Robin Hood: A Political Romance

 From left: Miad Marian (Alethea Rivera) and Robin Hood (Antoime “RL” Joyce) in the Youth Onstage! production of Robin Hood: A Political Romance Photo: Ronald L. Glassman

From left: Miad Marian (Alethea Rivera) and Robin Hood (Antoime “RL” Joyce) in the Youth Onstage! production of Robin Hood: A Political Romance
Photo: Ronald L. Glassman

 

Robin Hood: A Political Romance

By Dan Friedma

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Copyright 1980

 

List of Characters

The Puppeteer (or Puppeteers)
The Singer (or Singers)
Robin Hood
Little John
Will the Cobbler
Cider
Frederick
Friar Tuck
Mother Agatha
Maid Marian
Cecily
Jane
Prince John
The Sheriff of Nottingham
Seely
A Tax Collector
A Lackey
Guards, a Priest, various puppets, shadows and extras

 

PROLOGUE

King Richard

(Appearing as a huge shadow at the back of the playing area)

We, King Richard, must now depart Our beloved homeland. We have been called by the Lord, through His Church, to defend Christiandom and glorify the Faith. With holy love and burning hatred We now journey to distant Jerusalem to defend the freedom of the Holy Land from tyranny of the Christ-hating Muslims.

It is with a heavy heart that We now leave the realm. However, We are comforted in the knowledge that We leave the Kingdom in the gentle hands of Our noble brother, Prince John. We know that until We return John will maintain Our Holy Order through which each is in his place, each loyal to his lord, and each content. People of England, Our beloved children, until Our return remain loyal to John as you would be loyal to Us.

As We now go to obey the Will of God, We call on all to obey His Will by maintaining the kingdom’s peace and order. You are duty-bound to punish all who defy Our Holy Order, such as thieves, Gypsies and Jews. In this way you shall be bringing the Crusades home, and strengthening the body politic from those who would poison it from within.

God bless you all.

(Shadow off.)


ROBIN HOOD’S LAMENT

(A storm. ROBIN huddles under a tree, wet and shivering, while the following is sung by THE SINGER/S.)

The brush is thick, the streams are wide.
They hunt me down on every side.
The woods are green, my blood is red.
They’ve placed a price upon my head.

Belly rave, Belly rave,
I shot a deer for Belly rave,
And now they hunt me to my grave,
Belly rave, Belly rave.

I’m wet, I’m cold, I’m hungry.
Death lurks behind every tree.
My feet are wet, my mouth is dry,
I live an outlaw or I die.

Belly rave, Belly rave,
I shot a deer for Belly rave,
And now they hunt me to my grave,
Belly rave, O Belly rave.

 

THE MASQUE OF SHERWOOD

(The great lawn of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Mists.  AGATHA, the Mother Superior, and MARIAN, ward to King Richard, are seated at a table on which a chess set rests. The FRIAR TUCK stands over them, observing, drinking occasionally from a pig’s bladder he has strung over his shoulder.)

Agatha
The Bishop is often considered the most valuable piece, after the Queen. But I actually prefer the Knight. He is much more subtle and flexible; very useful for a surprise attack.

Tuck
Yes. Bishops are so obvious.

Agatha
Yes.

Tuck
As are most of the clergy. However, I have found that the higher up they go the more obvious they become.

(AGATHA gives him a disapproving look. He shrugs and takes a swig.)

Marian
What I still don’t understand is why the King is the most limited in his movement. After all, he is the ruler.

Agatha
Precisely. The whole game is played for him. The movements of all the other pieces are extensions of his will. Therefore, the very limitations are the source of his power.

Tuck
Very paradoxical. Just like life.

Agatha
It’s the King’s game. That’s why it’s so important for you, as a member of the Royal Family, to learn it, Marian.

Marian
Is Richard a great player?

Agatha
No. I’m afraid not. He’s too impetuous. Good on the quick attack, but weak on long term strategy.

Tuck
But Prince Johnny, I hear, is a champion.

Marian
No!

Agatha
He’s the best I’ve ever played. His strategic ability is uncanny.

Tuck
Not yet King, but a master of the King’s game.

Marian
Don’t talk like that Friar! John will never be King while Richard lives.

Tuck
Quite true. But how much longer will that be?

(AGATHA signals TUCK to be quiet.)

Marian
When people don’t know, they imagine the worst. I’m weary of this constant speculation as to Richard’s imprisonment and death. And all John does is feed the rumor mill.

Tuck
Speak of the devil.

(PRINCE JOHN enters. The two women rise and bow.)

Prince John
How idyllic, how divinely idyllic. The cloudless robin’s egg blue of the sky, the lush lime green carpet of the Abbey’s lawn stretching to the dark primeval greens of the forest on the horizon. And two of the most lovely and learned ladies in our realm lost in the intellectual joys of a game of chess. Oh yes, and the fat Friar.

Tuck
(Bowing.) It is an honor, your Highness.

Prince John
Au contraire, au contraire. It is my honor to be welcomed among such company. Please be seated. (The women sit.) Mother Agatha, how are you and your lovely abbey?

Agatha
Quite well, my Lord.

Prince John
Instructing the Lady Marian in the royal game, I see. It will make you all the more interesting a companion for your future husband, whoever he may be, my child.

(He bends over and kisses MARIAN’S shoulder, at the same time trying to gaze down her dress. MARIAN stiffens.)

Agatha
A Gentleman kisses a Lady’s hand, sir, not her neck.

Prince John
Presuming to instruct your sovereign in the rules of courtly behavior, Mother?

Marian
I quite agree with Agatha. It is my neck and my hand and I prefer you to kiss my hand.

Prince John
(Dropping to his knees.) Your wish is my command. (He kisses her hand in grand courtly manner.) I command England, and you, oh vision of womanly perfection, command me.

(CECILY runs on stage.)

Cecily
Oh Marian, Marian I just learned the words of a new ballad.

(She notices the PRINCE, hesitates, stops, drops to her knees. JOHN hurriedly gets back on his feet.)

Excuse me, Your Highness.

Prince John
Quite all right, Cecily my dear. What was it you were so excited about just now?

Cecily
Oh nothing, Your Majesty, just a song I learned in town.

Prince John
(Clapping hands.) Oh grand, I am a poet myself, and I love songs. Sing it for us.

Agatha
I don’t think Your Highness would care for a song from the marketplace.

Prince John
You presume a great deal on Your Sovereign this afternoon. Au contraire, I love the crude songs of the common people, for in them life is reflected in its most basic, most earthy, most honest terms. Sing, Cecily. As I remember, you have a pleasant enough voice.

Cecily
Thank you, Your Highness. But perhaps Mother Superior is correct. I fear the content of this song is not fit for a Prince’s ear. 

Prince John
How remote a sovereign I would be if I could not appreciate the primitive art of my most humble vassal. Sing.

