Reynard introduction & start
REYNARD IN AESOP’S FABLED LAND
Production devised and fables retold by,
The keynote of this production is simplicity. Although written for senior school pupils, for a mixed choir and a group of mimes, it is my hope and intention that groups of all sizes and ages will adapt it for themselves.
Backdrop of rolling summer countryside. Small grassy mound down stage left, larger grassy mound upstage centre of left. Benches arranged as amphitheatre seats curving from downstage right towards centre upstage.
Choir: Dressed in simple style as Ancient Greek Peasants.
Aesop: History and tradition give only a vague picture of Aesop. If not actually a slave he held a servile position as a poor relative and is thought to have died fairly young. Suggest our Aesop should be dressed accordingly and be portrayed as slightly greying early middle age.
In order of performance. Fox: Goat: Crow: Cock: Lion: Hunter: Stork: Maria: Oak: Reed: Donkey: Sheep: Dog: Butcher. Costume for animals leotards, masks, tails and feathers on arms for birds. Humans as choir, with weapon for Hunter, cleaver for Butcher and milk pails for Maria. With a large cast some additional small animals can be included.
The curtains are up before the audience enter. On first bar of introductory music house lights down and stage lights brought up gradually.
Choir enters from all points in twos and threes, carrying cushions, bottles of wine and food baskets. They settle themselves down on the amphitheatre seats for they are an audience as well as the choir.
Aesop enters, passes amongst the choir, nods to various individuals or raises his hand in greeting, makes his way to smaller grassy mound and sits.
Maria and Hunter enter together and make their way to larger grassy mound and sit.
Animals and birds trot or flutter across stage Goat stops by Maria and receives a pat. All scenic props are brought on and taken off by members of the choir. A tree with a vine twined around it with a bunch of grapes hanging near the top is placed towards the back centre stage which is now set for Sour Grapes.
The Choir stand and fox mime enters suiting his actions to the words.
The fox was strolling, trot, step, trot,
Choir: He saw a vine twined round a tree.
He stopped to think he thought a lot.
Where there’s vines there grapes should be.
He looked and looked and there on high,
He saw the grapes all golden sweet,
With juice that shone against the sky,
Calling him to pick and eat.
He licked his chops with great delight.
“Delicious grapes you’re mine,” he cried.
Then found he could not jump that height,
Though with all his strength he tried.
The fox left strolling, trot, step, trot,
He left the vine twined round the tree.
He said, “I do not care one jot,
Sour grapes are not for me.”
As Fox exits the two largest and the smallest member of the choir move to the tree. The larger choir members lift the small one who picks the grapes which they all share.
Aesop stands as the music stops.
Aesop: Like the fox there are those who pretend that an object has no value when they find they can not obtain it.
Choir and Aesop sit while stage is set and introduction to Look Before You Leap is played. The tree is removed and replaced by a well the wall of which is high enough for Fox to duck down behind. Fox enters and moves about the stage suiting his actions to the words.
The fox ran to town,
Choir: For some chickens to kill,
As his cubs had all cried,
“We are empty inside,
What have you our stomachs
What have you our stomachs
Spurred on by the thought,
Of his young ones’ sad plight,
In his hurry he fell,
With a splash in a well.
Poor Reynard a terrible fright,
Poor Reynard a terrible fright.
Then a goat passing by,
Choir divided Heard him splashing about,
Into Fox and Goat. “Mr Fox is that you,
Pray what do you do?”
Sly fox saw a way to get out,
Sly fox saw a way to get out.
“I stepped in for a drink,
Won’t you join me dear
“Is it clean, fresh and cool?”
“As a clean mountain pool”
“Yes water would sooth my
“Yes water would sooth my
Goat suits actions to
Words. Thirsty goat leapt right in
As fox hoped he would do.
He jumped up to dry ground,
With a hop and a bound,
With the aid of goat’s back
and horns two,
With the aid of goat’s back
and horns two.
Fox politely gave thanks
Then replied to goat’s cry,
“Now if you did not know,
Of the depth there below,
You shouldn’t have leapt,
You shouldn’t have leapt,
Exit Fox to splashing sounds. Choir sits, Aesop stands.
Aesop: That tale is called look before you leap. It demonstrates why a
A wise man should not embark on an enterprise until he can
See his way clear to the end.
Aesop sits. The well is taken off with goat hidden behind it. A large pitcher is placed centre stage a pile of pebbles is placed near the
pitcher and a few loose ones scattered around. An additional bright spot turned on or a sun is hoisted into the sky. Maria, Hunter and Aesop mop their brows and fan themselves. A rabbit and a squirrel or any appropriate small animal staggers on stage and collapse. Stage is set for crow and pitcher. Soloist stands. Crow, body drooping, enters.
