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AUTHORS: Elaine Lindy & Simon Kaplan
COUNTRY: Scotland
GENRE: AdventureFairytalesFolktales




Janet & Thomalyn Reader’s Theater Play Script for Kids 

CHARACTERS

  • NARRATOR
  • Fairy #1
  • FAIRY #2
  • FAIRY #3
  • EARL
  • JANET
  • THOMALYN
  • FAIRY QUEEN

 

Scene 1 – Castle

[Stage Set:  The entire stage is a forest. If you can paint a backdrop, show trees, flowers, etc.  More on the forest set in Scene 2.]

[The play opens in the castle – a pop-up scene that takes place in front of the forest set.  Place a throne in the castle area.  You can cover a chair with nice fabric, and wrap the chair legs with gold aluminum foil.]

[NARRATOR enters.]

NARRATOR:

This play takes place in Carterhaugh (pronounce: COT-er-haw) – that’s a real woodland that exits near Selkirk in Scotland. The story is “Janet and Thomalyn” and it’s brought to you by Stories to Grow by.

[EARL enters and sits on his throne.]

NARRATOR:
That’s the Earl of Caterhaugh.  He owns all of the land surrounding his castle, including the woods.  He’s made it very clear, however that –

EARL:
(stands) No one is to enter the Carterhaugh woods anymore!  It is forbidden. (sits back down)

NARRATOR:
The reason being, there was an incident with the Earl’s apprentice.  He went in as a young man, came out as a goat.  Fairies can do that.  They may be beautiful, but watch out!

[JANET enters, wearing a green hooded cape.]

NARRATOR:
That’s Janet, daughter of the Earl. What’s she up to?

[JANET sees her father, the EARL, and quickly turns to walk away,     trying to be sneaky. EARL notices her.]

 EARL:
Janet!  Just where do you think you’re going?

NARRATOR:
That’s my cue!

[NARRATOR exits.]

JANET:
Um… I was just thinking maybe I would take a walk…

EARL:
You’re not thinking about taking a walk into the woods, are you?  (pause) Janet?!

JANET:
Well, I don’t see what the big deal is! We can’t let fairies scare us. You’re the Earl, we own all this land  –

EARL:
Janet, think about it.  You’re off your head!  Do you think fairies care who owns the land?

 JANET:
But, Father–!

EARL:
I said NO. Now no more on this.  I won’t hear another word!

[EARL exits.]

JANET:
AAUGH! I hate it when he orders me around like that.  I’m no longer a child – I’m 17 years old!  And someday, I’ll be a countess!

[JANET sits in the throne and pretends to be in charge.]

JANET:
I hereby declare that the Carterhaugh woods are free and open to all!

[FAIRIES stick their heads out from behind trees.]

FAIRIES #1-#3:
(whisper) Janet!  Janet!

[FAIRIES hide.]

JANET:
I’m sure the fairies won’t mess with me, countess-to-be.  Besides, that goat thing was a fluke.  Why does everyone get so excited?

[JANET exits.]

[FAIRIES enter.]

FAIRIES #1-#3:
Hee, hee hee!

[FAIRIES exit.]

Scene 2 – Forest

[Stage set: Several cardboard trees and a few rose bushes.  There is a large rock at the front of the stage. (See Performance Notes for suggestions on making the trees, the roses bushes, and a rock).]

[JANET enters.]

JANET:
(takes a deep breath)  Mmmh!  I’d know that aroma anywhere.  (turns to the roses) There they are!  Such lovely roses!  I’ll bring a few back to the castle.

[JANET bends down and pretends to cut some roses (See Performance Notes for ideas on simulating her cutting roses).  She becomes so entranced in her job that she does not notice THOMALYN, an elf and FAIRY #1 enter.]

FAIRY #1:
(shocked) Look!  A mortal girl is picking the Fairy Queen’s royal flowers!

THOMALYN:
So that’s a mortal girl!  It’s been so long since I’ve seen one.

FAIRY #1:
Of course it’s a mortal girl!  Look at those round ears.  And how she wears a cape!  No fairy would go out among proper company in a cape like that.  No style at all.

THOMALYN:
(entranced) She is lovely, isn’t she?!

FAIRY #1:
What?  Whatever.  I’m going to turn her into a pig! (raises arm)

THOMALYN:
Wait, stop!

FAIRY: #1
(with arm still raised, ready to cast a spell) Why?  It’s not like there’s anything else to do.

