Roles: A narrator/author; lead role = the Hunter; half a dozen "peasants"
You will nead a microphone for the Author and costumes and props for the Hunter and peasants.
[The peasants have no spoken lines, but their role is critical. They are there as a foil - to do what the author says - so that, in contrast, the disobedience of the Hunter is funnier to the audience.]
[One important note of direction: When dialoguing, the Author and the Hunter should never look at each other. The Author is "reading" directly to the audience. The Hunter, when he dialogues w/ the Author, looks straight out above the audience's heads, as if speaking to a disembodied voice.
[Similarly, the peasants, even or especially when the Author is talking about them, should never acknowledge his/her presence.]
Author: Good morning. My name is Jules Feiffer, and I am the author of this story. Welcome, Reader. Welcome to the Forever Forest. And these are the denizens of the Forest – the peasants who live there.
[Peasants walk out and begin milling about.]
See, there’s Frederika the Farmer.
[Each peasant in turn waves shyly to the author or the audience. Then continues milling about - ignoring both the author and the audience.]
Colleen the Carpenter. Ingrid the Innkeeper. Patrick the Papermarker. Tina the Troubadour. And Millicent the Match Girl.
I have to tell you, dear readers, that I really like these characters. Do you want to know why? Because they do what I tell them. Do you want to see what I mean? Watch this.
‘The village peasants were milling about in the Forest. Suddenly they all marched to the very edge of the Forest, to look for their lost sheep.’
[Peasants all march dutifully to the front of the stage and peer out over the audience.]
Author: (Thank you.) ‘Then the peasants returned to the Forest – and returned to their general milling about.’
[A new character marches diagonally into the stage - and scowls.]
Author: Oh, now take this guy. I want you to try to ignore him. See this guy? This is a Hunter. I wanted to name him Jack – but do you know what he did…
[The Hunter walks up aggressively to Fred the Farmer and grabs him by the hand - ]
Hunter: Mornin’. The name’s Tom. I’m looking for game in these woods.
Author: Hey, Hunter. Your name is Jack – not Tom.
[Hunter walks amongst the peasants...]
Hunter: That’s right, Tom. Pleased to meet you.
[Hunter doffs his cap to the ladies.]
Hunter: If you’re looking for game – just call on me – Tom. The Hunter. That’s right.
Author: Did you see that?! Can you get a load of this guy? I name him Jack – and he goes by Tom. I mean – who’s in charge here?
Anyway – Let me tell you my story. Now remember Millicent- the Matchmaker? And Patrick – the Papermaker?
[Ingrid and Patrick separate from the group...]
Author: Well these, two, Millicent and Patrick – I have plans for them –
Hunter: Hey! Buddy! I’m not done here yet.
Hunter: I said I’m not done yet.
Author: What do you mean you’re not done yet? This is my story. You’re not even in this story.
Hunter: What do you mean I’m not in this story. I’m here aren’t I?
Author: Yes – well you’re not supposed to be. I mean you just showed up. I had a small role for a Hunter named Jack. Not – a Hunter named Tom. But perhaps if you’ll do what I say – I’ll find something for you to do. Just – stick around the Forest w/ the other peasants – and I’ll find something for you to do.
Author: Now – getting back to Millicent and Patrick. They were hoping to get married. They were in love. They liked to meet secretly behind the…
[Hunter picks up his thing and marches off the front of the stage conspicuously.]
Author: Did you see that? Didn’t I tell that guy to stick around? Get a load of the nerve of that guy. (Recovering his composure.) Well at least he’s out of the book. We can get back to my story. Now – Millicent and Patrick. They liked to meet. Secretly. Behind the mill. You know those big old waterwheels that mills have?
[The Hunter ostentatiously returns. He's carrying some of his kill. He dumps it in the middle of the stage. The peasants eye it in a circle - reticently - but interestedly. They make sure the audience can see the Hunter...]
Hunter: Get a load of these. Fresh boar. Fresh stag. Your woods are full of ‘em.
Author: Excuse me?
Author: I said Excuse me. This is my story.
Hunter: Yeah – well I’m just going about my business.
Author: I’d like you too pick up your game and leave now. Yes I would. That’s what characters in books do. They do what their authors tell them to. Leave now.
Hunter: Don’t think I will. Got business to conduct.
Author: Leave now. Immediately.
Hunter: Or what? You’ll kick me out of your book.
Author: Or I will rain down destruction upon you.
Hunter: Rain on.
Author: I’ll do worse than that. I’ll ignore you.
[The Hunter mulls that one.]
Hunter: We’ll see.
[Hunter returns to this game, picks it up, and brings it to the corner of the stairs at the front of the stage. He begins to conduct his quiet - but conspicuous - business. A couple of staged audience members come up and 'buy' his kill. The stag and the boar are removed. All while the Author carries on. His transactions complete, the Hunter does in fact leave again.]
Author: So – once again – we turn to Millicent and Patrick. The lovely, mellifluous Millicent. (She bows.) The princely patron – Patrick. (He bows.) Who like to meet behind the water mill…
Millicent and Patrick were planning their wedding. Everyone was going to help out. Ingrid was preparing rooms at the Inn. (Ingrid beats a rug.) Colleen was building an arch for the altar. (Colleenn displays his tools.) Tina, the Troubadour was preparing a special song. (Tina strums his guitar/ukelele/mandolin.) And Frederika was collecting her eggs. (Frederika mimes collecting eggs.)
[As the author's tale carries on. The Hunter returns. He peeks his head out from the curtain - completely seeking the audience's attention. He pops it back in. The Author attempts to continue. The Hunter plays peekaboo w/ the audience.]
Millicent and Patrick were getting ready too. They were memorizing their vows. But all they really wanted to do was go back to the mill – the one w/ the spinning water wheel. The wheel that went round and round – grinding the grain – and providing cover for Millicent and Patrick.
[The Hunter shows up on the other side of the stage. He plays peekaboo again. Then he dallies onto the stage - and, when seen - dallies off. Millicent and Patrick stop their wooing and indicate to the author, pleading worldessly - ]
[Millicent and Patrick indicate wordlessly. They are frustrated. Can't go on. They gesture at the absent Hunter.]
Author: Is he back again? Will he ever go away? Oh look what he’s doing to my story. Maybe we should just skip to the next chapter and you two can get married later.
[They look crestfallen. Annoyed. Disappointed. Resigned.]
Author: I’m afraid it’s the only way. What else are you going to do when your character won’t do what you say? He can ruin your book…
[But before the principal shows up (to introduce the book) - the Hunter peeks out from the center - looks left and right - winks at the audience - and vanishes.]