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The Boy Who Wanted the Willies

Told by Aaron Shepard

Reader’s Theater Edition #30

Adapted for reader’s theater (or readers theatre) by the author

For more reader’s theater, visit Aaron Shepard’s RT Page at www.aaronshep.com.

Story copyright © 2001, 2002 Aaron Shepard. Script copyright © 2002, 2003 Aaron Shepard. Scripts in this series are free and may be copied, shared, and performed for any noncommercial purpose, except the texts may not be posted publicly without permission.

PREVIEW: Hans has never in his life been frightened—but a night in a haunted castle should finally give him his chance.

GENRE: Folktales, tall tales, ghost stories
CULTURE: German, European
THEME: Fearlessness
READERS: 19 or more
LENGTH: 10 minutes

ROLES: Narrators 1–4, Hans, Sister, Father, Mother, Strangers 1 & 2, King, Vampire, Werewolf, Skeletons 1–4, Giant, Princess, (Other Family), (Other Strangers), (Other Skeletons), (3 Sons)

NOTES: The story of the fearless lad in the haunted castle is well known throughout Europe, and is found in North America as well. This retelling is based on the version from the Brothers Grimm—but with a lot of liberties taken. For best effect, place NARRATORS 1 and 2 at far left, and 3 and 4 at far right, as seen from the audience.

All special features are at www.aaronshep.com/extras.

NARRATOR 1:  There was once a boy who was never frightened—for he had not enough sense to be scared.

HANS:  (cheerfully, to audience) That’s me!

NARRATOR 4:  One day, Hans and his big sister were walking home after dark.

NARRATOR 2:  The wind howled, and the trees creaked and groaned. The road led past a graveyard, where the moon lit up rows of tombstones.

NARRATOR 3:  Hans’s sister began to quiver and quake.

SISTER:  Ooh! This place gives me the willies!

HANS:  The willies? What are the willies?

SISTER:  (scornfully) Do I have to tell you everything? The willies are when you get so scared, you shiver and shake.

HANS:  Well! I never had anything like that! I wish I would get the willies, so I’d know what they’re like.

SISTER:  (groans in disbelief, while closing eyes, slapping forehead, and shaking head)

NARRATOR 1:  The more Hans thought it over, the more he wondered about the willies, and the more he wished he could have them. One day he told himself,

HANS:  (to audience) If I want the willies, I’d better go look for them.

NARRATOR 4:  So he said good‑bye to his family—

HANS:  (waves and smiles)

SISTER:  What a fool!

FATHER:  I can’t believe he’s my son!

MOTHER:  Or mine!

NARRATOR 4:  —and he started down the road.

NARRATOR 2:  Hans walked for many days. Everyone he met, he asked,

HANS:  (to all STRANGERS) Can you give me the willies?

NARRATOR 3:  Many tried—

ALL STRANGERS:  (try to scare HANS with scary faces and spooky sounds)

HANS:  (looks bored and sighs)

NARRATOR 3:  —but none could.

ALL STRANGERS:  (groan in disbelief, while closing eyes, slapping forehead, and shaking head)

NARRATOR 1:  At last he came to the King’s castle and stood before the King.

HANS:  Your Majesty, can you give me the willies?

KING:  Of course I can. I’m the King!

NARRATOR 4:  The King waved his royal scepter.

KING:  (waving his scepter, then pointing it at HANS) I command you to have . . . the willies!

NARRATOR 2:  Hans waited,

NARRATOR 3:  but nothing happened.

HANS:  I’m sorry, Your Majesty, I still don’t have them.

KING:  Oh well, at least I know where you can get them. On the other side of my kingdom is a haunted castle. If you spend the night there, you are sure to get the willies.

HANS:  Thank you, Your Majesty!

KING:  There’s just one problem. No one who goes there ever lives through the night. (cheerfully) But, if you stay alive and break the spell, you’ll find the castle treasure!

HANS:  That’s fine with me, as long as I get the willies!