The rains they had not fallen,
Soloist: All the earth was cracked and dry.
Oh pity the poor wild things
Who from aching thirst must die.
Some water in a pitcher,
With great joy was seen by Crow,
He dipped his beak to drink it,
But the water was too low.
Crow beat hard his weary wings,
Though he felt so weak and poor,
Against the heavy pitcher,
Tried to knock it to the floor.
The little strength he had,
Was not equal to the fight,
He was doomed to die of thirst,
With cool water there in sight.
He saw a pile of pebbles,
Then he dropped them one by one
Raised up the water level,
Drank until his thirst was done.
Exit Crow with spring in step. Aesop stands, Soloist sits.
Aesop: Skill and patience were ever better than force and by their use a man robbed of his strength can save himself. Like the Crow he will find necessity is the mother of invention.
Aesop sits. Spot off (or sun lowered), small animals leave quietly. Pitcher and pebbles removed. Hunter takes his leave of Maria and exits. Stage ready for Lion and Fox. Choir stands. Lion and Fox enter from opposite sides of stage and meet in the centre during opening bars.
Choir: Said Lion to Reynard, “My eyes they
If you used your keen sight to point out
Though I take the lion’s share, you too
will eat well,
For my speed and my strength remain
with me still.”
Chorus: Reynard Fox is cunning and sly,
Lion has strength and majesty,
As fish will swim and birds can fly,
Each will live by natures decree.
Fox quickly agreed to his majesty’s plan,
They hunted together each used his own
Then Fox thought to himself I can fill
both our roles,
He begged of the Lion, “Let me make
Chorus: Reynard Fox………….
Lion smiled to himself said, “By all means
Fox spied a dear herd, trotted forth with
Deer runs Was thwarted by Huntsman who stalked the
across Resolved in the future to ply his own
By Huntsman. Renard Fox …………..
Lion stalks off after Fox pursued by Huntsman. Aesop stands.
Aesop: A man should look at himself and honestly judge what he has the ability to do. Then, he will not attempt to reach too far.
Aesop sits. Two flat plates are placed front of stage left centre of grassy mound. Two narrow necked jugs front of stage right centre of mound
Stage is ready for Fox and Stork.
Choir: To show his cunning and his craft,
Fox and Stork Fox planned to play on Stork a trick.
Enter from “Friend dine with me I’ll chose the meal,
Oposite sides. The hour will be for you to pick.”
Stork off right.
Fox to plates She said she’d come that very night,
hiding them as Not knowing her intended fate,
Stork re-enters. She hurried when she smelt the soup,
To find it served on shallow plate.
Fox stands aside
To let Stork see A few small sips for long billed Stork,
Plates. Fox lapped his up with great delight,
Fox shows glee. “I am not hungry,” Stork declared,
“But dine with me tomorrow night.”
First Stork then
Fox move to Stork also served delicious soup,
Pitchers. In pitcher tall with narrow top,
Fox slinks off. Dipped in her bill to drink it all,
Stork walks off. The fooler, fooled, reached not one drop.
Aesop: Those who play tricks on others or do them an ill turn,
Deserve and can expect to be paid back in their own coin.
Maria goes of stage and returns with a bucket in each hand. Choir stand for Maria.
Choir. Maria works so hard and well,
She has two pails of milk to sell.
She’s off to town for market day,
And speculates upon her way,
Of all the things hard work can
Alas she is a little vain,
Her thought prevent her taking
Beware, Maria, please beware.
Soloist This milk I’ll sell for fertile eggs,
I’ll sell the pullets when they hatch,
I’ll buy myself a pretty broach
Perhaps a bracelet made to match.
But chickens fetch a better price,
Bigger profits for those who know,
To sell just when the time is ripe.
Yes I must let the pullets grow.
I’ll buy fine cloth to make a gown,
The finest that has ever been,
Shall it be yellow, white or blue?
Ah no, it will be emerald green.
I’ll wear it to the harvest dance,
And all the boys will plight their
And I will spurn them every one,
And watch the girls with envy froth.
Maria moves towards front centre trips and drops her buckets. Sits where she fell, head down weeping.
Choir. Oh Maria, we said beware.
Soloist. Oh dear oh dear, you said beware.
Choir. You did not place your feet with
Soloist. I did not place my feet with care.
