by Hanna Vock
Theatre version in 11 pictures
This is a theatre play that the children work through
bit by bit. Of course there are many other good ways to do theatre work with children.
King and Queen
The Wise Bird
The first teacher
Since the fairy tale is quite long and has a lot of spoken text, a reader is well needed. This person guides the children through the play.
At first, she can also read the stage texts aloud – and the more confident the children become, the more she can leave out.
How much text the children speak themselves (as or similar to what is written down) depends on the memory capacity and acting talent of the children involved – and on the stamina with which they want to rehearse.
In bold you will see suggestions for text passages that – when the time comes – can easily be adopted by the children.
Even if the children are very gifted, it is quite possible that they will initially „only“ learn to orientate themselves in the flow of the story, to move on stage and to master the mimic and gestural tasks.
The spoken text may be added gradually.
In a performance, it is important to remember that the play requires not only a long period of concentration from the actors, but also from the audience. So if there are younger children, it is advisable to perform the play in two parts.
First part: pictures 1 to 7, second part: pictures 8 to 11.
Princess, Governess, The Wise Bird
Room of the princess:
Purple carpet / backdrop, golden wall cloth.
The wise bird squats in the corner.
The princess stands in the middle of the stage.
Once upon a time there lived a princess. She was cheerful and lively and never did anybody any harm. She was loving and friendly to all people.
The princess steps forward, smiles at the spectators and waves to them.
The wise bird buzzes around her once and then sits down quietly. He watches the scene.
She had a governess to teach her nursery rhymes.
The governess appears. The wise bird caws wickedly and flaps its wings.
The governess stands in front of the princess, looks at her and sings:
„Little Hansel, went alone…“
The princess stands rigidly and makes a face.
The governess keeps trying:
„…but Mama cries a lot…“
The princess clasps her hands behind her back and does not sing along.
The princess couldn’t remember these songs at all. She always had to wonder how silly the words and how childish the melodies were.
The governess secretly thought:
<What it is with the little princess? I have never seen such a dump child. She can’t retain anything at all.>
But she still wanted to be a good governess, and therefore she kept singing the songs over and over again – always just the simplest ones – and she thought:
<Well, one day a little bit of it will stick in the princess’s memory.>
The governess turns to the audience and shakes her head. She walks forward and says to the audience behind her hand:
„She can’t be that stupid!“
The governess looks at the princess and sings softly on and on.
However, the princess remained silent and never even considered to open her mouth for the foolish songs.
And at some point she thought to herself:
<She is always singing the same few songs all the time, and they are indeed only the very simplest ones…. even sthe stablemening sing better songs to the horses.>
The princess goes forward and says to the audience behind her hand:
„The governess really isn’t very clever!“
Princess goes off, the Wise Bird buzzes behind.
The governess raises her arms, sighs and leaves.
Princess, Casimir, horse
Grey sheet in front of golden tapestry, backdrop.
Hidden book. Stacks of books.
The horse paws with its hooves and whinnies. Casimir grooms it.
The princess slips into the stable, greets Casimir and strokes the horse.
The princess liked to go into the horse stable, which she wasn’t really allowed to do. Whenever she was caught, there was a big shout:
„A princess is not allowed to play in the stable! In the stable her beautiful clothes get dirty and then she looks nasty and ugly.“
The princess is frightened and looks around.
That is why she could only go to the stable secretly.
She often did, because the old stablemen Casimir knew many interesting stories to tell, and above all he could think up all kinds of riddles. The princess loved riddles very much!
So, one day Casimir said:
„Princess, help me. I have get some fresh oats for the horses, but I don’t know exactly how much is needed.
We have four ponies in the pasture, each one gets one sack of oats, the six big horses need two sacks of oats each.
How many sacks do I have to fetch so that they all get enough oat?“
Casimir and the princess stand facing each other, pretending to talk to each other.
The little princess didn’t have to think long:
She said to Casimir:
„Sixteen sacks you need.“
The stableman was amazed, he was good at arithmetic himself. He had been practising for a long time – but the princess, where did she learn it, after she hadn’t been taught at all?
„How do you know this?“
And the princess answered:
„I just know.“
And then Casimir entrusted her with his big secret:
He had a book and he could read in it. He understood the letters, and so the book told him its stories.
