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One-Eye! Two-Eyes! Three-Eyes!
A Very Grimm Fairy Tale

Told by Aaron Shepard

Reader’s Theater Edition #40

Adapted for reader’s theater (or readers theatre) by the author, from his picture book published by Atheneum, New York, 2007


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

Story copyright © 2000, 2007 Aaron Shepard. Script copyright © 2007 Aaron Shepard. Scripts in this series are free and may be copied, shared, and performed for any noncommercial purpose, except they may not be posted online without permission.

PREVIEW: Two-Eyes is different from her sisters and others, because she has just two eyes.

GENRE: Folktales
CULTURE: German
THEME: Being different
 
READERS: 9
READER AGES: 9–12
LENGTH: 12 minutes

ROLES: Narrators 1–3, Two-Eyes, Old Woman, One-Eye, Three-Eyes, Knight, Goat

NOTES: This telling is based loosely on “One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes,” number 130 in the tales of the Brothers Grimm. KNIGHT can double as GOAT. Below is the tune for “The Old Woman’s Song,” an original composition of the author’s.

The Old Woman's Song -- written music

Hear the Music | Aaron’s Extras
All special features are at www.aaronshep.com/extras.


NARRATOR 1:  Once there were three sisters who lived alone in a cottage in the woods.

NARRATOR 2:  They had been there as long as they could remember,

NARRATOR 3:  and they never saw anyone else.

NARRATOR 1:  Now, the oldest sister was no different from other people. Her name was One-Eye. She had just one eye, right in the middle of her forehead.

ONE-EYE:  (steps toward audience, points at the middle of her forehead, then steps back)

NARRATOR 2:  The middle sister was also quite ordinary. Her name was Three-Eyes. She had one eye in her forehead, and one on each side of her face.

THREE-EYES:  (steps toward audience, points at the middle of her forehead and at each eye, then steps back)

NARRATOR 3:  But the youngest sister was different. Her name was Two-Eyes, and that’s just what she had.

(TWO-EYES steps toward audience, points at each eye, gives an embarrassed smile and a broad shrug, then steps back, while ONE-EYE and THREE-EYES give her dirty looks.)

NARRATOR 1:  Because Two-Eyes was not like others, her older sisters were ashamed of her and picked on her all the time.

NARRATOR 2:  They dressed her in ragged hand-me-downs,

NARRATOR 3:  and they only let her eat leftovers.

TWO-EYES:  (making a face and whining) Yuck.

NARRATOR 1:  Now, the sisters owned a goat—

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 1:  —and every day Two-Eyes took it to the meadow to graze.

NARRATOR 2:  One morning, when she’d had hardly anything to eat, she sat on a big rock and cried her two eyes out.

TWO-EYES:  (bursts out in exaggerated crying and sobbing)

NARRATOR 3:  All at once, an old woman stood before her.

(OLD WOMAN “pops” into place and sways, looking dazed. TWO-EYES stares at OLD WOMAN, forgetting to cry.)

NARRATOR 1:  But the biggest surprise was that this woman had two eyes, just like Two-Eyes herself.

OLD WOMAN:  (smiles at audience, quickly points at each eye, then turns to TWO-EYES)

NARRATOR 2:  The woman asked,

OLD WOMAN:  (kindly) What’s wrong, my dear?

TWO-EYES:  (bursts out crying and sobbing again, then whining) It’s my sisters. They never give me enough to eat. (wails in grief)

OLD WOMAN:  (shakes her head and clucks) Don’t worry about that! You can have as much as you like. Just say to your goat,

“Bleat, goat, bleat.
And bring me lots to eat!”

Then you’ll have plenty. When you don’t want any more, just say,

“Bleat, goat, bleat.
I’ve had so much to eat!”

Then the rest will vanish. Just like this.

NARRATOR 3:  And the old woman vanished—

(OLD WOMAN “pops” out, and TWO-EYES looks around in surprise, trying to see where she went.)

NARRATOR 1:  just

NARRATOR 2:  like

NARRATOR 3:  that.