Choir. With vain dreams your mind was
Soloist. With vain dreams my mind was
Choir. Now away your milk is flowing.
Soloist. Now away my milk is flowing.
Choir. Your dreaming had a dreadful
Soloist My dreaming had a dreadful cost.
Choir. Chickens, pullets and eggs lost.
Soloist. Chicken, pullets and eggs lost.
Choir. If only you had been less vain.
Soloist. If only you had been less vain
Choir You would not have to start again
Soloist I would not have to start again.
Aesop moves over to help Maria up.
Aesop; Poor Maria, all your happiness has vanished. Your foolish dreaming and vanity led you to count your chickens before they were bought let alone hatched.
END PART ONE
REYNARD IN AESOP’S FABLED LAND
During the interval if a backdrop is used it should be changed to wooded foothills with peaks in the distance. A construction representing a mound with an entrance, that is a cave, is placed on stage. Aesop, Maria, Hunter and some members of the choir enter huddled up in cloaks or skins. Choir members arrange themselves by Aesop, Maria and Hunter who sit on the small grassy mound. Two soloists enter also cloaked and stand by Choir seats. If mimes are used they enter and stand side by side centre stage. The stage is set for Oak and Reed. Light begins to dim and recover.
Oak: “Reed, Reed, you tremble so,
Have you no pride at all,
To bow before a breeze,
While I stand straight and tall?
You’re a poor sort of plant,
To tremble and bow low.
I will maintain my stance,
Though fierce the winds may blow.”
Reed: “Oh strong and might Oak,
What call have I for pride,
A week and humble plant,
Though standing by your side?
I cannot be like you,
How ever hard I try,
I tremble at the breeze,
Though lightly it pass by.”
Reed: The wind grows fierce and strong.
Oak: The wind grows fierce and strong.
Reed: A storm has rent the sky.
Oak: A storm has rent the sky.
Reed: I bend to touch the ground.
Oak: You bend to touch the ground.
Reed: Your branches break and fly.
Oak: My branches break and fly.
Reed: The wind grows fiercer still.
Oak: The wind grows fiercer still.
Reed: Your roots are giving way.
Oak My roots are giving way.
Reed: In spite of your great strength.
Oak: In spite of my great strength.
Reed: Upon the ground you lay.
Oak: Upon the ground I lay.
Reed: The storm is passing by.
Oak: The storm is passing by.
Reed: The wind is almost gone.
Oak: The wind is almost gone.
Reed: Though I bend and tremble.
Oak: Though you bend and tremble.
Reed: Yet still I will live on:
Oak: Yet still you will live on.
Reed: Death awaits you now,
Oak: Death awaits me now,
Reed: That you are laid so low.
Oak: That I am laid so low.
Reed: Maybe it is wiser,
Oak: Maybe it is wiser,
Reed: To sway with winds that blow.
Oak: To sway with winds that blow.
During verse four Hunter tries to shelter Aesop and Maria with his cloak. The choir members clutch their cloaks tightly and stand as if braced against the wind. During verse five and six they all relax and finally take off their cloaks.
Aesop Thus with men, if they are humble and strive only to improve themselves they will survive. If they are proud and think themselves above improvement they will be brought down.
Maria and hunter exit. Choir members walk off and re-enter with the whole choir which, as in part one, is seated on the benches stage right. The tree is replaced on stage with a box or stool behind it for Cock to scramble up on. Cock enters, strutting, from one side of the stage Fox enters from the other. Stage is set for Fox and Cock.
Choir: Renard saw when passing the farm,
A fine cock strutting round the yard.
A plump and tasty meal thought Fox,
Though catching it may be quite hard,
Though catching it may be quite hard.
“Fine cock why don’t I hear your voice?
All the people admire it so,
You really should sing all the time.”
Flattered, Cock got ready to crow,
Flattered, Cock got ready to crow.
He breathed in deep and closed his eyes,
But before he could make a sound,
Quick Fox had seized him by the throat,
And ran with him over the ground,
And ran with him over the ground.
The foolish bird then heard a noise.
Croaked weekly, “The farmers give chase,
Why don’t you tell them I am yours?”
Fox thought the suggestion had grace,
Fox thought the suggestion had grace.
Reynard opened his mouth to speak,
And to make his justified claim.
Cook to tree
into its branches. The Cock fluttered safely away,
Poor Reynard must find other game,
Poor Reynard must find other game.
Aesop: Thus it is with men. If they crowed less or talked less they would have less to repent.
Cock comes down from tree and flutters off. A lions skin is laid on the stage which is now ready for Donkey In A Lion’s Skin. Enter Donkey.