Casimir takes out his book and shows it to the princess.
They talk to each other.
„Princess, there are many more books. They are in the castle, in the library.
I’m not allowed in there, but I’d love to have a second book. I want to see what stories are hidden inside.“
And so from that day on, the little princess would often sneak into the library and get books for Casimir.
When he had finished reading them, the little princess would secretly put them back.
For she knew – and so did Casimir – that the king would never have allowed the royal books to be handed to the stableman.
The princess scurries away and comes back with a pile of books.
Casimir takes the books and is delighted. He hides them.
Out of gratitude, Casimir explained the letters to the princess,
and before he knew it, she could read even better and faster than he could.
Casimir draws an A in the air, the princess imitates it.
Then a W, then a U.
(Attention: only use fold-symmetrical letters so that actors and spectators see the same thing!)
So they had became best friends.
They laugh happily at each other.
Princess, queen, king
Governess, first teacher
Throne room: golden wall cloth, backdrop.
Throne for queen and king. 3 chairs.
Set table, silver plates and silver cups.(aluminium foil).
King, Queen and princess eat and drink.
King and queen pretend to talk to each other. The princess remains silent.
When everyone has finished, the king holds his stomach. The princess leaves.
King and Queen sit down on their thrones.
One evening, the princess was once again sitting silently at dinner. When everyone had finished, her mother, the Queen, said to the King:
„Our princess doesn’t talk much, nor does she play like the other children. She doesn’t seem to enjoy jumping off the little wall in the castle garden a hundred times like the other children do.
She is rather peculiar. What do you think about that, you are her father after all.“
The king replied:
„Yes, yes“, she a little peculiar, indeed….I hear she won’t repeat the songs and rhymes to the governess, but just makes a defiant face.
Maybe we should soon send for teacher to give her lessons so that she doesn’t remain too dump.
For no prince wants to marry a too stupid princess.“
The king calls the governess and tells her:
„First fetch the princess and then the teacher!“
The governess disappears and comes back with the princess.
The princess sits down in her place at the table.
The teacher appears, bows.
He turns to the princess and speaks to her.
The teacher said, „Now, honoured princess, first let us start with arithmetic. Look here, this is one chair. If I add a second one, how many chairs will there be?
Think carefully in peace and tell me the answer tomorrow.“
Then she was allowed to go.
The princess slowly walks out and listens to the back.
She could still hear the teacher saying to the Queen:
„I have given the princess a difficult task. It is important that she learns some arithmetic first before we start on the letters.“
replied the queen, for she trusted the teacher’s art.
And it was clear to the princess that the teacher could not become her friend.
Princess, governess, wise bird
Room of the princess: scenery. Purple carpet. 2 chairs.
A book and a handkerchief are hidden behind the backdrop.
The governess is sitting on a chair with an embroidery.
The wise bird is squatting in the corner. He has his head tucked under his wings.
After this unpleasant experience with the teacher, the princess ran to her bedchamber to read. She had found a book in the library that interested her immensely. She had hidden it under her mattress. But there was a problem in the bedchamber.
The princess came in and saw the governess. She embroiders and looks up.
There sat the governess embroidering on a doily.
The little princess decided to fib a little:
„I want to sleep, please leave me alone.
Fortunately, the governess got up and prepared to leave the chamber:
„Oh dear, Princess, did the lessons strain you so much?
You are still so little and you should already be learning so much.
Sleep well, my angel.“
The governess strokes the princess’s hair and leaves.
The wise bird squawks and flutters after the governess.
The princess laughs, the governess covers her ears as she walks away.
When she was finally alone, the princess was reading her book.
The wise bird brings her the hidden bookreads. The bird snuggles up to her.
The book was about how doctors can cure bad diseases, and also about all the things that had not yet been researched about diseases.
The princess thought:
<Why don’t the other children care about that?
Anyone can fall ill sometimes, and then you want to know what can be done. I can never talk about it with the others…>
„Apart from Casimir, I don’t have a real friend.“
Then the little princess got sad and had to cry for a while.
The princess cries, the bird brings her a handkerchief.
