By Denise Busenitz
Peer pressure and doubt at examined in this retelling of the Hans Christian
Note: The following is only a portion of the script. Contact details for the full script are at the foot of this page.
Emperor - dressed royally, with train
Logofile - loves big words, but elegant - not geeky
Bard of Bungle - somewhat clumsy, tripping
Duke of Dane
Lady Vogue - snobby, has fanciest dress(es)
Duke of Tardi - always late
Tailor Sligh - condescending and conniving
Tailor's Wife - definitely "wears the pants"
The songs included in this musical are original. Copies of the music may be obtained by applying to the author.
The stage is simple; all scenes take place in the throne room. To the left is a large throne, on the right are matching benches or chairs to seat six. Behind the benches is a desk with books, papers, and quills. Other props should be added so that the room resembles a castle.
Song: The Pride of Life
Song: Don't Trust Him
Song: I Can't See It
Song: Who Is This Man?
Song: It Makes Me Mad
Song: First Day of the New Clothes
Song: The Problem With a Lie
Song: What Can One Person Do?
Song: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
Song: Uniquely Unique
Song: The Problem With a Lie II
Song: New Wedding Clothes
A few minutes after starting time, Tardi: walks slowly down center aisle. When nearing the front, he stops to ask a person nearby the time.
Tardi: Seven-oh-five (or whatever the time) Oh no! (Make sure he has audience's attention before continuing) I'm late - I'm late again!
Tardi runs to front of stage, and exits through closed curtains. The Narrator walks to the front after Tardi is onstage and gives the following introduction:
Narrator: While the Duke of Tardi finds his place, I'd like to welcome you to this evening's performance. Based loosely on "The Emperor's New Clothes," the story takes place in some unknown empire during the 18th century. You may find that you see a lot of yourself in one of the characters, or a little in several of the characters. Either way, we hope that tonight's play will challenge you in your spiritual journey. And now, it is our privilege to present to you, "New Clothes, Same Old Lie." The narrator may exit through curtains or down center aisle.
The Emperor is seated in his throne with other court members gathered around on benches. A page holds a large piece of parchment paper.
Page: (to emperor after looking at the court members) It seems that we are all here, except for the Duke of Tardi.
Emperor: And where might he be?
Lady Vogue: (haughtily) Unfashionably late, as usual.
Emperor: Never mind, we will start without him. Page, go ahead and read the invitation.
Page: (unrolls large parchment, and reads from it) It is with great pleasure that I, the Emperor of Alexandria, extend to you an invitation to the wedding of my son, Prince George, at 6 p.m. in the evening on September 25, in the year of our Lord, 1756. Royal attire required.
Emperor: (stands and walks toward Court Members) So this is why I've called you together. We must discuss and come up with an appropriate wardrobe for this occasion.
Logofile: (stands) May I suggest to you the apparel that you wore on previous occasion to Prince Charles' knighting?
Duchess Grace: No, that was much too recent, everyone will recall it. (Logofile sits. The emperor turns his back to the Court members with his hands clasped behind his back.)
Bard of Bungle: (stands hesitantly) How about the turquoise suit with the peacock feathers? You wore that to King Henry's wedding, but that was several years ago. Do you think anyone will remember it? (looks around doubtfully, and shrugs)
Lady Vogue: Some of us are still trying to forget it!
(Bard of Bungle, embarrassed, sits down quickly.)
(At this point, Tardi comes bursting on scene from left stage, taking a seat in the back.)
Emperor: (turning to face Tardi) Yes, and what is your "reason" this time?
Tardi looks behind him, hoping the Emperor is talking to someone else.
Emperor: Tardi, I do mean you. (Condescendingly)
Emperor: (interrupting) Oh! Never mind! Now we are gathered here to help select a most appropriate suit of clothes for the nuptials of Prince George. It seems we are making no progress. You wouldn't have any advice, would you?
Tardi: Well…er…(still nervous) Well, (stands, suddenly inspired) I wouldn't be too hasty and rush into anything, Sir.
(All turn around to give Tardi a sour look, some may call his name disparagingly. Duke of Tardi seats himself again.)
Duke of Dane: (stands) I know! A cream colored jacket, with cherry trim! I know I saw some monarch with a similar --
Duchess Grace: (interrupting) That's what our Emperor wore to-
All join in: Princess Leigh's wedding! (Duke of Dane sits)
Bard of Bungle: The problem might be that you need something you don't have. (Emperor sits on throne again.)
Logofile: But already he is the possessor every ensemble imaginable.
Duchess Grace: What doesn't he have?
Tailor: (entering from stage left with carpet bag which he sets down) Why I have just the perfect outfit for him, but first, there is something else he needs that he doesn't have of yet.
Emperor: And just what might that be? And who are you?