(CECILY looks to MARIAN for help. MARIAN shrugs helplessly. CECILY sings. As she sings, a small frightened man comes out of the tress and runs across the lawn. The nobles fail to notice him.)

Cecily
In the greenwood, deep in Sherwood, 
Where the birds sing and the deer spring,

(PRINCE JOHN smiles and nods his approval.)

There the greatest archer in our land
Makes his home and takes his stand
Robs from the rich to feed the poor
And fights for justice ever more.

(Still unnoticed by the group, a soldier comes out of the trees, following the small man.)

Prince John
Quite enough, Cecily my dear. You sing a seditious song, though I am quite sure your simple heart is innocent of any such intent. However, the man who wrote it should have his tongue torn from his lying mouth. This Robin Hood is getting to be a real pain in the ass, if you Ladies will excuse the expression.

Cecily
(Pointing) Oh Marian, look!

(The nobles now notice the man as he comes back across the lawn with the soldier in hot pursuit. Another soldier emerges from the trees, moving to intercept the man, who cries out and changes direction. After repeatedly dodging the soldiers, the man, WILL THE COBBLER, is trapped. One soldier holds WILL down while the other draws his sword.)

Tuck
Wait! Stop! 

(Suddenly the solder with the sword is struck by an arrow. He falls over dead. A hooded archer emerges from the woods, another arrow ready in his bow. The soldiers flee. The archer runs to the COBBLER, and helps him away. After the men have vanished into the woods:)

 Robin Hood.
 

THE FIRST PUPPET SHOW
The Story of Robin Hood’s Bold Rescue of Will the Cobbler

Puppeteer

(Standing over or to the side of his puppet theater.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up. Punch and Judy will now perform “The Story of Robin Hood’s Bold Rescue of Will the Cobbler.” This is a completely new and completely true play just written by myself, and based on passionately described eye witness accounts.

Puppet 1
I am Will the Cobbler.
With times so rough and prices so steep,
There’s not enough for my family to eat.
After the rent, and the price of leather,
And a cord of firewood to keep out the weather,
With all of this I can hardly make do,
Then along come new taxes and my hopes are through.
I can’t buy food for my little son

(He bangs his head with his hands and runs around the stage.)

Something, something, must be done.

(PUPPET 2, carrying a large loaf of bread, appears and walks past WILL.)

What is this? A loaf of bread?
Dangerous passions swim in my head.

(He hesitates for a moment, then reaches for the bread just as it moves out of reach.)

I have no money, but my son needs to eat,
And that soft white dough would taste so sweet.

(He reaches for the bread again just as PUPPET 2 walks out of reach.)

It may be wrong to steal the bread,
But it’s wronger yet to leave my son dead.

(He lunges for the bread and grabs it.)

Puppet 2
Stop, thief, stop! Help, I’ve been robbed! Help! Help!

(WILL hides by huddling in a corner of the puppet stage. PUPPET 2 runs off screaming for help. A hand springs up suddenly. On each finger is a little puppet. Collectively they are the SHERRIFF’S MEN.)

The Sheriff’s Men
Traaa-daa!
We are the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men.
We’ve come to enforce the law again.
Law and order, hip hip hooray!
With right on our side we’ll win the day.

(WILL sneezes.)

Ah-ha!

(A wild chase ensues. Judy as a “Lady” appears.)

Judy as a Lady

I’m a blushing young maiden of Prince John’s court
Walking the green rolling hills for my sport.

(Gasps. Speaks.) 

Hark: oh a-lack, what can it be?
What is this terrible flight that I see?
Oh, my heart goes pitter-pitter pat,
I’ve never seen anything like that.
A poor ragged man with a loaf of bread
Being chased by the law; he’ll soon be dead.

(Freeze action.)

Will

(To THE LADY) I stole the bread to feed my baby.

Judy as a Lady

Is that an excuse? No! Well, maybe.

(The chase continues. Then freeze action.)

Will

If my son doesn’t get this bread,
By tomorrow morning he’s sure to be dead.

Judy as a Lady

Oh how horrible, oh how bad,
To hear such a story makes me so sad.

(The chase continues. Then freeze action.)

Will

Help me lady! For pity’s sake.

Judy as a Lady

I’m just a maiden of the Court
How to help the poor I never was taught.
What can I do? What can I say?
The law is the law; the world’s that way.

(THE SHERIFF’S MEN corner WILL. He faces sure death. Suddenly the blast of Robin Hood’s horn is heard. Punch appears as ROBIN HOOD. Action freezes as he recites.) 

I’m Robin Hood, all dressed in green. 
I’m the most dashing figure you’ve ever seen.
I rob from the rich and give to the poor,
I defend the weak and even the score.
The poor and oppressed love me right well,
The rich and powerful wish me in Hell.
With my bow and arrow I show the way
For England’s poor to a better day.

(He turns to THE SHERIFF”S MEN. Speaks.) 

Unhand that honest working man, you pack of bloodthirsty hounds! 

(He attacks and quickly frees WILL. THE SHERIFF’S MEN flee amid shouts of: “Oh no! It’s Robin Hood,” “Help, it’s the Avenger of the Poor,” “Let the Sheriff fight his own battles,” etc.)

Will

Thank you, Robin, I owe you my life.
If only I could save my baby and wife.
I’ll join your band to avenge my son.
Till the nobles pay for what they’ve done.

Punch as Robin Hood

Yes, honest Will, now flee to the Green.
Hide out with my men where you won’t be seen.

Will

I will. I will. I’m Will and I will. 

(He exits.)

Judy as a Lady

Oh Robin Hood, you’re wonderful!

Punch as Robin Hood

I’m just a plain, simple bloke
Fighting against Prince John’s yoke. 

Judy as Lady

You’re the grandest hero since Sir Lancelot.
I’d really like to kiss you a lot.

Punch as Robin Hood

I’ve no time for courtly love, I find it a bore.
I’m too busy helping the poor.

Judy as a Lady

A Lady in love will not be denied.

(She kisses him.)

Punch as Punch

(He beats her on the head) No, Judy, no. That’s not in the play.

Judy as Judy

I don’t care, I enjoyed it anyway.

Punch as Punch

Off, you wench. 

(He beats her offstage.)

Punch

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the end of “The Story of Robin Hood’s Bold Rescue of Will the Cobbler.” 

MORE TAXES

(THE SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM. PRINCE JOHN enters.)

Prince John
Ah, Sheriff. (The SHERIFF bows.) Lovely country you have here, lovely.

Sheriff
I trust then that your Highness is enjoying his stay in Nottingham.

Prince John
Oh yes, quite beats London in the summer. London’s really a pest hole this time of year, you know. Lovely country, Nottingham, fresh air and all that.  But Sheriff, I must say I am somewhat concerned with the nature of the songs and puppet shows I have encountered here.

