Jungle Book by Margaret Larlham

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must not be Performed or Copied without the Author’s prior consent



PROLOGUE

          RIKKI TIKKI TAVI
      (Greets the audience as they arrive. Assists with the seating ad lib.
      During pre-show time MOTHER enters.)

          MOTHER
      (Posts a “missing child” poster, next to others of the same.)
      Have you seen this child?
      (To RIKKI TIKKI TARVI)
      Have you seen my son, my little friend? Where are you my boy? Not you!
      Not here!

      (Searching listlessly she exits.)

          RIKKI TIKKI TAVI
      (To audience)
      Did you see that poor woman? She is here every full moon searching for
      her lost son! He disappeared nearly five years ago here in the roots
      and vines of this very tree in the park! It is said that the boy
      climbed into the tree. Strange howling was heard—then, quite
      suddenly, he disappeared! Alarm! Everyone came…searched behind,
      around…everywhere! The newspapers too! They believed the woman was
      mad, as there was no sign of any boy. Oh my friends, tragic—but I
      believe in her faith. There is a story to be found if we look deep
      into the spirit of nature! There! My friend, Rann, a kite from far off
      India, comes today—to tell us what he knows of the boy. He sees
      everything from way up in the sky! Greetings Rann!

      (RANN, a huge kite, flies in and lands near RIKKI TIKKI TAVI.)

          RANN
      Greetings, little mongoose, Rikki Tikki Tavi!

          RIKKI TIKKI TAVI
      Look Rann,
      (Looking out to audience)
      in this cave there are many little eyes! Little creatures…mice and
      meerkats all waiting to hear the story. Will you tell us what happened
      to the lost boy!

          RANN
      I will tell you—from the beginning!


          ACT 1
          SCENE 1: The Tangled Knot
      Setting:      A portal to the magic jungle.

          (Curtain opens on a dark stage. Light focus is on RANN. JUNGLE
      SPIRITS surround the tree portal. JUNGLE SPIRITS become tree, wing,
      portal in underscoring RANN’s story.)

          RANN
      This, O best beloved, is the story of a secret jungle! A magic place
      between the leaves and vines bounded by park, zoo, freeways! This
      jungle book opens only for some. Look now, my friends, for beauty
      lives there and terror too! Wolves, bears, cats, snakes—creatures
      from all corners of the globe, live here—away from cities of men. We
      live to honor the ancient laws of respect for all living things!
          (SINGS song: Rann the Kite. See score)
      Now Rann the Kite brings home the night
      That Mang the Bat sets free—
      The zoo is shut both cage and hut
      But loosed till dawn are we.

          RANN AND JUNGLE SPIRITS
      Now Rann the Kite brings home the night
      That Mang the Bat sets free—
      The zoo is shut both cage and hut
      But loosed till dawn are we.
      This is the hour of pride and power,
      Talon and tush and claw.
      Oh, hear the call!—Good hunting all
      That keep the Jungle Law!

          (A thrashing sound. MOWGLI falls through tree “portal,” noisily
      tumbling and rolling in a balled tangle of vines .JUNGLE SPIRITS
      support the fall and tumble, then exit. MOWGLI lies still.)

          RANN
      But what is that tangled ball that has found its way into the jungle?
      Unravel this knot that begins the story…! Wolves, jackal, monkeys,
      tiger, jaguar, bear…are you ready?

      (RANN exits flying)


          SCENE 2: Mowgli is found by the Wolf Pack

          (WOLVES’ lair/jungle.)

          (RAKSHA, RAMA enter investigating the commotion. They find and sniff
      the tangled ball hiding MOWGLI.)

          MOWGLI
      (Startled)
      MMMMaaammmajiii! Come get me!

          RAKSHA
          (Fearful of strangeness)
      Look—a tumble-ghost! A banshee!

          RAMA
      Mother wolf—come quickly! A tangle ghost!

          MOWGLI
          (Wailing)
      Ma——-ma———ji—come get me!

          (WOLVES surround MOWGLI. MOTHER WOLF enters.)