Tailor: (takes out numerous certificates and gives them to the Emperor) Why, I'm Tailor Sligh. Graduate of the Royal Tailors College (hands certificate to Emperor with each mentioning, then pauses slightly) Advanced Degree in Tailor Design, Undergraduate Degree in Specialty Textiles, Winner of the Royal Empress’ Designer Award 1754, Runner-up Duke’s Design 1755. I can make you the perfect wardrobe. But before you can appropriately wear it, you will first need first - - THE PRIDE OF LIFE.
Emperor: The pride of life??
Tailor: The pride of life. No monarch can properly rule his people without it. (Emperor raises his eyebrows, and Tailor continues, flattering.) Now if there were an emperor who could, surely it would be you-
Emperor: (stands) Me?
Tailor: Oh yes, of course. Everyone knows that you're the best emperor - for miles around! (walks over and straightens Emperor's posture) You might need a little more self-esteem, (lifts Emperor's chin slightly) but otherwise, you're definitely the cream of the crop - a true specimen. (stops to look at the Emperor's clothes) That is - except for the clothes -
Emperor: The clothes? (surprised, looks down at his clothes)
Tailor: Oh mind you, these would be just fine for an average monarch. But for an emperor such as yourself - you really need the Pride of Life ensemble!
Emperor: Well, then - tell me about this Pride of Life ensemble. I need a suit that is really - unique.
Tailor: Oh, it's one of a kind all right. No one else will have on anything quite like it!
(The emperor's interest is raised.)
Emperor: Go on.
Tailor: It is made of a revolutionary material, a fabric with the most unusual qualities. They call it the royal cloth, for it is both costly and well worth the expense.
Tailor: Have you ever desired to know who were the truly wise persons in your empire?
Emperor: Well, of course, every ruler has. But…
Tailor: This fabric is designed in such an unusual way, and woven with intricate workmanship by men of high degrees, so that, well - only the truly wise will be able to see it!
Duchess Grace: Unusual.
Tailor: Yes, indeed! And those who can't tell whether your coat is red or blue, will be shown up for just exactly what they are! You will be the wisest emperor around, to be sure!
Emperor: (standing and moving forward) The wisest? Hm… This does sound exactly like what I need.
Tardi: (raising hand to draw attention) Are you sure we're not being hasty?
All court: Tardi!
Emperor: (hand on chin, thoughtfully) And exactly how much does this rare suit cost?
Tailor: Now, one must keep in mind that this is not just a suit of clothes of which we are talking. One must consider that it is an investment - an aid in his leadership of his empire. Something of which to be very proud. (pats small of back so that the Emperor's chest puffs out suddenly)
Emperor: Yes, yes, I suppose you are right. (throwing back shoulders)
Tailor: One could hardly set a value on such things.
Emperor: Oh, no.
Tailor: Still, with this rare cloth, it does take about twice as long as usual to sew an entire outfit.
Emperor: Yes, yes…
Tailor: So with a new jacket, breeches, waistcoat and shirt….. the cost would be……..
Tailor: Exactly 50,000 pounds.
Emperor: 50,000 pounds? (All are shocked, but the Emperor is obviously disconsolate)
Tailor: Yes, it does seem much, (picks up carpet bag, making as if to leave) perhaps someone in a more prosperous and prestigious kingdom could better use my services if you're not prepared to pay so high a price….
Emperor: Oh, no, no…I was surprised that you could do it for so (pause & gulp) modest a sum. 50,000 pounds sounds just fine. When could you start?
Tailor: As soon as a room could be readied for me here.
Emperor: Well, we just happen to have several that are not in use at the present. Shall we go view them now? (motions offstage, and begins to exit)
Tardi: As you wish.
(Tailor picks up his bag, and he and the Emperor exit stage right)
Bard of Bungle: (standing, addresses all) Now what should we make of that? (rest of Court members rise)
Duchess Grace: Something sounds peculiarly funny about that phrase, "The pride of life," but I think it best to not get all stirred up about it.
Lady Vogue: Yes, it seems I’ve heard that phrase somewhere before.
Logofile: I’m rather dubious myself as to the tailor’s intentions. And while self-esteem doesn’t appear entirely menacing, I wonder to what extreme one should attain in self-veneration.
Duke of Dane: What do you think, Lady Vogue?
Lady Vogue: I'm not sure.
Duke of Dane: Not sure? Why, he’s an expert. You saw all of those certificates.
Lady Vogue: Yes, but-
Duke of Dane: Do you have a degree in tailoring?
Lady Vogue: Well, no – but—
Duke of Dane: (crossing arms) Mm huh??? And all those awards?
Lady Vogue: Yes, you're most likely right. Can all of those people be wrong?
Logofile: The plurality of humanity is not always in accord with reality.
Lady Vogue: Who are you to talk? You wouldn’t exactly be voted onto this year’s Best Dressed List.
Logofile: Maybe not, but-
Bard of Bungle: But how are we to know who’s best dressed? Are we even qualified to judge this?