Sheriff
My sincerest apologies, that you have been exposed to such trash, Your Highness. But it does serve to illustrate the extent of the problem we are facing.

Prince John
I am quite aware of the problem. What I am here to discuss is what we can do about it.

Sheriff
I need more men, Your Highness, and better weapons. There is not a road that remains safe. Merchants traveling through the forest have been forced to hire their own guards for security. That, in turn, has forced up the price of their commodities and engendered even more discontent. It’s become a vicious cycle of crime, high prices, more crime, higher prices, and so on. I just don’t have enough men to handle the problem.

Prince John
Men and weapons cost money. You are surely aware of that. 

Sheriff
Of course I’m aware of that.

Prince John
Where do you propose to get the money?

Sheriff
From a new tax.

Prince John
(sighing.) Ah, Sheriff. Taxation is already one of the things the rabble are complaining about. Or haven’t you noticed?

Sheriff
The rabble always complain. It’s the merchants we have to worry about. And the high prices. The whole network of commerce on our island is threatened by this epidemic of banditry. Everyone hugs their town or their manor like it were their mother’s breast.

Prince John
A nice image, Sheriff.

Sheriff
What?

Prince John
Hugging a manor like a mother’s breast.

Sheriff
Uh, oh, well, I’m glad you like the image, Your Highness. But what about the idea.

Prince John
Have you presented one?

Sheriff
The tax! A new security tax. The proceeds of which would go entirely into the protection of our roads. More men and weapons to the high Sheriffs of England. The beauty of it is that when the merchants no longer have to hire their own guards, prices will come down, thus diminishing the discontent at the bottom upon which the bandits feed.

Prince John
Quite an appealing little rationale. It’s clever, the rabble may even buy it.

Sheriff
Thank you, Your Majesty.

Prince John
But there are two other factors that need to be considered. The first is that it costs money to collect taxes. If I am to lay out money to collect your tax I need to get my investment back. At least. Therefore, sixty percent of the tax collected will go to the royal treasury.

Sheriff
Sixty percent! Will it cost that much?

Prince John
Not quite. But mine is an insecure reign. If Richard were to return tomorrow I would like something to show for it.

Sheriff
I understand, my Lord.

Prince John
Of course you do. The second factor I must insist upon is that ten percent of your cut go toward the suppression of these seditious songs and entertainments.

Sheriff
The songs, Your Highness? They are definitely a nuisance, but once I have Robin Hood’s head on a stake in the town square, the songs will disappear.

Prince John
Don’t be a simpleton, Sheriff. Songs are a lot harder to kill than men.

Sheriff
Let them sing what they want. Once I clean up Sherwood Forest their songs will be so much impotent whimpering.

Prince John
If I had the country’s ballad makers I wouldn’t need an army. The songs are far more dangerous than Robin Hood the man. Ten percent goes into censorship.

Sheriff
Yes, Your Highness.

Prince John
It leaves you quite enough for your search and destroy missions.

Sheriff
You will not regret this decision.

Prince John
And now, Sheriff, though my unrequited love belongs to a Lady of the Court, I can only stand so much rejection and loneliness. Can you introduce me to any local Ladies who might be anxious to please their Prince?

Sheriff
Why yes, I think so, my Lord.

 

ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRY MEN ROB A TAX COLLECTOR

(A fat TAX COLLECTOR, lavishly dressed, walks down the road followed at five paces by a LACKEY poorly dressed and extremely overburdened with bags of money. The lackey’s attitude should be that of a cowed beast of burden. They are accompanied by two brutal looking guards.)

Tax Collector
They should have given me at least two more guards. 

(The GUARDS grunt.) 

I’m collecting the security tax, after all. The damned security tax is to pay for security. But do I get any security? Shit. 

(He spits. The LACKEY slips.) 

Up pig! This is the kind of help I can afford. A walking skeleton. My job is the most important in the Kingdom. “Taxes are the firewood that warms the house of the Prince.” Without me the Prince and all the Noble race would freeze. Freeze, damn it, and maybe they should for all they care for their loyal servant. Two guards and a lice-bitten beggar the give me. What injustice! If only King Richard could see this. Get up pig; you carry an honorable burden, though God knows you don’t deserve it. 

(LACKEY struggles to his feet.)

Guard 1
(Snarls) You make me sick.

Tax Collector
The feeling is mutual, and no surprise. Just keep your mouth shut if you want to keep your job. Watch the trees. These scum often jump out of the trees.

(An arrow suddenly kills GUARD 2. GUARD 1 reaches for the packet of arrows on his back, but before he can get one an arrow enters him through the shoulder, he staggers to his knees. ROBIN, WILL THE COBBLER, CIDER, FREDERICK, and others appear, their faces hidden deep on large green hoods. The LACKEY immediately drops the money bags and stands with his hands up. The tax collector goes for his sword, ROBIN gets his first and knocks the tax collector’s sword to the ground. An artery in the collector’s wrist has been severed, he bleeds profusely.)

Will

(Has gone immediately to the bags.) My God, Robin, I’ve never seen so much money.

Robin

(To the surveying GUARD) What type of robber is your master, a merchant or nobleman?

Guard 1
I failed to protect him, I won’t turn stool pigeon on him now.

(FREDERICK kicks the GUARD in the stomach, he doubles over. CIDER then grabs the GUARD by his hair and jerks his head up.) 

Frederick
Talk, pig.

Guard 1
Why should I obey you over my master?

(CIDER pulls him to his feet by his hair. FREDERICK grabs the GUARD’S genitals with one hand while unsheathing his knife with the other or pulls knife and holds to throat.)

Frederick
Because if you don’t you won’t have no balls left, that’s why.

(The GUARD’S knees buckle under him. He is held upright only by CIDER’S grip on his hair and FREDERICK’S on his testicles.)

Guard 1
He’s the Security Tax Collector for Nottingham County.

(FREDERICK lets go of his genitals-or withdraws his knife from his throat-and CIDER throws him to the ground. All turn to face the TAX COLLECTOR.)

Tax Collector

(Helplessly holding his bleeding wrist with his other hand.) The hand, I’ll lose my hand.

Robin
That’s not all you’re gonna lose. Will, come here. Tell this Tax Collector what you think of him.

(WILL leaves the money and walks up to the COLLECTOR.)

Will
I hate you more than I fear God. You took food from starving people. From my own little boy. You sucked his life blood. You swelled his stomach and turned him into a skeleton. My son, my only son. For you God-damned noblemen. We should cut off your fat and fry your meat in it. The starving have every right to eat the rich.

Tax Collector
Take the money.

Robin
Give him what he deserves, Will.

(WILL draws his knife and stabs the COLLECTOR repeatedly until he is dead. He then breaks down in tears, crying for the memory of his son. ROBIN puts his arm around WILL’S shoulders to comfort him.)

