by Hanna Vock


Preliminary remark:

The fairy tale „Hansel and Gretel“ is fascinating for many children because the heroes of the story are children who stick together and successfully stand up to evil.

In order to play it with kindergarten children, I changed the fairy tale:

The cruel parts were taken out of the fairy tale, namely both the witch’s intention to feed Hansel fat and fry him, and the burning of the witch at the end.
These parts are not essential to the story and can easily be replaced with meannesses that are closer to children and less cruel….

I think there is another difference between children hearing or reading the fairy tale in its actual (cruel) form – and playing it over and over again.
For more on how theatre play first developed with this fairy tale, see: Drama Activities at Kindergarten.

Explaining to the children why the changes were made and discussing this with them is important and is also a good opportunity for cognitive advancement.

I have worked on this fairy tale play several times with kindergarten and primary school children, including gifted children.

It was interesting for me that gifted children of preschool and primary school age grasped and stored the structure and details of the play much faster than other children. They were also more often interested in discussing the content.

With similar initial enthusiasm, they stayed with the play much more persistently and showed a high demand for the coherence of all details. When individuals were inattentive, they reacted easily with impatience and anger.

The main roles were played by the gifted children, who also showed acting talent. The children who played the supporting roles did not have to act with nearly as much stamina and concentration, but they also contributed significantly to the success of the play and also had corresponding experiences of success.

It could happen that none of the children wanted to play the wicked witch. In these cases, a colleague had to take over this role.

The story was worked out picture by picture, some children tried out several roles one after the other and some roles were double and triple cast.

I developed the following „script“ while working with the children, a colleague took on the role of the narrator. I directed the play, but was increasingly able to hand over this task to gifted children who stood out for their organisational talent.

For the methodology, see also:
Theatre Play with Gifted Children.

Hansel and Gretel



Several birds
Eagle owl
Frightened hare
Black cat

Scenery / Props:

1st scenery:

Forest backdrop, trees in the room
Table, 4 chairs, jug with water, 4 glasses
Pebbles on the floor,
bedsteads for Hansel and Gretel

2nd scenery:

Front door

3rd scenery:

Key and bread

4th scenery:

just as

5th scenery:

Witch’s house: Window pane made of transparent paper
Two real gingerbread / biscuits for Hansel and Gretel
Light from the witch’s house (torch)

6th scenery:

Table + pots, magic pot with lid, brush
„Spotlights“ (e.g. strong floor lamps)
Musical instruments drum and cymbals


Eagle owl: beak + wings
Moon: yellow clothes and cardboard circles in front and behind
Birds: plain clothes + wings + beak
Frightened hare: brown fur clothing + ears
Sun: light-coloured clothes + two yellow cardboard circles with rays
Snowflakes: white clothes and cotton wool wreaths


1st scenery

Hansel, Gretel, the father and the stepmother sit in front of the hut at a table on which there is only a jug of water and four glasses.

The Narrator begins
Once upon a time there lived a boy and a girl. The girl’s name was Gretel and the boy’s name was Hansel. They lived with their father and the wicked stepmother in a hut at the edge of the forest.

The stepmother did not love the children at all, and the father was without courage.

The children look sad. The stepmother pours water into the glasses.

They were very poor, often they didn’t have enough to eat and had to stay hungry.

Today they can’t eat their fill again, their stomachs hurt. The stepmother sends the children to bed.

They drink a little water and are sent to bed hungry.

The children roll around in bed for a while and Gretel falls asleep.

Gretel falls asleep, Hansel hears the parents talking. He crouches by the door to hear everything better.

The father says: „Our poor children are so hungry.“

Hansel sits up slowly and listens secretly.

And the wicked stepmother replies:

„There is nothing left to eat in the house, everything has been used up. The little we can still buy is only enough for me and for you, but not for the children. Tomorrow we will take them to the forest and leave them alone.“

The father is frightened and whines, „Oh dear oh dear oh dear.“

The stepmother looks angry all the time.

Hansel listens strained and makes a frightened face.


2nd scenery:

All the people are still in the same positions.

The front door hangs from the ceiling on strings.

The moon is in the sky.
It is dark.

Hansel is quite frightened by what he has heard. What can he do? He is afraid that he and Gretel will not find their way home from the forest.

Suddenly he has an idea:

He waits until the parents go to sleep.

The parents go to sleep.

Then Hansel quietly and secretly sneaks out of the hut and collects pebbles outside.

His friend, the squirrel, helps him.

With his trouser pockets full, he slips back into his bed.

The next morning the moon sets and the sun rises. The parents go into the forest with Hansel and Gretel. The stepmother tells the children that they have to fetch wood for the fire.