Logofile: (shakes head) I'm still trying to apprehend the situation to decide if I can safely put my confidence in him.
Duchess Grace: You're saying you don't trust him?
Logofile: Not as yet, and until then, I perceive it best that we proceed very cautiously.
Tardi: And very slowly.
(conversation is interrupted by Emperor and tailor as they enter while talking. Tailor still has "carpet bag")
Tailor: Yes, that seems quite agreeable with me.
Emperor: I am so glad that you will be able to begin at once. (goes to throne and sits)
Tailor: Oh yes, of course. We must have this entire wardrobe finished in time for the wedding!
Emperor: Yes, of course!
Tailor: (takes out small notebook. Tears off page and hands to emperor.) Here is the address where your servants will find my wife and assistant, the Madame Sligh. She should be brought to the palace as soon as possible so that we may begin at once.
Emperor: Yes, we must begin at once. (takes page and hands to Page. Whispers some instructions to him, and waves him off. Page leaves.)
Tailor: (Tears second sheet off and hands to Emperor.) And here is the location of the safehouse to which the 50,000 pounds are to be delivered. (pause) By midnight, tonight.
Emperor: (gulps) Yes, of course. Midnight, tonight.
Tailor: (Tears off several pages, one at a time, and handing them to the Emperor as he talks.) And here is a list of needed supplies. They are to be delivered by 10 a.m. to my room above. If we are to finish the garment on time, we must not be held up waiting for supplies.
Emperor: (looks at papers, a little overwhelmed. He acts as if reading from the list until he gets to "grapefruit.) Grapefruit? Why even I don’t get grapefruit this time of year!
Tailor: (condescendingly) Oh, yes, I understand. But the juices there-in cause for much more agility in the fingers, thus producing a much finer stitch. We simply couldn’t do without them.
Emperor: (hesitantly) Well, ok. (continues "reading" down list until interrupted.)
Tailor: Why, if you go through the whole list like that, it will be morning before you can send people out to buy them….
Emperor: (brought up short) Yes, yes. Logofile, Duchess Grace, Bard of Bungle, Duke of Dane, Tardi, Lady Vogue ! (hands out a list to each one as they approach him) See that you get these items and have them delivered by no later than 10 tomorrow morning.
(All respond, yes sir, etc. and exit at once to stageleft.)
Tailor: And now, I must begin preparations for the big day ahead. But first, you absolutely must see the material. (Bends over bag and pulls out imaginary length of fabric. This might be best if practiced with a real piece until comfortable with the motions. Tailor initially keeps his back to the Emperor so as to not see his reaction when he realizes that he can not see the "cloth.")
Emperor: Oh—yes. (gulps)
Tailor: (Now turns to Emperor) What do you think?
Emperor: Most unusual. Most unusual.
Tailor: ("wraps" up cloth and returns it to his bag.) And now, I must be on my way so that I can get an early start in the morning! (exits stage left with bag)
Emperor: (Gets up slowly and dejectedly from throne. Walks slowly to center front stage and says to no one in particular) You know, the lighting never was too good in this room.
Act II – the following morning
Logofile and Duchess Grace enter from stageleft, each with a crate. The crates are set on benches and the contents taken out as conversation continues.)
Logofile: Grapefruit, tangerines. Do you know how hard it is to find these items now?
Duchess Grace: And when you do, they’re worth their weight in gold!
Logofile: No, I think that ounce for ounce, you would find that the gold would perchance be the least expensive!
Duchess Grace: (goes over to desk to record entries in a journal.) Let’s see. We found six tangerines and three grapefruit. I’ve never seen such a list of strange and expensive items. Poor Bard of Bungle is scouring the empire for a five Persian rugs.
Logofile: Well, it would appear that tailor Sligh plans to perform his toil in comfort.
Duchess Grace: Yes, but I'm sure he has-
Emperor: (enters stage from stageleft, interrupting) There you are – there you are! We’ve been looking all over for you. Don’t you know that it’s almost ten o’clock? Come now, we’ve got to get these things to the tailor. (Emperor starts walking off stage right, calling over his shoulder.) Besides, I want to see what you think of the Emperor’s cloth.
Logofile: (packs up remaining items in crate, but absently leaves two or three tangerines on the bench.) This project has only just commenced, and already I am weary of it!
Duchess Grace: Yes, I know what you mean. (picks up the second crate) But surely he has his reasons.
Logofile: Well, we best be on our way. As the Emperor says, it is approaching 10 o’clock, and we must not delay the tailor!
(Logofile and Duchess Grace exit stage right carrying the crates. Seconds later, Duke of Dane enters stageleft carrying a rolled up rug. He sets down the rug, and goes to journal to enter his rug.)
