"A Caterpillar's Voice" - Whootie Owl's Free Play Script
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"A Caterpillar's Voice"
Whootie Owl's Free Play Script
Whootie Owl thanks contributing writer P J Pittiger for this fine play script
Contact the writer: pjrittiger@home.com

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And Now!
Whootie Owl's Free Play Script
"A Caterpillar's Voice"

by PJ Rittiger, drama teacher


CHARACTERS: In this production, we will be using at least 8 actors to portray 7 animal characters. Characters can also be split, if you have too many children and not enough parts. For example, the Hare can become a family of hares or other animals can be added if you want to write the lines for additional parts. The larger animals, such as the Rhino and the Elephant, can be done by two kids instead of one. Another tactic would be to have twin parts, such as using two kids to share the lines of one, like The Leopard Sisters instead of the Leopard.


Summary of Characters:
CATERPILLAR – a sneaky braggart

CATERPILLAR VOICE - a deep voiced character, who is never seen on stage. This character remains inside the hare’s hut and says scary things to all who try to help Hare. Might be an older child. The Caterpillar’s Voice can actually have his or her lines written down and hidden inside the hut with them.

HARE – a small, gentle creature, who is easily frightened. Think Piglet of Winnie the Pooh fame. This character has a lot of lines and is on stage throughout the whole production.

JACKAL - a lazy friend, who likes to act brave, but who cannot be relied upon.

LEOPARd – a party animal, who likes to give advice

RHINO – a champion of underdogs, who thinks of himself as a superhero. He might even wear a cape

ELEPHANT – a self centered animal who cannot understand what does not affect him directly.

FROG – a real hero with common sense and courage

NARRATOR (an older child, with a clear, loud speaking voice.)

BUGS & BUEETERFLIES – These are non-speaking residents of the forest.

SETTING: A sunny clearing in an Indian forest, where a gentle hare has made his home.

STORY SYNOPSIS: Long ago, deep in the forest, a gentle hare made his home. While he was out one day, a brightly colored caterpillar crawled inside. When the caterpillar returned, he knew that someone was in his house, but did not know who it could be. Frightened, the caterpillar calls upon his friends of the forest to help him discover who is in his home and evict the invader.

PROPS AND SETS: This is a simple, hopefully inexpensive set, which can be built around a few fake trees and a hut or cave to be used for the hare’s home. It is great if you can have trees that shake when the Caterpillar’s Voice growls and lighting can be used to create dappled sunlight coming through the trees. The hut or cave which is the Hare’s home must be large enough to accommodate the Caterpillar, a small child, and the actor who becomes the Caterpillar’s Voice, an older child with a deep voice. The hut could be made of a folding table with grass skirts draped over it or a collapsible tunnel with fabric and grass draped over it. Strips of aluminum foil might be used to drape through tree branches to give the effect of a recent rainfall. The set should appear whimsical and a bit out-of-this-world, not necessarily realistic.

PRE & POST-PRODUCTIONP: When audience members enter the auditorium, all actors must be out of sight. Several fake or real carrots have been left on the floor of the auditorium, but the actor portraying the Hare will be shown where they are ahead of time. The actor portraying the Caterpillar’s Voice must already be in place inside the hare’s hut. All other actors are at rear of auditorium or off in the hall beside auditorium. When they hear their cue, they run through the audience imitating the animal they are portraying until they reach the stage. African music will be playing and 2 older kids, who are not in this production, can be at the door handing out programs.

Bugs and butterflies enter the auditorium area first. They flit through the audience and flutter about the stage before settling into places to the left and right of the stage. While the play is being presented, Bugs and Butterflies act fearful when the Caterpillar’s Voice roars, cling to trees and stay out of the way of the other actors. These are great parts for kids who want to be part of the production, but may be too shy to speak or memorize lines.

COSTUMES: It is not necessary for parents to purchase or rent costumes. Although the children should bear a resemblance to whatever animal they are playing, the characters in this play are whimsical, fanciful, fantastical, but not completely realistic. They can wear colorful jewelry, scarves, boas, masks, fake ears, fake trunks or funny shoes.

~ Script ~

NARRATOR:
Welcome to our "A Caterpillar's Voice". We hope you enjoy today's presentation and we have enjoyed preparing for it. This story comes from East Africa and is a folktale often told near cook fires after the work of the long day has been done. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you - "A Caterpillar's Voice"...

[NARRATOR steps out of the way quickly.]

[Curtain swings open to reveal a sunny, clearing deep in a forest of trees. A small hut is visible.]

[A brightly colored CATERPILLAR appears the edge of the audience, looking very sheepish and sneaky. Looking around the audience furtively, CATERPILLAR darts through the audience and up onto stage. With a fast look around, CATERPILLAR quickly darts into HARE’s hut TAKING CARE NOT TO REVEAL THE PRESENCE OF THE OTHER ACTOR IN THE HUT.]

[A small, gentle HARE appears at the edge of the audience and skip walks through the audience, picking up carrots, which have been left around the auditorium. The carrots lead up to the stage and the HARE’s home.]