THOMALYN:
(steps in front of her) Because umm… it’s…um…my job to protect the royal gardens, yes, that’s right!  This is my jurisdiction, not yours!

FAIRY #1:
(lowers arm) Oh, very well!  But you’d better not leave this mortal girl alone in the forest, or one of us fairies is likely to pigify her.  When you’re not looking!

[FAIRY #1 exits.]

[THOMALYN crosses toward JANET.]

THOMALYN:
So you like roses?  Roses that don’t belong to you?

[JANET turns around, startled.]

JANET:
Oh!  Who are you?  And why do you say these roses don’t belong to me?  (with pride) My father, the Earl, owns this very forest.

 THOMALYN:
(bows lightly) My name is Thomalyn (pronounce: TOM-a-lin).  I guard this forest for the Fairy Queen.  (leans forward and whispers urgently) And as far as she’s concerned, these roses are not yours, or your father’s.

JANET:
(loudly) Well… no matter what you say, I don’t for a minute believe –

 THOMALYN:
(more urgently) You have to understand.  Picking these roses is a crime in the fairies’ land.

JANET:
(loudly) I never heard of that.

THOMALYN:
(whispers) Hush.  The fairies don’t care if mortals know about their laws.

JANET:
Well then, why should we humans care about them?

THOMALYN:
Because they uphold their laws, and you’re in their territory now.

JANET:
(suddenly worried) Oh, my!  Will I be turned into a goat?

THOMALYN:
Not if I can help it.  Look, hand the roses back to me.  I’ll give the bouquet to the Fairy Queen and tell her I picked the roses for her, as a gift.  She doesn’t need to know about anything else.

JANET:
Okay.  (hands Thomalyn the roses)  By the way, my name is Janet.  I didn’t know fairies could look like you.  Like a human, I mean.

THOMALYN:
I’m no fairy.  I’m an elf.  (touches ears that are sharp and peaked)

JANET:
Well, other than THAT, you could have fooled me.  Say, what flowers in the forest can I pick without running into those fairy laws of yours?

THOMALYN:
There are some poppies further into the woods. The Queen doesn’t care for orange, so those flowers should be safe to pick.

JANET:
Ooooh, I love poppies! Will you take me there?…uh?

THOMALYN:
Tomalyn.

JANET:
(nods) Thomalyn, take me there, okay?

THOMALYN:
We better not. The deeper into the forest we go, the more likely we are to run into fairies.

JANET:
Oh, come on, no one will see us!  And besides, what’s the point of knowing they’re safe to pick if I can’t pick them?

THOMALYN:
(looks at Janet who has an expression that reads “please!”) Oh very well, we’ll go.  But you must stay by my side at all times.

JANET:
(to audience)  How enchanting, I’ve never had an elf as an escort before!

[They exit.]

 

Scene 3:  Forest

[Stage Set: Same as in Scene 2, but STAGE HANDS remove the rose bush and bring on a throne for the FAIRY QUEEN. This should be a light weight wooden chair, with ribbons and flowers tied and glued onto it. (See Performance Notes for further suggestions on   making the throne.)

[FAIRY #1, FAIRY #2, and FAIRY #3 come flying out of the woods.  FAIRY # 1 and FAIRY #2 are laughing.]

FAIRY #3:
What’s so funny?

FAIRY #1:
Haven’t you heard?  Thomalyn’s in love.

FAIRY #2:
He thinks we don’t know!  But it’s all we’ve been talking about!

FAIRY #3:
You two need to get a life.

FAIRY #1:
You should see!  Whenever she comes to the forest, he sighs like a maiden.

[FAIRY #1 imitates THOMALYN in a crestfallen posture and sighing deeply.  FAIRIES crack up laughing.]

FAIRY #3:
Does the Queen know he’s taken with a mortal girl?

FAIRY #1:
Of course not!  And no one must tell her!

FAIRY #2:
You know how the Queen gets about mortals.  She must never find out!

FAIRY QUEEN:
(from offstage)  FIND OUT WHAT?!

[FAIRY QUEEN enters.  All FAIRIES bow down before her.]

FAIRY QUEEN:
Well?

FAIRY #1:
Oh, Your Majesty, you caught us!  We were planning… um, we were planning… a special gift for you for Samhein (pronounce:  SAM-hine) Eve, coming up.

FAIRY QUEEN:
(much nicer now)  Were you?  How terribly kind of you to do that.  (sits in her throne) What type of gift?

