Baba Yaga and the Black Moonflower
Adapted Russian folktale by Marilyn Kinsella
Puppets: Marushka (Sally Jean), Baba Yaga (witch), Prince (Bud), hedgehog, czar, Razputin (wizard)
Props: Mushrooms taped on stage, black moonflower hung by string, black cauldron cut out.
Note: This is more complex than my other puppet shows. It need to be practiced and it is advisable to have two people do this show.
ACT 1 Somewhere in a Russian forest
MR. La, la, la, la, la, la ,la. (to audience) Oh, hello there. My name is Marushka. I'm on my way to the market to buy some fresh mushrooms for my ma-ma. She makes the best beef stroganoff in the whole wide world. She gave me enough money to buy the mushrooms and a penny more for some candy. That's because I'm so sweet. I just love it in these woods. It's so nice and cool. There are all kinds of wild flowers that I could pick. But I better not, because my ma-ma told me to be careful in this forest. She said there is evil lurking in here. She said that there is witch called Baba Yaga. Ohhh! She is a terrible witch. She is mean and ugly and worst of all she lives in a house that stands on chicken legs! And that house can walk all over the forest. You never know where it might land. But as long as I stay on this path I should be safe. Besides, Ole Baba Yaga only likes wicked little kids, not sweet young things like me. I better check my pocket and make sure I have my money. Wait a minute. The money is gone. Oh no, I must have dropped it. Now I won't be able to get those mushrooms and my mother will be so angry. I'm such a wicked, bad little girl (cries).
(Baba Yaga enter)
BY. Bad? Did I hear bad? Why, that's just what I thought...a bad, wicked little Russian girl. Just what I need to whip up a batch of my tasty gourmet stew. Eat your heart out Dinty Moore, this one is mine. Come here you bad, tender young thing.
MR. EEEK! It's Baba Yaga and she's even uglier than ma-ma told me. Stay away from me you nasty old witch.
BY. Ah-ha! Even nastier than I thought calling me names. You will make a tasty stew indeed! (grabs MR).
MR. Let me go, let me go!
BY. Don't waste your time screamin' and hollerin'. All it does is cloud up the sky and kill the grass, cause once old Baba Yaga gets her bony old hand on a bad little girl like you, there's no
getting away. (heh, heh, heh) I'll just take you back to my hut where I have a pot ready and waiting for some choice stew meat. (laughs as both exit)
ACT 2 At Baba Yaga's house
(place the pot on left hand side of the stage)
BY. Fish heads, fish heads, itty bitty fish heads. Some salt, a rat's tail, a bit of parsnip and potato skins! That should flavor it up.
MR. (offstage, muffled voice) Let me out of here! I hate this stupid ole cage. Let me out.
BY. Quiet down there. Don't you know I need to concentrate to get this stew right.
MR. But I can't move! I can't breathe! I hate this cage! I hate you!....(whiny) Please let me out.
BY. Oh very well. Afterall, she can't escape. And I can't stand that whining and crying. Besides she can do my housework while I work on my delicious stew. (leaves and comes back with Marushka) Now you can sweep the floors, wash the dishes and make some of my favorite herbal tea.
MR. Yes, Baba Yaga.
BY. Oh, wait a minute. First, I want you to go down into the cellar and dust off all my bottles in the cupboard. I can't read them anymore what with all the dust on them. Now, hurry on. (MR leaves) Now where was I. Ah, yes - a few withered berries, some bat wings and a tad more salt. In just a few hours it will be ready for the main ingredient - marinated Marushka. (heh, heh, heh)
MR. (reenters) Baba Yaga, Baba Yaga! There is a horseman dressed all in black. I saw him out of the cellar window. He was here then gone. Who is he, Baba Yaga?
BY. Questions, questions. Don't ask me so many questions. Everytime a child asks me a question I grow ten years older. Didn't you know that?
MR. No, I didn't.
By. Well, now you do. I'll overlook it this time, and I will allow you to ask me only 2 more questions so use them wisely. As for your first question - that horseman was my obedient knight and servant, Moonless Knight. So don't even think about trying to escape.
MR. I wonder why he was dressed all in black.
BY. Is that a question?
MR. NO, no, I was just wondering out loud.
BY. Be careful, or you'll use up your two questions before you know it.
MR. I don't want to do that.
BY. You bet your babushka, you don't. so get busy dusting those jars.