HARE:
Oh look! (Drops basket of carrots and throws hands to face. Looks out to audience with a look of shock on face.) Who has eaten part of my house? Who would have done such a thing? (HARE raises edge of grass skirt as if looking at severe damage.)

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
(Growls loudly and deeply)

HARE:
(Steps back, puts hands on hips and yells!) Who is in my house?

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
It is I! Yes, I who crushes rhinos to the earth and tramples elephants into dust! (Sound as mean and loud as possible. Make the stage shake when you speak these lines.)
HARE:
(Hops up and down, wrings hands, wipes face. Acts very afraid - Think Piglet, who is afraid of everything.) What can I do? What can I do? I am such a small animal and what can a small animal do with a creature who crushes rhinos and tramples elephants? I must find help! Who can help me? Who can help me?

[At the edge of the audience, JACKAL appears, snarling and growling. He makes his way through the audience and up onto the stage, in a crouching walk, swinging his arms in an imitation of the way a dog might walk and stretch. Once on the stage, JACKAL stretches, yawns and turns sideways to face the hare.]

JACKAL:
I was napping in the sun, Hare! What is your problem? (Demanding voice) You’re disturbing half the forest!!

HARE:
OOOOhhhhh, there is a creature inside my house….a terrible creature and I do not know what to do!

JACKAL:
(Strides toward the hut and walks around the hut as if looking at an alien from Mars. Act like you have never seen anything like this before in your life.) Well well, little hare…I see your trouble.

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
(Hut rocks and shakes. Deep growls are heard from inside.)

JACKAL:
(Faces trembling HARE) We shall see who is inside your home! (Faces hut. When you say these lines, make your voice as big and wide as an ocean) Who is in the home of my new friend the hare?

[HARE cowers and trembles behind the jackal.]

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
It is I! I, who crushes Rhinos to the earth and tramples elephants into the dust! You are just a jackal as puny as the hare standing behind you. Better get away or I might eat you up!

[JACKAL and HARE jump back away from the hut.]

JACKAL:
(faces Hare) Well, OK fur face, you’re on your own here. You know what they say about real estate? Location! Location! Location! Think about moving! Oh Yeah…..keep the noise down! (JACKAL slinks off the stage and out of auditorium.)

HARE:
(Begins wailing again) OOOOhhhhh, there is a creature inside my house….a terrible creature and I do not know what to do!

[At the edge of the audience, LEOPARD appears. LEOPARD is a “Party animal”, very flamboyant and appears upset that she thinks she is missing a party. After all, she is the most lovely animals in the jungle and is quite feared. Why would she not have been invited to THIS party?]

LEOPARD:
(Sashays through the audience, complimenting audience members on their attire. Looks to stage, raise a hand and calls out.) Excuse me! Excuse me little Hare! Is this a party? You know, I was not invited, which must have been a mistake.

HARE:
Kind leopard, this is not a party. I am in trouble here! A strange and terrible creature is in my home….

LEOPARD:
Well, you do have to be careful about who you invite these days…..

HARE:
But I did not invite this creature and now I must get rid of it!

LEOPARD: (Clearly disappointed that a party is not happening) Weeeeeeelllllllll, maybe I could help you. I can be ferocious, you know.

[HARE steps back as LEOPARD sashays around the hut. Again deep growls are heard and the hut shakes. When LEOPARD returns to the front of the hut, HARE huddles behind LEOPARD, gently holding onto LEOPARD’s shoulders and squeezing eyes shut.]

LEOPARD:
(Whining) Whoever is in the house of my little friend Hare, has a lot of nerve. Who are you anyway?

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
It is I, the most meanest caterpillar in the world! Now get lost, Leopard, before I crush you!

[LEOPARD backs up but does not leave]

[RHINOCEROS appears at the edge of the audience. While dialogue continues on the stage, RHINO stomps and snorts his way through the audience and onto the stage.]

LEOPARD:
Listen, sweetie…..

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
(Roaring) KISS MY TERRIBLE BUTT AND GET LOST

LEOPARD:
(Jumps back and nearly knocks HARE over. Helps HARE up) Well, when you get rid of your guest there, you can invite me back for the next party…..Till then….Ba Bye!

[LEOPARD skips off through the audience.]

[RHINO leaps toward HARE on stage, further frightening HARE, who cowers behind the hut.]

RHINO:
(In a booming voice) Come now little hare….I have come to save you, not hurt you! Come out from behind that filthy hut! What is the problem? Whatever it is I will solve it for you. I am the champion of all beasts!

HARE:
Really? (Peeking from behind hut and venturing cautiously toward the audience again.) You can save me?

RHINO:
Why, of course. All you need to do is tell me what the problem is! What is it that troubles you? (All of the Rhino’s lines are said in a booming voice and he/she stomps around a lot, as if he cannot keep still.)

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
Who is out there, stomping about? (More deep growling and hut shaking)

HARE:
See? A ferocious animal has invaded my home…… If you could just help me to…

RHINO:
Yes…Yes…I see your problem, little hare. I will simply knock your house over and we shall see what is inside. When the house collapses, whatever is inside will be killed. That is the answer! (Rhino backs up as if to charge the hut)

HARE:
NO! NO! NO! NO! Rhino! You must not destroy my home!