FAIRY #2:
It’s supposed to be a surprise.

FAIRY QUEEN:
I don’t like surprises.

FAIRY #1:
It’s candy, your highness!  We know you have a sweet tooth.

[FAIRY #1 and FAIRY #2 give each other a high-five, out of sight of FAIRY QUEEN.]

FAIRY QUEEN:
Ah, how nice!  And what a coincidence.  I actually came to speak to you about Samhein Eve.

FAIRIES:
Oh?

FAIRY QUEEN:
This year, I have a plan.  There’s no way our powers will be, in any way, uh, adversely affected.

FAIRY #1:
(to audience)  Meaning, we lose our powers at Samhein Eve.

FAIRY #2:
(to audience)  You know, Samhein Eve?  You guys call it “Halloween.”  When all the monsters, goblins and witches come out.

FAIRY #1:
(to audience)  For us, that’s when we come out to ward off the spirits that could sap our strength.

FAIRY QUEEN:
If all goes as planned, we will be stronger than ever! We must do this right.  Starting with our procession.

FAIRY #2:
What will the order be this year? I imagine you’ll go first as always, on your black horse.

FAIRY QUEEN:
Obviously.

FAIRY #3:
Who will go next?

FAIRY QUEEN:

Well, how about you?

FAIRY #3:
(bows) It’s too much of an honor for me.

FAIRY QUEEN:
True.  But some fairy has to ride the brown horse second.  It might as well be you.

FAIRY #3:
(to audience) Glad she thought long and hard about that.

FAIRY #1:
And will Thomalyn ride the third horse, the white one?

FAIRY QUEEN:
Ah, Thomalyn, the key to our success!  This is the seventh year he has been with us.  He’s ripe now for the sacrifice that will strengthen our powers more than ever!

[FAIRIES clap and celebrate.]

FAIRY QUEEN:
Speaking of which, where is that elf?  I haven’t seen him since he gave me those roses a few days ago.

FAIRY #1:
I believe he’s out protecting your gardens, Your Majesty.

FAIRY QUEEN:
Not the hardest job.  Very well.  Inform him when you see him he is to ride third in the processional.

FAIRY #1:
Yes, Your Majesty.

FAIRY QUEEN:
And I hope I don’t have to tell you – you don’t need to mention the rest of it.

[FAIRIES bow, and exit in various directions.]

 

Scene 4 – Forest

[Stage set: Same as in Scene 3, but STAGE HANDS remove the throne and bring on the orange poppies (See Performance Notes for suggestion on creating the poppies and making them easy to move.)]

[JANET and THOMALYN enter, arm in arm.]

JANET:
Oh, Thomalyn!  These last few days have been wonderful!

THOMALYN:
Janet, being with you is more magical than anything in Fairy Land.

JANET:
And the summer’s just started! We will spend all summer together!

THOMALYN:
Ah…! (looks downward)  Actually…

JANET:
Actually, what?

THOMALYN:
Unfortunately, I mean …

JANET:
What? Is it because you’re an elf?  I don’t care about that.  (strokes one ear)  I think your ears are cute.

THOMALYN:
It’s not that.  (sighs)  How do I tell you?  You see, the truth is, I overheard the fairies talking.  Come Sanheim Eve, it’ll be the time for me to…

JANET:
To what?

THOMALYN:
I’m to be sacrificed!

JANET:
WHAT?!

THOMALYN:
(dramatically) What a journey it’s been for me!  Born a human, knighted even.  Then captured by the Fairy Queen and turned into an elf, her servant evermore.  All of this, only to be sacrificed on Samhein Eve!

JANET:
But TONIGHT is Samhein Eve.  You can’t mean that you’re going to be sacrificed TONIGHT?

THOMALYN:
That’s it.

JANET:
No!  It can’t be!  There must be some way to make this all go away.

THOMALYN:
No way worth speaking of.

JANET:
Wait, what?  There’s a way (air quotes with fingers) “worth speaking of”?

THOMALYN:
Forget I said anything.

JANET:
You must tell me, Thomalyn.  I insist!

THOMALYN:
I’m sorry I mentioned it.  It’s too dangerous for you!

JANET:
Too dangerous? You’re about to be sacrificed! Come on, if I don’t at least try to help you, I’ll never be happy again!

THOMALYN:
You’ll get over it.

JANET:
Never!  I’ll never be happy again.  You must tell me how I can help you!