Duke of Dane: (gasping) I wonder if our dear Tailor Sligh has any idea how difficult it is to find Persian carpets in the middle of the night! (He spies the grapefruit, and stands to juggle –or attempt to juggle- them) Hmm. Tangerines, carpets. Why - one would almost think that he's trying to take advantage of us. That is - except for the fact that he has all of those degrees! I guess we'll just have to trust him since he is the expert!
Duke of Dane sets down grapefruit, and starts to pick up his rug again when Logofile and Duchess of Grace enter the room.)
Duchess Grace: Oh Duke of Dane – did you finally find the last Persian rug?
Duke of Dane: Finally, but it took quite a bit of bargaining to obtain it!
Logofile: Well, I have great expectation that perhaps our greatest of difficulties are now in the past. The items have been procured, and the tailor may commence immediately.
Duke of Dane: Logofile, Why do you have to use such big words every time you talk?
Logofile: Perhaps it is because of my utmost intent to eschew obfuscation.
Duke of Dane: To do what?
Logofile: I wish to avoid uncertainty.
Duke of Dane: Hm? (raises eyebrows)
Duchess Grace: He wants to be perfectly clear.
Duke of Dane: Well then, he’s about as clear as that emperor’s cloth!
Logofile: so, you’ve seen the tailor’s "cloth"?
Duke of Dane: No I didn’t. I mean no, haven’t, well, actually, he did – uh-
Logofile: Are you acknowledging to us your inability to observe it?
Duke of Dane: I’m acknowledging no such thing. I simply meant that uh - that - that the cloth is so beautiful that it's, uh. . .
Duke of Dane: It's uh, (suddenly) Indescribable! (Logofile shakes head)
Duchess Grace: All right. That’s enough now. Let’s all set to work at the task at hand. Logofile, why don’t you help Duke of Dane carry the rug to the tailor’s room?
(Logofile and Duke of Dane start to pick up rug when the Tailor and wife enter.)
Wife: There it is!
Tailor: I knew you could find one more, Duke of Dane ! (full of flattery and Dane "butters up" to him, as he is the expert) Oh yes, of all the members of the court that you would be the one who could come up with the final carpet that we need. (takes Logofile’s place carrying rug, but obviously, Duke of Dane has the heavier part of the load.) Yes, yes, as soon as we get this in, why I think we’re ready to begin.
Wife: Why dear, you’re a poet, and didn’t know it! (laughs at own joke.)
(Duke of Dane carries off rug with Tailor "helping" and wife following behind, and giving directions, which they ignore.)
Duchess Grace: Back in the sewing room, did you see how the Emperor looked at us when the tailor pulled out that "cloth"?
Logofile: Yes, he was trying to weigh our reactions, if I don’t miss my hypothesis.
Duchess Grace: Of course, no one wants to admit to others that they can’t see the cloth. But for now, the main thing we need to do is to keep peace in the palace.
Logofile: Keep peace? I think one of us should discourse with the Emperor concerning this.
Duchess Grace: If only we knew how he would take it. I wouldn't want to cause hurt feelings and make things worse.
Logofile: Whatever do you insinuate?
Duchess Grace: Well, I don’t want to make the problem worse by offending him. As they say, "First, do no harm."
(Bard of Bungle, Duke of Dane, and Lady Vogue enter from stage right)
Duke of Dane: Well, the Emperor has given us another list.
Duchess Grace: Another list? What do we have to come up with now?
(Duke of Dane hands out lists to each one)
Duke of Dane: Well, Duchess Grace you are to come up with some chocolate, Logofile: with some nuts, Tardi with more oranges, Bard of Bungle with pearls, Lady Vogue bells, and I get to locate crème filled donuts!
Bard of Bungle: This is becoming quite a chore!
Lady Vogue: I thought we were finished getting supplies for the tailor. Instead, it’s even worse than on the first day.
Bard of Bungle: Well, we best be getting out on our search of supplies for the Tailor.
Logofile: (as they all exit) Yes, but it does occur to me that we have no revelation as to what has become of our companion, the Duke of Tardi.
Tardi: (after a slight pause, Tardi enters, looking around) Where is everyone? Am I late?
Act III – a week later
(Bard of Bungle is pacing backstage, and takes a piece of paper from his shirt cuff. He reads from it, appearing to memorize the list.)
Bard of Bungle: The jacket material itself is blue. The piping is brown and goes around the collar, cuffs, and pocket flaps. The buttons are fabric covered of a forest green. The vest is to be….(rubs chin) the vest…..hm. The vest –
Tailor: (entering from stageleft carrying an orange, which he is peeling) The vest?
Bard of Bungle: (jumps back, as he is startled-holds note hidden in his hand) The vest?
Tailor: Yes, you were talking about the vest.
Bard of Bungle: Er, yes, I was. I’m sure it –uh --will be a lovely vest.
Tailor: Yes, yes. It will be of velvet. A most delicate color of violet.
Bard of Bungle: Velvet? (obviously making a mental note)
Tailor: Yes, velvet. In a delicate shade of violet.
