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AUTHORS: Retold by Elaine Lindy & Adapted by P.J. Rittiger
COUNTRY: Norway
GENRE: AdventureFairytales

Boots and His Brothers Readers Theater Boots and His Brothers Readers Theater ~ Play Scripts for Kids 

 

CHARACTERS

NARRATOR
• PAPA
• PETER - big brother
• PAUL - big brother
• BOOTS - little brother, perhaps a bit smaller than Peter and Paul
• SOLDIER
• TOWNSPERSON #1
• TOWNSPERSON #2
• TOWNSPERSON #3  a male actor; all other Townspersons can be male or female
• TOWNSPERSON #4
(note: the four TOWNSPERSONS together are called “TOWNSPEOPLE”)
• AXE
• SHOVEL
• WALNUT
• KING

Scene 1 – Cottage and village

[Stage set: One side of the stage is staged to show a cottage interior where PAPA, PETER, PAUL and BOOTS live, and the other side is staged to show a forest. For the cottage area, a backdrop can be painted to show the wooden planks of a cottage.  For the forest area, the backdrop can show dense trees, bushes, and a mountain range towering in the background.]

[In the cottage, PAPA is sitting by himself at a table.]

NARRATOR:
Hello, everyone.  This play is “Boots and His Brothers,” a folk tale from Norway. It is brought to you by Stories to Grow by.

       [NARRATOR steps forward.]

NARRATOR:
Once upon a time, a woodcutter (gestures to Papa) lived deep in the forest with his three sons, Peter, Paul, and Boots. Boots was the youngest. They're out now.  (looks to Papa) Hmm, he looks kind of troubled.  (Papa sighs deeply) And you would be, too, if you had to tell your sons what this Papa is waiting to tell his.

[PAUL, PETER and BOOTS enter. PAUL carries two fish in a net.]

PAPA:
(looks up) Ahhh, you are home.

PAUL:
(proudly) Look what Peter and I caught! (drops two fish on the table)

PETER:
Two trout! We’ll have a good dinner tonight!

[PAUL picks up the fish so the audience can see. BOOTS moves to the corner of the cottage and hangs up his coat on a small hook by the painted fireplace.]

PAPA:
Tonight, yes, we will eat. But… (turns to Boots and speaks gently) Boots, come join us. There is something we must all talk about.

[BOOTS comes over to the table.]

PAPA:
Sit down, boys.

PETER:
(whispers to Paul) What’s this about?

PAUL:
(whispers to Peter) I have no idea.

[The three sons are seated.]

PAPA:
Boys, you know that early snowstorm ruined our crops. The wheat froze solid. You know what that means.

PAUL:
It won't be an easy winter, but we’ll get by, Papa. We have a shelf of canned vegetables in the cellar.

PETER:
And a few jars of jam leftover from summer. And potatoes still in the ground.

PAPA:
An early freeze to our wheat crop means no bread or porridge this winter. And it means no feed for the livestock, which is why we had to sell our cow and goats.  Now we'll have no milk or eggs, either. Boys, we have to face it.  There isn’t enough food to keep all of us alive till spring. And something else that worries me just as much.

PETER:
What could be as worrisome as that?

PAPA:
What happens when we get the next big snowfall.  It will cut off the mountain pass.  Then we’ll have no way to run to another village for emergency help, if we need it. Ah, I've done nothing but think and think about our situation, and there's only one thing to do!

BOOTS:
What, Papa?

PAPA:
(stands) The time has come for the three of you to go out into the world and have the adventures of youth.

PAUL:
What? I don’t want to leave home!

PETER:
Do we have to?

BOOTS:
Papa, we could never leave you here alone!

PAUL:
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that would compel us to leave here.

[A trumpet blast is heard from offstage.]

PETER:
What’s that?

PAPA:
Let’s go see.

[SOLDIER enters in the area of the stage that has a forest background. The trumpet blast is repeated. TOWNSPERSONS gather at each side of SOLDIER.]

