Hansel and Gretel
Adapted by Debra Breithaupt
NARRATOR: Once upon at time there were a brother and a sister named Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel loved to play video games.
(Hansel and Gretel enter.)
HANSEL: I want to play Zelda™. I could play it all day!
GRETEL: Ooooh! I want to play Animal Crossing™. I do play it all day!
FATHER: (enters from opposite side and stops Hansel and Gretel) Where are you going my children?
HANSEL: To play our video games, Father!
FATHER: Playing those video games is all you ever do. I never see you read a book! I never see you climb a tree or play on your swing set! The sun is shining and the birds are singing. Go outside and run and play. Get some fresh air so you can grow to be healthy and strong!
HANSEL: We don’t want to go outside. Why do we need to be healthy and strong? We are strong enough to play video games.
GRETEL: Besides, the sun is too bright!
FATHER: Very well! You do not want to PLAY outside? Then you will WORK outside.
(Hansel and Gretel jump up to face Father.)
HANSEL: No! Please Father, we do not want to work.
GRETEL: (sadly) We will go out and play.
FATHER: No! It is too late for that! Go to the forest and gather wood for the fire! The walk will be good for you. Tonight will be cold. Instead of playing computer games and watching TV we will sit by the fire and sip hot chocolate and read a good book. Now off with you! Go on, outside!
(Hansel and Gretel exit slowly.)
FATHER: Oh, those children. Always with the video games. Never do they go out in the fresh air and sunshine. What is a father to do? (shakes head and exits)
NARRATOR: Hansel and Gretel walked in the woods for a long time looking for firewood. They gathered a few twigs. Hours passed and it grew darker and darker. Owls hooted. Hansel and Gretel grew cold and tired.
(Hansel and Gretel cross the stage three or four times while the narrator speaks. Each time they walk more slowly. Owls hoot and the wind blows eerily.)
GRETEL: Oh, Hansel! We have been walking for such a long time! I wish I had played outside more. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so tired.
HANSEL: Yes, me too. From now on, I’m going to play outside every day.
GRETEL: It is getting very late. Father will be very worried. These woods are so dark and scary. Let’s go home. I don’t think I remember the way home. Do you?
HANSEL: These woods are dark and scary and I don’t remember the way we came, either. But, don’t worry. I have been dropping M&M'S® as we go so we can find our way back.
(The sound of birds twittering is heard and a bird flies by.)
GRETEL: Hansel, look. That bird has eaten all of the M&M'S®. We are lost.
HANSEL: (looks around) I can’t remember the way. What shall we do?
(A cottage appears at the opposite end of stage.)
GRETEL: Look! Over there. (points to cottage) A cute little house.
HANSEL: (takes Gretel’s hand) Hurry, Gretel. Maybe they will have something good to eat and some video games to play. And a warm fire!
(Hansel and Gretel hurry offstage and then back onstage from the opposite side. They stop abruptly when the Witch walks on stage and blocks their path.)
WITCH: Hello, my dears. It is very late for young children to be out. You are not lost, are you?
GRETEL: (sounding afraid) Y-y-yes we are!
WITCH: You must be very tired and very hungry. Come inside my house, I have goodies to eat and (pauses for a moment) video games to play.
HANSEL and GRETEL: (speaking together) We love to be inside and we love video games!
HANSEL AND GRETEL: (together) And goodies! We love goodies!
WITCH: Well then, come along my dears.
(Hansel and Gretel follow the Witch offstage.)
NARRATOR: Hansel and Gretel followed the Witch to her house. But, as soon as Hansel and Gretel walked inside, the Witch grabbed Hansel and locked him in a cage!
(A barred door appears on one side of the puppet stage. Hansel comes in and sits behind it. Witch enters and goes to look at Hansel in the cage.)
