HANSEL AND GRETEL

CHARACTERS:

Hansel
Gretel
Mother
Father
White Bird
WitchBaking Easter Bread - Ukranian Canadians

SCENERY:

Here's an illustration of a Ukrainian farm in Canada.  This is not a picture of the Hansel and Gretel set.  It just shows the kind of traditional oven you may use for Scene 6.  Instead of a bread paddle with a long skinny handle, you should use a board, since the Witch needs to climb on it.

PLACES:

The action takes place in Europe:
  1. At the woodcutter's cottage on the edge of the forest.
  2. Deep in the forest.
  3. At the Witch's house.

TIME:

In the days when there were famines in Europe (not recently).  This story comes from the Grimms Fairy Tales, which is over a hundred years old.

PROPS:

2 buckets
wagon with firewood stacked high
bouquet
large stick
white pebbles ("moonstones") and 2 cloth sacks

SOUND:

Ominous music
Bird sounds

NOTES:

Hansel and Gretel, when speaking to their parents, call them "Mother" and "Father", like respectful European children would do.  When they're talking to each other, they call them "mom" and "dad".

The Witch may be old or young, ugly or beautiful.   She is nearsighted, so she may not wear glasses.  She wears fancy clothing, with lots of jewelry.  She walks with a "cane for the blind"; her vision is poor, but her sense of smell is keen.

Hansel and Gretel sing a rhyme that refers to "heaven".  If you are playing to an audience of mixed faiths (or none) you may be interested to know that this is not necessarily a Christian reference.  Paganism survived in this area until the late 1800s, well after the time of Hansel and Gretel and the Brothers Grimm.  There are many pagan songs dating from that time that refer to "heaven" or "the heavens".

RUNNING TIME:

Unknown.  For a shorter play, omit Scenes 2 and 3, and most of the dialog after the Witch's death in Scene 7.

Scene 1

(Outside the woodcutter's cottage.  We see stumps, bushes, and a forest.  2 water buckets onstage.)

(Hansel runs onstage.  He is playing "hide and go seek" with Gretel.  Hansel leans against a tree, covers his eyes and counts.)

HANSEL:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ...

(Gretel runs on while Hansel is counting.)

HANSEL:  ..., 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!  Ready or not, here I come!

(Gretel moves away from him, into the bushes.  Hansel keeps looking.)

HANSEL:  Gretel? Gretel! Where are you?  No fair hiding in the forest.

(Hansel suddenly sees Gretel.)

HANSEL:  Ha!  Found you!

GRETEL:   But you didn't tag me!  (she runs)

(Hansel chases Gretel, trips, falls down)

HANSEL:  Aaahhh! Gretel!  Darn it!

GRETEL:  Didn't catch me!  You have to go get the water.  (Holds out the buckets to Hansel)

HANSEL:  (Not taking buckets)  I don't want to.

MOTHER:  (Calling from within house) Hansel?  Gretel?

(Hansel drops buckets.  Hansel and Gretel run offstage). (Mother comes out of house onto stage, sees buckets.)

MOTHER:  (She picks up buckets.) Empty.  Hansel?  Your father will be home soon.  We need water.  Gretel!

(Father enters pulling a wagon with firewood stacked high on it.)

FATHER :  Finally... home... (Sets down wood.)

MOTHER:  (Embraces Father, quite warmly and strongly)  You look exhausted.

FATHER:  I didn't find any food.  (Sees buckets.) Ah, water!

MOTHER:  No, they're empty.  You couldn't trade any wood?

FATHER:  There's no food to trade for.

MOTHER:  None?

FATHER:  It's all gone.  The market has everything but food.  Everyone is searching for food.  Tailors, coopers, basket-weavers...

MOTHER:  (interrupting) And their children...?

FATHER:  They're tired from hunger.  Just like us.  I can't find anything else in the forest.  How can we feed Hansel and Gretel when we have nothing?

MOTHER:  I have thought about this.  Tomorrow, we will take Hansel and Gretel into the thickest part of the forest.  We will light a fire, give them each a piece of bread; and then leave them.

FATHER:  (horrified)  I could never do that!

MOTHER:  Will you find us food?

FATHER:  No child deserves to be left in the wood.

MOTHER:  (Challenging)  No child deserves to starve.  Will you find us food?

FATHER:  I have so far. We've eaten until now.

MOTHER:  (Emphatically, sternly) Will you find us food?

FATHER:  (silent)

MOTHER:  We have no food!  You and I may be able to live, but kids can't.  All my brothers and sisters died in the last famine.  I remember!  It was terrible!  I can't let that happen to Hansel and Gretel!