Choir: The Donkey found a Lion’s skin.
He haw, he haw, he haw.
Sheep and Goat He thought to put himself within.
see Donkey He haw, he haw, he haw.
When they beheld that fearful sight,
Bleat baa, bleat baa, bleat baa.
The Goat and Sheep ran off in fright,
Crow enters Bleat baa, bleat baa, bleat baa.
goes into tree. Startled Crow flew up in the air.
Caw caw, caw caw, caw caw.
To see a lion stalking there.
Caw caw, caw caw, caw caw.
Then Fox said, “Listen to that bray,
Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha,
The Donkey made you run away,
Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha.”
Sheep, Goat step timidly back on stage. Crow comes down from tree. Then all three help Fox chase Donkey off. Aesop stands.
Aesop: If men give themselves airs and try to play a part they are not fitted for they are sure to give themselves away, usually by chattering.
A strip of blue cloth is laid on stage a plank on supports is placed across the cloth. Stage is set for Dog and Dog’s Reflection.
Choir: Butcher took a stick to beat
The dog who’d stolen his fine meat.
Dog runs on “Stop thief, stop thief,” the butcher cried.
with meat in But was no match for dog’s swift stride.
behind tree. Dog stopped to rest upon the plank,
Butcher That crossed the stream from bank to bank,
Off stage. And in the water’s quiet flow
Saw another dog below.
He thought the dog beneath his feet,
Had found a better piece of meat,
Thereupon the greedy being,
Resolved to get what he was seeing.
With eyes agleam and growling low,
He leapt upon the dog below,
He lost his meat and for his pains,
Water and mud are all he gains.
Aesop: Greedy people, who try to get things they imagine to be better than that which they posses, often fail to look after their possessions and wind up loosing everything.
Plank and supports are removed. Crow enters with a piece of meat in his beak flutter up in to tree. Choir stands and Fox enters. Stage set for Fox and Crow.
Choir: “Good morning Crow,” said Reynard Fox,
“How do you find yourself today?”
But Crow said not a word.
“I’ve often thought how fine you are,
No matter what the others say.”
But Crow must not have heard.
“With your fine plumage and strong beak,
Of all the birds you should be king.”
Then Crow inclined his head.
“Your size and bearing recommend,
Your only fault you can not sing.”
“Indeed I can,” Crow said.
“Oh thank you for the meat you dropped,
On opening up your beak to sing.”
Crow shook himself in rage.
“If you had brains as well as looks,
Then you would make an ideal king.”
Indeed Crow is no sage.
Aesop: That is a lesson for fools, for it is only fools who listen to
Crow comes down from tree and exits dejectedly. A screen is arranged so that animals entering the cave can exit unseen. Sand is spread in front of the cave entrance. Stage is set for Cunning Overcome By Greater Cunning. During opening verse Lion and Crow enter Crow bows to Lion and exits, Lion enters cave.
Choir: Lion was feeling weak and old
And found it hard to make his kill.
He saw that each and all were told,
That their King was laying ill.
Goat, Sheep and Lion then waited in his cave,
other animals His subjects came to wish him well,
enter cave. Became the prey that none could save,
For none escaped the tale to tell.
Fox enters stage.
Lion called out as Fox went past,
“The word was sent that I am ill,
I’m glad to see you’ve come at last.”
Fox at a distance stood quite still.
“I would have paid a visit sire,
That others came there is no doubt,
Their prints are there within the mire,
But none of them coming back out.”
Fox bows and exits rapidly.
Aesop: A wise man can avoid injury by recognising danger signals in time.
Aesop starts to walk across stage pauses centre stage and faces audience. Choir stand and face audience.
Aesop: Fox showed wisdom in dealing with Lion but in other fables we have shown he can make mistakes. We hope that you have enjoyed And profited by these illustrations of the mistakes that men so often make.
Aesop and Choir bow to audience, spread across the stage as all the mimes enter. They mingle and then form lines facing the audience for the final bow.
THE ENDBack To Top
For several years I have enjoyed meeting with fellow poets and poetry lovers every other Monday at the Bear in Wantage. There we discuss both our own work and that of other poets both well known and obscure. Many of the poems in the category Wantage Poetry Club were first presented at the Club. That category dedicated to friends in the Club contains the poems which I have not as yet published in a collection.
Copyright © 2013 by Pamela Boal. The moral right of the author has been asserted. All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval systems, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
Please feel free to utilise my poems in your projects but do give accreditation in an appropriate manner and make a charitable donation in recognition of the fact.