Bard of Bungle: Oh yes! Violet velvet! Yes, what a grand idea. (stressing Vs –easier to remember!)
Tailor: And what did you think of the jacket buttons?
Bard of Bungle: Buttons? Oh yes, the buttons. Forest green was an excellent choice.
Tailor: Green? Then I take it you haven’t seen the coat lately?
Bard of Bungle: Oh, no, I haven’t seen the coat. –I mean lately.
Tailor: The forest green just didn’t do justice. We’ve changed them for scarlet ones. The red sets off the blue background much better.
Bard of Bungle: Oh yes, I’m sure they would. Red ones, I mean. The buttons are red?
Tailor: Yes, now the buttons are red. You surely must come to see the suit!
Bard of Bungle: (aside) Yes, I’d love to see it. I mean, yes, I will come see it.
Tailor: We’ll be working all morning. I’ll look forward to showing it to you later. (exits stage right.)
(Bard of Bungle takes note from his hand and writes with a quill, talking as he writes.)
Bard of Bungle: Buttons – forest green, no. Crimson red. There we have it. The jacket is blue, the piping brown, - the buttons gr- no, red. The vest- Oh, how can I remember this all? The Velvet Vest is Violet -
(Bard of Bungle collapses onto bench. Rubs chin as if trying to recall all the details. Takes paper out from his cuff once more, but hears Logofile and Lady Vogue coming onstage. He quickly puts the paper back under his cuff, but not before Logofile and Lady Vogue notice it and exchange glances)
Logofile: Performing some last minute studying, are we?
Bard of Bungle: Studying? (still deep in thought) Oh yes. (suddenly alert, realizing what he’s said) Uh – No. No, uh, just scratching, I was scratching. My arm itched.
Lady Vogue: Oh Logofile, Don’t give him such a hard time. He’s at least trying to go with the flow, which is more than can be said for some members of the court. (looks with contempt at Logofile)
Bard of Bungle: Go along with? Study? (feigned innocence)
Lady Vogue: Really, let’s not let this cloth ruin the entire day!
Logofile: Are you informing us that you have actually observed this aforementioned attire?
Lady Vogue: I’m only saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Bard of Bungle: (stands) Does that mean that you’ve have "beheld" the coat? (anxious if others have truly seen it)
Logofile: She is asserting her evasion of the question.
Lady Vogue: Hmph! (folds arms and turns away)
Bard of Bungle: Logofile, can you seen the coat?
Logofile: To be entirely forthright, I believe that no one has so accomplished this feat, as it is scientifically impossible.
Bard of Bungle: But how do you know that you just can’t see it? Maybe others can. How can you be so sure?
Logofile: It’s quite observable that the man is a common charlatan.
Lady Vogue: (Turns back around quickly) How dare you say such a thing! Why this is the Royal Tailor you are talking about. And the very Emperor himself has chosen him – not to mention the rest of the people's high opinion of Tailor Sligh. Just because you use big words doesn’t mean that you know everything. Who are you to say that that everyone else is wrong?
Logofile: It is conceivable that even the preponderance can be deceived.
Bard of Bungle: Yes, but he is the Tailor, a certified expert. And we… well, we’re just his lowly subjects. How dare we say that he is wrong?
Logofile: Self-importance can do incongruous things to even the most benevolent of men. (pause) And women.
Bard of Bungle: But how can we be right, and everyone else be wrong?
Logofile: My dear Bard of Bungle, have you never heard of peer pressure?
Bard of Bungle: Yes, but – (cut off)
Page: (enters room from stage right and announces) Royal fitting of the coat to be held in the throne room in five minutes. Attendance required. (begins to exit, continues announcing on his way out.) Royal fitting of the coat to be held…..
(Logofile, Duke of Dane, and Lady Vogue take their places on benches. )Bard of Bungle slyly looks at list again while Lady Vogue and Logofile are conversing. Repeatedly mouths words: buttons, red, jacket, blue, piping, brown.)
Lady Vogue: Now you will be able to see for yourself that not only are you in the minority, but that you are the only doubter.
Logofile: Even so, I shall stand by my previous acclamations.
( Duke of Dane enters from stage left, Duchess Grace follows behind with a small crate. Each sit on bench.)
Duke of Dane: (to Duchess Grace) We’ve never had to attend a royal fitting before – this must be the latest technology.
Duchess Grace: Yes, but you have to admit that it is much better than chasing all over the countryside for every new thing the tailor decides he needs.
Bard of Bungle: (to Duchess Grace) Yes, but at least you’ve only had to find fruit so far. I think I’ve already located every Persian rug in the entire Empire!
Lady Vogue: But for such a worthy cause.
Logofile: I doubt you would find a unanimous consensus on that.
Duchess Grace: Goodness, must we bicker about this?
(Emperor enters the room from stage right as Lady Vogue starts talking. All is suddenly quiet and eyes turn to him as he sits in throne. Page enters from stage left seconds later and stands at attention beside the throne.)
