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The Little Mermaid, Scene One (Part One)

Free-to-use play written by Wade Bradford, adapted from Hans Christian Anderson

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SCENE ONE:

Celtic music plays as a woman hangs laundry on a taught line that stretches across the stage. In the background, budget permitting, is an enchanted isle of tall emerald cliffs and an expanse of ocean. A bored child follows the woman. The child (a young girl about ten years old) carries as basket of sheets, which the woman removes one at a time and hangs on the sheet.

WOMAN: You have not been talkative of late. Homesick, I suppose? Thinking about your mother and father? Thinking you haven't seen them forever when they've only been gone three days? And thinking, I can gather from that busy little brain of yours, that you'll be trapped on this island for all eternity, when in truth, you know as well as I that in five days time, your mum will be running through that gate, swooping you up in her arms, and your da will likely do the same but swooping up the both of you, and throwing his back out in the exchange. He's not a young anymore, you know. And yer mum isn't the wee spritely lass she used to be, yet I can close my eyes and it seems as though a mere moment ago she was standing beside me, helping with the laundry, not a bit taller than you are now.

CHILD: You knew my mom when she was a kid?

WOMAN: Of course I did. I am your great aunt to you, which means to your father I was his... not-so-great aunt. He visited my cottage one summer, just as you are visiting me now.

CHILD: Was my mom as bored as I am now?

WOMAN: I should say not! Yer mother was up each dawn, helping me fix breakfast for yer great uncle, then she was out skipping in the field, pulling up the ripe potatoes from the garden, playing fetch with he sheepdogs, and skipping stones across the waves.

CHILD: (Bored, sarcastic.) Wow, that sounds like fun.

WOMAN: My ears aren't so old that I can't hear the sarcasm in yer voice. But I would guess even a bothersome, boredom-stricken, homesick lass such as yourself can't resist the call of the ocean. Shall we go down to the seashore when we're finished with the laundry. We could go for a swim.

CHILD: Is the water cold?

WOMAN: It's freezing! But doesn't it sound like a grand adventure?

CHILD: It sounds like hypothermia. Besides, I don't like to swim. Especially in the ocean.

WOMAN: Ah, you sound like a young man from a story, one so old I had almost forgotten it. So long ago it was... And yet it isn't too much struggle to stare off into the distance, and imagine it now... (As she begins to tell her story, Some of the hanging sheets part like curtains in a theater.) The white sails of a schooner, riding the west wind across the North Sea. A stern captain at the helm.

CAPTAIN: What do you see in the clouds, Mr. Fitzgerald?

WOMAN: A crew worried about the dark skies ahead.

SAILOR: Dark skies ahead, Cap'n. Maybe four, maybe five hours away if we stay put.

CAPTAIN: Then we best not stay put, Mr. Fitzgerald.

WOMAN: And let's not forget, a handsome prince who longed for more than just an idle life on the throne.

(A dashing prince enters, pulling along a rope.)

PRINCE: Captain, I have never felt so alive! This is so much better than an idle life on the throne.

WOMAN: Ah, isn't he dreamy?

CHILD: (She has been distracted by her ipad device.) What? Oh yeah, I guess so.

WOMAN: Haven't you been paying attention?

CHILD: Yeah, yeah, sure Aunt Lottie. It's a great story.

CAPTAIN: Ahem, anyway, Prince Tristan, thunder is about to exchange some harsh words with his brother lightning bolt, and I don't care to be present when the argument begins. We best return to port.

PRINCE: But we can't leave now, I am in the middle of an experiment!

SAILOR: Oh, the prince is conducting yet another royal experiment. Your mother will not be pleased.

PRINCE: No one is to tell her, Fitzgerald. Mother insists that I learn the ways of the royal court, the life of a dignitary, a pompous leader of men. When I am a scientific explorer. I can't be trapped in a palace for the rest of my handsome life. My spirit is too free, my soul is too adventurous. Oh dear, it seems a seagull has pooped on my hat. Will you wash this for me? (Hands it to Aunt Lottie.) Thank you, good woman.

Read the next scene of "The Little Mermaid"

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