FATHER:  The wild animals...

MOTHER:  (emphatically)  (finishing his sentence) ...are better than dying of hunger.  And if Hansel and Gretel stay, we all die.

FATHER:  They're our children.

MOTHER:  (desperately)  I know they're our children.  I cannot watch them starve to death.  Maybe, in the forest, somehow, they'll find a way to survive.

FATHER:  Not alone!

MOTHER:  (Picks up buckets)  Maybe they will.  You taught them well. (Desperate)  I don't...  I can't... (her voice fades as she runs offstage, carrying buckets.)

FATHER:  Wait. Wait!  (Father exits after Mother.)

(Hansel and Gretel come out of hiding, look after their parents, stunned. Gretel sits on the ground, cries.)

GRETEL:  Do you really think they'll leave us in the forest?

(Lights down, curtain)

END OF SCENE 1


SCENE 2

(In the deep forest.  Very large trees, large rocks, campfire, a stack of wood.  Occasional bird songs.)

(Father enters, followed by Mother, Gretel and Hansel)

MOTHER:  It's just a little farther.

(Hansel stops, turns back, drops a white pebble.)

FATHER:  Here's the fire I built for you.

(Hansel runs to check the fire.)

MOTHER:  Here, children.  Some of your favorite cake for your supper.  I made this for you last night.

GRETEL:  Cake is better with milk.

MOTHER:  (emotionless) I wish I had milk to give you.

GRETEL:  Stay, and share some with us.

MOTHER:  (Still emotionless) No, we must go.

HANSEL:  (To Father)   Why did we come so far in the forest?  There's wood by our cottage.

FATHER:  A good question, Hansel. You are a smart boy, aren't you?

MOTHER:  Eat your cake now.

FATHER:  There's enough firewood for all night.

MOTHER:  When you've eaten, lie down by the fire and rest.  We'll see you later, after you sleep.

(Mother starts off, Father hesitates.)

FATHER:  You ... you're smart, Hansel, very smart. And you're brave, aren't you Gretel? (He kisses her.) Very brave...

(Mother exits.  Father follows, exits.)

GRETEL:  I'm not so brave.

HANSEL:  I'm not so smart.

GRETEL:  They wouldn't leave us here.  Not here.  It's getting dark, already.

HANSEL:  We're safe by the fire. (They eat cake)

GRETEL:  This cake is good.

(Behind Gretel the Bird swoops in.)

HANSEL:  (Seeing Bird) Gretel!

(The Bird moves toward them, flapping and calling.  Hansel and Gretel scream.  Bird stops approaching.)

(The Bird moves off toward an opening in the trees.  Bird turns back, and beckons with one wing.  Bird turns, sees Hansel and Gretel aren't moving, and returns to them.)

GRETEL:  Nice bird.  (Moves slowly toward Bird.)

(Gretel walks cautiously up to the Bird, reaches out to touch it. The Bird cozies up to Gretel to be petted.)

(Hansel picks up large stick)

HANSEL:  (Shouting at Bird) Go!  Go away!

(Bird, startled, moves away.)

HANSEL:  Go! Go!

(Bird exits)

GRETEL:  Hansel, you dumb head!  You scared off the Bird!

HANSEL:  Did you see how big it was?  What if it bit?

GRETEL:  I was petting it, Hansel.  It didn't bite.

HANSEL:  It was a big bird, Gretel.  Weren't you scared?

GRETEL:  Not really.  Can you see the moon?

(Hansel and Gretel stand and peer up and away)

(Bird comes back onstage, behind Hansel and Gretel) (Hansel and Gretel do not see the Bird.)

HANSEL:  Not yet.

(Hansel and Gretel are still peering.  Bird comes up from behind them, snatches cake and flies off with it.  Hansel follows, shouting.)

HANSEL:  Hey!  Give back our cake!  (Chases bird offstage)

GRETEL:  (Turns, suddenly realizes Hansel has disappeared into the woods)  Hansel?  Hansel!  Don't leave the fire!  Come back!

(Pause) (Hansel returns)

HANSEL:   I couldn't catch it.  It got our cake.  And dad and mom are gone.

GRETEL:   They really left us.

HANSEL:   It's all right, Gretel.  The moon is up and look, there, on the ground... there, see?  Gretel, look.

GRETEL:  What am I looking at?

HANSEL:  You know those white moon-stones I had, the ones that shine in the moonlight?  I dropped moon stones one by one, all the way here.

GRETEL:   Moon stones?  You had moon stones?

HANSEL:   You can see them, now. And they will lead us right to our house.