Emperor: Well, it seems that we are all present. The tailor and his wife are putting some last stitches on the coat and then they will be here for the first royal fitting. I am anxious for this wardrobe to turn out perfectly. Are you all having success in finding the items that the tailor requires? (members of court mainly avoid eye contact by looking at floor, etc.)
Duchess Grace: Though it's most likely good for the economy, do you know that the price of citrus fruit has doubled since in the past two weeks?
Emperor: Never mind the cost. Never mind the cost. What do you all think of the coat? (no immediate response) Well, Lady Vogue?
Lady Vogue: Wonderful. Incredible. Such a lovely shade of blue.
Emperor: Bard of Bungle, what do you think?
Bard of Bungle: (nervously twiddles with cuff as he mumbles to himself) I haven’t read my – uh, read my - . Oh, yes. (Suddenly aloud) Red -red! The buttons are red.
Emperor: (perplexed by Bard’s answer.) Yes, they are. And Duchess Grace, what is your opinion?
Duchess Grace: uh…. Absolutely…. Unique!
Emperor: (Tailor and Wife enter) And here they are right now.
Tailor: (clapping hands) Now. Now. Time for the first Royal Fitting. (Tailor goes by throne, Wife off to side, but ready to help) Up. Up. You must stand up and take off this old ordinary coat first.
Emperor: Yes, yes. (stands and removes coat and hands to Page)
(Tailor and Wife "help" Emperor into the new "coat". The tailor makes a show of trying to button the front, but makes it appear that it is too snug.)
Tailor: Oh dear. (makes some minor adjustments in the back, then "tries" again, but with no "success." Gets out measuring tape from pocket. ) Too snug. Much too snug. Let me check those measurements once more. (The tailor and Wife make a big fuss about measuring the Emperor’s shoulders and waist. Finally, the Tailor removes a paper from his pocket.)
Tailor: Just as I thought. Just as I thought. (Wife comes around to look and help)
Wife: The waist measurement is a centimeter larger today!
Tailor: (shaking head) No. It won’t work. The fit is too precise with this style.
Emperor: But how can this be?
Wife: (matter of fact-ly) Generally it comes from overeating.
Emperor: What can we do?
Wife: Ever heard of a diet?
(Tardi comes rushing onstage and takes place, out of breath)
Tailor: There is only one thing to do, we must simply either alter it, or begin again.
Tardi: Begin again? Have you already started?
(Others whisper and shake heads)
Tailor: (turns Emperor around so his back is facing the court) See how it is much too tight through the shoulders?
Wife: The pulling around the waist stretches the material along the top, causing this wrinkle here. It will never do. (Tailor and Wife take "coat" off the Emperor and exit stage right, shaking heads and conferring as they go.)
Emperor: Well, uh. (pause) Uh –Court dismissed! (Emperor, embarrassed, exits stage left.)
Page: Court is adjourned. (exits after Emperor)
Wife: (re-enters) I almost forgot. A few more items which the tailor is needing.(hands a list to Duke of Dane) One for you… (hands a list to Bard of Bungle) One for you… (hands a list to Lady Vogue) One for you. (hands list to Tardi:) And try to be punctual for once. (looks at Logofile and Duchess Grace. Wife shrugs because he is out of lists. Exits again)
Bard of Bungle: (relieved) No Persian Rug! I don’t have to find another rug!
Duke of Dane: And what do you have to find?
Bard of Bungle: (looks at list) A cat with purple eyes. A cat with purple eyes?
(Logofile and Duchess Grace move forward; the entire group spreads out.)
Logofile: (scornfully to Duchess Grace) "Absolutely unique?" Couldn’t you have done better than that?
Duchess Grace: And just what should I have said?
Logofile: A little honesty would have been advantageous.
Duchess Grace: And just what is dishonest about "unique?"
Logofile: You’re avoiding the issue entirely.
Duchess Grace: Exactly.
Logofile: I thought you found this situation wholly distasteful.
Duchess Grace: I do. But you’ve got to get along. Before you know it, the tailor will be gone, the new wardrobe history, and it will all blow over.
Logofile: And in the meantime? Have we no standards at all?
Duchess Grace: Look, I know you mean well, but how am I supposed to change this whole mess? I didn’t cause this problem, so it’s not up to me to fix it. Besides, what could I do, even if I chose to do something?
Logofile: Maybe you’re not capable of altering the entire situation, but you could make a slight metamorphosis.
Duchess Grace: Look, I’m just one person, and what can one person do? I may not be able to change the situation with the tailor, but I can get along with others!
Logofile: It appears as if forbearance is the highest ambition of your existence - regardless of the expense at which it might come.
Duchess Grace: If you're saying that I want peace and unity, yes, I agree with you.
Logofile: But do you desire confederation sufficiently so that you are inclined to battle for it?
