The Dancing Turtle


                                                A Brazilian folktale (from many Central American countries)

                                                                       Adapted by Marilyn Kinsella


PUPPETS: Man, Girl (or Boy), Turtle with flute strapped to arm

PROPS: Basket, black pot


Act 1 (in the middle of a Mexican jungle)

  1. It is such a happy day. The sun, el sol, is shining, the birds, los pajaros, are singing and I have my flute to play a happy tune. (tootle-ee-do….)  That music makes me so happy I want to dance – It’s the happy dance – cha, cha… cha-cha-cha. I dance up…I dance down…I do the happy dance round and round cha, cha… cha-cha-cha.  Happy, happy cha-cha-cha; Happy, happy…cha-cha-cha. (keeps dancing)

M.    (sneaking up while turtle is dancing)  A-ha!  A turtle, la tortuga…a big delicious tortuga.  It will make a fine soup por me and mi familia.  (comes up and grabs turtle)  Now I got you.  I will take you back to mi casa and I will make turtle soup for supper tomorrow.

  1. Por favor, Senior.  Por favor!  Please let me go.  I’m not your ordinary tortuga.  I am a dancing turtle.  I play the flute.  You can’t eat me.

M.    What do I want with a dancing turtle?  The only thing you are good for is soup…turtle soup!  I will put la tortuga in a wooden cage and take him home.

ACT 2  (at the Man’s house – place a basket upside down on the stage.)

M.    Juan, Juan!  Come out here.  I want to show you something.  (Little boy enters)

  1. Si, Papa.  Que pasa?

M.    Que bien!  I have captured a big turtle.  We will have enough food for a week.  He is mucho grande and fat.

    J.   Oh, papa…I love your turtle soup.  When will you fix it? 

M.    It is too late to start tonight, but tomorrow…after I come home from working in the fields…I will start cooking him in our cooking pot.  But I must warn you, Juan, this is one talkative turtle.  Whatever you do – do not let him talk you into opening the cage. You are a big boy.  I trust you.

  1. Gracias, Papa.  I will take very good care of this turtle.


ACT III (the next day)

  1. I can’t wait for Papa to return from the fields.  We will make a grande fire, boil el agua, and prepare the turtle for some delicious sopa. (tootlee-doo….)  Que pasa? (tootlee-doo..)  That noise is coming from inside the turtle cage.  Is that you, turtle?

     T.  (muffled) Si, it is I.  The happiest turtle this side of the Rio Grande. 

  1. Happy?  Why are you happy?  Soon you will be made into turtle sopa

      T.  Si, I know, I heard you talking to your Papa.  I am so happy, because I love to play my flute.  Did you hear me?

  1. Si, I heard you.  You certainly can make a happy sound.

      T.  Oh that is nothing compared to my happy dance.  I am the world’s greatest dancer.  Would you like to see me dance?

  1. Si, mucho!  But I won’t open that cage.  You are trying to trick me.  When I open the cage you will escape.

       T.  (laughing)  Me?  Try to escape?  You are one funny amigo.  Like you couldn’t catch a turtle?  Have you noticed how slow we turtles are?

  1. Si, you are slow, but how do I know you won’t trick me?

        T.  Trick you?  Now you make my shell crack-up.  You are so smart.  I am just a turtle.  There is no way, I can trick a  smart boy like you.

  1. It is true.  I am very smart.  Besides I have never seen a dancing turtle.

        T. This is your one and only chance.  Pronto!  Before I am doing the backstroke…in the cooking pot!

  1. Bueno! I will let you out of your cage.  Then you can dance for me.

ACT IV (take off the basket)

  1. Now for the happy dance…Cha, cha…cha-cha-cha, Cha, cha….cha-cha-cha.  I dance up, I dance down. I do the happy dance round and round. Happy, happy cha-cha-cha; happy, happy, cha-cha-cha.

    J.   Bueno! Bueno!  Dance some more. (turtle dance around until finally he wears down)

  1. Oh my little, amigo, I am so tired.  I must take rest.  Then I will dance some more.

    J.    Si, I am tired too. It is time for a siesta.  I will put you back into your cage.

  1. Oh, amigo, por favor!  It is too hot in that cage.  If you want me to dance again for you – my specialty- the Mexican Hat Dance, I will have to rest in the shade.

    J.   But, how will I know you won’t run away.

  1. Run away?  Why would I do that?  I love to dance and you love to watch.  You make the best audience I ever had.  Besides- I didn’t try to run away before…now, did I?

     J.  It is true.  You did as you said and did not try to run away.  Okay, you may siesta under that tree, while I go into mi casa to sleep. ( boy exits – make snoring noises while the turtle looks at the audience and slowly walks away)

ACT V (an hour later)

  1. (looks everywhere)  Turtle, Turtle…where are you?  Oh, no…not in the cage…not under the tree.  What am I going to do?  Papa will be so disappointed in me.  Un minuto!  I will take a big rock and paint it to look like the turtle.  Papa will never know the difference.  I know just the rock. (exits and returns with the pot)  There, I put the rock inside the cooking pot.  Papa will never know.

M.    Juan, I see you have been busy watching out for that turtle.  Now is the time to make the soup.  I hope you are hungry.

  1. Si, Papa, mucho. I have already put la tortuga in the cooking pot.

M.    I will stir it around. We don’t want it to burn. (moves the pot around and looks inside) Juan, there is something very strange…la tortuga has disappeared and there’s nothing in here but a rock.

  1. Oh, Papa, I am so sorry.  La tortuga tricked me.  I was so afraid you would be angry that I put a rock in the cooking pot.

M.    Si, Juan, I am disappointed.  But, I comprende’.  That was one tricky turtle.  And, if I caught him once, I can catch him again.  Then he won’t get away.  Come along, let’s go to Tia Maria’s for some tacos. (exit)

  1. Hola, my little amigos.  I know what you are thinking…it wasn’t nice of me to trick that little boy.  But I didn’t want to end up being turtle stew…so I guess it is true…desperate times call for desperate measures.  Now it time for me to go back to my happy place. Cha, cha, cha-cha-CHA!