We've chosen two stories from the Jataka Tales to creatively dramatize: Bird's Nest and The Wise Lion.
We've liberally interpreted the traditional stories so that youngsters not only discover their inherent lessons, but also have fun preparing for the performance as well as acting out the drama.
We'll be making animal masks, a giant mural to be used as a backdrop, invitations and tickets (a nickel each) for the kids to sell at their "box office" each morning.
The Jataka Tales are a wonderful collection of over 500 stories from India, starring the historical Buddha in all his life times prior to his enlightenment; as human, insect or animal. He was often depicted as an outcast, a hero, a protective mother, a god or any compassionate animal solving the difficulties at hand. The Tales are considered some of the earliest collected Buddhist writings and teachings.
The Wise Lion
By Brookie, freely adapted from the Jataka Tales
Cast of Characters: 2 Rabbits, 1 Lion, 1 Parrot, 1 Monkey, 1 Anteater, 1 Elephant, 2 Narrators (Type & number of animals can be added or subtract as needed)
Narrator 1: Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a beautiful forest, filled with the myriad animals of the world. All was well in the forest....or was it?
Rabbit 1: Oh My, such a lovely day to be a rabbit, yes, yes, yes....but I wonder...what would happen to me if the earth were to break up?
(Crash, Boom, Rumble, Thud off stage)
Oh No, it's happening, the earth is breaking up!
(Jumping up and running in circles)
Rabbit 2: Hey Fluffy, why are you running? Where are you going?
Rabbit 1: Don't you know silly rabbit, the earth is breaking up and you had better run too!
(Both rabbits run in circles, yelling)
Both Rabbits: Run, run, the earth is breaking up. Save yourselves!
Narrator 2: Soon thousands of rabbits were scampering through the forest. Other animals too got caught up in the panic. The word spread from mouth to mouth and soon everyone knew; the earth was breaking up.
Narrator 1: A lion standing on a hill saw the activity, with all the animals of the forest in a frenzy, headed for his hill. He headed down the hill and standing in their path, the lion called for the horde to stop.
Lion: (Holding up his hand) Stop animals! What is this madness about!?!
Parrot: (Flying about frantically) The earth is breaking up, the earth is breaking up. Squawk, squawk!
Lion: (Crossing his arms over his chest) Oh really? Who says so Parrot?
Parrot: (Halting in mid-flight) Squawk, I heard it from Monkey. (Points at Monkey)
Monkey: (Scratching his head, playing with his tail) I heard it from Anteater. (Points at Anteater)
Anteater: (Pawing at the dirt) Elephant told me so.
Elephant: (Trumpeting) He started it! (pointing to Rabbit 1)
All: Yeah, he started it, Fluffy said the earth is breaking up. (Everyone gathers around Rabbit 1)
Lion: YO! Enough! (looking at Rabbit 1) What makes you think the earth is breaking up, Fluffy?
Rabbit 1: Well, Your Highness Most Awesome Sir, ummmm, I heard it cracking with my own ears. (trembling, looking at the ground)
Narrator 2: The Lion went to investigate the sound Rabbit had heard. All the animals of the forest followed a safe distance behind.
Narrator 1: The lion investigated the original source and found that a big old coconut tree had fallen, causing a large pile of rocks to tumble and fall. A minor landslide had caused the rumblings.
Lion: Go back to your homes everyone. The earth is safe. Next time check a rumor before acting on it!
All: Thanks Lion! Next time we'll check a rumor before acting on it!
Krick Krack, Krick Krack, Put your hands together and clap, clap clap!