Cider
(Indicating the GUARD) What do we do with this one?

Robin
He held his sword to the throats of widows and took the bread from the mouths of their children. Kill him.

(CIDER stabs the GUARD in the back of his neck. He keels over dead.)

Frederick
(Aims an arrow at the LACKEY) Let’s finish them off.

Lackey
I did it because I had to eat. I was starving.

Frederick
That’s what they all say.

Will
Leave him alone.

Lackey
(Referring to the TAX COLLECTOR) I hated him.

Cider
(To the LACKEY) You’ve been carrying the tears of the poor. You must be exhausted.

(FREDERICK reluctantly lowers his bow.)

Robin
The guy’s hungry. Blindfold him; we’ll take him to camp and feed him.

Lackey
(Walks over to the dead TAX COLLECTOR) Pig. (Spits on the body.)

(The LACKEY is blindfolded. The MERRY MEN pick up the money bags. ROBIN looks down at the TAX COLLECTOR.)

Robin
If only you were Prince John.

(All exit.)


REDISTRIBUTING THE WEALTH

(The interior of a poor artisan’s hut. A woman, JANE, is bent over a cobbler’s bench making shoes by candlelight. ROBIN, in disguise, knocks at the door, she is startled. She reaches for the cutting knife at her side.)

Jane
Who are you?

Robin
(Offstage) A traveler.

Jane
(Stands up, knife in hand.) What ya want?

Robin
A meal, Mistress.

Jane
There’s an inn in Nottingham.

Robin
I’ve been on foot all day and would appreciate a bite to eat now, mistress.

Jane
You can pay, can  you?

Robin
Yes, and well.

Jane
(Decides) All right. 

(She removes the bar from the door. Stands facing ROBIN with knife in hand, prepared to defend herself.)

Robin
(Opening his coat to reveal he is unarmed.) I’m an honest man, Mistress. I just want to pay a fair price for a fair meal.

Jane
Sit down. (He does.) Don’t have nothing fancy. Just stew.

Robin
Stew sounds fine.

Jane
There’s no meat in it.

Robin
Then I won’t eat meat, will I? Are you alone Mistress?

Jane
I’m a widow. But don’t you get no ideas. I know how to use this knife.

Robin
If we’re alone, then we can talk. I come from Will.

Jane
If you’re one of the Sheriff’s men I know nothing about him. I don’t know where he is. He’s dead.

Robin
You’ve got it all wrong, Mistress. I’m one of Robin Hood’s men. Will is with us.

Jane
Why should I believe you?

Robin
(ROBIN pulls out a pair of shoes.) Will said you’d know his work. 

(He tosses the shoes to her.)

Jane
(She studies the shoes.) This is Will’s. (She places the knife on the table.) He’s alive then?

Robin
Not only alive; he’s set up a cobbler’s bench under a lean-to in the woods.

Jane
(She kisses the shoes.) Oh, sir, how is he? Is he healthy? Does he have enough to eat?

Robin
Enough? Mistress, we live off the fat of the land, and the rich. Will’s never been so well fed in his life.

Jane
Does he know our boy’s dead?

Robin
He knows. Oh Lord, he knows. With his own hand he killed the tax collector who took the last of your savings.

Jane
God forgive me. But I’m glad. Robin Hood is the vengeful arm of the Lord.

Robin
I don’t know about that, Mistress. We’ve never spoken with the Lord.

Jane
The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Robin
Will wants to know how you are.

Jane
I’m alive. Look, I’ve taken up his trade. I watched long enough, Lord knows. I’m not as good as he is. Yet. But I’m not bad. I sell them. Of course the Guild won’t let me in because I am a woman, so I don’t get the Guild prices. But there’s only me to feed now. So I survive.

Robin
There’s two to feed tonight, Mistress. I really am hungry.

Jane
Of course, I’m sorry. 

(She goes to get the stew from the fire-place. She serves the stew. They eat in silence for a moment.)

Robin
What this stew needs is a little meat.

Jane
Sir, I told you… 

(Robin produces a stack of coins or a money bag and puts it on the table.)

Robin
Could use some carrots too. Green beans would be nice. Cabbage stew is fine, but it could be better with a few more ingredient.

(Finishes his stew.)

Jane
Sir, thank you, but I can’t accept it.

Robin
Why not? It’s yours. You’ve worked hard all your life and you deserve to have a thicker stew.

Jane
Yes, maybe, but I…

Robin
No maybes; you need it.

Jane
Thank you.

Robin
Don’t spend big sums all at once or they’ll get suspicious. But eat better.

Jane
Yes. As long as Robin Hood is in Sherwood. Can I see Will?

Robin
Soon. He can’t come into town because they’ll recognize him. But maybe we can get you out to Sherwood some night.

Jane
Tell him I miss him.

Robin
He knows.

Jane
Tell him.

Robin
I’ll tell him.

(ROBIN puts up hood and turns to leave.)

Jane
Sir, give him these. 
(She tosses him a pair of her shoes.) 
I think they’ll fit him.

Robin
(Bowing) Goodnight, Mistress Shoemaker. 

(ROBIN exits. JANE picks up the money.)

 

THE SECOND PUPPET SHOW
Robin Hood and the Tax Collector

Puppeteer
Ladies and Gentlemen, Punch and Judy will now present “Robin Hood and the Tax Collector.”

(A PEASANT puppet at one side of the puppet stage. Enter the puppet TAX COLLECTOR and two puppet GUARDS at opposite side of the stage.)

Tax Collector
I am the Tax Collector.
I’m cold blooded and I’m mean.
I’m the vilest villain you’ve ever seen.
I take from the peasants their last piece of bread,
And if they don’t like it I leave them dead.
Yes, I rob from the poor and give to the rich.
When you get down to it, I’m a son-of-a-bitch.
(Shouts)
Taxes, Taxes, Pay Up Fast!

Peasant
I have no money left to pay.
Please come back another day.

Tax Collector
No money, eh? You piece of scum!
Make him pay, the peasant bum.

(GUARDS turn the PEASANT upside down and shake him till a coin drops out.)

Tax Collector and Guards
Ha, Ha, Ha! We are the law.

Peasant
The law feeds the rich and bleeds the poor. (The PEASANT runs off.)

Tax Collector and Guards
Sing heigh for the open road
Sing ho for our bloody skill
Sing jolly-oh wherever we go
Prince Johnny’s purse we fill.
We fill, we fill, Prince Johnny’s purse we fill.
With our bloody skill we fill and fill and fill and fill and fill.

(Fanfare. PUNCH AS ROBIN HOOD appears.)

Punch as Robin Hood
You’ve filled your last money bag with the tears of the poor. 
I won’t let you get away with this robbery anymore.

Tax Collector
And who are you, you loud-mouthed lout?
You’re in my way and you’d better get out.

Punch as Robin Hood
I’m Robin Hood.

