to Natasha and Grigori), it’s warm. That’s what a big cozy fire will do.

[NARRATOR exits.]

NATASHA:
(laughs)  You’re silly, Papa. There aren’t any monsters in the forest – except maybe the witch Baba Yaga!

GRIGORI:
That old legend!  This monster was real, I swear, hand on heart! I went out to collect firewood on Tuesday morning and I saw this big nasty-looking thing come out from the trees!

NATASHA:
Yikes! What did it look like?

GRIGORI:
Well, it was hairy, with thick black fur! And HUGE teeth!  (picks up two pieces of bread and holds them to mouth as if they are teeth, making growling sounds)  Grrr!

NATASHA:
(laughs)  And what did it do?

GRIGORI:
Oh, it slowly ambled up to the house, like this  (walks slowly to Natasha, swinging back and forth)  And it said “Grigori! I’m coming to your house! I will eat you and your daughter! And all your bread and vegetables, too!” and I looked at the monster! And I said, “Monster! You will not come here, or I will… I will… wear you as a fur coat! Now begone!” And I threw some wood at him!

[GRIGORI picks up the loaf of bread at hurls it across the room.]

NATASHA:
Papa, you and your stories!

[GRIGORI pauses, then picks up the loaf of bread and brushes it off.]

GRIGORI:
Actually, we need this bread. We don’t have much food in the house.

NATASHA:
It’s all right, Papa. We’ll share what we have, the way we always do.

GRIGORI:
Actually, Natasha. I need to tell you something. There’s going to be a change in our lives.  A wonderful change.

NATASHA:
What do you mean, Papa?

GRIGORI:
You see, today I met  (trill of music from offstage, as from a bell or harp)  a beautiful lady.

NATASHA:
Uh-oh.

GRIGORI:
She’s enchanting, Natasha.  (dramatically)  Her hair, her eyes… (same trill of music)  Even her name, Inga – is spellbinding!

NATASHA:
That’s a nice name, I suppose. Though I don’t know about “spell-binding” …

GRIGORI:
Natasha, she’s the one for me! I knew it right away. Of course I had to ask her to marry me.

NATASHA:
You didn’t HAVE to, Papa.  You only just met the lady!

GRIGORI:
It felt like I’ve known her for years. So I asked her, right then and there!

NATASHA:
Of course she said “no,” right?

GRIGORI:
She said  (same trill of music)  YES! Oh, happiest of days!

NATASHA:
(to audience)  Oh, my goodness!  (to Grigori)  Papa, why do your eyes look so funny, all of a sudden?

GRIGORI:
(dazed)  She’s so beautiful!

NATASHA:
But Papa, I… I don’t even know what she is like!

[A knock on the door from offstage.]

GRIGORI:
(turns to look offstage)  Ah, there she is now!  (calls)  Come in, darling!

[INGA enters.]

INGA:
Grigori. Darling.

[GRIGORI sighs, lovesick. He kneels and kisses her hand.]

INGA:
(notices Natasha)  And this is…?

GRIGORI:
Ah, yes! You remember my telling you about my daughter … This is Natasha.

INGA:
(deadpan)  Right. How could one forget?

NATASHA:
(frightened)  It’s a p-pleasure to… meet you.

INGA:
(turns her back on Natasha)  Maybe.  (points to the fireplace)  Is it you who let the fire go out?

NATASHA:
Well no, it’s actually Papa’s job to keep the–

GRIGORI:
Ah! You are so observant to notice, my darling. We are nearly out of firewood. I’ll go to the woodshed and chop some more. It will be another cold night.

INGA:
Darling, why strain yourself? Let Natasha do it. The fresh air will do her good.

GRIGORI:
I didn’t think of that! How very considerate of you, my pet.

INGA:
I’m that way.

NATASHA:
(alarmed)  Papa..!

INGA:
And besides,  (strokes Grigori’s face and he purrs)  it will give us a chance to spend some quality time together.

GRIGORI:
(sighs loudly, then says sternly to Natasha)  Natasha! You must go outside right away and cut more firewood.

NATASHA:
But Papa! The axe is too heavy for me! I don’t even know how to use it. And it’s freezing outside!

INGA:
For goodness sake!  (points dramatically to Natasha)  Does she always make EXCUSE after EXCUSE?

GRIGORI:
(to Natasha)  Go now, Natasha! It’s for your own good. No nonsense, now.

NATASHA:
Okay, OKAY!  (to audience)  This is not good.

[NATASHA scurries to the exit. GRIGORI fawns over INGA.]

[NARRATOR enters.]

