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)
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.
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)
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.
ACT III (the next day)
T. (muffled) Si, it is I. The happiest turtle this side of the Rio Grande.
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?
T. Oh that is nothing compared to my happy dance. I am the world’s greatest dancer. Would you like to see me dance?
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?
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.
T. This is your one and only chance. Pronto! Before I am doing the backstroke…in the cooking pot!
ACT IV (take off the basket)
J. Bueno! Bueno! Dance some more. (turtle dance around until finally he wears down)
J. Si, I am tired too. It is time for a siesta. I will put you back into your cage.
J. But, how will I know you won’t run away.
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)
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.
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.
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)