Tax Collector and Guards
(In fear.) Robin Hood!

Punch as Robin Hood
Hand over those bags.

Tax Collector
Never, never, never, never.

Punch as Robin Hood
Oh yeah? 

(A big fight. TAX COLLECTOR and GUARDS flee quickly.)

This money will now be returned to the poor.
I’ll fight for the serfs forever more.

(Fanfare, PUNCH AS ROBIN HOOD exits with the moneybags just as the SHERIFF’S MEN arrive and disperse the crowd while the PUPPETEER beats a hasty retreat.)


HOPE  BECOMES A TORMENT

The Singer

(Sings)
There comes a time when you don’t want to hope anymore
When breathing seems a torment
When all you can do is sit in the dirt of the road
And stare in front of you.
Even blinking your eyes is too painful
So you don’t.
You can’t. 
The bottoms of your feet turn soft
The flesh dries up on your bones
And your whole body
And your whole soul
Becomes a Hunger.
Then Fear curls up under a tree and goes to sleep.
And you don’t yearn for food anymore
You yearn for death.
There comes a time when you don’t want God anymore
Because Hope has become a torment.

MARIAN LEARNS THE TRUTH

(Again the lawn of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Mists. MARIAN is playing chess with herself. She sits at one side of the table, carefully considers the board, makes a move, gets up, goes around to the other side of the table, sits, strikes a different pose, considers the board, makes a move, gets up, etc. CECILY sits in a third chair looking terribly forlorn.)

Cecily
Oh Marian, this is really boring.

Marian
I asked you to play with me.

Cecily
I don’t like playing with you; you always win. Besides, I’m too depressed to concentrate.

Marian
Would you stop, Cecily? It was really no big deal.

Cecily
That’s easy for you to say. I’m the one who wore the same color dress as Lady Ambrosia to the biggest jousting match of the season.

Marian
Nobody noticed except you and her.

Cecily
She was just so cruel about it.

Marian
It was an embarrassing incident. It’s all over now.

Cecily
It’s ruined my whole summer.

Marian
Could you please be quiet? I’m trying to concentrate.

Cecily
Playing with yourself is the silliest thing you’ve ever done. It looks ridiculous.

Marian
I don’t care what it looks like, it’s stimulating.

Cecily
Even Agatha says only the most experienced players should try it.

Marian
Agatha’s far too cautious. It’s great fun, I always pretend I’m doing it with somebody interesting.

Cecily
And who are you playing with now?

Marian
Robin Hood.

Cecily
Really, Marian! Do you really think a bandit could play chess?

Marian
Oh yes. Robin Hood would be a brilliant player. He’s never been caught, has he? He’s always a couple of moves ahead of his opponent.

Cecily
Well, I certainly wouldn’t play with Robin Hood. I imagine he’s far too crude and aggressive for my taste.

Marian
I rather appreciate aggressiveness, if it’s also skillful.

Cecily
How can you get so involved in your dumb game while I’m suffering so?

Marian
It’s not dumb. Play with me. It’ll take your mind off yesterday.

Cecily
Marian, I wish you’d grow up and concern yourself with the problems of real life.

(CECILY stalks off. PRINCE JOHN enters with a scroll and a pencil. He pretends that he doesn’t notice CECILY.)

Prince John
Why, Maid Marian, playing chess again, I see. (He goes directly to the opposite side of the table, studies the board a moment, moves a piece.) Checkmate.

Marian
Why are you always ruining my games?

Prince John
Why play with yourself when you could play with me?

Marian
Frankly, I find my imagination much more pleasant.

Prince John
No doubt the fantasies of a young girl can be quite pleasant. I would be ever so thrilled if you would share one with me.

Marian
(Changing the subject.) What is it that you’re writing, Your Highness?

Prince John
This? Ah, a poem. A poem about the big event at yesterday’s jousting match. But I can’t find a rhyme for the last line. Listen: (Reads)

Two Ladies appeared on the scene
Each wearing a gown colored green
Then the feathers went flying
‘Till one Lady crying…

“’Till one Lady crying…” That’s where I’m stuck, I can’t come up with a rhyme for “green.”

Marian
(Under her breath.) Please M’Lord, Cecily is right there. She might hear you.

Prince John
Oh is she? Well, she has a sense of humor I hope. (Turning) Cecily, my dear, what do you think of my second rhyme? (Reads)

Two Ladies were dressed quite the same,
Though neither was really to blame.
“That’s my gown!” cried the older,
Who was naturally bolder
And the younger turned blood red with shame.

Cecily
I’m glad the Prince can find amusement in such a common occurrence.

Prince John
Common? Not at all; it’s the talk of the Court. That’s why I’m attempting to immortalize it in verse.

(Enter the SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM, out of breath.)

Sheriff
Ah, Prince John, there you are. May I speak with you a moment?

Prince John
Is it important?

Sheriff
Yes. It is, very. A grave matter of state, I would say.

Prince John
Oh you would, would you? Well. Excuse me a moment, Ladies. Duty calls. 

(PRINCE JOHN and SHERIFF move out of earshot of MARIAN and CECILY.) 

What is it that brings you huffing and puffing from Nottingham, Sheriff? Have you captured Robin Hood?

Sheriff
No, M’Lord. 

Prince John
I didn’t think so.

Sheriff
I will though, soon. I’ll teach the Serf to know His place. I’ll teach so good a lesson that the fear will be passed down from generation to generation in the sour milk of those peasant bitches.

Prince John
Yes, yes, no doubt you will. But what have you dragged me away from Lady Marian for?

Sheriff
(Composing himself) A messenger has arrived from London with another note from Ludwig of Bavaria concerning your brother.

Prince John
A fourth note? What a bore. You’d think Ludwig would get it through his thick skull by now that if he wants to hold Richard in his dungeon that’s his problem.

Sheriff
He’s apparently still hoping for a ransom, M’Lord.

Prince John
A stubborn little monarch, isn’t he? Or perhaps just a coward who doesn’t have the stomach to slit Richard’s throat.

Sheriff
I wouldn’t mind doing that myself, Your Majesty.

Prince John
You certainly know which side your bread is buttered on, don’t you? 
(Starts to scribble on his scroll.) 
Well, if Ludwig wants another response we’ll give him one he can’t misinterpret. You can read, can’t you Sheriff?

Sheriff
Of course! I studied at the Abbey of…

Prince John
Quite impressive
(Hands the SHERIFF the scroll and pencil.) 
Here’s my response to Ludwig. 
(Turns from the SHERIFF.) 
Marian, would you do me the honor of a stroll in the garden? 

(MARIAN unenthusiastically takes his arm. PRINCE JOHN and MARIAN exit.)