[PAPA, PETER, PAUL and BOOTS open the door of the cottage and step outside.]

[SOLDIER marches to a spot in front of PAPA’s doorway. He stands straight and tall, pulls a rolled up piece of paper from under his arm, unrolls it and begins to read in a loud voice. He puts a lot of emphasis on the word “GLORIOUS.”]

SOLDIER:
By the GLORIOUS order of the GLORIOUS King of this GLORIOUS country, I announce in all of the villages and towns a GLORIOUS contest. Whoever can chop down the giant tree that blocks the sunlight from the palace windows AND who can dig a water well in the King’s courtyard will win a GLORIOUS fortune and HALF OF THIS GLORIOUS KINGDOM. So says our GLORIOUS KING.

[SOLDIER rolls up the paper and marches offstage. TOWNSPEOPLE are excited.]

TOWNSPERSON #1:
Win a fortune!  A chance like this doesn’t happen every day!

TOWNSPERSON #2:
And half the kingdom, too! He said a glorious fortune AND half the kingdom.

TOWNSPERSON #1:
Better and better!

TOWNSPERSON #3:
Who can’t chop down a tree?

TOWNSPERSON #3:
I could do it in my sleep.

TOWNSPERSON #4:
Probably not a great idea.

[TOWNSPEOPLE continue to murmur excitedly in low voices while PAPA, PETER, PAUL and BOOTS go back inside their cottage. TOWNSPEOPLE exit.]

PETER:
(excited, to Paul) Wow! Something to consider, brother.

PAUL:
(to Peter) Consider? Forget what I said before.  We’ll do it! We’ll be the ones to chop down the King’s tree and dig his well. And win the glorious fortune! (high-fives with Peter)

BOOTS:
I can help, too!

PETER:
You?  You’re not big enough or strong enough to cut down a tree or dig a well!

PAPA:
Now boys, all three of you will go TOGETHER, right? (nods to Boots)

[PAUL and PETER look at each other and sigh.]

PAUL:
Very well then, Papa.

PETER:
Right.

PAPA:
Well, well then! (to audience) At least this will get them out into the world. Who knows? They could meet a farmer who hires them for the winter. And at least they’d have a job and be sure to stay alive, which is more than I can offer them here. (to his sons) My sons, you have as good a chance as anyone else to chop down that tree and dig the well!

[SONS cheer and high-five each other.]

[PAUL, PETER and BOOTS rise and put on their coats. They go out the door leading to the forested section of the stage. PAPA waves.]

NARRATOR:
And so the three brothers took off together.

Scene 2 – Forest

[Stage set: PAUL, PETER and BOOTS are located at the section of the stage indicated in Scene 1 as the forested area. As noted previously, the backdrop is painted with dense trees and bushes, and a mountain range towering behind. The three sons are seated in front of a fake fire. (See Performance Notes for suggestions on how to simulate a fire.)]

PETER:
(warms his hands over the fire) It’s freezing! I miss our fireplace at home.

PAUL:
Oh, stop! The cold means nothing to adventurers like us! Even Boots isn’t complaining.

[BOOTS, PETER and PAUL continue to warm their hands. Offstage, an actor starts to clap together two wooden blocks, at first softly, then louder. A recording may also be played of a clapping sound. PETER and PAUL do not look up or even seem to notice the noise.]

BOOTS:
(stands up and looks around) I wonder what’s making that chopping sound over yonder.  Maybe I'll go check it out.

PAUL:
(rolls eyes) HHHMMMMmmm… Let’s see… Sounds an awful lot like a woodcutter chopping firewood on a hillside. We’ve only heard that sound, say… a THOUSAND times before.

PETER:
Say, Paul. What do you think the chances are that this time it’s ALSO a woodcutter cutting wood?

PAUL:
Only about 100%!

[From offstage, a sound to simulate the sound of rain. An actor may pour water from one bucket into another. Or a recording of rain may be played.]

PAUL:
(cups a hand over his ear) Hark! I hear rain! You don’t suppose that means it’s raining, do you?