NARRATOR 1:  Two-Eyes couldn’t wait to try. She said to the goat,

TWO-EYES:  (eagerly)

Bleat, goat, bleat.
And bring me lots to eat!

NARRATOR 2:  The goat bleated—

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 2:  —and a little table and chair appeared.

NARRATOR 3:  The table was set with a tablecloth, plate, and silverware, and on it were dishes and dishes of wonderful-smelling food.

TWO-EYES:  This sure is better than leftovers!

NARRATOR 1:  Two-Eyes sat down and started in hungrily. Everything tasted delicious.

NARRATOR 2:  When she’d eaten her fill, she said,

TWO-EYES:  (to GOAT)

Bleat, goat, bleat.
I’ve had so much to eat!

NARRATOR 3:  The goat bleated—

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 3:  —and the table vanished.

TWO-EYES:  And that’s better than cleaning up!

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 1:  When Two-Eyes got home, she didn’t touch her bowl of leftovers.

NARRATOR 2:  Her sisters didn’t notice till she’d gone off to bed. Then Three-Eyes said,

THREE-EYES:  (excitedly, pointing at the food) Look! Our little sister didn’t eat anything!

NARRATOR 3:  One-Eye said,

ONE-EYE:  (suspiciously) That’s strange. Is someone else giving her food? I’ll go tomorrow and watch her.

NARRATOR 1:  Next morning, when Two-Eyes started out, One-Eye said,

ONE-EYE:  (sternly) I’m coming along to make sure you tend the goat properly.

NARRATOR 2:  Then she followed Two-Eyes to the meadow and kept a careful eye on her.

NARRATOR 3:  So Two-Eyes never got to use the old woman’s rhyme.

TWO-EYES:  (whimpers, on verge of tears)

NARRATOR 1:  When they got home, Two-Eyes ate her bowl of leftovers. Then she went off to the woods and cried her two eyes out.

TWO-EYES:  (bursts out crying and sobbing)

NARRATOR 2:  The old woman appeared again.

OLD WOMAN:  (pops into place looking dazed, then turns to TWO-EYES) What’s wrong, my dear?

TWO-EYES:  (sobbing and whining) It’s my sisters. The goat can’t bring me food, because One-Eye is watching me. (wails in grief)

OLD WOMAN:  (shakes her head and clucks) Don’t worry about that! You can stop her if you like. Just sing her this song. (singing)

“Is your eye awake?
Is your eye asleep?
Is your eye awake?
Is your eye asleep?”

Keep singing that, and she’ll sleep soon enough.

NARRATOR 3:  Then the old woman vanished.

OLD WOMAN:  (pops out)

NARRATOR 1:  Next morning, when Two-Eyes went to the meadow, One-Eye again went along.

TWO-EYES:  Sister, let me sing to you.

NARRATOR 2:  And she sang to her over and over,

TWO-EYES:  (singing)

Is your eye awake?
Is your eye asleep?
Is your eye awake?
Is your eye asleep?

NARRATOR 3:  One-Eye’s eyelid began to droop, and soon she was fast asleep.

(ONE-EYE closes her eyes and snores. TWO-EYES checks her sister’s eye carefully before turning away.)

NARRATOR 1:  Then Two-Eyes said to the goat,

TWO-EYES:  (in a loud whisper)

Bleat, goat, bleat.
And bring me lots to eat!

NARRATOR 2:  The goat bleated—

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 2:  —the table appeared, and Two-Eyes ate her fill. Then she said,

TWO-EYES:  (in a loud whisper, to GOAT)

Bleat, goat, bleat.
I’ve had so much to eat!

NARRATOR 3:  The goat bleated again—

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 3:  —and the table vanished. Then Two-Eyes shook her sister.

TWO-EYES:  Wake up, sleepyhead!

(ONE-EYE wakes with a grunt, looking surprised and disgruntled, while TWO-EYES smiles at her innocently.)

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 1:  When they got home, Two-Eyes didn’t touch her leftovers. After she’d gone off to bed, Three-Eyes asked,

THREE-EYES:  (excitedly) What happened?

ONE-EYE:  (grumpily) How should I know? I fell asleep. If you think you can do better, then you go tomorrow.

