The Frog Prince by Ed Atkeson
A play for one puppet in a pictureframe theatre. The setting is a leafy spot at the edge of a pond. Leaves, grass, etc.
There is an overture based on the song, banjo, trombone, cello, or something like. The curtain opens. Music goes down and lights come up on the leafy edge of a swamp. The frog appears. He is absentmindedly humming to himself and trying to catch a fly that is being fished around the stage on a piece of thread. Occasionally his bright red tongue shoots out. He pauses contentedly and starts to sing.
Frog: (singing) Oh, what can be done with a tongue?
What can be done with a tongue?
What can be done with a tongue?
A Princess appears in the form of a human white-gloved hand from above.
Whew! (The frog emerges from hiding below) That was a close one.
(He addresses the audience) I suppose just about everyone in the world has heard this story by now. The Princesses have heard, that’s for sure. (looks around cautiously)
A few princes run afoul of a witch, and, the witches, it's hard to tell why witches do things, but for whatever reason, the witches turn us into frogs!
OK so far because the princes are now free of the prospect of heading up a bureaucracy of opportunistic sycophants and tiresome hangers on, not to mention jealous siblings watching for a chance to slit your throat or poison you.
And... maintaining drafty castles full of gossipy servants, leading armies on horseback wearing tons of armor on a sweltering day trying to keep up your reputation by knocking knights off their horses with heavy lances or swordsall I can say is it was just.. so.. weird!
Well suddenly, “ding” everything is different. You’re at the edge of a pond on a moonlit night singing your heart out. I mean really singing, with a great bunch of guys who aren’t all trying to kill you, and the females are coming in from all directions with just one thing on their minds.
Aah, the swamp!
Or a pond, or a fen, or a damp little pool.
What. Not your idea of a good time?
Well, you see, the world divides... into warm and cozy... and... cool and damp, and cozy. And whatever side of the divide you find yourself on, it’s hard to imagine being on the other. Except in my case, because I used to be on your side of the issue, and now here I am a frog, and I have to say, that I’ve been won over. Question is: Why, be dry?
(The frog pulls out a piece of paper, holds it up) It's a poem. (ahem) Why, be Dry?
With rooves and gutters, glass windows, oh please, to keep your blood at a hundred degrees.
Any little draft will start you to sneeze, watchout! the dampness will soon make you freeze, wrap yourself up! stay out of the breeze!
On with the furnace and boilers and steam, take some comfort from the flame’s dehydrating gleam.
But you succumb to exposure, pneumonia, you’re dying! ...blinking your eyes to keep them from drying.
While, some others relax in the muck of a stream with eyes popping up to check out the scene; restful, untroubled, peaceful, serene.
I ask you, why bother to keep yourself warm? Why fight it? Give in! to the swamp’s ooozy charm.
If it gets cold, just turn out the lights! Soon will come spring and the warm summer nights.
All of you cooped up in some dried-out city shivering and choking, you have my pity. You think that it’s best to keep out of the damp, crouching inside by some miserable lamp?
Well think back to those evenings by the edge of the water, the moonlight, the world sparkling, it just doesn’t get better.
Remember, you came from this reedy old fen. Think back... to the fun you had then!
Think back, waay back, and don’t say you forget, that the best things in life are luscious and wet.
And with that mon ami, I’ll say nothing more, except that being a prince was a bit of a bore.
AAK, Jesus! (he ducks)
(A Princess appears, white-gloved hands reach down into the theatre desperately trying to catch the Frog puppet)
Frog: (screaming) Noo, noo! Wait! Let me...
Princess: It talks! It talks! Stop wiggling! ...Yuck!
Curtain slowly closes
Music comes up, curtain opens, frog appears, held by princess.
Princess and Frog: (singing) With a tongue with a tongue, on a frog so young,
photos by Tim Cahill