When she was done with that, she thought to herself:
<But one is better than none>, and she decided,
to bring Casimir the interesting book about illnesses.
After all, he could get sick too.
The princess stops crying.
She closes the book and leaves with a determined step. She takes the book with her.
King and Queen, Princess, 2 Ministers, Alexander
Throne room. Alexander’s map.
King and queen are sitting on their thrones.
Next to them are 2 cushions (for the ministers).
The princess has hidden herself under the table and is listening attentively the whole time.
Every Monday, exactly at 12 o’clock, the king had ministers and scholars come to him.
And now it was Monday. The princess kept very still and quiet so that she could hear what the grown-ups were talking about.
The clock strikes 12.
Two ministers come in and sit down at the feet of the royal couple.
Then Alexander enters, his map under his arm. He bows to the royal couple, stops and talks and gestures.
He unrolls his map and shows it to everyone.
Today there was a man called Alexander. He had travelled all over the world and told exciting stories about faraway countries.
The princess would have liked to listen longer, but the king got hungry and wanted to eat lunch, so he sent the man away.
The king grabbed his belly and waved Alexander away. Alexander bows again and leaves.
King, Queen and Princess sit down at the set table.
While eating, the little princess dares to ask:
„Is the man who has travelled far coming back?“
The Queen raised her eyebrows in amazement and told the Princess she’d better eat her puree – but the Princess defied. She thought, <It’s now or never!> Courageously, she asked further:
„Can this man be my teacher, he knows so much!“
Now even the king wondered, for he had not noticed that the princess had been listening in the throne room.
The king exclaims unwillingly:
„You have the best teacher, so don’t get such stupid ideas!“
The princess continued to eat and think about whether her thoughts were really stupid.
And the longer she thought like that, the angrier she became.
Finally, her patience snapped.
She screamed so loudly that everyone had to cover their ears. She yelled and stomped her feet.
Princess does all this.
And when she had time to catch her breath again, she said very loudly and clearly: „Mother and father, what am I a princess for if I’m never allowed to wish for anything?
I want this man to be my teacher and that’s that! And if I don’t get him, then…then…then I’ll never eat mashed potatoes again!“
The parents were terrified. But they loved the princess.
So the king said:
„All right, he shall be fetched.“
Princess, Alexander, Queen and King, Ministers.
The Princess sits in the throne room (facing the audience sideways). Alexander steps up and says hello to her.
Now the little princess got it with fear.
What would the man say about being her teacher?
„My name is Alexander. I am to be your teacher.“
From the governess, the princess had learned that this time he had not come voluntarily. The palace guards had forced him from his home to the castle by force.
And there he stood, secretly furious about the princess.
The princess said:
„I beg your pardon. I am very interested in your stories about the faraway lands and would like to learn from you. If now is not convenient for you, we can meet some other time.“
The little princess had never before been heard speaking so well-mannered.
The man named Alexander was impressed. And since he wanted to earn money for new journeys, he agreed to become a princess teacher.
Alexander shook hands with the princess and struck out.
„Okay, it’s a deal. Let’s get started. I’ll give you some difficult riddles though.“
„It doesn’t matter, I’ll solve them.“
Princess and Alexander have a (quiet) animated conversation.
Now began a beautiful time for the princess.
Alexander did not treat her like a little child, but spoke to her normally.
She was learning without realising it, because she was enjoying it very much.
And indeed, the princess solved the most difficult riddles Alexander gave her. And all who heard it were amazed.
The ministers, king and queen come, take their seats and listen.
Alexander gives her a riddle:
Princess, what is brown or white or black,
has four legs and can see equally well at both ends?“
Whisper, whisper to all the spectators. (= how hard / no idea / there’s no such thing…)
The princess had to think for a while, then she says:
„It’s easy. It’s a horse that has its eyes closed.“
„Princess, you are not stupid, you are smart.“
All the others are amazed and walk away.
Queen and King, Princess, Alexander, The Wise Bird.
King and Queen are sitting at the table talking.
The mother of the princess, the queen, was not at all happy about all this.
One evening she said worriedly to the king:
„Our daughter is all too clever. What will become of the princess? Which prince will want to marry her?