PETER:
Why would we think that? Just because it sounds EXACTLY like rain?

PAUL:
But that doesn’t mean it IS rain!

[PETER and PAUL laugh. BOOTS is quiet.]

BOOTS:
Still–

PAUL:
Boots, you’re not REALLY going to go off to see what’s making the chopping sound, are you?

BOOTS:
The sound seems different somehow.

[PETER and PAUL sigh.]

PAUL:
Suit yourself. 

PETER:
We’re staying warm and dry.

[BOOTS walks over to the far edge of the stage. PETER and PAUL quietly exit.]

[AXE enters. This is an actor in the costume of an axe. (See Performance Notes.) As AXE kicks its way onto the stage, an actor offstage makes the clapping sound in coordination with the kicks of AXE. AXE does not see BOOTS.]

[When BOOTS and AXE speak, below, AXE stops kicking and the “chopping” sound offstage stops.]

BOOTS:
Good day, Mr. Axe!

[AXE stops kicking and turns to BOOTS.]

BOOTS:
So, you stand here alone all day and chop, do you?

AXE:
Yes. Here I have stood and chopped for a long, long time – waiting for you.

BOOTS:
Well, here I am at last!

AXE:
So you are.

[As NARRATOR speaks below, BOOTS and AXE return to where PETER and PAUL are. AXE steps aside, and PETER and PAUL do not appear to notice AXE.]

NARRATOR:
The brothers were correct, in a way. The chopping sound WAS made by an axe. But Boots was right, too. An axe chopping by itself? That’s different!

PAUL:
Boots, you’re back.

BOOTS:
Yep. It was a chopping sound, all right.

PETER:
What did we tell you?

[BOOTS sits with his brothers and they all warm their hands by the fire.]

[Offstage, an actor rubs sandpaper across the surface of a microphone with one swipe and then another. This is to simulate the sound of shoveling. If a microphone is not available, one actor can start rubbing sandpaper together and be gradually joined by 6 to 8 other actors who also produce the same sound. If a microphone is available, only one actor will need to do this motion since the swiping sound can be amplified.]

BOOTS:
I wonder what is making that digging sound? What could be shoveling over yonder?

PAUL:
You just sat down, Boots. You’re getting up AGAIN?

PETER:
So someone’s digging. What’s the big deal?

BOOTS:
This sounds different. I think I’ll go and see for myself.

PETER:
Not again. Really?!

[PETER and PAUL throw their arms up into the air in mock despair. They shake their heads.]

NARRATOR:
(steps forward to face audience) I’m with Boots this time. Doesn’t sound like regular digging to me, either.

[BOOTS walks to the other side of the stage again. He looks around as if trying to see something.]

[SHOVEL enters by hopping up to BOOTS. As SHOVEL enters, the sound of “shoveling” offstage continues. The actor offstage who is making the swiping sound with the sandpaper coordinates the swipes with SHOVEL’s hops. Once BOOTS speaks the next line, the sound of “shoveling” stops so the actors can be heard.]

BOOTS:
Greetings, Mr. Shovel! So, you stand here all alone and dig and shovel?

SHOVEL:
Yes. Indeed, that is what I have done these many long days – waiting for you.

BOOTS:
Well, here I am!

SHOVEL:
So you are!

[While NARRATOR speaks the lines below, SHOVEL and BOOTS turn toward where AXE is waiting.]

NARRATOR:
A shovel, shoveling all by itself. Why not? So Boots took the Shovel back with him.

BOOTS:
Axe, meet Shovel.

AXE:
Pleased to meet you.

SHOVEL:
The pleasure is all mine.

AXE:
We’re in a similar line of work, you might say.

SHOVEL:
I suppose we are. You strike against a tree. And I strike against the ground.

AXE:
Exactly my thinking.  We are impact-driven.

SHOVEL:
You might say that.

BOOTS:
While you two are getting acquainted, I’ll see what my brothers are up to.

