The Year of Mr Turtle by John Schmidtt

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author’s prior consent

    Scene 1

      Turtleís House with Mr. Wolf

      Before the curtain rises, a number of seats down front in the
      auditorium have been reserved for animal characters to take in Scene
      2. They can sit on the floor if the house is packed.

      At curtainís rise, we see MR. TURTLEíS house, right center. The
      windowpane is open. TURTLE is reading a book in his comfortable chair,
      with small table, lamp, and dictionary next to him. Reading glasses
      are optional.

      ARIEL [entering stage left]. Blessings to you all, my children. I am
      Ariel, angel of the forest. You may not have heard of me, but if you
      feel the spirit of love inside you, you know me.
      My greatest desire is that love and spiritual growth come to my
      animals, plants, and rocks. How can these beings grow spiritually, you
      may ask? All living things were created by God which means that
      Godís spirit is in everything. If you learn to listen with your
      heart, the ways of the forest will come alive for you. Even a rock has
      a message for those who are ready to listen.
      What would you do if you were like me, an angel in charge of a forest,
      in charge of helping all the creatures grow?
      One of the most important things I do is pay attention to how all my
      creatures are getting along. Today I have come here to share the tale
      of Mr. Turtle and his award, the Salvation award, which meansówell,
      you will see what it means if you listen with your heart.
      [Pointing to the edges of the auditorium] Listen to the trees here in
      my forest. What are they telling you, as my wind gently moves through
      their branches? What are the birds telling you? Listen to them now.
      Look at the flowers beneath our feet. [Touching imaginary flowers]
      Careful, donít step on those near you when you leave. Let them, too,
      live in peace this day. What is the path to Mr. Turtleís house
      showing us?
      [He moves closer to TURTLEíS house, passing around the gate at the
      front of it.] Mr. Turtle is one of my favorite animals here in the
      forest. A quiet fellow, living in his simple, neat house in the woods.
      His days are usually calm, his way slow, and his heart happy. [ARIEL
      looks through the window. TURTLE turns a page in his book.] I see he
      is reading a book.

      SPARROW enters stage left with a rolled-up paper in his mouth/beak,
      flapping his shoulders like little wings, flying around the fence by
      moving downstage.

      ARIEL. Swoops! Hereís Mr. Stephen Sparrow. It looks like he has a
      message for Mr. Turtle!

      SPARROW [dropping the rolled-up paper from his mouth/beak on the
      windowsillóperhaps shaking his head and licking his mouth/beak as if
      the paper did not taste very good]. Mr. Turtle, you have won an award
      from the Animal Association Awards.

      TURTLE [coming to the window, looking surprised]. Me? An award? Why?
      When? What?

      SPARROW [jumping about as if anxious to be on his way]. Yes, you. An
      award. You deserve an award! Youíre always helping people.

      TURTLE. Me? I never do anything special. I just try to be nice to
      others.

      SPARROW. Remember that time my wing was hurting and you brought seeds
      for me to eat so I wouldnít have to fly? I sure appreciated that.
      You really saved me.

      TURTLE. Well, that was nothing. But this awardÖI wonder what itís
      all about?

      SPARROW. I donít know what it is, but it will be presented to you at
      the annual Animal Association Awards Ceremony. Please attend. Now I
      must be off. I have many other awards to tell animals about.

      SPARROW flaps his wings, flies around the fence, and exits stage
      left.

      ARIEL. His message delivered, heís gone in a flash!

      TURTLE. [Taking the paper, he unrolls it and reads.] Whatís this? I
      have won an award. Me! Alone so much of the time. [He moves back to
      his chair.] The Salvation award. I wonder what that means? [He sits,
      putting down the paper and taking up his dictionary.]

      ARIEL. Mr. Turtle loves to look up words in his dictionary. Itís
      worn on all edges and always near his reading table.

      TURTLE. Let me see… Salvation… [Reading as he turns pages]
      ďS…S-a… Sal-vation… The act of saving from loss. Two. The
      state of being saved. Three. Being in a state without sin.Ē [To
      himself] Hum…I wonder which they mean? Iíve never saved anyone
      from a burning building, or such, and I havenít been saved from
      anything. I donít get out of the house much, so thereís no need to
      be saved. Maybe this award is a mistake. I certainly havenít done
      anything to deserve it. [He closes the dictionary thoughtfully.] I
      wonder if I should attend the Ceremony? My plans will allow it. No
      need to look at my calendar. I havenít written much down in months.

      WOLF enters from stage left and jumps the fence.

      ARIEL. He is still wondering if he should attend the Ceremony and
      accept the award when Mr. Wolf appears on the path. Mr. Wolf has a bad
      name among the animals in my forest because he is so mean to them.