GRETEL:   You are smart, Hansel.  Come on!

END OF SCENE 2


SCENE 3

(At the woodcutters house.  Father sits near house; he's despondent.)

(Hansel and Gretel run onstage.)

HANSEL:  We're home!  We made it!  Father!

GRETEL:  Father!

FATHER:  Gretel!  Hansel!  You're back.  (Father hugs Hansel and Gretel.)  I was so worried about you.

GRETEL:  We walked all night.

HANSEL:  Then the moon went down and we couldn't see...

GRETEL:  So we had to wait until the sun came up...

HANSEL:  But then we could see the house.

GRETEL:  We did it!

FATHER:  (Father hugs Hansel and Gretel again)  Hansel!  Gretel!  You found your way back.  You're alive!

GRETEL:  Father! (Still hugging, they all spin around, laughing.)

MOTHER:  (Enters from house. They stop spinning.) Children ...

FATHER:  Hansel and Gretel are home, and they're not even hurt!

HANSEL:  Just tired.

GRETEL:  Mother.

(Hansel and Gretel move to Mother.  Gretel hugs Mother.)

GRETEL:  We were scared.

HANSEL:  We thought we'd never see you again.

MOTHER:  (Stunned)  We thought you got lost.

GRETEL:  We weren't lost. Hansel knew the way home.

MOTHER:  Hansel...

HANSEL:  Do you have something to eat?

MOTHER:  (To Father) Anything to eat.

GRETEL:  Yes, we walked all night.

MOTHER:  (To Father) Hungry, you see?

HANSEL:  More cake?

GRETEL:  Yes, more cake. That was good cake.

MOTHER:  (To Hansel)  There's our last loaf of bread in the cupboard.  Cut it in half and bring it to me.

(Hansel and Gretel, run into the cottage.)

MOTHER:  How could they find their way back!

FATHER:  They're smart kids, and they learned their forest craft. (Father starts into the cottage.)

MOTHER:  They must go, again. (Father stops.)  They must go, now.  This time we'll take them farther into the forest so they won't be able to find their way back.

FATHER:  I don't think I can do it.

MOTHER:  If you did it once, you can do it again.

(Mother and Father exit)

END SCENE 3


SCENE 4

(Still at the cottage)

(Mother enters, followed by Father)

MOTHER:  Children!

(The children enter with bread.)

MOTHER:  We're going into the forest.

HANSEL:  We are?

GRETEL:  Are we, Father?

FATHER:  Bring your bread with you, but save it for supper.

GRETEL:  We're going to stay in the forest all day?

HANSEL:  Do we have to go now?  Couldn't we wait a while?  We want to gather some pebbles, to play.

MOTHER:  We have to go now.

GRETEL:  But Mother, we have a new game we want to play with these white stones.

FATHER:  (To Mother, pleading)  We could wait just one day...

MOTHER:  We have to go now.  Come along.  Bring your bread.

FATHER:  (Giving in)  Come now.  You can play in the forest.

HANSEL:  All right.  Come on, Gretel.

GRETEL:  But Hansel ...

HANSEL:  Don't worry.  I know what to do.

GRETEL:  Oh, all right.

MOTHER:  (To Father)  Lead the way.

(All exit.  Father leads, Hansel is last.  Hansel moves slowly, deliberately tearing off and dropping bread crumbs.)

END SCENE 4


SCENE 5

(The deep forest)

FATHER:  Stay by the fire and you'll be safe and warm.

MOTHER:  We're going farther on to cut wood.

FATHER:  Here, Gretel.

(He takes off his coat, lays it on ground. Gretel lies on it.)

MOTHER:  You'll sleep well.

FATHER:  Lie here, Hansel.

(Hansel lies down.)

MOTHER:  Sleep a long, long time.

FATHER:  Dream of food, all the food you ever wanted.

(He exits.  Mother starts to follow, turns, looks back at them.  Gretel opens her eyes, sits up, looks at Mother.)

GRETEL:  (A simple question, not accusatory or loaded) Are you leaving us, Mother?

(Mother starts to say something, but stops herself, then exits.) (Gretel lies down.)

GRETEL:  Hansel, they left us.

HANSEL:  It's all right.  We'll wait until daytime, then we can see the bread crumbs and follow them home.  (He tiredly points to where he dropped them.)

(They lie down and sleep)

(Quietly, carefully, the Bird comes in.  Bird moves toward the children, inspects them.  Bird moves its head and shoulders in Bird fashion, searching the forest.)

(Ominous music.) (The Bird becomes alert.)

(Witch enters.)