Sheriff
Of all the nerve! Can I read? He thinks we’re all a bunch of barbarians up here. That snot-nosed kid. Always playing his silly games; won’t he ever give Ludwig a straight answer. Ah, well, let’s see what he wrote: (reads)
Dear Ludwig, you pot-bellied sot,
Yes, I know my brother you’ve got.
You may think I’m cryin’
For Richard the Lion,
But I say: let him rot, let him rot!
(Chuckles) That’s more like it! I’ll leave Richard to you, John, and you leave Robin Hood to me.

(The SHERIFF exits. Cecily, understanding what she has overheard, stares after the SHERIFF, slowly sinks into a chair, stares at the chessboard. Slow fade to black out.)
 

THE MERRY MEN

(The MERRY MEN enter and set up camp: chopping wood, starting and feeding the fire, tanning hides, sharpening weapons, mending clothes and shoes, chopping up food for a stew, etc. The coordinated rhythm of these various activities is the essence of this sequence. The overall effect should be of a smoothly running but boring routine.The boredom gets to Frederick, who has been splitting logs, first.)

Frederick
I feel like smashing someone’s skull
(He splits a log with particular force.)

Cider
You always feel like smashing someone’s skull.

Robin
Why don’t you go hunting, Frederick?

Frederick
We don’t need no food.

Robin
Go hunting anyway. I’d rather you kill a deer than one of us.

Frederick
Deer nothing. I’ll get me a boar.

Cider
Good, we’ll have pork chops.

(FREDERICK grunts and exits.)

Will the Cobbler
How are your shoes holding up, Robin?

Robin
You just put new soles on them last week.

Will
Oh yeah.

Cider
I bet we have the best shoes of any outlaws in the world.

Robin
I think I’ll go for a walk. Try to wear out my soles for you, Will. 

(ROBIN exits.)

Will
Thanks.

 

ROBIN HOOD MEETS LITTLE JOHN

(About an hour later, elsewhere in Sherwood Forest. A fallen log crosses a deep stream. Two men approach the log from opposite sides of the stream. When they first notice each other they quicken their steps, each wishing to be the first to cross. They meet halfway across. One man is a very large, powerfully built peasant carrying a long staff. The other is ROBIN HOOD armed, as always, with his bow and arrow.)

Little John
I was here first.

Robin
Step aside for your betters, man.

Little John
I’ve stepped aside for my betters all my life, I’m not going to do it anymore.

Robin
I don’t move for any man.

Little John
(Shrugs.) Then we have to fight it out, don’t we? 

(LITTLE JOHN raises his staff and takes a step towards ROBIN. ROBIN draws his bow.)

Robin
This arrow will be in your throat before your stick reaches my skull.

Little John
(Stops.) You’re a little coward, ain’t ya? You’d shoot a man armed only with a staff.

Robin
(Lowers bow.) It’s equality you want, is it?

Little John
No man’s my better when it’s one on one.

Robin
You think a lot of yourself, don’t you, peasant?

Little John
Enough.

Robin
All right. Stay there. I’ll beat the shit out of you with a stick, if that’s what you want. 

(LITTLE JOHN laughs. ROBIN HOOD backs off the log, returns with a staff. Quickly and silently he jabs LITTLE JOHN a hard one in the stomach. LITTLE JOHN doubles over and swings at ROBIN’S legs. ROBIN jumps, avoids staff, but is off balance as he comes down. LITTLE JOHN gets him in the side of the torso. ROBIN is about to fall over but regains his balance and retaliates with a swing that hits LITTLE JOHN hard in the side.)

Little John
You’re not bad, little man. 

(ROBIN is panting too hard to answer. They continue fighting. Finally ROBIN bashes one across LITTLE JOHN’S chest, which almost winds him. LITTLE JOHN recovers in a rage.) 

All right, you son of a bitch. 

(He comes at ROBIN fast and furious, overwhelming him with blows until he tumbles off the log into the stream. As he looks worriedly into the stream) 

You’re not dead, are you?

Robin
(His head appearing from underwater) 
Almost.

Little John
I didn’t hurt you too bad, did I?

Robin
Bad enough. You’re the best damn staff fighter I’ve ever seen.

Little John
You’re the closest anyone ever came to beating me. 

(ROBIN blows three times on his horn.) 

What the hell…? 

(The MERRY MEN begin to appear, bows drawn, aimed at LITTLE JOHN.) 

You’re a coward after all, aren’t you, little man? You’re gonna have your friends finish what you couldn’t.

Frederick
Should we kill him, Robin?

Robin
Kill the best staff fighter in Nottinghamshire? Not unless we have to.

Little John
Robin? Are you Robin Hood?

Robin
That’s what they call me.

Little John
You’re the man I was looking for.

Robin
Why?

Little John
I want to join you.

Robin
Is the law after you?

Little John
No. I hate the nobles. You rob from the rich, don’t you?

Robin
You mean you choose to be an outlaw?

Little John
It’s the only way I see of getting off my knees.

Robin
Put your arrows away, men.

(All begin to obey, except FREDERICK.)

Frederick
You’re going to let him live after what he did to you?

Robin
I want the only man who can beat Robin Hood on Robin Hood’s side.

(FREDERICK puts his arrow away.)

What’s your name, Man?

Little John
John Little.

Cider
Little! That’s a laugh, a big guy like you. Little John, that’s what I’m gonna call ya. 

Little John
Call me anything you like.

Robin
Frederick, did you get us that boar?

Frederick
Damned right I did. A fat one, too.

Robin
Then let’s take Little John to dinner,

Cider
Sounds good. I’ve had my mouth set on pork chops all day.

(They all begin to exit. WILL THE COBBLER sidles up to LITTLE JOHN.)

Will
Looks to me like you could do with a new pair of shoes.

(Exit all)

 

ROBIN HOOD MEETS HIMSELF

( It is late that night. ROBIN and LITTLE JOHN are gnawing on pork ribs from FREDERICK’S boar and drinking wine.  Other MERRY MEN are lying on the grass sleeping or eating. Perhaps one is playing chords on a lute.)

Little John
I’ve had it up to here. They’ve been pissing and shitting on me all my life. All my God damn life. And what did I do about it?  I  got angry and beat up on my friends, other serfs. Not on the people that were shitting on my face. And when I  realized that, that I couldn’t touch the sons of bitches, I got angrier. Until my whole life was coiled and clenched and throbbing with anger. With frustration. And I’d explode and beat up on some poor stinking peasant again.
Until I heard about you. People started telling me stories about you. How you robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. It took a while for it to sink in, but the more stories I heard the more I thought about you. And it slowly came to me that you were the way out. You were the answer for the poor. That we had to join up with you and fight the rich. To take their shit and ram it back down their throats.

Robin
Hold on there John. You’re giving me more credit than I deserve. I’m just a thief. 

Little John
But you’re not, that’s just it. You should hear the way the serfs talk about you. They talk about you like you were the new King Arthur.

Robin
King Arthur! Don’t be ridiculous. I’m just a serf like them.