KING:  (groans in disbelief, while closing eyes, slapping forehead, and shaking head)

NARRATOR 1:  It was midnight when Hans reached the castle. The towers cast eerie shadows under the full moon.

NARRATOR 4:  The drawbridge lowered itself at Hans’s feet. Creeeeeeeeeeeek. Booooom.

HANS:  (happily, to audience) Seems like a friendly place!

NARRATOR 2:  As Hans entered the great hall, a fire sprang to life in the huge fireplace. Voooooom!

NARRATOR 3:  Hans pulled up a chair and settled himself to wait.

HANS:  (cheerfully, to audience) Now I’m sure to get the willies.

NARRATOR 1:  The clock in the great hall struck one. Bonnngggggg.

NARRATOR 4:  A voice boomed out behind him.

VAMPIRE:  Velcome!

NARRATOR 2:  Hans looked around and saw two men playing cards. One had a long, black cloak, and the other had a furry face.

WEREWOLF:  (growls at HANS and bares his teeth)

VAMPIRE:  (to HANS) Vould you care to join our game? It’s been so long since ve had anyvun to . . . play vith.

NARRATOR 3:  Hans took a seat.

HANS:  Certainly! It will pass the time, while I’m waiting for the willies!

VAMPIRE:  I vill explain the rules. If my furry friend vins . . . he vill rip you to shreds.

WEREWOLF:  (snarls at HANS)

VAMPIRE:  If I vin . . . I vill drink your blood. If you vin . . . ve vill let you live.

HANS:  Sounds fair to me!

WEREWOLF:  (growls)

NARRATOR 1:  The furry man dealt the cards.

NARRATOR 4:  They played for almost an hour.

NARRATOR 2:  In the end, the cloaked man won.

VAMPIRE:  (laughs ominously) I vant to drink your blood!

NARRATOR 3:  He moved closer to Hans, showing two long, pointy teeth.

HANS:  I think you cheated.

NARRATOR 1:  Hans reached for the pointy teeth and broke them off—Snap!


NARRATOR 4:  And the man ran out of the hall.

WEREWOLF:  (roars)

NARRATOR 2:  The furry man leaped at Hans, but Hans sprang away and the man flew past—right out an open window.

WEREWOLF:  (screams)

NARRATOR 3:  Hans heard a dull thud. Then he went and settled himself again before the fire.

HANS:  (to audience) I enjoyed the game, but when do I get the willies?

NARRATOR 1:  The clock struck two. Bonnngggggg. Bonnngggggg.

NARRATOR 4:  Hans heard a rattling, and into the hall marched a long line of skeletons.

NARRATOR 2:  The first skeleton snapped its fingers. Click. Click.

SKELETON 1:  (with NARRATOR, starts snapping fingers)

NARRATOR 3:  The second skeleton knocked its knees. Clack. Clack.

SKELETON 2:  (with NARRATOR, starts knocking knees together)

NARRATOR 1:  The third skeleton drummed its skull. Clock. Clock.

SKELETON 3:  (with NARRATOR, starts pretending to knock on head)

NARRATOR 4:  The fourth skeleton tapped along its ribs in a little tune. Clackety, click clock. Clackety, click clock.

SKELETON 4:  (with NARRATOR, starts tapping ribs)

HANS:  Nice beat!

SKELETONS 1–4:  (keep “playing”)

NARRATOR 2:  The other skeletons formed a circle and started to dance. One skeleton stretched a hand toward Hans.

HANS:  Don’t mind if I do!

NARRATOR 3:  Hans took hold of two bony hands and danced in the circle around the hall.

HANS:  (dances in place, with arms outstretched) Hey, this is fun!

SKELETONS 1–4:  (play faster)

NARRATOR 1:  The music got faster. Clackety, clackety, click clock clackety. Clackety, clackety, click clock clackety.

HANS:  (dancing faster) Hold it, I can’t dance that fast!

SKELETONS 1–4:  (play even faster)

NARRATOR 4:  But the skeletons gripped his hands harder and danced even faster. Clackety clickety, clackety clockety. Clackety clickety, clackety clockety.