(Witch sniffs the air, scenting the children.  The Bird watches her intently.  The Witch finds her way to the children, by sniffing.)

WITCH:  (In a stage whisper)

Sniff, sniff, I know well,
a lost child is what I smell.

(Witch moves close to Hansel and Gretel.)

WITCH:

Ah, here they are.  I smell two.
And no one else but me and you.

WITCH:  (To Bird) Shoo!  Away with you, pesky Bird.  Shoo!

(The Bird moves but not offstage.)

WITCH:  (Looks closely, sniffs.)  A girl... and a boy... young and tender.  Far from home and hungry.  We are so hungry.  I will give you magic food, my little ones.  Here... (She places a little cake by Gretel) (She moves to Hansel, places a little cake by Hansel)  And here.  A magic little cake.  Sleep well, my darlings.  We will all have a nice feast.

(She goes off)(Bird moves offstage)

(Begin sounds of songbirds)

(Hansel groans and mutters; he's having a bad dream)

(Gretel wakes up)

GRETEL:  Hansel, wake up!

HANSEL:  I was dreaming.  About birds eating bread crumbs.  And a woman with a gold necklace.

GRETEL:  Hansel, look. (She holds up cake.)  A little cake.  Mom must have left me a cake.

HANSEL:   Me, too, I have one, too. It smells like...

HANSEL & GRETEL: Gingerbread! (They bite their cakes, eating fast.)

GRETEL:  Mmmmmm, it is gingerbread.

HANSEL:  With berries and nuts.

GRETEL:  I can't eat it slowly.  I'm eating it right up!

HANSEL:  Save some...

GRETEL:  I can't.  I can't stop myself!

HANSEL:  Neither can I.

(They finish their gingerbread.)

HANSEL:  It's all gone.  We ate it all up.

GRETEL:  Hansel, we should start back home.

HANSEL:  Let's follow the crumbs I dropped.  I dropped the last around here somewhere... do you see it?

GRETEL:  No.  Are you sure it was here?

HANSEL:  Yes, just by this tree.  Don't worry, the next one is right there... (hunting around) here... near here... somewhere...

GRETEL:  Hansel...

HANSEL:  But I dropped it here!

GRETEL:  I think I know where they...

(Bird sounds get louder.)

HANSEL and GRETEL: (together)  The birds!

GRETEL:  They ate the crumbs.

HANSEL:  (Sits down)(Crushed) I didn't think of the birds.

GRETEL:  This is bad.

(Bird sounds fade out)

HANSEL:  (Stands up, looks around)  We don't even know what direction to go.  Do you remember?

GRETEL:  No, it was dark.

HANSEL:  (Takes her hand.) This way. (He pulls her.)

(Gretel stops, pulls him back to fire.)

GRETEL:  Not when we don't know where to go!  We stay by the fire!

HANSEL:  Come on, Gretel.  The sooner we start the sooner we'll get home.

(The Bird enters.  Hansel and Gretel don't notice.)

(He pulls her. Gretel stops Hansel, pulls him back to fire.)

GRETEL:  No!  If you're lost, you stay by the fire till somebody comes!  It's the first rule of being lost!

HANSEL:  That only works if someone's looking for you.  Nobody's looking!  They abandoned us, remember?

GRETEL:  (reluctantly)  Okay; let's go.

(Hansel and Gretel join hands and start walking)

(The Bird moves in front of them and squawks, denying them the path.)

HANSEL:  Get out of our way!  (He tries to lead Gretel around the Bird - it won't let him.)

(Hansel swings his fist at the bird.)  Away!

GRETEL:  No, Hansel, no!

(The Bird moves in front of him.  Hansel again tries to lead Gretel around the Bird, in another direction.)

(The Bird blocks their way.)

GRETEL:  You see, we shouldn't go.  It doesn't want us to go.

(The Bird reacts to this; bows.)

GRETEL:  It heard me.  I think it understands me.

(Hansel tries to push the Bird aside, tries to drag Gretel past the Bird.  The Bird shrieks at Hansel - he stops, frightened)

GRETEL:  Did it hurt you?

HANSEL:  No, it just scared me.

(Hansel and Gretel take turns leading each other off in other directions.  Each time they start down a new path, the Bird blocks their way. Another direction, then another.)

(Hansel and Gretel may solicit audience interaction here, asking the audience "Which Way?" and "This Way?")

(Finally, Hansel and Gretel approach the spot where the Witch entered and exited.  The Bird moves out of their way.)

HANSEL:  Look, the Bird's letting us go this way.

GRETEL:  But that's not the way we want to go!