Most princes don’t want a stupid princess for a wife, but she shouldn’t be too clever either.“
The king replied:
„You are right, woman. What would a prince want with a princess who knows more and can think better than him? After all, he must be afraid that she will not listen to him, and that the other men will laugh at him.
„We will send the teacher away, for he is to blame for everything.“
And so it happened. Alexander had to leave.
The king calls out:
„Alexander, princess. Come here!“
Alexander and the princess appear.
„Alexander, you must go. The princess is getting too smart.“
„No, no, he should stay here!“
The Princess cried and complained and clamoured, but it was all to no avail.
Princess does this at length.
and he shows Alexander the door.
Alexander and the princess look at each other, hold hands.
Then Alexander leaves.
The princess sits down and cries.
King and Queen step away.
The wise bird comes fluttering in and tries to comfort the princess.
Reader (from OFF):
Alexander went on a long journey.
He was very sad because he had to leave the princess.
And because there was still no post and no telephone and no e-mails, the two of them never heard from each other again.
Alexander often thought of the princess and hoped that she would be happy.
And the princess often thought of Alexander and hoped that he would be happy.
King and Queen, Princess, Prince Henry.
Throne room, table set for 4 persons.
The King and Queen and the Princess enter and sit down to eat.
When some time had passed, Prince Henry rode in.
He wanted to become king in the great kingdom, and to do that he had to marry the princess.
Prince Henry appears, kneels down and is invited to join the meal.
He sits down at the table and begins to eat. They talk quietly to each other.
The princess was horrified when she realised how stupid he was talking while she was eating, and as a rehearsal she asked him a question:
„Prince Henry, if I marry you and give birth to two daughters and two sons, how many children will we have?“
The prince smiled compassionately and replied:
„Five. But that is not enough for me, I want to have ten children!“
The Princess laughs and slaps her hands in front of her face. Turning to the Queen, she says:
„Mother, this man is really too stupid, he couldn’t even count his children.“
The Queen sighed, and Prince Henry departed.
The Queen sighs and sends Prince Henry away.
Prince Henry departs.
Princess, Casimir, horse. Prince Kuno.
Horse stable. 2 books. Sword.
Kasimir and the princess sit together in harmony and read.
The horse paws with its hooves and also looks at the book. He shakes his head and neighs.
Soon Prince Kuno showed up.
He found himself not only beautiful and strong, but also very clever.
Prince Kuno joins them, waving his sword.
Turning to the princess, he said:
„I know you want to marry a clever prince. I am that wise prince.“
The princess thought:
<He is not quite as stupid as Henry, so I must ask him a more difficult question to test him.>
And she spoke:
„Tell me, Prince Kuno, which do you desire: a wife who is more stupid than yourself, or a wife who is cleverer than yourself, or a wife who is as clever as yourself?
Tell me your answer tomorrow.“
Prince Kuno, however, did not think long, he answered:
„There is no woman at all who is as clever as I am or even cleverer. So I can only wish for a woman who is dumber than I am. That doesn’t matter at all, because I think along for her and tell her what is good and right.“
„Fail. You can go!“
The princess turns away and looks at Casimir. They both laugh.
They had to laugh very hard at the conceited prince.
The horse hops and whinnies.
Kuno moves away angrily, flailing.
Princess, royal couple, Prince Adelbert, bird.
Throne room. Bouquet of roses.
Royal couple seated on throne.
Not long, the next prince came, who had it in for the princess and the kingdom.
His name was Adelbert, he was learned and wanted to marry quickly, because he had fallen in love at first sight with the beautiful and clever princess.
The princess is summoned. She appears.
The King spoke very seriously to the Princess:
„In a moment Prince Adelbert will come. He is learned and very much in love with you. You will marry him.“
Prince Adelbert appears,
hands the princess a bouquet of roses and wants to kiss her.
The princess fends him off and speaks:
„Take it easy, first you have to answer me a question:
„Imagine you have a wife who often has better ideas than you. Could you stand that?“
Adelbert wanted to do everything right, because he wanted so much for the princess to marry him.
So he thought hard and thought hard and thought hard….
The princess bobbed her foot impatiently and paced up and down.
