The Pirates’ Code:
A Reader’s Theater Script
By Barrie Teague Alguire
- Captain Hook
- Long John Silver
- Captain Calico Jack Rackham
- Smee, Captain Hook’s first mate
While reader’s theater is usually a stationary activity, it isn’t against the rules for the actors to move around a bit. For this script, you might start with an empty stage. Smee and Hook would enter from stage right. Long John enters from stage left. Later, Blackbeard enters stage right and Capt. Jack comes in from stage left. When Hook hears the crocodile, he and Smee run off stage right. The remaining actors exit stage left at the end.
Note: Although all of the characters listed are male, the parts can be read by anyone. Blackbeard and Captain Hook should stand at opposite ends of the group.
HOOK: Smee! Is the coast clear?
SMEE: Aye, Captain.
HOOK: No ticking clocks?
SMEE: No, Captain.
HOOK: I can’t see anything in this blasted fog.
SMEE: I can’t either, Captain. You’d think they would light a lantern or something, when they’re expecting visitors.
LONG JOHN: Who goes there?
HOOK: Who goes there?
LONG JOHN: I asked you first, matey.
HOOK: Aye, but I can’t see you in this fog. How do I know you’re not an enemy?
LONG JOHN: How do I know you’re not an enemy? Besides, I am the captain of this vessel so I get to ask the questions.
HOOK: How do I know you’re the captain?
LONG JOHN: Answer me or I’ll have my crew feed you to the crocodiles.
HOOK: (with alarm) Crocodiles? There are crocodiles here? Very well, I am Captain Hook, famous, ferocious pirate. You’ll forgive me if I don’t shake hands.
LONG JOHN: Captain Hook? Well, shiver me timbers! I’ve heard of you. Got in a tangle with a mite of a lad and lost your hand to a crocodile, as I recall.
HOOK: Yes, Peter Pan. A sneaky, irritating brat. I don’t want to talk about him. And if you see anything that looks like a shiny mosquito, swat it! It’s his pesky fairy, Tinker Bell. And who might you be?
LONG JOHN: My name is Long John Silver. Welcome aboard the Hispaniola. I arrived as a cook. But now I be the captain, don’t you see? I know about sneaky, unreliable boys. I had my own troubles with young Jim ‘awkins on the way to Treasure Island.
SMEE: Captains, sirs, I hear footsteps. Some of the others have arrived.
BLACKBEARD: (on one side of the group) Avast, ye swabs! Make way for Blackbeard, the biggest, baddest, boldest buccaneer that ever bounded the waves!
CAPT. JACK: (on the opposite side of the group from Blackbeard) Not to mention the most boring braggart.
BLACKBEARD: What? Who said that? Prepare to walk the plank and make the long trip to Davy Jones’ locker.
CAPT. JACK: Allow me to introduce myself. Calico Jack Rackham. My ship is “The Treasure.” Good name for a pirate ship, eh?
BLACKBEARD: Why, you scurvy knave! I’ll carve you into bleeding bits of blubbering beef!
CAPT. JACK: Like I said, boring.
HOOK: Excuse me for interrupting, but, um… Blackbeard, your beard appears to be on fire.
BLACKBEARD: On fire? Oh, no, no, I just tie bits of smoldering cork in it to make it look that way. See? The smoke always scares my enemies witless.
LONG JOHN: Aargh! It is a nice fashion touch. I wish I’d thought of that meself.
BLACKBEARD: (politely) Why, thank you, Long John. (changes mood) But right now my cutlass would like to have a word with that upstart Rackham who just insulted me!
LONG JOHN: Belay that, Blackbeard. We have work to do.
HOOK: Yes, we gathered here today to reconfirm the Pirates’ Code.
CAPT. JACK: The Pirates’ Code? Oh, I always thought of those rules as just guidelines, really.
BLACKBEARD: Guidelines! Our profession is going to the dogs. What do they teach in Pirate school these days?
HOOK: Well, that’s why we’re here. To make sure the rules are clear and understood by all.
LONG JOHN: Let’s get on with it then.
CAPT. JACK: Don’t you want to wait for the others? My friends Anne Bonney, and Mary Read - I think they said they were coming.
SMEE: Err…. Captain?
LONG JOHN: Yes?
CAPT. JACK: Yes?
SMEE: Um… I think I hear something.
BLACKBEARD: What do you hear? The admiral’s ship approaching?
SMEE: No, I don’t think so.
CAPT. JACK: A ghost ship returning?
SMEE: No, not that.
LONG JOHN: Is it someone coming to deliver a black spot?
SMEE: No, not that either.
HOOK: Well, what is it, man? Out with it or I’ll have you keel-hauled.
SMEE: It’s a ticking sound.
CAPT. JACK: Ticking?
LONG JOHN: Ticking, you say?
HOOK: (terrified) Ticking! Then it’s time.
CAPT. JACK: Time for what?
HOOK: Time to go! Come on, Smee. Run! Runnnnnnnnnnn!
SMEE: I’m coming, Captain. Wait for me! Captain!
BLACKBEARD: What’s wrong with him?
LONG JOHN: It’s the crocodile.
CAPT. JACK: A crocodile that ticks?
LONG JOHN: Yes, he was fighting Peter Pan and fell into the water where the crocodile was swimming. The croc tried to eat him but only got his hand and a clock. So now, whenever he hears the clock ticking, he knows the crocodile has come back for the rest of him. It’s a great story. You should read it sometime.
BLACKBEARD: I love stories. I especially love stories about me. I’ve been written about in lots of books.
LONG JOHN: My story is in a book. It’s called Treasure Island. Written by a fellow named Robert Louis Stevenson.
CAPT. JACK: Well, I suppose we should get started on these guidelines – I mean, the Code.
BLACKBEARD: Belay the Code. I’m developing a terrible thirst. Let’s go down to the galley and find a bit of grog. I’d like to hear more about this ticking crocodile.
LONG JOHN: Good idea, Blackbeard. Follow me and I’ll tell you all about it.
CAPT. JACK: Hey, Long John. What kind of ship is this? I just saw the strangest mosquito fly by.