NARRATOR:
That winter, it was Natasha who cut the wood. Natasha who fed the pigs and it was Natasha who fed the chickens. Each bitter cold morning it was Natasha who got up early to light the heat stove. When her father and Inga got married, it was Natasha who cooked the wedding feast. And who cleaned up afterward? You guessed – Natasha. The girl was so busy, it was easy to forget she was even there.

[NATASHA knocks at the door.]

INGA:
Who would bother us at this time of night?

NATASHA:
(from outside)  Let me in!

GRIGORI:
(to Inga)  Who could that be?

[GRIGORI goes to open the door. NATASHA enters, shivering and covered head-to-toe in dirt.]

NATASHA:
Papa, I cut the firewood, I cleaned the tools. I washed the pigs.  I fed the chickens. I counted exactly how many crickets there are in the foothill at the bottom of the yard – that’s 46.  (to audience) Although I can’t imagine why we needed that information! (turns back to Father)  Can I come back inside now where it’s warm?

GRIGORI:
Well, erm, I mean, if it’s all right with my dear wife–

NATASHA:
Papa! I live here too, don’t I?

INGA:
(to audience)  Exactly the problem.  (crooning, to Natasha) Feeding chickens and counting crickets is all well and good. But I have one more errand for you.

NATASHA:
(groans)  What is it this time?

GRIGORI:
Natasha, no fuss! Listen to Mother Inga.

NATASHA:
(to audience)  She’s NOT my mother.  (to her father) Oh, all right!

INGA:
(sweetly, to Grigori)  Darling, didn’t you say you were going to check the pigs?

GRIGORI:
Did I? Oh, I suppose I must have. Well, I’ll be right back.

INGA:
Don’t rush back.

[GRIGORI exits.]

INGA:
(to Natasha, in a stern voice)  Child, come here.  (Natasha tentatively steps forward)  One of your dear father’s shirts has torn. I need you to go to my sister, Baba Yaga, who lives in the woods. You must ask her to lend us a needle and thread.

NATASHA:
But… everyone knows that Baba Yaga, the bony-legged one, is a witch!

INGA:
That’s ridiculous! Do you believe everything you hear?

NATASHA:
Baba Yaga lives in the forest. Her hut hops about on chicken legs. She follows children around and when she gets near them, she eats them!

INGA:
I will not listen to another word of this nonsense!

NATASHA:
(picks up a pin cushion and holds it up to Inga)  H-here is a pin cushion with a needle and thread, Inga. Can we use this one?

INGA:
That’s MOTHER Inga!  (pretends to slap the pin cushion from Natasha’s hand – actually, Natasha should throw the needle and thread onto the floor so it looks as if Inga slapped it out of her hand. Note- practice so there is no actual contact)  Do NOT argue with me! I will not tolerate your insolence! So help me, I will have your father lock you in the cellar. We’ll see how you like THAT.

NATASHA:
(sadly gazing at where the needle and thread landed on the floor) So… how do I even find Baba Yaga’s house in the forest?

INGA:
That’s the question you SHOULD be asking.  I’ll show you how to find her house, all right.

[INGA approaches Natasha and pretends to squeeze and twist her nose. NATASH twitches her head, as if her nose were being twisted- remember, this is pretend!

NATASHA:
Ouch!

INGA:
Be quiet. There, that nose of yours will point the way to Baba Yaga. Now be off with you!

NATASHA:
(looks offstage to Grigori)  Papa?

[GRIGORI enters, brushing off his clothes.]

GRIGORI:
(still brushing his clothes, not looking up)  Listen to your mother, Natasha.

NATASHA:
But she is not-!  (Inga “twists” her nose again)  OUCH! I mean, all right already. I’ll go.

GRIGORI:
(distractedly)  Knew you’d do the right thing, love.

NATASHA:
(throws up her hands in despair as she runs offstage)  AUGHH!

[NATASHA exits.]

Scene 2 – Forest

[Stage set: Place Baba Yaga’s hut at the side of the stage, hidden by trees or other props so it’s unseen by the audience. NATASHA enters. The character who plays the gate, AGATA, stands in front of Baba Yaga’s hut. AGATA hangs her head down.  (See Performance Notes for ideas on construction Baba Yaga’s Hut and the gate.)]

[At the back of the stage, ANASTASIA (servant) holds a broom. She is frozen in position. YAKOV (dog) lies at her feet. On the ground near AGATA is an oilcan. NATASHA nervously fiddles with her hands and looks around. She doesn’t notice Baba Yaga’s hut, AGATA, ANASTASIA, or YAKOV.]

NATASHA:
I’ve been wandering around in these woods for hours. I’ll never get out! I’ll have to be raised by wolves or something! Though maybe that would be better.  (rubs her nose)  Hey, my nose is throbbing. I must be getting closer!