Act IV – Another week later
(Bard of Bungle and Lady Vogue are seated at benches, when Tardi comes rushing in slides onto a bench.)
Lady Vogue: Well, Tardi, it’s good to see that you’ve made it on time once.
Tardi: I have?
Lady Vogue: Indeed.
Tardi: Really? What time is it?
Bard of Bungle: (takes out pocket watch) It’s ten til five, so you’re actually early!
Tardi: Ten ‘til five?
Bard of Bungle: On the money.
Tardi: Oh. I thought the vest fitting started at four.
Lady Vogue: Well, you’re here now and-
Tardi: (jumps up as if to leave in a hurry) It starts at five, then I must be late for the-
Bard of Bungle: (interrupting and pulls him back down) No matter what it was, you’ve missed it by now, and here you are, on time for the fitting.
Tardi: Oh. (pondering) Well, I guess I’ll just have to hurry up and wait.
(Bard of Bungle shrugs, not understanding Tardi’s logic. Logofile, Duchess Grace, and Duke of Dane come in, talking about the fitting, and take their seats. The king enters when they are seated, and all talking stops.)
Emperor: Well, we will soon have the royal vest fitting.
Duchess Grace: And hopefully, it will fit.
Emperor: Oh yes, I’ve been watching what I eat – practically dieting.
Bard of Bungle: Oh dear, it may be too big, then.
Emperor: Oh –(dismayed) I never thought of that.
Wife: (yells from offstage) No, No! I tell you, it will never work!
(Tailor and wife enter)
Tailor: It seems we have a small problem.
Tailor: We are trying to add the final touches of embroidery on the vest, but my wife’s delicate eyes are not able to see clearly for the tiny stitches that are required.
Tailor: Well, we must –
Wife: (interrupts) We simply must rearrange all of the furniture!
Bard of Bungle: Rearrange all of the furniture?
Wife: Yes, the sewing table must be directly in front of the window, but of course, the desk is there now, but there isn’t room on the west wall, unless we move the armoire first to the east wall. But then it is too near the doorway, so that we would have to move the large chair over by the-
Bard of Bungle: (interrupting) I’m sorry I asked. (Wife looks vexed at this response.)
Emperor: (clearly exasperated at this new turn of events) Very well, very well. All male members of the court, please go to help with the furniture moving. (Tailor, Wife, Logofile, Bard of Bungle, and Duke of Dane, exit stage right.)
Tardi: (remaining seated) You mean, I finally make it somewhere on time, and they cancel it?
Emperor: (realizing that the vest fitting won’t be held, looks around, shrugs shoulders, then gets up and exits stage left. Page follows.) I guess I can go eat some of that chocolate cake then.
Tardi: (after a few seconds, suddenly looks around and realizes that the men have left, and hurriedly exits stage right.) Oh dear!
Duchess Grace: Oh, our poor Emperor!
Lady Vogue: What do you mean by that?
Duchess Grace: Well, just look what the tailor is doing to him. The poor man is practically beside himself already.
Lady Vogue: Now, don’t pick on the tailor. Just because you’re not as fashionable as some of us, you needn’t be prejudiced against tailors.
Duchess Grace: I wasn't picking on the tailor - I'm just trying to keep peace.
Lady Vogue: Well, it won't work.
Duchess Grace: Why not?
Lady Vogue: You've got to choose who'd side you're on.
Duchess Grace: I'm on the Emperor's side.
Lady Vogue: Then do him a favor and stay quiet about the tailor. If the other members of the court get upset, so be it.
Duchess Grace: But I'm on their side as well.
Lady Vogue: You can't ride the fence. So what do you want?
Duchess Grace: I just want everyone to get along.
Lady Vogue: Get along?
Duchess Grace: Yes, do we have to choose sides?
Lady Vogue: But why would you want to take a stand against everyone else?
Duchess Grace: Against everyone else? I'm not against anyone.
Lady Vogue: No, but you're not for the majority. Really, the polls show that most of the people support the tailor, and you're fighting against him.
Duchess Grace: Fighting? Me! Fighting?
Lady Vogue: Fighting.
Duchess Grace: (voices rise) I'm not fighting!
Lady Vogue: Yes, you are!
Duchess Grace: No I'm not!
Lady Vogue: Yes, you are!
Duchess Grace: No I'm not!
Lady Vogue: It sounds to me like you are -
Duchess Grace: (suddenly realizing what she is doing) Oh. I’m sorry. I forgot my own motto of unity.
Lady Vogue: I’m sorry, too.
Duchess Grace: Really, I should have-
(The ladies are interrupted Logofile, Bard of Bungle, and Duke of Dane returning from rearranging the tailor’s furniture. Lines begin as they are entering, somewhat bent over, and holding backs.)
Duke of Dane: Oh my aching back!