[AXE and SHOVEL pantomime talking and laughing – they are becoming friends. BOOTS walks over to PAUL and PETER. Several actors roll out a roll of wide blue cloth, or blue streamers side by side. This is a brook.]

[BOOTS approaches PAUL and PETER, who are warming their hands by the fire.]

PAUL:
(looks up) And he’s back.

BOOTS:
Hey, I don't remember seeing a brook by our campsite.

[An actor pours water from one bucket to another to make the running water sound of the brook. Or a recording of the sound of splashing water may be played.]

[PETER and PAUL walk over to the streamers, kneel, and pretend to take water in their hands to drink. BOOTS looks at them and the brook.]

BOOTS:
I wonder where this brook came from?

PETER:
A brook?  You’re not serious.

PAUL:
(impatiently points at the brook) Who cares where a brook comes from? Would the water that runs by us be any different if you knew?

PETER:
It just doesn’t matter!

BOOTS:
Still–

PAUL:
(pretends to push Peter’s shoulder--note: be safe!) Where does the sky come from? Where does the grass come from?

[When PAUL pretends to push PETER’s shoulder, PETER laughs and rocks over backward so that his feet fly upward into the air. PETER remains lying down for a moment and then stands up.]

[Remember, you are PRETENDING. Don’t actually touch the other actor. If you are the one being “pushed,” just move backward.]

PETER:
(again, pretends to push Peter’s shoulder) Hey, Paul, where does BOOTS come from?

PAUL:
One crazy baby factory!

[PAUL rocks over backward in the same manner that PETER did a moment ago. PAUL picks himself up so that he stands next to PETER.]

BOOTS:
Just the same, I fancy a walk to see where the brook comes from.

PETER:
(to Paul) Omigosh. He used the word “fancy.”

PETER and PAUL (together):
(throw up their arms in mock despair) AUGHH!

[BOOTS walks to the side of the stage. Immediately, PAUL and PETER begin to whisper in a sneaky manner and gesture at BOOTS. After a moment, PETER and PAUL tiptoe offstage to the wings. BOOTS does not see them leave.]

[When BOOTS reaches the other side of the stage, an actor dressed as WALNUT enters. WALNUT should have plenty of glittery confetti in a pocket. WALNUT tosses some of the confetti into the air. The flakes of confetti represent water.]

BOOTS:
Good day! So you are a walnut. And if I'm seeing things correctly, you just lie here and throw water into the air all day long?

WALNUT:
That’s right. And here I have splashed and thrown off water many a long day – waiting for you.

BOOTS:
Well, here I am.

WALNUT:
That you are.

BOOTS:
Would you mind coming with me for a bit?

WALNUT:
Why not? One moment please, while I take care of something.

[WALNUT takes a small patch of felt from his pocket and puts it on her or his costume. The patch is intended to hold the water. (See Performance Notes)]

WALNUT:
That will hold in the water.

BOOTS:
Nice.

[BOOTS walks WALNUT back to where SHOVEL and AXE are waiting. While NARRATOR speaks, below, BOOTS pantomimes introducing WALNUT to SHOVEL and AXE.]

NARRATOR:
(looks at Walnut, Shovel and Axe) A compatible group. So Boots goes back to rejoin his brothers.

[BOOTS notices that his two brothers are gone. He runs to one side of the stage and then to the other side.]

NARRATOR:
Uh-oh.

BOOTS:
(to audience) Where could they have gone?

[AXE, SHOVEL and WALNUT look at each other and shrug. They don’t know.]

Scene 3 – In front of the castle

[Stage set: A painted backdrop showing a castle is in front of the forest backdrop. A large tree, made of rolled paper or other light material, is shown on one side of the stage. A treasure chest, overflowing with shiny coins, sits at the edge of the stage.]

[TOWNSPERSONS stand along the sides and back of the stage. KING takes his place in front of the castle next to the tree.]