WITCH: (pokes at Hansel) You will make a fine supper for me! You will be even better when I have fattened you up some more! Let me go and get some goodies for you to eat! (Witch cackles gleefully and exits)
GRETEL: (Gretel enters and whispers to Hansel) Hansel! We must escape from the Witch! We need to get into shape! Take these weights! (she pushes “hand weights” through the bars to him) Exercise with them and make your muscles strong. Don’t eat all of the goodies the Old Witch brings and she won’t be able to fatten you up. I will jog while I do my chores to build up my muscles and cardiovascular system. When we are strong and healthy, we will escape this horrible place. I have hidden the Witch’s glasses so that she cannot see us very well.
(Play music such as the theme from “Exodus” or “Rocky” for a minute while the Narrator speaks.)
NARRATOR: Every day Hansel exercises in his cage and Gretel runs while she does her chores. And, every day the children grow stronger!
(Music plays as Gretel runs back and forth across the stage and Hansel lifts his weights.)
NARRATOR: And every day the Witch checks to see if Hansel has fattened up enough for her to eat him!
(Witch enters and approaches Hansel’s cage.)
WITCH: I am here to see if you are ready to cook! Hold out your hand boy so that I may see how plump you are!
(Hansel holds out one of the weights and the witch feels it.)
WITCH: Bah! You are still bony and hard! If I could find my glasses, I would soon discover what is happening here!
(While the Witch is talking, Gretel sneaks up behind her.)
NARRATOR: Hansel grabbed the Witch and pulled her into the cage while Gretel helped push her inside. Hansel ran out of the cage and together Hansel and Gretel slammed the cage door shut on her.
(While the narrator speaks, the action occurs onstage.)
NARRATOR: Hansel and Gretel ran from Witch’s house. They could hear the Witch’s cries of anger as they ran.
(While the narrator speaks, the action occurs onstage. Hansel and Gretel cross the stage two times while the music plays. The Wicked Old Witch’s shouts can be heard as they run. On the third time, they bump into Father.)
FATHER: Oh, my dear children! I have been searching for you everywhere! I am so happy to see you!
HANSEL AND GRETEL: (together) Oh, Father! We got lost!
GRETEL: A wicked old witch kept Hansel captive!
HANSEL: And made Gretel work!
HANSEL AND GRETEL: (together) We escaped and ran all the way home!
Father: Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear! How terrible! Come inside and sit down. I will get you some goodies to eat.
HANSEL AND GRETEL: (look at each other, then say together) Oh no Father! We would much rather play outside!
(All laugh and exit.)
Two people can perform this puppet play. If possible, pre-record the puppet show scripts, including the sound effects in the appropriate places. A puppet is not needed for the narrator, only a voice. If pre-recording is not possible, the narrator can provide the sound effects for owls hooting, birds twittering, and the cage door clanging shut.
This play may be performed with regular puppets or with stick puppets. If using regular puppets, create costumes to fit each character; props may be actual items listed. If you do not have four people puppets that can be dressed as the characters, use the patterns provided to make cardboard stick characters. Patterns for hand weights, a barred cage door, a cottage, and a bird are also provided. Props may be cut from flannel or other material. Felt is inexpensive, comes in many colors, and may be used to create unique and colorful cardboard stick characters.
Feel free to change the characters names, modernizing them from Hansel and Gretel to Heather and Garrett, Holly and Greg, Hunter and Gretchen, or other names of your choosing. If including a witch in the story is not appropriate for your community, substitute a troll, goblin, Boggart, or other yucky fairy tale creature.
Use music to begin and end the puppet show and during the chase scenes. Refer to licensing information in the “Legalities” section of this manual to be sure that you are not violating copyright when using music. Suggestions for compositions to use during entrances, interludes, and exits, which are available on a wide variety of audio recordings, include the following.
- Beethoven’s “5th Symphony”
- Chopin’s “Minute Waltz”
- Ravel’s “Bolero”
- Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”
- Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”
- The theme from “Exodus”
- The theme from “Rocky”
On Stage: Theater Games and Activities for Kids by Lisa Bany-Winters.