MR. (leaves stage) What a lot of interesting jars. There's a jar of chicken lips, and spider eyeballs, and sassafras root, nightshade and dandelion seeds.
BY. Yes, and they are all filled except for one.
MR. Yes, I see it (reenters) What do you need to fill it?
BY. Ah ha! That was your second question. You only have one left.
MR. Oh dear, I must be more careful.
BY. I only need the petals of the black moonflower to fill that jar. Then I, Baba Yaga, will be the most powerful witch in all the land. I've looked high and low for just one moonflower. What I wouldn't give (cries).
MR. Don't cry, poor witch.
BY. Oh be quiet! Get back to work. I'm going out for a few minutes to see if I have caught any tasty squirrels or rabbits in my traps. They will add a little body to my stew. You look awfully scrawny to me.(exits)
MR. Oh what is to become of me? My poor mother must be so worried because I didn't come home last night. I better get back downstairs and finish those bottle before Baba Yaga returns.
(later that afternoon)
BY. (enters) Bah! Bad luck. Nothing but this old hedgehog in my traps. Better than nothing though. I'll have Marushka skin you clean you, when I get back from the store. I've got to get to the broom-makers shop before it closes. These new-fangled plastic bristles just don't hold up like a good old straw broom.(exits)
MR. (reenters) What? I thought I heard Baba Yaga. But look. She must have been here because there is a cute little hedgehog. Poor little hedgehog! Now you are a prisoner of Baba Yaga's too.
HH. Do not cry, Marushka. Perhaps, the two of us can help each other before we end up like chipped beef.
MR. Why, you can talk! How does it happen that you can speak?
HH. Mine is a long and sad story. Do you really want to hear?
MR. Oh yes, please.
HH. Very well, I will tell you a story. Many years ago in a palace not for from here there lived the ruler of Russia and his wife, the Czar and Czarina. They were very wealthy and very beautiful. But all their beauty and all there money could not give them the one thing they wanted most... a child. So they were lonely. Then one day, in the palace garden there grew a flower more mysterious than the universe itself. Often the Czar would go there and sit for hours and admire it.
MR. Yes, I can see it as you speak... (both exit)
ACT 4 some time ago at the palace of the czar
(place black moonflower on stage - remove black pot)
CZ. I am so fortunate...to be czar over all this fair land. Russia is so beautiful and the people are so good. And to have such a lovely wife to share all these riches with, is beyond compare. And yet... I am not happy. For so long we have wanted a child, an heir to the throne. What I wouldn't give for a child even if it were no bigger than a hedgehog. (stops) What was that I just heard. It sounded like music...a tinkling of bells really, that was coming from this flower.
RZ. Your majesty. I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you prefer?
CZ. Razputin, my faithful servant. The good new, of course!
RZ. Very well, You are a father at last.
CZ. Finally, our dearest wish has come true. Tell me is it a boy child or girl child.
RZ. Now for the bad new, your highness. For it is neither.
CZ. What do you mean?
RZ. The witch Baba Yaga cast an evil spell on your son as soon as it was born and turned it into the first animal that was spoken after his birth and so he is a..a..a..
CZ. Yes, yes, a what?
RZ. A hedgehog, your Majesty.
CZ. Can it be true that when I wished for a child no bigger than a hedgehog the witch overheard me? Oh woe is me! But there must be a way to break the witch's spell. Someday my son must sit on this throne. Maybe we could hide him and educate him until then.
RZ. It is too late for that, your Majesty. Baba Yaga has already spread the rumor of the hedgehog-son and people are beginning to laugh.
CZ. Laugh at the crown of Russia. How disgraceful. Then there is only one thing left to do. You must take my son to your tower hidden in deep within the woods. I command you to teach him everything he must know. Somehow, someday my son will take his rightful place as czar of Russia. But until then he must be protected. You are the only one I can trust. For now the people of Russia must believe that the child died of influenza. Now go.
RZ. Yes, your Majesty. As you wish, your Majesty.(both exit)
ACT 5 Back at Baba Yaga's House
(remove black moonflower and replace cauldron)
HH. Since I was banished many years ago, I have found life - difficult. Yes, I learned everything Razputin had to teach me, but I spent my days roaming the woods for others like me. Only I don't understand the voices of the forest. So I am as much an outsider in the woods as I would be in the palace.