NARRATOR 2:  So next morning, when Two-Eyes went to the meadow, Three-Eyes went along and kept three careful eyes on her. Two-Eyes said,

TWO-EYES:  Listen, sister, and I’ll sing to you.

NARRATOR 3:  And she sang to her, over and over,

TWO-EYES:  (singing)

Is your eye awake?
Is your eye asleep?
Is your eye awake?
Is your eye asleep?

NARRATOR 1:  As Two-Eyes sang, the eye in her sister’s forehead went to sleep—but her other two eyes didn’t!

(THREE-EYES closes her eyes and starts to snore. TWO-EYES checks her sister’s eyes carefully.)

NARRATOR 2:  Three-Eyes pretended, though, by closing them almost all the way and peeking through.

(As TWO-EYES turns away, THREE-EYES peeks and stops snoring.)

NARRATOR 3:  She couldn’t quite hear what Two-Eyes told the goat—

TWO-EYES:  (in a loud whisper)

Bleat, goat, bleat.
And bring me lots to eat!

GOAT:  (bleats)

NARRATOR 3:  —but she saw everything.

THREE-EYES:  (still peeking, smiles wickedly)

NARRATOR 1:  That night, when Two-Eyes had gone off to bed, One-Eye asked,

ONE-EYE:  What happened?

THREE-EYES:  (excitedly) Our sister knows a charm to make the goat bring wonderful food. (dejectedly) But I couldn’t hear the words.

ONE-EYE:  Then let’s get rid of the goat.

NARRATOR 2:  And they drove it off into the woods.

(ONE-EYE and THREE-EYES drive away GOAT, shouting nastily and throwing things at it, while GOAT bleats as it goes off.)

NARRATOR 3:  Next morning, One-Eye told Two-Eyes,

ONE-EYE:  (accusingly) You thought you could eat better than your sisters, did you? Well, the goat is gone, so that’s that.

NARRATOR 1:  Two-Eyes went down to the stream and cried her two eyes out.

TWO-EYES:  (bursts out crying and sobbing)

NARRATOR 2:  Again the old woman appeared.

OLD WOMAN:  (pops into place looking dazed, then turns to TWO-EYES) What’s wrong, my dear?

TWO-EYES:  (sobbing and whining) It’s my sisters. The song didn’t work on Three-Eyes. She saw everything, and now they’ve chased away the goat. (wails in grief)

OLD WOMAN:  (shakes her head and clucks) Silly girl! That charm was just for One-Eye. For Three-Eyes, you should have sung,

“Are your eyes awake?
Are your eyes asleep?”

But don’t worry about that. Here—

(OLD WOMAN reaches out with something tiny held between her fingers and places it in TWO-EYES’s palm. TWO-EYES pulls it close to peer at it.)

OLD WOMAN:  —take this seed and plant it in front of your cottage. You’ll soon have a tall tree with leaves of silver and apples of gold. When you want an apple, just say, (with hand outstretched, palm up)

“Apple hanging on the tree,
I am Two-Eyes. Come to me!”

It will fall right into your hand. (mimes catching the apple, her hand dropping a bit under its weight and bouncing back up)

NARRATOR 3:  Again the old woman vanished.

OLD WOMAN:  (pops out)

NARRATOR 1:  Two-Eyes went home and waited till her sisters weren’t looking, then dug a small hole and planted the seed.

NARRATOR 2:  The next morning, a tall tree stood before the cottage with leaves of silver and apples of gold. Two-Eyes found her sisters gaping at it in astonishment.

(ONE-EYE and THREE-EYES both stare up into the tree, till THREE-EYES notices something in the distance.)

NARRATOR 3:  All at once, Three-Eyes cried,

THREE-EYES:  (excitedly, pointing) Look! A man!

NARRATOR 1:  Riding toward them was a knight in full armor, his visor over his face.

KNIGHT:  (still at a distance, bounces up and down on his horse while holding the reins, enjoying the morning and the leisurely ride)

ONE-EYE:  (urgently, to THREE-EYES) Quick! Hide our little sister!

NARRATOR 2:  So they lowered an empty barrel over Two-Eyes.

