AUTHORS: Retold by Elaine Lindy & Erin Fleming
GENRE: Kings & QueensRiddles
The Pumpkin in a Jar Reader’s Theater Play Script for Kids
- NARRATOR or NARRATORS (one person or more than one person)
- KING ADOVIS
- HUNTING COMPANION #1
- HUNTING COMPANION #2
Scene 1 – Woods by the Maiden’s Cottage
[Stage set: The stage has a primary set and a secondary set. The primary set is a woodsy scene. If you have a backdrop it can show rolling fields of grass with a cottage in the distance, surrounded by large pumpkin patches. There are a few cardboard trees onstage (See Performance Notes for ideas on making the trees). The secondary scene is the door to a king’s castle. More on the door in Scene 2.]
Hello, everyone. This is a riddle story from the Philippines. Later, YOU will get a chance to try and solve the riddle. This play is called “Pumpkin in a Jar” and it is brought to you by Stories to Grow by. Let’s get started.
[NARRATOR steps forward.]
One day, King Adovis was out hunting in the woods.
[KING, HUNTING COMPANION #1 and HUNTING COMPANION #2 enter. KING wears a crown.]
What a wonderful day to be out for a hunt.
HUNTING COMPANION #1:
It is a nice day. I just wish we were seeing some deer.
Other than THAT, it’s a pretty nice day. Look at these rolling hills.
[KING wanders toward the back of the stage, facing the back wall, with his back to the audience.]
HUNTING COMPANION #2:
Look! (points offstage) A deer over there!
HUNTING COMPANION #1:
HUNTING COMPANION #2:
Shhh, just follow me.
[HUNTING COMPANION #1 and HUNTING COMPANION #2 creep silently offstage.]
(turns around to face audience) Where—? I can’t believe they took off and left me. A king just can’t get good help anymore. Hmm, I wonder where I am.
[MAIDEN enters carrying a basket of flowers. She wears a cape.]
King Adovis! (bows) It is an honor to meet you, sire.
[MAIDEN runs a hand through her hair and fixes her skirt.]
(clears throat) I’m not saying my royal companions abandoned me, but let’s just say I have been out here for a while, and I’m rather thirsty.
Oh, Your Highness. The well by my cottage has plenty of water. But I’m afraid I don’t have a jar or goblet that’s noble or fine enough to serve you.
No matter with that. Your common jar will do, for this occasion.
If that’s what you’d like, I’ll be right back. If you’ll excuse me. (lightly bows again)
[MAIDEN exits and returns with a clear plastic bottle that has some water. She hands it to KING, who drinks heartily.]
Ahh! I feel so much better. Thank you. (hands jug back to Maiden)
You’re more than welcome (drops the jar behind a prop or the curtain)
[Offstage, play a pre-recorded smashing noise. Or a stagehand could (carefully!) smash some ceramics or pottery. (See Performance Notes on how to safely accomplish this.)]
(surprised) What? Why did you break the jar? (to audience) This is a strange maiden!
Since you have put your lips to the jar, my King, no one else should be able to drink out of it after you.
(to audience) Hmmm. I misjudged her. The maiden is virtuous. (to Maiden, pointing to cottage in the distance) Tell me, do you live in this cottage on your own?
Yes, I do.
(to audience) And she is independent. Let’s see how clever she is. (to Maiden) I have a riddle for you.
Bring me another jar. A bigger one.
[MAIDEN exits and returns with a gallon-sized, clear plastic bottle.]
Your challenge is to fit a full-grown pumpkin into this jar.
A full-sized pumpkin?! But the hole is so small!
Ah, but that’s what makes it a riddle. Can you meet this challenge?
Well, I don’t know. A full-sized pumpkin!
Just send a message to the palace when it’s done.
Oh, there you are, King Adovis. We’ve been looking everywhere for you.
Well, I certainly wasn’t LOST. This maiden was most gracious and kind when you were away. (to Maiden) I will expect to hear from you.
Very well. But it may take a bit of time.
Take all the time you need. Just make sure it’s a full-sized pumpkin. In THIS jar.
[KING and SOLDIER exit.]
(to audience) How am I going to do this?
Okay, everyone. This is where you think to yourself – Can the riddle be solved?
You know what? There is a way that just might work.
[MAIDEN rushes offstage.]
She has an idea, apparently. Do you?
Scene 2 – Castle door
[Stage set: The door of the King’s castle. (See Performance Notes for how to replicate a door.)]
[SOLDIER #1 and SOLDIER #2 enter and stand on either side of castle door.]
[MAIDEN enter. She holds something (the jar) inside her cape. If door is the sort of prop that can be opened, SOLDIER stands with door ajar. If not, SOLDIER stands beside a painted door.]
Good morning, miss. What bring you to the castle door?
I am here to see the King, to show him that I have solved his riddle.
Of course- the young Maiden from the cottage in the woods! He got your letter and is expecting you. I will go and get him.
(to audience) I have something inside my cape to show him. You probably can guess what it is.
[SOLDIER #2 returns with KING.]
I was so excited to get your letter! So, you have solved the riddle?
Indeed I did, Your Highness. Here. (removes from under her cape the gallon-size clear plastic bottle with a large pumpkin shown inside (see Performance Notes on how to accomplish this effect)
You have done it! This is surely a full-sized pumpkin. (peers closely at bottle) And this is definitely the jar. You must tell me your secret.
Certainly, Your Highness. (bows) I moved the jar next to my pumpkin patch, where one of my pumpkins was sending out a sprout with a bud. I moved the bud to inside the jar. Over time, the bud grew into a full-sized pumpkin! That’s all it was.
You are as clever as you are virtuous. A remarkable maiden indeed! Would you consider being my wife?
What an honor! How lucky I am!
I’m the lucky one. (takes Maiden’s hand inside his arm and they start to exit) By the way, I have a model ship at home that would look great inside a bottle.
(turns to audience and claps her face with her hands) Oh, my goodness!
(laughs) Just messing with you!
Actually, I have an idea how that could be done.
Why am I not surprised?
[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.]
December 7, 2016
This story is really interesting and gives a moral lesson to me. I wish, I could have born at that time and met Androcles.
December 23, 2016
Funny and well written!
January 31, 2017
most craziest one ever heard
February 14, 2017
March 20, 2017
March 5, 2016
I liked it because…
May 5, 2016
August 3, 2016
I really liked this story.
October 18, 2016
Loved the moral of the story: Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but standing up for what is right is always the best choice.
December 6, 2016
It’s nice and calm and short! Just how I like it! It shows That even some of the least smartest people can solve some of the hardest problems!
The play script, "Pumpkin in a Jar," was adapted by Lindsay Parker from a story of the same name found at https://www.storiestogrowby.org/story/pumpkin-in-the-jar/ and further described at the end of the story. ©2006 Elaine L. Lindy. All rights reserved.
This Philippine story is traced to Manila, 1908 and is associated with the Tagalog tribe.
A related version of this story is found in India (Indian Nights Entertainment by Swynnerton, p.315). The daughter of a smith, whom a Prince wanted to marry, in order to show her cleverness made some large earthenware jars, and without baking them she painted and enameled them, and introduced a small watermelon into each. When the melons had grown so as to fill the jars, she sent two of them to the palace, with a request that the melons should be taken out without breaking the jars or the melons. No one being able to do it, she obtained permission to visit the palace, wrapped a wet cloth around each jar until it became soft, expanded the mouths, extracted the melons, and remade the jars as before.