KING:
(points to tree) IS THERE ANYONE WHO DARES TO CHOP DOWN THIS TREE… (points to ground) AND TO DIG ME A NEW WELL?  (to audience) Now, it’s not enough to chop down the tree but NOT to dig the well. And it’s not enough to dig the well but NOT to chop down the tree. We’re talking both tasks here. BOTH the well AND the tree ... and if he fails ...

[TOWNSPEOPLE, as in Scene 1, murmur among themselves. They are confused.  While one speaks, the other make expressive gestures.  The following lines are said quickly.]

TOWNSPERSON #2:
What about the fortune?

TOWNSPERSON #1:
That’s the part I care about.

TOWNSPERSON #3:
I wish I understood the tasks better.

TOWNSPERSON #4:
Look. All he’s saying is you have to chop down the tree AND dig a well.

TOWNSPERSON #2:
Both, right?

TOWNSPERSON #4:
Are you even listening?

TOWNSPERSON #3:
What if you can’t do both?

TOWNSPERSON #4:
You don’t want to know.

TOWNSPERSON #1:
It’s OFF with you!

TOWNSPERSON #3:
Yikes.

[KING holds out one hand and as soon as he does, TOWNSPEOPLE are hushed.]

KING:
Anyway. AS I was saying. If anyone fails to chop down this tree and dig my new well, that person shall be shipped off at once to a faraway island, never to return. That's FOREVER!

[TOWNSPEOPLE cringe in fear.]

KING:
COME NOW! DON’T BE COWARDS! Just because a few unlucky souls have tried and failed doesn’t mean this won’t be YOUR lucky day!

[TOWNSPEOPLE gently nudge one another toward KING.]

TOWNSPERSON #4:
I WOULD, really, but my bad back…

TOWNSPERSON #1:
My BROTHER can do it! (gently nudges Townsperson #3 forward)

TOWNSPERSON #3:
Speak for yourself!

TOWNSPERSON #2:
I wish MY brother would give it a shot. Wouldn’t mind if he ended up at a faraway island.

[BOOTS enters and walks toward KING from the wings. He is followed by AXE, SHOVEL and WALNUT, who all hold hands.]

BOOTS:
I will try, Your Majesty!

KING:
You WILL? Well then, you must be very brave (to audience) or CRAZY! (to Boots) Two young men tried just this morning. First they tried to chop this tree. (points to tree) It just grew bigger than ever! Then they tried to dig a well. (points to ground) The hole filled in by itself. (to audience) That happens EVERY TIME. (to Boots) So both of them are now in exile! Are you sure you want to try?

BOOTS:
Yes, Sire. I am.

KING:
Well then, young man. What is your name?

BOOTS:
Boots, Your Majesty.

KING:
An odd name. Where did I hear that before? Ah, yes. Those two boys this morning were laughing about how their brother does one foolish thing after another. Harumph! Why don’t you save us all time? The ship, my lad, is right over there. Just step right in!

[TOWNSPEOPLE laugh as if the KING has made a great joke. KING motions for TOWNSPEOPLE to be silent, and they are instantly quieted.]

BOOTS:
(puts hands on hips) Well, I’d like to at least TRY first, Your Majesty.

KING:
Suit yourself. (crosses arms) Entertain us.

[BOOTS goes up to the tree and walks around it. He faces the audience and makes a “come here” gesture to AXE. When the AXE is standing next to him, BOOTS says the next line.]

BOOTS:
CHOP AWAY!

[When BOOTS yells, “CHOP AWAY,” the chopping sound from clapping two blocks together is again heard from offstage. As before the claps should coordinate with the kicks of AXE. AXE kicks and kicks and kicks at the tree.]

TOWNSPERSON #1:
Will you look at that?

TOWNSPERSON #2:
An axe chopping all by itself.

TOWNSPERSON #3:
Amazing!

TOWNSPERSON #4:
Who knew?

[The tree falls.]

TOWNSPEOPLE:
Ooooohhhhh! Aaaaahhhhh!

[KING nods. He is impressed.]