Little John
Right! Don’t you see? That’s why they love you. You’re like them, like us, of us, you are us. Only you’re doing what we don’t have the guts to do.

Robin
I rob from the rich because they’re the ones who have the money. And I only give to the poor after I take what I need, after I take my cut. What else can I do with it when I’m stuck out here in the woods?

Little John
Maybe. Maybe that’s how you started. But you’re more now. You’re no thief anymore, you’re an avenger. When you shoot your arrow into a nobleman it comes from all of us.

Robin
Do people really think that?

Little John
They know it. I know it. When I saw the puppet show about how you killed that tax collector, I knew.

Robin
You knew what you wanted to know.

Little John
Robin, you can turn England upside down if you want to.

Robin
I just want to go to sleep. I want to let my ribs heal.

Little John
This is the first night I can remember that I’ll go to sleep happy.
 

AGATHA GIVES ADVICE

(AGATHA’S cell late at night. AGATHA is seated at a tall desk reading an enormous Latin text by candlelight. We watch her deep in study for at least a minute. Then there is a knock at the door.)

Agatha
Yes?

Marian
It’s me, Marian.

Agatha
Marian? Come in child. 

(MARIAN enters, her body wrapped in a long cape, her head covered by a shawl.)

Marian
I’m really sorry to burst in on you in the middle of the night like this. But I need to talk to you. I need your advice and I don’t want John to know I’m here. (dropping the shawl from her head) no one can hear us here can they?

Agatha
No. What’s this all about Marian?

Marian
It’s a matter of life and death.

Agatha
Whose life and death?

Marian
I have learned that Richard is being held for ransom by Ludwig of Bavaria. John has received four ransom notes. Four! And he refuses to pay. He wants Richard to die. Cecily heard the whole thing with her own ears. She heard him say “Let him rot.”

Agatha
“Let him rot?”

Marian
Yes, can you believe it? I can’t believe it! I mean, I find John’s attitude despicable, you know that. He treats the peasants so shabbily, he really does. He’s a dishonorable coward who likes to throw his weight around. And he’s a letch, he’s constantly breathing down my neck, staring up my dress, and touching me in that particularly slimy insipid way he has. But this? Letting his own brother die? The man is a monster.

Agatha
The man is like many other men.

Marian
Aren’t you shocked? I mean, don’t you understand? John is conspiring to let Richard die. A murderer is resting on the throne.

Agatha
That’s hardly a new phenomenon. Nor is Richard’s situation new to me; I have known for some time.

Marian
You have?

Agatha
Yes, and so has most of the Court.

Marian
The Court playing me for a fool! A silly little fool. Let them think what they will. But you, Agatha, how could you? Why?

Agatha
I am your tutor, your confessor, and with Richard gone, I have tried to be your protector. I did not deem it in your best interest to worry you over a matter you could in no way alter, nor to burden you with the danger that your knowledge of this situation would put you in.

Marian
You have treated me like a child.

Agatha
Marian, you have been a child.

Marian
Then this is childhood’s end. I don’t mean to be disrespectful or ungrateful, Agatha, but you had no right, no right to keep this from me. I must have the truth. You owe me the truth.

Agatha
Now that you know the truth pray God grant you the serenity to accept it.

Marian
Serenity? While Richard is held in chains? Serenity in the company of a murderer? In the face of injustice? Such serenity is not in my nature.

Agatha
Such serenity is a Christian value.

Marian
And hypocrisy is a Christian sin.

Agatha
It is a sinful world, Marian, and there is no way to survive out there without sin. No way. If you speak your mind to John or the Court, you yourself will be in chains in a matter of hours, poisoned in a matter of weeks. Either you are a hypocrite or you are dead. Serenity and patience are virtues because they are means of survival.

Marian
(sits on the stool behind desk) 
Oh Agatha, we’re checkmated, aren’t we?

Agatha
Check but not checkmate.

Marian
How so?

Agatha
Hope. That’s all. Hope is also a virtue, a means of survival.

Marian
(noticing the book) 
What is this you’re reading?

Agatha
A history. A Roman history. About a slave rebellion led by a slave named Spartacus.

Marian
The slaves revolted? Did they win?

Agatha
No, but they came close, and they shook Rome to her very foundations. This situation with the serfs running off to join Robin Hood has gotten me curious.

Marian
Do you think Robin Hood is a Spartacus?

Agatha
Hardly. Robin Hood is just a bandit. Spartacus organized and led an army of slaves against the Imperial Army of Rome.

Marian
Do you think he could become Spartacus?

Agatha
There are no more slaves. Today we are all Christians and understand that whatever our station on this earth, all souls are equal in the eyes of God.

Marian
Agatha, I am no longer a schoolgirl. Please answer my question.

Agatha
It is not impossible that under the right conditions Robin Hood could become the leader of a peasant rebellion.

Marian
John knows that, doesn’t he?

Agatha
John fears the potential of Robin Hood even more than he fears the return of Richard. When there is rumbling at the bottom, there is trembling at the top.

Marian
I see the way out of check.

Agatha
How?

Marian
I will use Robin Hood as my knight to capture John’s castle.

Agatha
What makes you so sure that Robin Hood will agree to be your knight?

Marian
I’m not sure. I’m not. But Prince John is his enemy and I now realize Prince John is my enemy. Alone I have no way to strike at John, but with Robin Hood…

Agatha
Do you understand the risk involved?

Marian
Yes. My life. But what is my life if I do nothing? Just a piece of parchment written on by others, then crumpled up and thrown away. I’d rather die trying to write my own story.

Agatha
Quite a cleverly extended metaphor, but really Marian…

Marian
Agatha, please stop being my protector. Be my advisor and friend. Can it work?

Agatha
(After a careful and painful pause) 
It’s not impossible under certain conditions.

Marian
(hugs AGATHA) 
Oh, I knew you’d like it!

Agatha
I was afraid something like this would happen.

Marian
Don’t be afraid. Won’t it be wonderful if we can pull it off?

Agatha
Yes. It would be wonderful.

Marian
Now, if I’m not a total fool, I’ve gotten the distinct impression that Friar Tuck has ways of communicating with Robin Hood.

Agatha
I’ve gotten that impression.

Marian
Please send him to me as soon as possible. He must set up a rendezvous. 

Agatha
Marian, you realize that Robin Hood is not a gentleman. He knows nothing of honor, chivalry, or any of the courtly arts. He may not even believe in God.

Marian
Of course. Meeting him will be very interesting. You will send Tuck, won’t  you?

Agatha
I’ll send him.

Marian
Agatha, thank you. I came here full of fear and despair. Thanks to your wise council and knowledge of history I leave armed with hope and a plan. How will I ever repay you?

Agatha
Just be careful.

Marian
I will now put on my smile for John and live the hypocrite. Not with serenity but with loathing. Is loathing a virtue if it helps you survive?