      WOLF knocks loudly on wood next to the window. Pounding noise can come
      from offstage, if desired, either a recording or two objects being
      struck together.

      TURTLE. Who could that be? And such a loud knock. [He tut-tuts and
      shakes his head as he slowly rises to lean out the window to see the
      door. WOLF knocks again impatiently.]

      ARIEL. All of Mr. Turtleís friends know he always moves a little
      slowly so Mr. Turtle knows this visitor is no friend. When he looks
      out, there stands an angry Mr. Wolf.

      WOLF. Let me in! We gotta talk.

      TURTLE. Now you know I never let you into my home. You have forgotten
      that day at the millstream? When you clawed me, trying to get inside
      my shell?

      WOLF. Ah, I was just playiní with ya.

      TURTLE. It hardly seemed like play at the time. I still have the
      scratch marks. [TURTLE looks back over his shoulder, trying to see his
      shell. WOLF harrumphs and waves his hand dismissively.] We can talk
      here at my window if you wish.

      WOLF. I just met Mr. Sparrow flyiní by on the path. I almost caught
      himóI mean, I almost talked to him a long time. He said his day was
      to be spent telliní animals about awards to be handed out at the
      Animal Association Awards MealóĒ

      TURTLE. Huh, Ceremony, I believe it is called.

      WOLF. Thatís right, Ceremony. Heh, heh. Thatís what I meant.

      TURTLE. About the only annual animal awards held anywhere, I think.

      WOLF [in great emotional pain]. I didnít win an award! Me! Wolf!
      Awardless! [His head droops and his paws land on top of his head.]
      Everyone is probably getting an award except me.

      TURTLE [looking up a little and to his right, as if he canít believe
      this]. Oh, Iím sure you have many talents the Nominating Committee
      is looking for. You have the most sensitive nose and can smell when
      spring is coming before anyone else. You can move without making a
      sound. And everyone knows you are the best tracker.

      WOLF. But nobody notices those things. Except you. Everybody else just
      notices the things they donít like. Everybody else just complains
      about the things I do.

      TURTLE [softer, dropping a hint]. Perhaps, if you would be nicer to
      the other animalsÖ

      WOLF [suddenly changing]. Nicer! Me!? I let them alone when I ainít
      hungry, donít I? Being nice just ainít my natureóisnít my
      nature.

      TURTLE. But my good Mr. Wolf, nature is made to be changed. Yes, some
      of us animals need to eat other animals for foodóI not being one of
      themóbut we can respect each other as fellow creatures, and not just
      think of one another as meals. Our ways are made more pure by a wish
      to change ourselves.

      WOLF. Pure! Ha! A mountain stream is pure! But me? Nah. Pure, I
      ainítóam not.

      TURTLE. But you are growing and changing, Mr. Wolf. Just look at how
      hard you are working to stop the word ďainít.Ē I applaud your
      change.

      WOLF. Huh. Itís applause I ainít gettiní. I think I need to
      speak to the ones handing out the awards. Who aní where is this
      Nominatiní Committee? Thatís what I want to know.

      TURTLE. Oh, up in the mountains, I believe. But their names are kept
      secret.

      WOLF [slyly]. Secret? HmmmmÖ. Whyís that? Are they scared of guys
      like me?

      TURTLE [firmly, but kindly]. No. If all the animals knew who the
      members were, we might not be natural around them. The Committee is
      looking for true everyday talent, not an act.

      WOLF [suddenly suspicious]. You on the Committee?

      TURTLE. Me!? Oh no. Oh no, dear Mr. Wolf. Not me. I see almost no one.
      [Changing the mood, more to himself] I may not even attend, actually.
      I think there was some mistake.

      WOLF. Sparrow said he just came from your house. Ya won a Salivation
      award.

      TURTLE. I believe itís the Salvation award.

      WOLF. Salvation? Whatís that?

      TURTLE. Iím not exactly sure. I may have to show up to find out. It
      has something to do with being saved or saving others. [Laughs quietly
      to himself and shakes his head.] Neither one applies to me.

      WOLF. Well, I donít really care what it means but I may have to show
      up to eatóI mean, meetósome of these animals.

      TURTLE. Rhinos and elephants protect the weaker animals at the
      Ceremony, Mr. Wolf.

      WOLF. Yeah, yeah. [Jumping over the fence] See ya there!

      WOLF exits stage left.

      TURTLE. Have a good day, Mr. Wolf. [He closes the window, or
      pantomimes it, as required. He sits down and looks straight ahead,
      frowning thoughtfully.]

      ARIEL. After Mr. Wolf left, Mr. Turtle thought long and hard for
      several days. Should he attend the Ceremony? Did he really deserve the
      Salvation award? What should he say in his acceptance speech? How
      could he write a speech when he didnít know what the award was for?

[end of extract]

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