Chicken Story Time
Based on my new picture book due out from Dial Books for Young Readers on December 13, 2016, CHICKEN STORY TIME is a small-cast, tourable, full-immersion, interactive play set in the Children’s Reading Room of a library. There are lots and lots of puppets, most of them chickens and many of them manipulated by the children in the audience. There are also lots of books –mostly about chickens — because “The children like the chickens. The chickens like the children.” And everyone loves Story Time. Especially the librarian.
Information about the book can be found on this website under “Books I’ve Written.” For a copy of the script, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHARACTERS (all may be male or female; three are human, the rest are puppets)
FIRST PUPPETEER, friendly and helpful
PUPSTER, a puppet, a well-trained Reading Dog, handled by FIRST PUPPETEER
SECOND PUPPETEER, also friendly and helpful
CHICKEN, a puppet, great fan of books and Story Time, handled by SECOND PUPPETEER.
LIBRARIAN – usually calm, and yet . . .
OTHER CHICKEN PUPPETS, six of them, hidden at first, and then handled by PUPPETEERS
FIRST CHICK PUPPET, hidden at first, and then handled by PUPPETEERS
MANY CHICK PUPPETS, hidden at first, and then handled by audience
STAFF (optional) – one or more cheerful assistants, as needed, to keep audience and chickens moving.
TIME: Story Time in each of three sequential weeks.
PLACE: The central playing area is the Children’s Reading Room at the library. This is separated from a transitional path suited to the individual theater. The transitional path must allow for the entire audience to travel as a grouop; it may be a circle all around the central playing area separated from it by bookcases. There is a door, archway, or other entranceway from the transitional path into the central playing area. The action begins in the lobby or anywhere the audience can be gathered as they arrive for the performance before entering the world of the play. If necessary, this can be a section of the transitional path.
SUMMARY: Children approximately 3 to 6 years of age encounter stories, puppets, and chickens in this fanciful, full-immersion adventure at the Library. Once a week, children gather in the Children’s Reading Room to hear the LIBRARIAN read a story. But one day, a book-loving CHICKEN shows up. CHICKEN likes the children. The children like CHICKEN. Everyone loves Story Time. And then, as the weeks pass, more and more chickens show up, until there is such a crowd and so much commotion, it’s impossible for anyone to hear one LIBRARIAN reading one book. At last, CHICKEN clucks the solution: “Book-a-book-a-book-book-book-book!” A library has many books, with many stories. When they are divided among many readers (parents and other adult companions), the children, the chickens, and the librarian can all enjoy Story Time again.
SETTING: Inside the Children’s Reading Room are carpet scraps or a cheerful rug where the children will sit, perhaps stools or benches for their adult companions, a reading chair for the LIBRARIAN, and at least one sturdy shelf of real books, with a step-stool. A basket sits beside the LIBRARIAN’s chair, from which LIBRARIAN will take books to be read to the children.
Note: A list of suggested books about chickens (will be added) at the end of this script, but the director is free to make other selections. Consultation with a local children’s librarian about recently released books is encouraged. Although books of all shapes and sizes can be displayed, the books to be read by LIBRARIAN should be reasonably brief.
BEFORE RISE: MUSIC. Children and their adult companions arrive for the performance. Books about chickens are scattered about. Audience is greeted in the lobby by FIRST PUPPETEER with PUPSTER who ad libs, explaining that today we’re using our imaginations to turn the theater into a library and children and their adult companions can help us get started by choosing a book and reading it together until everyone has arrived. FIRST PUPPETEER and PUPSTER circulate, encouraging pup-petting and reading.
While the reading is going on, SECOND PUPPETEER with CHICKEN enters without fanfare and casually wanders about in a curious and friendly manner, noticing the books being read with interest and approval, expressed with gentle clucking that sounds more like “BOOK-a-book-a-book-book-book-book” than the traditional “BU-UCK-a-buck-a-buck-buck-buck-buck.”
Upon noticing the CHICKEN, FIRST PUPPETEER and PUPSTER are somewhat perplexed, but not overly alarmed. THEY remain calm, courteous, and accepting, wondering aloud whether anyone should tell the LIBRARIAN about the CHICKEN, but deciding the LIBRARIAN is too busy getting ready for Story Time to be disturbed. PUPSTER and CHICKEN may get acquainted by touching nose to beak. SECOND PUPPETEER and CHICKEN settle in among audience members.
AT RISE: When all have arrived, MUSIC fades, and FIRST PUPPETEER and PUPSTER get everyone’s attention. . . .