Bard of Bungle: Your back! At least you only had to move the rugs – the
Duke of Dane: (interrupting) Don’t mention that word! I never want to hear that word again!
Bard of Bungle: Well, all the same, the table was much heavier than those floor coverings.
Logofile: Yes, indeed. The table was most incredibly cumbrous, but in actuality, the Persian broadlooms are much more corpulent than one would assume.
Duchess Grace: (noticing his absence) Where is Tardi ?
Duke of Dane: (looking around) I thought he stayed here with you.
Lady Vogue: Well, no. He left shortly after you.
Bard of Bungle: Always being late is one thing. But this time he didn’t even show up at all! (frustration begins to build)
Duke of Dane: Yes, why can’t he ever be on time?
Logofile: It is slightly vexatious to constantly deal with his dilatory arrivals.
Bard of Bungle: Almost as frustrating as trying to figure out what in the world you are talking about!
Duchess Grace: Come now. We're not going to fight about this. Let’s just accept one another as they are.
Lady Vogue: Yes, let's not fight. It's definitely not fashionable!
Bard of Bungle: Who’s fighting? (terribly frustrated)
Logofile: Indubitably not I!
Duke of Dane: Oh no, you wouldn’t fight. You would use another word for it – one with at least four or five syllables. (turns to Lady Vogue) And who are you to tell each us to accept each other? Miss Snob, herself!
Duchess Grace: Calm down. Calm down. Who’s to say that Lady Vogue is snobby? Maybe she just has high social standards.
Bard of Bungle: Meaning?
Duchess Grace: Meaning that what’s right for her isn’t necessarily right for everyone else. Just because we think Logofile talks strangely, maybe how we talk sounds strange to him.
Lady Vogue: There you see.
Duke of Dane: See what?
Logofile: Not every one need speak monosyllabically, like you. And I don’t use "big words!"
Duchess Grace: (quickly trying to change subject) And take Tardi –maybe he’s not really late. Perhaps, we’re just early.
Bard of Bungle: Early? I show up promptly on time.
Duchess Grace: Yes, but whose time? Your time, or Tardi‘s? You’re early by his standards.
Bard of Bungle: His standards? But, I- Uh. But. (Is totally baffled by this logic. Scratches head, and makes as if to defend himself, but is hopeless against the irrationality of it.) I’m not sure I’m capable of understanding this.
(The Tailor and his wife enter stage right and cross to exit stage left.)
Tailor: That was absolutely exhausting. Now, we must take the rest of the day off. We’ll finish the final work on the vest tomorrow.
Wife: Absolutely exhausting. Not to mention nerve-racking. Why the Persian rugs (fades as they exit)
Logofile: And you can explicate the tailor and his spouse? (nodding offstage where they’ve exited.) Is the expectation candidly that we will disregard the tailor’s faslehoods?
Bard of Bungle: Yes, it does seem to appear that he might not be just exactly what he says. But how are we to know for sure? Who are we to judge if he's telling the truth or lies?
Lady Vogue: Oh, he’s not telling lies, really. They’re just mere, uh - fabrications.
Logofile: A synonym by any other name is still the same.
(Bard of Bungle and Duke of Dane raise eyebrows, not following this all completely.
Lady Vogue: So we should be willing to just accept each person as they are!
Duchess Grace: Yes, we should each be tolerant of each other.
Duchess Grace: Yes, if we want unity, then we must learn to accept each other’s ideas and opinions.
Tardi: (enters from stage right, holding back, and gasping.) Where were all of you?
Bard of Bungle: (sarcastically) Oh you missed the furniture moving party!
Duke of Dane: I wished I would have.
Tardi: Oh, no, I didn’t. When I didn’t find anyone there, I rearranged it all by myself. I put the desk by the window, and the armoire by the west wall, and the large-
Bard of Bungle, Duke of Dane: Oh no!
Tardi: What? What is it?
Bard of Bungle: We’d already moved the furniture, and you moved it back!
Duke of Dane: Tardi!
Logofile: It simply behooves us to re-rearrange it. (all show signs of frustration.)
Lady Vogue: Are you sure re-rearrange is an accepted word?
Bard of Bungle: We might as well get it over with. (men stand to leave again, except for Tardi who exhaustedly takes a seat.)
Duke of Dane: Tardi, I don’t know about you. First you always arrive-
Duchess Grace: (cutting him off) Remember now, we must be tolerant!
Lady Vogue: Yes, let’s get along!
(All men except for Tardi slowly exit stage right, grumbling as they go. Bard of Bungle is the last to leave, and notices that Tardi is not with them. He turns around and calls to him)
Bard of Bungle: Tardi! (Tardi promptly gets up and races off behind them.)
Duchess Grace & Lady Vogue: (calling off after them) Tolerance!
© Copyright Denise Busenitz, all rights reserved.
This is not the full script for the play. The full script may be obtained from the author. She may be contacted at email@example.com or through the website http://www.actsone.org