THOMALYN:
Oh, Janet! Very well. Listen carefully. Tonight there will be a procession of fairies riding horses.  They will ride to a place called Miles Cross where there will be a circle of stones.  And that’s where I’ll be sacrificed.

JANET:
Oh!

THOMALYN:
Janet, right at the circle of stones, just before I’m sacrificed, the powers of the Fairy Queen are weaker.

JANET:
Then that’s the time I must act!  I’ll come and snatch you away!

THOMALYN:
You think that’s all there is to it?

JANET:
Just tell me.

THOMALYN:
First, you must hide when the procession goes by.  There’s a very wide tree by the circle of stones –hide behind there.  Let the first horse, a black one, pass by. That will be the Queen. Let the second horse, a brown one, pass by, too.  Don’t come out from hiding until you see the third horse–a milk-white steed. That’s the horse I’ll be riding.  When you see it, jump out and quickly pull me down.  Pull me behind the tree and hide me there.

JANET:
That’s it?

THOMALYN:
That’s when it all BEGINS.  When you’re holding me behind the tree, hold me tight and not let go.

JANET:
I can do that.

THOMALYN:
The Fairy Queen will use her magic to make it look like I’m one horrible beast after another in order to scare you!  It’ll be hard to hold on, maybe impossible.  But if somehow, you manage to, that’s the trick!  No harm will come to you, nor I, and I’ll be a mortal again.  Forever.

JANET:
I can hold on, Thomalyn.  I must!

[A bell is heard.]

THOMALYN:
It is time!  I must go. Remember – Miles Cross. The white horse. And above all, don’t let them see you!

JANET:
I’ll do it!

[They exit in opposite directions.]

 

Scene 5 – Miles Cross

[Stage set: Same as in Scene 4, but poppies are removed and a wide tree is brought on (See Performance Notes on how to create the wide tree.)   Trees are decorated with paper chains and other things to make the stage look festive. (See Performance Notes for ideas on decorating the stage).  STAGE HANDS also bring on a few large rocks and place them in a “circle” in front of the trees, in the area where the throne was in Scene 1.]

[FAIRY QUEEN enters on her black horse, followed by FAIRY #1 on the brown horse.  (It’s suggested the actors use “hobby horses” – simply a stick with a horse’s head.  See Performance Notes for further detail on how to simulate the horses.)]

[JANET enters and hides behind the wide tree at Miles Cross. She carries a bag which hides three props from view: a bear mask, a lion mask, and a dragon mask.]

FAIRY QUEEN:
Ah, Miles Cross! (to Fairy #3) Well, Thomalyn’s time has come!

 FAIRY #3:
A noble plan, Your Majesty!  As soon as we sacrifice the elf, our powers will be stronger than ever!

 FAIRY QUEEN:
Let’s go!

[A bell rings three times. THOMALYN enters on the white horse, followed by the rest of the FAIRIES on foot.  All FAIRIES should add something to their costumes to make them look more festive (See Performance Notes for costume suggestions).]

[FAIRY QUEEN “rides” past the wide tree and around the circle.  Then FAIRY #3 “rides” the same way.  Last, THOMALYN “ride” his horse past the tree. At that moment JANET runs out from behind the tree and grabs THOMALYN off his horse. (Remember, it’s all pretend. JANET should “pull” THOMALYN to the side, and THOMALYN will act as if he’s off his horse.)]

FAIRY QUEEN:
(roars)  What is going on?!

FAIRY #1:
That mortal girl has grabbed Thomalyn!

FAIRY #2:
She’s trying to ruin the procession!

FAIRY QUEEN:
She DID ruin the procession! Surround them!  (Fairies do as their told)  You think you can save him?  Try the hot breath and teeth of a ferocious BEAR!

[During the confusion and while hidden from view by the encircling FAIRIES, THOMALYN has put on the bear mask.  When he stands up and roars, FAIRIES separate so the audience can see THOMALYN as a bear, and JANET, struggling to hold onto him.]

THOMALYN:
GRAAAAArRRRR!

JANET:
Those teeth!  I must hold on, I must!

[FAIRIES surround JANET and THOMALYN so the two of them are hidden from view again.]

FAIRY #3:
She’s still holding on!

FAIRY #2:
No mortal girl can keep this up!

FAIRY #1:
Your Majesty, try another one.

FAIRY QUEEN:
Let’s see how she does against the king of all beasts!