The wise bird comes and flutters around Adelbert:
The wise bird:
„Well, what is it? Well, what is it, don’t you know?“
Adalbert thought, <I am the man and of course I want to be the clever one.>
But he didn’t want to offend the princess either.
Finally he had found his answer and went to the princess.
The prince goes to the princess and tells her his answer:
„Princess, I don’t mind if my wife has good ideas. But she doesn’t have to say them. After all, if she doesn’t say her good ideas, they can’t cause any mischief.“
Sadly, the princess shook her head.
„That’s not good enough for me, Prince Adelbert.“
She did not want to marry this prince either, but the king had no more patience with his daughter. He proclaims:
„Enough now. Tomorrow there will be a wedding!“
The clever bird squawks and flutters away.
The princess stands rigid, eyes wide.
Princess, bird, Casimir, horse
Room of the princess.
Treasure chest or piggy bank with gold coins and jewellery. Letter + pen.
Bag. Favourite things. 2 books.
The princess sits there and is sad. The wise bird perches by her and pets her and chirps softly.
What should the princess do now? Sadly she sat in her room.
Letting a few seconds pass.
Suddenly the princess stood up and said to herself:
„No, I don’t want to keep my good ideas quiet. I want to say them out loud. And I don’t want anyone to think I’m funny because I like to read and I like to think.
I want to go on a quest and find friends who are like me.“
And now that the princess was not little at all, she took all the gold out of her treasure chest and put her favourite things in a big bag.
Princess fetches her treasure chest and puts the gold coins and jewellery into a shoulder bag.
The bird brings her two more books, which she packs.
Then she puts a few more favourite things in her bag.
She sits down and writes a letter.
For her parents, she wrote a letter that said:
„Dear mother, dear father, I am going out into the world to seek my fortune. Please keep your fingers crossed that I find it.“
She puts the letter on the chair.
Then the princess sent for her old friend Casimir.
Princess says to the bird:
The bird flutters away and comes back with Casimir.
Princess to Casimir:
„Please bring me the fastest horse. I want to go out into the world and seek my fortune.“
Casimir brings the horse, the princess takes the reins. She hangs her bag around herself.
She hugs Casimir and leaves with the horse.
The wise bird flies along.
The princess waves and laughs.
And then the princess, a little afraid and yet quite full of joy, went off into the wide world –
and if she didn’t die, she’s still alive today.
As a suggestion, I list here the costumes and props I used for this fairy tale in my theatre projects with gifted preschool and primary school children. But there is no stopping the creativity of us kindergarten teachers….
1) white T-shirt, blue petticoat, yellow overskirt, belt of pearls, crown of white cake lace with yellow silk roses.
2) white T-shirt, blue petticoat, white overskirt of curtain lace, belt of pearls, crown of blue chain and pink roses.
3) Riding dress: leggings, crown of narrow lace, colourful shawl.
Long skirt, colourful shawl.
Gold cardboard crown, cape made of blue curtain silk, coverlet made of gold net (curtain fabric) with blue and gold trim pasted on it.
Gold cardboard crown, elegant dress, white lace stole, white pearl necklace.
old long-sleeved T-shirt, pasted with colourful craft feathers.
coarse trousers, lumberjack waistcoat, neckerchief.
1 to 2 horses:
Cardboard heads, brown / black cape.
black leggings, black T-shirts, black caps.
gold cardboard crown, red cape with gold trim, turquoise (cloth) belt, sword.
gold cardboard crown, blue cape with gold border, black belt, sword.
Gold cardboard crown, grey cape with red and gold trim, black belt, sword, bouquet of roses.
Throne for king and queen, table + 3 chairs, tablecloth.
3 silver plates, 3 silver cups, silver jug (aluminium foil).
Casimir’s book and pile of books, governess´ embroidery, handkerchief.
Fabric backdrop room of the princess with window, four-poster bed and birdcage.
Fabric backdrop horse stable.
Pot and hammer for 12 o’clock strikes from offstage.
2 seat cushions for the ministers, rolled-up map.
Piggy bank with chocolate gold coins.
Please read also:
Tale of a Princess Whom Almost Everybody Considered Too Smart (text without stage directions, but sketches)
Date of publication in German: 25.11.09
Copyright © Hanna Vock 2001, see Imprint.