HANSEL:  Well it's the only way we can go.  Do you want to walk, or not?

GRETEL:  I don't know this Bird,  I don't trust this Bird, and it is telling me to do something I don't want to do. 

HANSEL:  Well, we have exactly two choices.  We either go where the Bird lets us, or stay here dancing with it all day.

GRETEL:  No, that's wrong.  Dad says there's always a third choice.

HANSEL:  Like what?

GRETEL:  We can sit here and wait till the bird goes away.

HANSEL:  Yeah, and starve to death.

(Bird moves to where Witch exited, beckons)

HANSEL:  Come on, let's follow the blasted bird before it leaves without us.

(Hansel and Gretel start following the Bird offstage.)

GRETEL:  I have a bad feeling about this...

(All exit)

(Music, lights fade.)

END SCENE 5


SCENE 6

(Outside the Witch's gingerbread house, which is in a forest.)

(There's a large outdoor oven and a small stable.)

(Three stools sit somewhere onstage, near the house)

(The Bird flies onstage. Hansel and Gretel run onstage, stop in amazement.)

GRETEL:  I wonder who lives here?

HANSEL:  I smell good food.

GRETEL:  Yes!  And cakes!

(They move toward house.)

HANSEL:  Gretel... the house... Am I so hungry that I think...

GRETEL:  It looks like...

HANSEL:  (finishing Gretel's sentence)... it's built out of bread!

GRETEL:  This window is made of sugar.  (Breaks off a piece of window, tastes it, drops it, makes a face.)  Whoa!  Way too sweet!

HANSEL:  It's a house made of food! A whole house made of food!  Let's eat it!

GRETEL:  Except for the windows.

HANSEL:  The roof... (He breaks off a piece, bites it.)

GRETEL:  The wall... (She breaks off a piece, bites it.)

HANSEL:  Mmmmmm; yummy...

GRETEL:  It's covered with cakes!  With fruit and nuts in 'em!  This house has everything!

HANSEL:  Except tofu!

GRETEL:  No jelly, either.

HANSEL:  Can't build a house out of that stuff, I guess.

(The Bird flaps and flies away.  Hansel and Gretel watch it go.)

HANSEL:  Good-bye, Bird.

GRETEL:  (Pensive) (To the departing bird) I guess you got us here, all right.

WITCH: (From within house)

Munch, munch, honey bunch
Who is munching at my little house?

GRETEL:  (to Hansel) (stage whisper) Is that the wind!?

WITCH: (Still from within house)

Munch, munch, honey bunch
Who is munching at my little house?

HANSEL & GRETEL:

The wind, the wind,
the heaven-born wind!

(No answer) (They wait a short while, then pull off more pieces of the house and resume eating.)

GRETEL:  I think this is... (She bites it.) Cinnamon cake... with berries. Mmmmmm.

(Hansel bites it, they laugh together.)

WITCH:  (Still offstage)

Munch, munch, honey bunch.
Who is eating my wall?

(This time they stop eating, and drop their food.)

GRETEL:  Who's there?

(The Witch enters.)

WITCH:  Children.

(Hansel and Gretel hug each other, startled and scared)

WITCH:  Children are nibbling at my house.  Dear children, how did you come here?  This deep into the wood?

HANSEL:  The... the Bird showed us the way.

WITCH:  Ah, is that so? And are you so hungry that you eat my house?

GRETEL:  It's made of bread.

WITCH:  I know. I baked it in my oven.

HANSEL:  And cakes!

WITCH:  Yes!  You poor dears; you won't be hungry, ever again.  Too bad - such lovely, tender delicious children, so hungry, for so long.  Want breakfast?  We're having milk.

HANSEL:  You have milk?

WITCH:  Oh, yes, all the milk you can drink.  And pancakes with apples and nuts.  Sit here.

(They each take a stool and sit.)

WITCH:  (Hands them each a glass.)  Here.

HANSEL:  Milk!  Hooray!

(They drink.)

WITCH:  And... (She lifts top off server.)

GRETEL:  Pancakes!  With nuts!

(Hansel and Gretel grab pancakes and apples, and eat.)

WITCH:  Eat, my little ones.  You will never be hungry again.

(Hansel and Gretel continue to eat)

(Witch moves to Hansel, takes his hand.)

WITCH:  Ah, my young boy, you are a fine, sweet one, aren't you.

WITCH:  (Sings slowly)

Be happy,
be happy,
be happy.

HANSEL:  (Staring up at Witch)(Entranced.) I am.

WITCH:  (Feeling his arm.) But you are thin.  We'll change that, won't we?  How about dessert?