[THOMALYN has changed masks.  FAIRIES part so THOMALYN as a LION is visible to the audience.  He acts fearsome and JANET struggles to hold on.]

THOMALYN:
ARRRGHH!

JANET:
I can smell his breath!  (turns away)  I can’t look!

[Again, JANET and THOMALYN fall behind the FAIRIES.]

FAIRY #3:
She’s still holding on, Your Majesty!

FAIRY #1:
Something else!

FAIRY QUEEN:
This will do it – a dragon!

[THOMALYN has changed masks, once again.  He seems to be charging at Janet while she tries hard to hold fast.]

THOMALYN:
HISSSSSSSS!

JANET:
Oh, that tongue!  Please let this be over soon!

[Again, the two fall behind the FAIRIES.]

FAIRY #3:
She has to give in soon!

[The bell rings three more times.]

FAIRY QUEEN:
NOOO!!!  Samhein Eve is over.  That blasted mortal girl kept holding on!  Our chance for a sacrifice is over.  My powers will winnow away!

ALL FAIRIES:
(holding onto their heads)  Ours, too!  NOOO!

[THOMALYN helps JANET to her feet.  THOMALYN now has regular, human ears (See Performance Notes for how to make removable elf ears).]

THOMALYN:
Janet, you did it.  I’m free!

JANET:
I was so scared!

THOMALYN:
But you held on!

FAIRY QUEEN:
What do I do now?

JANET:
(to the Queen, and gathering her strength) I would LEAVE if I were you!  Now that your powers are gone, I’ll have my father the Earl send his army to clear out this forest.  You’d best not be here when he does!

[All the FAIRIES leave screaming.  FAIRY QUEEN stops and turns around.]

FAIRY QUEEN:
I shall have my vengeance on you!

JANET:
(holding up her fists)  Make my day!

[FAIRY QUEEN keeps running.]

JANET:
We must go tell my father!

THOMALYN:
Yes!  But first, a question.

JANET:
What?

THOMALYN:
(spins around) How do you like me as a human?

JANET:
Well, you’re probably more presentable for when you meet my father, the Earl.

THOMALYN:
My thought exactly.  Let’s go.

[JANET stops.]

JANET:
Though I will miss one thing.

THOMALYN:
The poppies?

JANET:
No.  (strokes Thomalyn’s ear)  Those cute ears.

[JANET and THOMALYN exit, arm in arm.]

[NARRATOR enters with a rose.]

NARRATOR:
And so our story ends.  Janet held onto Thomalyn, and I think I’ll hold on to this rose.  Or better yet.  (throws rose to audience) Now.  As they say in Scotland, Guid efternuin (pronounce: gwid eff-ter-noo-in).  Good afternoon.

[Note- if the play is performed in the evening, Narrator to say: “Guid nicht (pronounce: gwid nit).  Good night.]

[NARRATOR exits.]

[If you have a curtain, close it now. All actors come on stage and bow to the audience.]

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SOURCE

First mentioned in a Scottish ballad book, Vederburns Complaint of Scotland, 1549. An oft-referenced version is "Child Ballad #39A" from The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882-1898, by Francis James Child. The tale also appears in Scandinavia.

Retold by Elaine L. Lindy. ©2006.  All rights reserved.


FOOTNOTE

The original story, considered ancient, is a staple in many folk tale collections. "In most folk tales," according to storyteller Nancy Schimmel, "the woman or girl plays a passive role, waiting to be rescued or, at most, helping her male rescuer by her special knowledge of her captor. Women with power tend to have secondary roles - wicked stepmother, fairy godmother."  Whereas in this story, Janet herself is the rescuer.

The character of Janet sometimes appears as "Margaret," "Lady Margaret," or "Burd Janet." The character of Thomalyn also appears as "Tam Lin," "Tam Line," "Tamlin," "Young Thomlin," "Thomalyn," or "Tam Lane."

Our modern-day Halloween evolved from an ancient Celtic celebration on November 1st.  On that day, the Celtics celebrated a New Year that honored the sun god and Samhain (pronounced so-wane), the Lord of the Dead.  The night before, October 31st, was called Samhein Eve.  Over time, the Christians chose November 1 to honor Christians who died at the hands of the Romans.  In the first 200 years in American, many Protestant settlers rejected the holiday of Halloween along with other feasts on the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.  Today Halloween is the second most profitable holiday to American business, second only to Christmas.