[BOOTS walks over near where the tree has fallen. He tests the hardness of the soil with his toe. BOOTS stubs his toe on a rock and hops about holding his foot.]

TOWNSPEOPLE:
(laugh at Boots hopping about, holding his foot) Ha, ha, ha!

[BOOTS makes a “come here” gesture to SHOVEL. SHOVEL hops to his side.]

BOOTS:
DIG AWAY!

[As actor offstage produces the same digging sound as before. Again, it’s best if the swipes of the sandpaper are coordinated with the hops of SHOVEL. As SHOVEL hops, simulating a digging action, the actor swipes. As SHOVEL hops, SHOVEL spreads black confetti from his or her pockets. This is the soil that is being dug.]

TOWNSPEOPLE:
Ooooohhhhh! Aaaaahhhhh! Digging!

[BOOTS makes a “come here” gesture to WALNUT and points to where SHOVEL had been digging. WALNUT goes over to that area. BOOTS walks over to WALNUT.]

BOOTS:
(touches Walnut’s felt patch) May I?

WALNUT:
Go ahead.

[BOOTS pulls the felt patch from the side of WALNUT’s costume.]

BOOTS:
SPLASH AWAY!

[Again, the sound of running water from offstage. WALNUT pulls several more handfuls of blue confetti and glitter and tosses it into the air. This is the water spewing forth.]

TOWNSPEOPLE:
Ooooohhhhh! Aaaaahhhhh! Water!

[KING walks over to BOOTS.]

KING:
(takes Boots’ hand and shakes it hard) Well, I thought it could not be done. I was starting to think the stars would fall from the sky before THIS would ever happen! You have chopped down that tree. And you have dug a new well! (to audience) I suppose I have to keep my promise. (to Boots) Well, Boots, half the kingdom is yours.

[KING reaches into the treasure chest and grabs two handfuls of coins to place into Boots’ hands. BOOTS looks dazed and amazed.]

KING:
This is just a trifle of what's coming to you… Congratulations!

TOWNSPEOPLE (together):
Hip, hip, hurray!

BOOTS:
Thank you, Your Majesty. Though may I ask one small favor?

KING:
The operative word is (airquotes) "small."  I have just given you half my kingdom, young man!  What else could you ask for?

BOOTS:
It’s just those prisoners on the faraway island. Surely you could find it in your heart to bring them back. They only tried to help, right?

KING:
Well, they knew the agreement and the price of failure ...

BOOTS:
But now you can afford to be generous. Look! (points upward)  See how the sun pours into your castle (points downward at the new well) and your well brings forth all the fresh clean water you could ever use.

KING:
Oh, all right! I suppose you have your own brothers in mind?

BOOTS:
They just wanted to try, Your Majesty, and they meant no harm.  And the others really didn't, either.

KING:
You're lucky I'm feeling in a generous mood.  Very well then. Your brothers will be the first to return.

[KING raises his arm toward the wings. SOLDIER appears, gently nudging PETER and PAUL ahead of him.]

KING:
(to Peter and Paul) You are both exonerated (pronounce: ex-ZON-er-ated). You are free!

[PETER and PAUL look embarrassed and wave a fast hello to BOOTS.]

KING:
(to Boots) So tell me, lad. To what do you owe your success? (gestures to Axe, Shovel, and Walnut) Your industrious friends?

BOOTS:
Them, yes. And being okay with going off after one foolishness or another, I suppose.

[TOWNSPEOPLE, AXE, SHOVEL, WALNUT, PETER and PAUL gather around BOOTS. They gently hug him, push at his shoulders and ruffle his hair.]

[If you have a curtain, close it now. If you do not, fade the lights. If you have no stage lights, all actors come on stage and bow to the audience.]

end

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SOURCE

The play script, "Boots &  His Brothers," was adapted by P.J. Rittiger from a story of the same name found at https://www.storiestogrowby.org/story/boots-his-brothers/ and further described at the end of the story.  ©2005 Elaine L. Lindy.  All rights reserved.


FOOTNOTE