HANSEL:  Yes!

GRETEL:  Dessert!

WITCH:  (Still entrancing Hansel) The sweetest...

HANSEL:  Sweetest...

WITCH:  Tenderest ...

HANSEL:  (Enchanted now)  Tenderest...

WITCH:  Dessert.

(Still enchanted)(Hansel doesn't repeat, but stares silently at Witch)

WITCH:  Here. In here, my boy, in here. (Guides Hansel to the little stable.)  Go in and you'll see.

GRETEL:  (She is not enchanted)  But I can see into there and it's empty.

WITCH: (To Hansel, still entrancing him) Go on in, little one.  You'll get a surprise!

GRETEL:  Hansel!

(Hansel goes in.  The Witch shuts door and locks it.)

WITCH:  There, my boy, now I have you; you won't escape me.

HANSEL:  What did you say? Where is the dessert?

WITCH:  It's in there!  It's you!  A wonderful meal, and later, a wonderful dessert!  (Cackles, rubs hands)  A nice, fat boy!  Once you're not so skinny.

HANSEL:  Me? (No longer enchanted, Hansel tries to get out.)  Let me out.  Let me out!  Gretel!

GRETEL:  Let him out. Let him out!  (Gretel pulls on door furiously.)

WITCH:   (Eating food from the table.) You, girl, fetch water from the stream, go into the kitchen and cook good food.  When the boy is nice and fat, I will roast and eat him.

(Note: the Bird is not on stage or in sight)

GRETEL:  (Thinking of Bird)  Evil, false Bird, that led us here!

WITCH:   (Throwing Gretel a bucket.) Go now, girl, or you will go into the oven first.

(Gretel exits with bucket. Lights fade.)

END SCENE 6


SCENE 7


Three weeks later.  Hansel is asleep in the stable.  The oven is glowing; smoke comes out the chimney.  Gretel enters, carrying a tray of food.

GRETEL:  Hansel, breakfast! (Hansel wakes up.)  Eggs with onions and cheese, wheat berries and cake.  And milk.

HANSEL:   I'm not hungry.

GRETEL:  I am.  She still doesn't give me anything to eat but pine cones.

HANSEL:  Eat some of my breakfast.

GRETEL:  If she sees me...

HANSEL:  She can't see, she's almost blind.

GRETEL:  (She begins to eat.) I watched her again this morning.  She has jewels, all kinds and colors of jewels.  She keeps them in a box under her bed.

HANSEL:  Jewels will do me no good.  I need out!  (Dramatically, hamming it up) I need freedom!

GRETEL:  She has to hold them like this (pantomimes holding jewels up next to her eyes) so she can see them.  She rubs them in her hands and mumbles old songs.

HANSEL:  (He looks at oven.) Gretel, is there a fire in the oven?

GRETEL:  Early this morning, while you were asleep, we built it.

HANSEL:  She baked yesterday.  She has all the bread she needs.

GRETEL:  She didn't say anything about... roasting you.

(Gretel is interrupted by the Bird walking onstage.)

GRETEL:  The White Bird, again. Why do you come here? What do you want?  (She runs at the Bird.)  I hate you!  You led us to this Witch!

(Gretel kicks at Bird, chases Bird around the stable.  She gets a good kick in, Bird squawks and flies away.)

GRETEL:  Begone!  And don't come back!

(Gretel returns to Hansel)

HANSEL:  Can you get the key to this stable?

GRETEL:  I don't know where it is.  And she never lets me in the house alone.

HANSEL:  Try to go in when she comes out.  When she checks to see how fat I am, go in then.

GRETEL:  You do something to make her forget about me.  She likes it when you play and joke; do that.

WITCH:   (Offstage, Singing)  (Witch should sing the song as beautifully as she can - not cackling or otherwise badly)

Be happy,
be happy,
be happy.

HANSEL:  Here she comes.

GRETEL:  Don't let her touch you!  Only let her feel the bone.

HANSEL:  I know.  Give me the food.  (Gretel gives Hansel the food)

WITCH:   (Entering, singing, still beautifully)

I sing of pretty children
eating fruit and bread.

WITCH:  (No longer singing)(To Gretel) Come here, girl.

(Gretel goes to her. The Witch sniffs her.)

WITCH:  Give me your hand.

(Witch holds out her hand, Gretel puts hers in the Witch's.)

WITCH:  You've been eating.  His food.  Yes?

GRETEL:  (Unable to resist - she's in a trance)  Yes.

WITCH:   (Swatting Gretel's hand once, hard.)  Don't eat it!  Or you'll go into the oven first!