HANS:  (dancing even faster) I said HOLD IT! (stops, digs in)

NARRATOR 2:  Hans gave a yank and—Pop!—the two skeletons’ arms came right off.

SKELETONS 1–4:  (freeze)

NARRATOR 3:  The music and the dancing stopped.

HANS:  (sheepishly, holding up the arms) I think you lost something.

NARRATOR 1:  The skeletons rushed at Hans and started jumping on him. Hans grabbed a chair and swung it, this way and that. Crash! Bash!

NARRATOR 4:  Bones flew here, there, and everywhere, till the skeletons lay all in pieces on the floor.

NARRATOR 2:  Hans gathered them up and tossed them out the window.

NARRATOR 3:  Then he settled himself once again before the fire.

HANS:  (to audience) I like a little dancing, but I wonder when I’m going to get those willies!

NARRATOR 1:  The clock struck three. Bonnngggggg. Bonnngggggg. Bonnngggggg.

NARRATOR 4:  From up the chimney came a deep voice.


NARRATOR 2:  Something huge came falling down, swerved to miss the fire, and—thump—landed before the fireplace.

NARRATOR 3:  It was a giant body, with no arms or legs or head.

GIANT:  (still from up the chimney) LOOK OUT BELOOOOOOOWWW!

NARRATOR 1:  Thump thump thump thump.

NARRATOR 4:  Two giant legs and two giant arms landed next to it.


NARRATOR 2:  Thump.

NARRATOR 3:  A giant head landed by the rest.

HANS:  (to the audience) I get it! It’s a puzzle, and I have to put it together!

NARRATOR 1:  Hans heaved the two giant legs and stuck them onto the body. Snap. Snap.

GIANT:  (angrily) Hey!

NARRATOR 4:  It was the giant head talking.

GIANT:  You got the shoes pointing out!

HANS:  Oh, sorry.

NARRATOR 2:  He switched the legs. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.

NARRATOR 3:  Then he stuck on the arms and the head. Snap. Snap. Snap.

NARRATOR 1:  The giant jumped up.

GIANT:  The spell is broken! You’re the only one ever to get me together. The others all died of fright long before this! Now follow me to the castle treasure.

NARRATOR 4:  Hans followed him to the doorway.

GIANT:  (brusquely, gesturing out) You first.

HANS:  (graciously, also gesturing out) After you.

NARRATOR 2:  The giant led him to the courtyard and pointed to a shovel under a tree.

GIANT:  (pointing) Dig there!

HANS:  (irritated, also pointing) You dig there!

NARRATOR 3:  The giant dug till he uncovered three pots of gold.

GIANT:  (pointing his thumb back) Take them inside!

HANS:  (really annoyed, also pointing his thumb back) You take them inside!

NARRATOR 1:  The giant took the pots of gold and set them down in the great hall.

GIANT:  (pointing to one pot, then another, then at HANS) One is for the king, one is for the poor, and one is for you.

NARRATOR 4:  Then he fell into pieces again and flew up the chimney—

NARRATOR 2:  first the head, then the arms and legs, then the giant body.

HANS:  (to audience) Some folks just can’t keep things together.

NARRATOR 3: Hans went back to his chair before the fire, curled up in it, and sighed.

HANS:  (to audience) It’s nice to be rich, but when will I ever get the willies?

* * *

NARRATOR 1:  And that is how Hans stayed alive, broke the spell, and found the treasure.

NARRATOR 4:  When the King heard the tale, he let Hans live in the castle, and when Hans grew up, he married the King’s daughter.

NARRATOR 2:  Within a year they had triplets—

NARRATOR 3:  three fine sons.

PRINCESS:  Dearest, would you like to name them?

HANS:  Certainly! Their names will be Willy . . . Willy . . . and Willy!

PRINCESS:  (confused) But why all the same?

HANS:  (triumphantly, to audience) Because now I’ll have the Willies!

ALL (except Hans):  (groan in disbelief, while closing eyes, slapping forehead, and shaking head)

All special features are at www.aaronshep.com/extras.

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