ACTOR 1: (M)
ACTOR 2: (F)
ACTOR 3: (F)
STORIES & POEMS INCLUDED
Some Passages in the Life of a Lion
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Masque of the Red Death
Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.
Fun for Young and Old!
Youth Theatre Classes, Soul Motion Studio, Eureka Springs, AR
POE! POE! POE!
Poe! Poe! Poe! may be done Readers Theatre style. Multiple readers can greatly enhance the drama of a story. Here is the Halloween Classic, The Tell Tale Heart...
(POE chews pen and thinks, begins to write again, speaks as he writes each word. ACTOR 1 will begin to talk with POE saying the same words together. Then POE will stop speaking and ACTOR 1 will continue. POE will join other actors to emphasize parts of the story through vocal sounds and physical movement)
POE: True! nervous very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am ...
POE & ACTOR 1: But why will you say that I am mad?
ACTOR 1: The disease had sharpened my senses not destroyed not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
ACTOR 1: It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain. But once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.
ACTOR 2: 1 think it was his eye!
ACTOR 1: Yes, it was this!
ACTOR 3: One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture a pale blue eye, with a film over it.
ACTOR 1: Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; so by degrees-very gradually I made up my mind...
ACTOR 3: I made up my mind...
ACTOR 2: 1 made up my mind...
ACTOR 1: ... to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
ACTOR 1: Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded...
ACTOR 2: With what caution...
ACTOR 3: With what foresight...
ACTOR 1: With what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it...
ACTOR 2: Oh, so gently!
ACTOR 1: Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust my head in! I moved it slowly...
ACTOR 3: Very, very slowly...
ACTOR 1: It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! Would a madman be so wise? I did this for seven long nights. Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. Perhaps he heard me though, for he moved on the bed...
ACTOR 3: Suddenly!
ACTOR 1: As if startled. Now you may think that I drew back...
ACTOR 2: But no!
ACTOR 1: I had my head in and was about to open the lantern, when presently I heard a slight groan...
ACTORS 1 & 3: OOOHHHH, ooohhhh.
ACTOR 1: And I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew he had been lying awake, his fears had been growing upon him. He was thinking that he had heard nothing. He was saying to himself...
ACTOR 3: "It is nothing but the wind in the chimney it is only a mouse crossing the floor."
ACTOR 2: "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp."
ACTOR 1: Yes, he was trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him, had stalked his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim.
ACTOR 2: So I opened the door...
ACTOR 3: You cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily...
ACTOR 1: Until, at length, a single dim ray, like a thread of a spider, shot out from the crevice and full upon the vulture eye! I could see nothing else of the old man's face, for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.
ACTOR 1: And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? Now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating...
(POE may beat drum quietly at this point and build to end)
ACTOR 2: Beating!
ACTOR 1: It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
ACTOR 1: But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew...
ACTOR 2: Quicker! Quicker!
ACTOR 3: Louder! Louder!
ACTOR 1: The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder and louder every minute! Do you mark me well? I have told you I am nervous; so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still.
ACTOR 3: But the beating grew louder and louder!
ACTOR 1: I thought the heart might burst. And now a new anxiety seized me the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor and pulled the heavy bed covers over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done.
ACTOR 2: But, for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound.
ACTOR 1: This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall.
ACTOR 3: At length, it ceased.
ACTOR 1: The old man was dead. I removed the bed covers and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.
ACTOR 1: If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye...
ACTOR 2: Not even his?
ACTOR 1: Could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out no stain of any kind no blood spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all ha! ha! When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I opened it for what had I to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves as...
ACTOR 2: Officers of the police.
ACTOR 3: A shriek has been heard in the night.
ACTOR 2: There is suspicion of foul play.
ACTOR 3: We have been deputed to search the premises.
ACTOR 1: I smiled, for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome.
The Tell Tale Heart continues...
Note: This is a sample from the actual script. To review the entire play, order the PERUSAL SCRIPT (online instant download).