(Gretel pulls back hand, rubs her hand. Witch moves to stable.)

WITCH:  Hello, my fat little boy.  Are you eating your breakfast?  Eat.  Enjoy yourself.

HANSEL:  I don't feel well.

WITCH:  What's wrong?

HANSEL:  I have a fever.  I have spots all over me, red spots.  I have the pox. See?

WITCH:  (Trying to see.) Yes, I see.

HANSEL:  And I'm dizzy and the food doesn't taste good, and I'm pale, very pale, I know I am.  See?

WITCH:  (Trying to look, as Gretel moves toward house.)  I see.

HANSEL:  I have the plague! (He chokes and wheezes. Pathetically.) The plague.  The bubonic plague.

WITCH:  Actually, if you're choking and wheezing, it is more probably the pneumonic plague.

HANSEL:  (Ignoring Witch)  And I'm hot and then cold and then hot again.  And then I'm asleep, and then dreaming, and I don't even think I'm a boy.  I think I'm a... a chicken in a coop.

(He acts like a chicken, flaps at Witch, startling her.)

HANSEL:  Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck cluck!

WITCH:  Oh!

(She laughs at herself. Gretel goes in house.)

WITCH:  You frightened me. (She watches him.) Yes, yes, good, very good, a chicken. (She clucks back at him.)  Cluck!  Cluck!  Cluck!

HANSEL:  And sometimes I think I'm a duck. (He acts like a duck.)

HANSEL:  Quack quack quack!  Quack quack quack!

WITCH:   A duck. You sound just like a duck.

(She also quacks.  Hansel, in stable, and Witch, outside, both waddle like ducks.)

HANSEL:   Or a pig in the pen. (He grunts and oinks and acts like a pig.)

WITCH:  Oh, you're playing, aren't you.  And well you should.  Today is the feast.  Today I will let you out! (Witch holds up a large key.)

HANSEL:  (Looking for bone.) But... but I told you... I'm thin and sick.

WITCH:  Put out your finger, my boy.

(Hansel finds bone, holds the bone out to Witch, then grabs for the key.  The Witch moves, Hansel misses the key.)

WITCH:  Bony!  Thin!  How can you still be so thin?

HANSEL:  I'm sick.  The spots - see?

WITCH:  Oh, you know I can't see.  Give me your finger again.

(He gives her the bone.)

WITCH:  I don't understand it.  You should be fattened by now.

(Gretel comes out of house onto stage.)

WITCH:  Come here, girl!

(Gretel moves to her.)

GRETEL:  Yes?

(Witch takes Gretel's hand.  Gretel is immediately entranced)

WITCH:  Does the boy have spots, red spots? Is he pale? Is he still so thin?

GRETEL:  (Under the Witch's spell; she can't lie) No.

WITCH:  (Lets go of Gretel's hand).  Today I will eat him.

GRETEL:  (Crying) I wish we stayed in the forest!  At least we'd have died together.

WITCH:  Spare us your tears!  They will do you no good. (The Witch crosses to oven.)  Now for the grand feast.

(Witch opens oven door, pulls out the board the bread is on.  Firelight flickers brightly from within the oven, smoke drifts out of the door.)

WITCH:  The fire is perfect.  Tell me, girl, how many loaves of bread are here?

GRETEL:  Two.

WITCH:  But I put in three.  Look inside, and find the other loaf.  I can't see very well, you know.

GRETEL:  I can't see the other loaf.

WITCH:  Get up on the board so you can see into the oven.

GRETEL:  Get up on the board?  I don't know how.

WITCH:  Silly girl, it's easy.  Just climb up here, like so... (She gets half up.)  And look in.

(Gretel pushes Witch all the way onto the board.)

GRETEL:  Look for yourself!

(Gretel takes key from the Witch, and keeps on pushing)

WITCH:  No!  Naughty child!

(Gretel slides the key across the stage to Hansel, keeps pushing.)

GRETEL:  Far worse than naughty!  Have a nice roast, Witch!

(Gretel pushes, the Witch holds her ground.)

(If Hansel misses the key, Gretel breaks away from Witch, runs over and gives Hansel the key while Witch slowly tries to get down, and returns to pushing Witch.)

GRETEL:  Hansel!  Help me!

(Hansel unlocks door and comes out.  Together Hansel and Gretel push the struggling, protesting witch into the oven.  Gretel latches the oven door.)

HANSEL:  Thank you!  Thank you!  You are brave!  And smart!

(Witch screams in despair.  She should try for maximum pity, expressing maximum pain.  Her cry should be really terrible.)

GRETEL:  She's gone!