KNIGHT:  (pleasantly, as he reaches them and stops) Good morning, ladies.

NARRATOR 3:  . . . said the knight as he rode up.

KNIGHT:  Beautiful tree you have there. (thoughtfully, gazing up into the tree) I would dearly love to have one of those apples. In fact, I would grant anything in my power to the lady who first gave me one.

NARRATOR 1:  The two sisters gasped.

ONE-EYE & THREE-EYES:  (gasp)

NARRATOR 2:  They scrambled over to the tree and jumped up and down, trying to grab the apples.

NARRATOR 3:  But the branches just lifted themselves higher, so the apples were always out of reach.

NARRATOR 1:  Meanwhile, Two-Eyes raised her barrel just a bit and kicked a stone so it rolled over to the knight.

(TWO-EYES lifts the barrel slightly by pushing up with her hand from inside, then kicks the stone out from underneath. KNIGHT looks down at the stone, perplexed.)

KNIGHT:  That’s odd. (pointing first at the stone, then at the barrel) That stone seems to have come from that barrel. (still to ONE-EYE and THREE-EYES) Does anyone happen to be in there?

ONE-EYE:  Oh no, sir, not really. (reassuringly) Just our little sister.

THREE-EYES:  (confidentially, leaning toward him) She’s different, so we can’t let anyone see her.

KNIGHT:  But I want to see her. (to TWO-EYES inside the barrel) Young lady, please come out!

NARRATOR 2:  So Two-Eyes lifted off the barrel.

KNIGHT:  (gaping) My word! She’s the loveliest young lady I’ve ever seen!

NARRATOR 3:  He raised his visor for a better look.

KNIGHT:  (raises his visor and keeps gazing at TWO-EYES)

ONE-EYE & THREE-EYES:  (screaming out together at the sight of his face) Oh no! Two eyes!

NARRATOR 1:  Sure enough, the knight had two eyes, just like their sister.

KNIGHT:  (leans and smiles toward audience, quickly points at each eye, then goes back to gazing at TWO-EYES) Dear lady, can you give me an apple from that tree?

TWO-EYES:  (brightly) Of course!

NARRATOR 2:  Standing under it, she said,

TWO-EYES:  (looking up, with hand outstretched, palm up)

Apple hanging on the tree,
I am Two-Eyes. Come to me!

NARRATOR 3:  An apple dropped right into her hand, and she gave it to the knight.

(TWO-EYES watches an apple fall and catches it, her hand dropping a bit under its weight and bouncing back up. She hands it to KNIGHT, who takes it from her.)

KNIGHT:  My thanks! (takes a big, noisy bite, then chews noisily and mumbles with his mouth full) And now I will grant anything in my power. (keeps chewing)

TWO-EYES:  (starting to speak to KNIGHT normally but ending up yelling at ONE-EYE and THREE-EYES) Well, to start with, you can take me away from these horrid, hateful sisters! (turns back to KNIGHT and smiles sweetly)

KNIGHT:  (stops chewing in surprise, then looks at ONE-EYE and THREE-EYES, then back at TWO-EYES and returns her smile)

NARRATOR 1:  So the knight took Two-Eyes back to his castle. And since they had so much in common—

NARRATOR 2:  After all, they both had two eyes.

NARRATOR 3:  —you can be sure they lived happily ever . . . .

(NARRATOR 1 clears throat to interrupt and get attention. As ALL OTHERS turn in surprise, NARRATOR 1 gestures for them to wait for the bit left to go.)

NARRATOR 1:  (turns again to audience) As for One-Eye and Three-Eyes . . .

(ALL OTHERS catch on and resume their roles.)

NARRATOR 2:  Day after day they stood under that tree and repeated their sister’s words.

ONE-EYE & THREE-EYES:  (looking up hopefully, each with hand outstretched, palm up)

Apple hanging on the tree,
I am Two-Eyes. Come to me!

NARRATOR 3:  But the apples never fell for them,

NARRATOR 1:  and they never did

NARRATOR 2:  figure out

NARRATOR 3:  why.

About the Story
All special features are at www.aaronshep.com/extras.