          MOTHER WOLF
      Ha—whoo! What is going on here, wolves?
      (Panting WOLVES surround MOWGLI and free him from vine tangle. MOWGLI
      curls himself into a tight ball and closes his eyes.)
      This is no ghost, silly wolves! This is a man cub! But in our
      jungle…?

          MOWGLI
      (Tries to escape but trips and falls. Cries, raising a splayed hurt
      hand.)
      Ow! Sore handy! You hurt me! Go away!

          RAKSHA
      (Startled)
      Danger! Run!

          RAMA
      (Taunting)
      Raksha’s afraid of the man cub!

          RAKSHA
      No—Raksha not!
      (To MOWGLI)
      See my sharp teeth!

          MOWGLI
      (Unafraid. Chases wolves.)
      Bad Furry! G’way shoo! You furry monsta! Away—away!

      (WOLVES back off.)

          MOTHER WOLF
      So frail—so brave!
      (Laughs and cuddles MOWGLI.)
      This cub has a wolf spirit!

      (WOLVES panting, amazed, stare at MOWGLI.)

          MOWGLI
          (Laughs)
      Warm—cosy—like my blankie! But— but—where is Mom? Never is
      come to me, never is come! Gone! Gone—my mam! Where is home?
      (Finds bread in pocket)
      My Naan!
          (About to feed himself. WOLVES, interested in food, nose toward
      him.)
      Some for you?
          (MOWGLI feeds RAMA. RAKSHA snatches.)

          RAKSHA
      Woo-hoo, tasty! More for me!

          RAMA
      No, greedy! My, my mucky-licky junkie food.

      (RAKSHA grabs the bread. RAMA fights for it.)

          MOTHER
      Stop fighting cubs! Never bite the hand that feeds! Thou shalt not!
      (Notices MOWGLI has rolled into a ball and fallen asleep.)
      Wonder of wonders! In the midst of jungle danger, man cub, little
      frog, sleeps! Come children…gather round! We will make a warm lair
      for him! A wolf bed!

          RAMA
      EEyou! Lie next to the hairless man cub! Why?

          RAKSHA
      I don’t think so! What will Akela say? Humans cannot be trusted!

          MOTHER WOLF
      This innocent child knows nothing of the dangers of the jungle! Do as
      I say! Keep him warm.

      (WOLVES nudge MOWGLI and shape themselves into a comfortable bed for
      him.)

          MOWGLI
          (Nestling in amongst the WOLVES)
      Squish, furry, dozy, schnoozy!

          MOTHER WOLF
      We will protect him come what may!

      (MOTHER WOLF howls. All howl. MOWGLI joins in howling too, as in a
      dream. MOWGLI sleeps on as the wolves huddle round him, hiding him.)


          SCENE 3: Shere Kahn Finds Mowgli

      Setting:      Wolf’s lair and hunting ground.

      (Enter TABAQUI the jackal)

          TABAQUI
      Good they’re asleep!
          (Digging)
      Now where did I bury that bone?

          SHERE KAHN
          (Calls from offstage)
      Where are you Tabaqui?

          TABAQUI
      Oh—Oh! Here master!
          (SHERE KAHN enters.)
      Shere Kahn, Majesty, good hunting to you!
      (Aside)
      And with luck—some tasty left-overs for me too! I’m starving!

          SHERE KAHN
      Tabaqui, bring me my coat at once. I feel somewhat pallid and insipid
      this morning! Do I look off-color to you? No, don’t answer that!
          TABAQUI
      Pallid and insipid…never! You look fine as always—but, mighty one,
      here!
      (A JUNGLE SPIRIT enters with folded coat. TABAQUI displays glorious
      bright tiger skin overcoat/cloak and robes to SHERE KAHN. Exit JUNGLE
      SPIRIT)
      Let me help you on with your cloak of fire and shadow!

          SHERE KAHN
      Claws?
          TABAQUI
      Ah! And here your elegant claws…Dazzling Master! All other tigers
      will bow to your grand and gorgeous, splendiferous, super…!

          SHERE KAHN
      Precisely! Ah! I feel revitalized and pizzazzy! Now, keep back or I’ll
      be tempted to scrape your skin with stripes too, Tabaqui!