HANSEL:  We did it.  We pushed her in.

(Hansel and Gretel listen; no sound from the oven)

(Hansel and Gretel ponder what just happened)

GRETEL:  Did you hear that awful scream?

HANSEL:  It was terrible.

GRETEL:  I mean, we just killed a person.

HANSEL:  She was a witch!

GRETEL:  I feel sick.

HANSEL:  So do I.

GRETEL:  Oh, sure.  Show me your red spots.

HANSEL:  No, really.  I can't believe what just happened.

GRETEL:  She was going to roast you.

(They listen)

GRETEL:  She's dead.

HANSEL:  (Soberly)  I feel awful.  But I guess we're free.

GRETEL:  (Excited)  Yes, Hansel!  We're free!

HANSEL:  (Dazed)  Free!

GRETEL:  Let's get the jewels!.

(They run into the Witch's house)

(The Bird comes onstage, looks around, moves to the stable, then to the oven, moves to one side of the stage, remains onstage.)

(Hansel and Gretel run out of the house carrying a large, ornate box of jewelry.  They're both wearing jewelry.  They set down the jewelry box and rummage.)

HANSEL:  Look at all these jewels.  We're rich!

GRETEL:  We'll never be hungry again.

(Hansel sees Bird)

HANSEL:  Look, the bird! 

GRETEL:  (To the Bird) Go away!  We're done with you!

(Gretel  chases the bird offstage, shouting at it)

(Gretel returns onstage)

HANSEL:  Look, the house is melting away!

GRETEL:  All the food is disappearing!

HANSEL:  What will we do we do now?

GRETEL:  Go home, of course.

HANSEL:  How will we do that?  We're lost, deep in the middle of an enchanted forest!

GRETEL:  Your statement contains two inaccuracies.  Firstly, the forest isn't enchanted anymore, now that the Witch is dead.

HANSEL:  We'll starve!  All we have left are these stupid jewels, that we can't eat.  I wonder why they didn't disappear?  I hate them!  (Hamming again)  Cursed, useless jewels!  Woe is me!  Oh, cruel fate!  Alas!  Alack!  Whatever shall we do?

GRETEL:  (Interrupting Hansel's lament) As I was saying.  Your second inaccuracy is, we're not lost.

HANSEL:  What do you mean, we're not lost?  Did you find a map?

GRETEL:  I didn't find a map.  I have been getting water from a stream, in case you don't recall.

HANSEL:  What does that have to do with anything?

GRETEL:  Don't you ever listen to dad when he tells his stories?

HANSEL:  I listen to mom when she tells me her recipes.

GRETEL:  You're never lost if you're by a stream.  Every stream leads to a river, and every river leads to a village or town.  Just keep going downstream and you're sure to find people.

HANSEL:  Yeah!  I forgot about that!

GRETEL:  Do you still hate the useless jewels?

HANSEL:  Of course not.  When we get to a town, we can sell some!  And buy food!

GRETEL:  And pay someone to take us home!  And make mom and dad rich!

(Slight pause)

HANSEL:  (Emphatically.  He really means it) I hate mom!

GRETEL:  (shocked) How can you hate mom?  She's our mom!

HANSEL:  She left us in the forest to die.

GRETEL:  She sent us away from home, where we were all starving.  Now we're not starving.  Mom was right.

HANSEL:  But it was terrible!  What she did.

GRETEL:  It was terrible.  But in the end, mom was right.

HANSEL:  What, again?  (Pauses)

GRETEL:  Don't you hate it when that happens?

HANSEL:  Yeah.  (Another pause)

GRETEL:  It's that bird that I hate.

HANSEL:  That bird led us here.

GRETEL:  Exactly!  Right to the witch!

HANSEL:  If we stayed there, we would have died.  The bird brought us here, the witch fed us, and we lived.

GRETEL:  (Pauses)  I guess you're right.  Without the bird, we would've died.  With the bird, we didn't.

HANSEL:  I wonder if the bird was good, or evil?  I mean, was it helping the witch, or us?

GRETEL:  I am tired of all this philosophy, and would like to go home.

HANSEL:  What are we waiting for?  Let's grab these jewels and go!

(They pick up the box of jewels.)

(Hansel and Gretel face the audience)

HANSEL and GRETEL: (together)  Let's go home to mom and dad!

(Lights fade)(Hansel and Gretel exit.)

THE END


AUTHOR: 

Leo Heska

STORY SOURCES:

Grimm's Fairy Tales from the public domain, plus Leo's woodcraft.and other additional bits.

Published and distributed by  www.FreePlays.org


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