Hansel goes last and secretly drops his pebbles.

They stop in the middle of the forest. The wicked stepmother says, „You stay here now.“ Hansel and Gretel sit down, and the father and the wicked stepmother leave.

It is slowly getting dark, the sun is setting.

Dim the headlights!

Gretel gets scared. „Where are our parents?“

Hansel reassures his sister: „We’ll find our way home again on our own. I have scattered pebbles on the path. We’ll wait until the moon rises. In the moonlight we will see the pebbles twinkling.“

And so it comes to pass. The moon rises and the pebbles show them the way. But it’s scary in the dark forest, so they both sing a song and finally find their way home.


3th scenery

The wicked stepmother is furious and immediately chases the children to bed.

She says to the father: „Tomorrow we will take the children deeper into the forest. They won’t be able to find their way back again. I’ll make sure of that.“

She locks the door tightly and hides the key.

This time Gretel has heard everything. She also wants to secretly collect pebbles, but she can’t get out of the house.

Then she remembers that the wicked stepmother has hidden another piece of bread for herself. Gretel gets it, puts it in her bag and sneaks back to bed.


4th scenery

The sun rises.

The moon disappears, the sun comes.

The father wakes the children and they set off.

Hansel and Gretel are taken into the forest.

Gretel is the last to go, crumbling the bread. She thinks, „The breadcrumbs will show us the way home.“

The parents leave the children alone in the deep forest.

A few little birds, who are also hungry, come fluttering in and pick up all the breadcrumbs.

When the parents don’t come back at all, Hansel gets scared and cries. Gretel comforts him: „We will find our way home, I have secretly scattered breadcrumbs.

Hansel regains his courage and they both start looking for the breadcrumbs.


5th scenery

Sun gone.

Witch’s house.

Witch in the witch’s house.

Oh dear, they find nothing and get deeper and deeper into the forest. It is getting dark again and the moon is rising.

An eagle owl flies through the forest with an eerie cry.

Finally it starts to snow, the snowflakes dance.

Hansel and Gretel have an eerie feeling. They are cold and terribly hungry.

A little a frightened hare comes hobbling along and wants to stop the children.

The hare calls out:
„Don’t go any further, don’t go any further!“

The witch turns on the light in the house.

But the children see a light flashing in the distance. That is where they want to go.

They cautiously go closer and find a wonderful little house.

They are amazed and can hardly believe what they see:

The house is covered with gingerbread and the windows are made of sugar.

They start to nibble and eat.

Suddenly a black cat jumps off the roof.

The children back away, but hunger drives them back to the house and they continue eating.

Then a strange voice sounds from the house: Crunch, crunch, crunch, who’s crunching my little house?

The children answer: „The wind, the wind, the heavenly child.“

They continue to nibble, suddenly the door opens and a witch steps out and lures the children into the gingerbread house.


6th scenery

Table with pots and brush.

Mat and large purple cloth for the witch.

When the sun rises again, Hansel is trapped in the cage. The witch is very angry with the children. Gretel has to clean, scrub and wait on the witch all day.

Witch rages around.

„You bad girl, clean this pot so that it blinks – but not this pot! Don’t you dare touch this pot even once!

She murmurs to the side: „If the girl touches this pot, then I’m lost! Then I won’t be allowed to stay in the human kingdom!““

The witch snores.

The witch limps to the cage and drags Gretel away from her brother, clamouring:

„You ungrateful thing, clean the pots already“!“

Lightning effect, noise of drum + cymbals.


Gretel sets to work. The witch gets tired and goes to sleep. Gretel sneaks over to Hansel and tells him about the pots.
Should she touch the forbidden pot after all? Maybe the pot has magic powers and helps to defeat the witch.

The black cat sees Gretel standing by Hansel and wakes the witch.

The witch limps to the cage and drags Gretel away from her brother, clamouring: „You ungrateful thing, clean the pots already“!“

Gretel continues cleaning. The witch cuddles the cat and does not pay attention.

Gretel looks around carefully, reaches for the forbidden pot. She lifts the lid and looks inside.

The witch disappears with a terrible howl and is gone forever.

Lightning effect, noise of drum + cymbals.

The witch trembles and groans, picks up the purple cloth, swings it in front of her so that she is hidden from the audience and disappears from the stage, howling loudly.

Gretel frees her brother, they dance for joy and decide to live in the witch’s house. and they invite all their friends to make a party.

All the actors run onto the stage. They join hands and dance in a circle, singing / shouting:

„Whoopee, the witch is gone! Whoopee, the witch is gone!“

They all let go of their hands, stand facing the audience and take a bow.



Date of publication in German: February 2017
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see Impress.