          TABAQUI
          (Mock servility)
      Nnnn ah-t! Look, I retreat! Your servant…a cringing jackal…low,
      lowly…I am the dirt you walk upon Master!

          SHERE KAHN
      Get up fool! Time for the hunt!

          TABAQUI
      Hunt—at last!
          (To audience)
      Here’s an invitation to dinner…with Shere Kahn!

          (TABAQUI and SHERE KAHN summon energy through ritualized hunt.)

          SHERE KAHN
      The hunt’s begun! Let’s have some fun!
          (SINGS:  Shere Kahn’s Coat in score)
      Now, growl and stalk, and prowl and seek!
      May all beware, whether brave or meek
      The hunt’s begun, in the shade and sun
      May you shiver or run
      Let’s have some fun!

      This coat is so fine—makes me lord of all the tigers
      Creatures of the jungle must bow down to me!

          (Repeat chorus)
      (TABAQUI interjects repeating “so fine” and “I’m bowing, you’re
      bowing, he’s bowing” at the end of the song.)

          TABAQUI
      Shere Kahn, grand master of the tigers!

          (The WOLF pack surrounding MOWGLI all this while sleeping in a huddle
      begin to rouse. Growling occasionally.)

          SHERE KAHN
      Enough preamble!
          (To audience)
      Come out, come out wherever you are…who ever you are…whatever you
      are! Dinner?
          (Sniffing towards WOLVES)
      Wait a minute! Something suspicious…smelly! A man cub came this
      way!

          TABAQUI
          (Not enchanted with this menu.)
      Man cub? Perhaps you might prefer bison, Master, or perhaps buffalo
      steak or a nice loin of wild pork!

          SHERE KAHN
          (Brushes TABAQUI aside. Confronts WOLVES.)
      Wake up wolves! Have you seen a man cub come this way?

          MOTHER WOLF
      Shere Kahn! You are out of bounds! This is wolf hunting ground!
      Nothing for you here! Though…I heard something moving out there!
      (Gestures into distance)
      Go back the way you came!

          MOWGLI
          (MOWGLI wakes feeling pinched.)
      Squashy! Wakie-wakie! Only an incy-wincy, little bit of room! Move
      over!

          SHERE KAHN
      Why—there he is! How dare you dogs conceal a man cub! Tiger prey!
      Stand aside at once! Comprehendo… I, Shere Khan, make final demand!
      (Roars)

          (MOTHER WOLF “faces off” with SHERE KAHN.)

          MOTHER WOLF
      And it is I, Mother Wolf, who denies you, Shere Kahn! The man’s cub is
      mine, I say! The Wolves are a free animal. They take orders from the
      Head of the Pack, and not from you! He shall not be killed. He shall
      live to run with the Pack and hunt with the Pack; and in the end, look
      you, hunter of defenseless cubs—he shall hunt thee! Now get thee
      hence, go!

          (Scuffle. WOLVES re-assert their protection of MOWGI. SHERE KAHN
      backs off.)

          SHERE KAHN
      I have equal rights in this Jungle—you know that! Summon the
      council!
          (Calls)
      Akela!
          (To MOTHER)
      Let him decide whose right of mine or thine it is to have this man
      cub!

          MOTHER WOLF
      Very well! Shere Khan speaks this much truth. Raksha, Rama! Beat the
      drums to summon Akela—leader of the pack!
          (She howls.)
      How-lll!

          RAKSHA + RAMA
      We do as our Mother wishes…

          (RAKSHA + RAMA beat the drums and JUNGLE SPIRITS enter and join the
      CHANT and DANCE. They create a barrier around MOWGLI. RANN enters and
      flies around. SHERE KAHN + TABAQUI interfere and taunt MOTHER WOLF
      opportunistically.)

      (Drum Chant)
      The wolf spirit
      The wolf guide
      The wolf pack
      A wolf pride!
      A sound * A scent * A foot-print * my heart beats
      Gather—we gather and gather and gather

      The heart of the jungle is beating is beating
      All wolves must attend a council meeting.
      The fate of a man cub hangs in the balance
      A threat to the jungle, so precarious!

[end of extract]

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