MR. Poor little hedgehog! How miserable you must be.
HH. It cheers me to finally talk with someone. I get so lonely at times.
MR. Hedgehog, you mentioned something about a black flower that grew in the forest. You said you thought it was magic. Can you tell me anything more?
HH. Only that is called a moonflower. But it is very unusual because it is black.
MR. A black moonflower! Why Baba Yaga has been searching all over Russia for such a flower. Where is the palace garden?
HH. On the north edge of the forest - across the river and at the top of the mountain is the Czar's palace and behind it is the garden.
MR. Uh-oh! I think I hear Baba Yaga at the door. You better run and hide. (HH - exits)
BY. (enters) What is all that chattering about. Marushka, why aren't you peeling onions like I told you.
MR. I don't intend to peel onions ever again, or do any other work for you!
BY. How dare you defy me, you wicked girl! I'll show you. I'll throw you in the stew pot right now.
MR. I don't think so. Not when you find out that I have a secret.
BY. A secret. What secret? What are you keeping from me, you horrid child?
MR. Only the secret of where the moonflower grows.
BY. The moonflower? Where is it? You must tell me this instant.
MR. Not so fast. I want something for this information. And my price is a basketful of mushrooms.
BY. There's a basket on the porch. Take them. They're yours. Now tell me about the black moonflower.
MR. If you follow me, I'll take you there.
BY. Yes, yes. Grab that basket of mushrooms as we leave. Hurry on now, hurry! Get a move on it, girl, time's a wastin'.
ACT 6 The Czar's Garden
(take off cauldron and put back the black moonflower. MR has a small basket taped to her arm.)
BY. Is it much further? I haven't walked this far in a month of Sundays.
MR. We should be close to the Czar's garden by now.
BY. We better be for if this is a trick, I'll...
MR. Look, there it is. There is the black moonflower.
BY. It is! It is! It really is a black moonflower. Once I tear off its petals, I will be able to perform any evil magic trick or break any spell that I want. I will be the most powerful witch in the universe!
MR. Oh don't pick that beautiful flower! You must leave it there for others to admire.
BY. (pushing MR) Out of my way you bleeding heart environmentalist. It's mine, do you hear me? All mine.
MR. Wait Baba Yaga!
BY. What do you want? Make it quick. I'm in a hurry to rule the world.
MR. I have one more question.
BY. Very well, what is it?
MR. Why did you think I was so bad that you should put me in your stew?
BY. You silly girl. It was because you lost your money and would have to go home without any mushrooms for your mommy.
MR. But I have the mushrooms now. So I'm not bad anymore. And you said yourself you never eat sweet, good little girls only bad ones.
BY. You are right. You tricked ole Baba Yaga. But what do I care. I still have that tough ole hedgehog at home, so I don't even need you anymore. Now get out of my way. I must pull up this flower. Wait a minute. I'm stuck to this flower. I can't get away. Marushka, help me!
MR. What's happening? What did I do? Should I get help? Or call 911? Are you trying to trick me again? Are you really stuck?
BY. Oh, stop. That's six questions. That means 60 more years. Oh, I grow old too fast. My youthful beauty is fading. Help!
MR. Are you really getting older? Are you going to eat poor little hedgehog? What spices will you use?
BY. (falling down) Oh, this is the end. One question too many. Agggh! I'm melting ,melting. (sinks away)
MR. Oh dear, Baba Yaga is dead - A victim of her own magic. Now I must rescue that poor hedgehog. (turns to go back and sees prince) Why, who are you?
PR. (PRince enters) More questions, Marushka? I followed you here when I was still the enchanted hedgehog. But the minute that Baba Yaga died, I became a prince once again. Now I can take my rightful place as heir to the throne of Russia.
MR. My hedgehog - a prince.
PR. Yes, and it's all your doing. You saved me. Thank you, Marushka. You are so good and kind and sweet. I want you to be my wife and rule with me as Czarina. Please say you will be my wife.
MR. One day, perhaps, but right now I have to get these mushrooms home to my mother. She's been waiting for two days.
PR. I shall wait then, dear friend. And I will always remember you, Marushka. Goodbye, Au Revoir, Arrivederci, or as they say in the old country dOs-vE-den ya! (exit)
MR. Goodbye, bye-bye, bub-bye. You know, I think I liked him better as a hedgehog. Oh well, so much for happily ever after