RHINO:
MMMMmmmm, well then,……(RHINO approaches hut roaring) WHO IS IN THERE?

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
It is I, the great and terrible crusher of rhinos and elephants! Go away before I crush you!

RHINO:
(Say these lines as if the rhino is deep in thought) Well, I am a rhino and a big one at that. Still only a fool or a very ferocious animal would say such a thing. It could be a lion in there and then who would support my family and save the animals of the jungle? Perhaps I have met my match. (Turning to the HARE) I know what we will do, Hare. I will go and find my friend Elephant. He is bigger than I and no animal of the jungle could stand against both of us!

HARE:
Do you ….do you really think Elephant would help? I have known some elephants and …well…they are not usually….too helpful……

RHINO:
(Strides with purpose to the edge of the stage and yells) ELEPHANT! ELEPHANT! COME HERE AT ONCE! A FRIEND IS IN NEED OF HELP!

[ELEPHANT strolls slowly to the edge of the audience, raises his great and might y head and roars. ]

ELEPHANT:
What is it Rhino? Who is in need of help?

RHINO:
(Still at stage edge) A small hare’s home has been invaded. We must help him. Come now. There is a terrible animal inside!

[HARE now skips to the stage edge to stand next to RHINO. He watches ELEPHANT intently, clasps his paws together and lifts his head toward the ceiling to pray.]

ELEPHANT:
I suppose I could take a look…. (Lumbers slowly to stage)

[Once on the stage, HARE, RHINO, and ELEPHANT circle the hut slowly. Deep growls are herd and the hut continues to shake. The 3 actors join hands and begin to skip in a dance something like "Ring Around the Rosie". After a few seconds, they realize they are being silly in a serious situation, abruptly stop and slap at each others hands. They say things like “I don’t know what came over me!” “What was I thinking?”]

ELEPHANT:
(Butts the hut with his trunk)

[At this point FROG appears at the edge of the audience. He uses his hands to snatch imaginary bugs from the air and stuff them into his mouth. In a few minutes, his path leads him onto the stage where he stays to the side of HARE, ELEPHANT and RHINO. Throughout the conversations, FROG is very observant, eats a lot of bugs, hops around and blinks his big eyes at the audience. ]

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
(A loud, deep growl is heard)

ELEPHANT:
(Turning to HARE, who is huddled behind RHINO) Find a friend to stay with tonight, little hare. When you come back in the morning, this thing may be gone. Best I can do for you. Do you have a place to stay?

HARE:
Well….no…I don’t. After all, this is my home. I don’t really want to leave…..

[RHINO listens intently to this exchange, but says nothing. ]

ELEPHANT:
Do you want to stay at my house?

HARE:
Not really. Can’t you help me? Rhino said you would.

ELEPHANT:
I have helped!! (Said in a very indignant voice) I offer you a place to stay for the night, which is more than anyone else has offered. Most problems go away of you ignore them long enough you know. Besides, Rhino wants to be a superhero. I don’t! (ELEPHANT strolls off the stage and away)

RHINO:
Well, I must go too, Hare. I have a family to support you know. Bunch of little rhinos at home. I can’t take risks like his. Go find somewhere else to live……at least for now. (RHINO follows ELEPHANT off stage and out of view.)

HARE:
(Truly desperate now, HARE collapses in tears to the floor.) Will no one help me?

FROG:
Gotta a real problem there huh?

HARE:
(Stands facing audience) Who said that? (Said in a demanding voice) Who said that?

FROG:
(Jumps in front of hare toward audience.) I said it. You got a big problem, huh?

HARE:
I know that, you moron. What kind of animal are you anyway?

FROG:
The name’s Frog. What’re you gonna do?

HARE:
(Wringing hands, lowered head, dragging feet) Well, maybe they’re right. I should find a different place to live.

FROG:
(Hop skips toward hut. Roars in a surprisingly deep voice) Who is inside Hare’s home?

CATERPILLAR VOICE:
WHO ARE YOU?????

FROG:
(Puffs his chest and yells) I, who am the strongest of all, have to come throw you out, you bully! I am the one who crushes those who crush rhinos. I am the one who tramples underfoot those who trample elephants!

CATERPILLAR: Gees, I better get outta here! (This is said by CATERPILLAR; not CATERPILLAR VOICE, so the voice emerging from the hut is high, thin and squeaky. CATERPILLAR crawls / inches out of the hut and tries to inch away, but FROG and HARE grab his/her feet. When all are standing, CATERPILLAR turns to HARE and says) Boy, whatta dump!! I wouldn’t stay in there if you paid me. You gotta get a new decorator! (Caterpillar skips away out of sight)

HARE and FROG collapse into each other’s arms laughing as curtain closes.

The End


All actors and stage crew return to stage during applause. They join hands, raise hands and bow before leaving stage.

Music Resumes.
Flourish

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