[NATASHA turns to face BABA YAGA’s hut and notices it for the first time.]

NATASHA:
(gazes at the scene for a moment, then turns to audience)  This must be Baba Yaga’s hut, all right.  But to get in, I’ll have to pass through this rusty old gate.

[NATASHA approaches the gate AGATA, and “pushes her open.” (See Performance Notes on how to simulate opening and closing AGATA, the gate.) AGATA has a sad expression when “opened.” The actor/actress makes a loud creaking sound. Or the sound of a loudly creaking door may be played offstage from a recording.]

NATASHA:
Gosh, that’s one squeaky gate! Hmm…  (looks around, then notices the oil can on the ground)  Oh, look at that – an oilcan! Let’s see if this does the trick.  (pours a few drops of oil on Agata at three places – Agata’s head, midsection and lower legs, to simulate oiling the three hinges of a door)

AGATA:
(brightens)  Wow, I feel so much better!  (twists head and body while keeping the “door” open)  You know what they say, when one gate closes, another one opens! Close!  (closes)  Open! (opens)  Close!  (closes)  Open!  (opens)  As quiet as a snowflake. Why thank you, Miss! I’m Agata (pronounce: ah-GAH-dah), the gate.  Pleased to meet you.

NATASHA:
And you, too, Agata.  (to audience)  I am talking to a gate.

[NATASHA continues through the gate until she sees the servant ANASTASIA. ANASTASIA is weeping.]

NATASHA:
Ah! (to Agata) Excuse me a moment.  (to audience) She must be scared by the witch Baba Yaga, poor thing.  (approaches Anastasia)  Hi, there. Say, may I help you with something?

ANASTASIA:
(cries) Hoo hoo, it’s just the worst. My Mistress Baba Yaga has commanded me to sweep up all the leaves. But they’re magic, so they’re invisible leaves! How can I tell where they are?

NATASHA:
(pats Anastasia on the shoulder)  There, there.  That does sound like a tough break.  (rummages through her pockets and produces a small handkerchief)  Here, take this handkerchief. Dry your tears.

[ANASTASIA takes the handkerchief and dabs her eyes. She sneezes into it. Then she hands back the handkerchief to NATASHA.]

NATASHA:
Uh, you can keep it. It’s fine, really.

ANASTASIA:
(in disbelief)  Nobody has ever given me anything before. I could… I could…  (starts sobbing again, into the handkerchief)

[YAKOV is roused from his sleep.]

YAKOV:
(looks at Natasha)  Growl!

NATASHA:
(reels in fear, then nervously)  Doggy! You sound… hungry.

[NATASHA rummages through her pockets and pulls out a piece of cloth. The cloth has bits of food inside.]

YAKOV:
Growl!

NATASHA:
You’d like a little beef, right? Here’s some bread, even.

[NATASAHA sets the food on the rock and steps back. She is afraid to feed the dog from her hand.]

NATASHA:
Go ahead, now. There.

YAKOV:
(looks at food on rock and sniffs it)  Woof, woof! Pork chops? I haven’t had real meat in years!

NATASHA:
Not a very big pork chop, but…  (to audience)  My goodness, the dog talks, too!

[YAKOV walks on all fours over to the rock and licks up the food.]

YAKOV:
(smacks lips in satisfaction)  Meat and bread, too. Not bad!

NATASHA:
Glad you like it.

[NATASHA stands in front of BABA YAGA’S HUT. The actor playing BABA YAGA stands behind BABA YAGA’S HUT and moves the HUT. The hut begins to “chase” Natasha and mirrors her movements to the right and to the left as she tries to get away.]

[NATASHA takes a couple of steps backward, toward the audience. HUT takes a couple of steps forward, toward NATASHA. NATASHA runs a few steps and HUT follows her, also running a few steps. At the end of this exchange, HUT should end up at the edge of the stage near where BABA YAGA’s offstage voice will call out in a few seconds.]

NATASHA:
(to audience)  Heavens! What they say about Baba Yaga’s hut is true!

BABA YAGA’S voice:
(from behind Baba Yaga’s Hut)  Come in and take the weight off your feet, dearie. It’s as cheap to sit as it is to stand.

NATASHA:
I’m coming.  (cautiously steps toward Baba Yaga’s Hut)

[If BABA YAGA’S HUT has a door that actually opens, then NATASHA steps inside the door of BABA YAGA’S HUT. If BABA YAGA’s HUT is a divider with a door that is painted, then NATASHA walks around the edge of the divider where the doorknob is painted, simulating the action of walking inside.]

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