Agatha
I’ll have to think about that one.

Marian
Tell the other Sisters that I came for a midnight confession.

Agatha
That would be a lie.

Marian
There is no way to survive in the world without sin.

Agatha
I am not of the world.

Marian
Oh Agatha, please don’t fool yourself so. 

(MARIAN exits. AGATHA goes back to her book. Reads for a moment, looks up, shakes her head and chuckles. Then she begins to read again. Slow fade to blackout.)

THE SONG OF ACTION

The Singer

(Talking against the music.)

How long can you live with pigs
Before you wallow in the shit?
Not too long, I’ll bet.

(Sings. Music very light and airy.)

The choice is yours, so think it through
If you take step one, you’ll take step two.
You can wallow and wallow with pride,
You can stick your head in the dirt and hide,
Or you can try to climb out of the pen.
You could make that choice, but then
Be prepared:
They’ll try to pull you back in the shit again.


FRIAR TUCK MEETS WITH THE MERRY MEN

(A clearing in the forest near FRIAR TUCK’S hut, or inside the hut. The MERRY MEN, including  ROBIN, LITTLE JOHN, FREDERICK, CIDER, and WILL THE COBBLER are seated with FRIAR TUCK passing around pig bladders filled with wine and big loaves of warm bread. The wine and bread are passed around ceremoniously, everyone taking a hunk of bread and hit of wine.)

Robin
To what do we owe the honor of this invitation, Tuck?

Tuck
I speak now as an emissary of Maid Marian, ward of King Richard.

Robin
What does Maid Marian, ward of King Richard, want with me?

Frederick
Your head, I’d guess.

Tuck
She wants to establish an alliance.

Robin
Maid Marian, ward of King Richard, wants an alliance with a common thief?

Tuck
An alliance with Robin Hood, champion of the poor.

Little John
What did I tell you, Robin?

Robin
What’s this all about, Tuck?

Tuck
Maid Marian wishes to meet with you in order to propose a working relationship between your band, herself, and certain other of the nobility against Prince John and for the rightful sovereign, King Richard.

Robin
I’m not a political man. I don’t want anything to do with it.

Tuck
On the contrary. You are the most political man in England. The people believe in you and you are well armed. Political power rests on the will of the people and springs from the quiver of a bow.

Frederick
What does this Marian have, besides her jewelry and her virginity, that could be of any use to us?

Tuck
She has information, money, places of refuge and influential friends, including the King. You could be of much use to each other.

Little John
Toward what end, friar? What can a serf turned outlaw and a noblewoman have in common?

Tuck
Hatred of Prince John. The serfs are not the only class with grievances against the “gentle hand” of our Prince. He has stepped on too many toes. Together our aching feet can kick him to the ground.

Little John
I doubt a Noble can hate Prince John like a serf can hate him.

Tuck
Of course he can’t. But why not use his genteel hatred against a common enemy?

Little John
Friar, I’m afraid they’ll use us. Why should we work with them when we have the power to raise an army of the poor and get rid of all nobles?

Tuck
You have no such power, at lease not in the next few years. What you can achieve is the return of Richard, a lifting of the excess taxation, abolition of the anti-poaching laws, a lowering of the price of bread. Concrete reforms. You’d be fools to turn your backs on nobles who would help you win those reforms under Richard.

Robin
When and where does she wish to meet?

Tuck
Next Wednesday at the Glen of Three Oaks.

Robin
What do you say, Little John?

Little John
(after an intense moment of inner struggle) 
Meet with her. There can’t be any harm in that. Find out what she has to offer. Don’t make any commitments. After we hear what she has to say we can decide.

Frederick
Where the hell does this overgrown bumpkin come off telling you what to do, Robin?

Robin
I asked him.

Frederick
You didn’t ask me, but I’ll tell you what I think. I think the whole think stinks like a shit pot. We got nothing to do with politics, we never did. Ever since Little John got here, everybody’s beginning to think we’re a bunch of saints. A bunch of fools, that’s what you are if you believe his crap.

Robin
So you think we shouldn’t go to the meeting?

Frederick
Oh no. Go. Go. All of us. Let’s rob Marian and her friends of everything they got. Then let’s take her back here and take turns with her.

Little John
Frederick, you’re the only fool here.

(Frederick springs up, knife in hand, going for LITTLE JOHN’S throat. ROBIN sticks out his leg and trips FREDERICK. FREDERICK falls on his face.)

Robin
Frederick, I’m sick and tired of your tantrums. You were a cut-throat when I found you and you’re a cut-throat now. You’re beginning to turn my stomach. You’re the only man I know who likes to kill.

Frederick
Damn right I like to kill. And I’m good at it, too.

Robin
Just get out of here. Go hunting or something.

(FREDERICK storms off.)

Cider
Should I follow him, Robin?

Robin
Naw. He’ll cool off.

Little John
You know him better than I do. If it were up to me, I’d kill him.

Robin
Kill him? Frederick was one of the first to join me. Don’t worry, he’s alright. What do the rest of you say to the Friar’s proposal?
Will the Cobbler
What Little John says make sense to me.

(There is general agreement from the band.)

Robin
Well Friar, tell Maid Marian, ward of King Richard, that we’ll meet with her. Nothing more.

Tuck
I’ll tell her. Nothing more.

Robin
And now, if you’re interested, we happen to have a fat venison waiting to be roasted back at camp.

Tuck
I always have time for a feast. Eating will be the one earthly pleasure I’ll really miss in Heaven.
 

SONG OF MERCY

The Singer

(sings)

Mercy’s not a word that will help you survive,
And hesitation will get you killed.
Be brutal, be swift
Take a stand and don’t shift.
He who hesitates winds up dead.

If you pull a knife, be prepared to cut.
If you’re not, you yourself will be stabbed.
It’s hard to hurt others,
But harder still to be hurt.
So slice swiftly and be ready to run.

Mercy’s not a word that will help you survive,
And hesitation will get you killed.
Be brutal, be swift
Take a stand and don’t shift.

He who hesitates winds up dead.

 

NEGOTIATING THE TERMS OF AN ACT OF VIOLENCE

(MARIAN and ROBIN at opposite ends of the stage.)

Robin
Well, here I am.

Marian
Robin Hood?

Robin
Who else were you expecting?

Marian
Are you alone?

Robin
Of course I’m not alone. My men are in every tree. So don’t try any tricks.

Marian
What kind of tricks do you think me capable of?

Robin
Bringing the Prince’s men.

Marian
Sir! I would never even think of such a thing. I am a person of honor.

Robin
Glad to hear it. But my men stay in the trees.

Marian
If you are not going to trust me, there’s nothing we can talk about.

Robin
I didn’t say that, my Lady. I just take precautions. A man in my position must take precautions.

Marian
Our agreement was that we would meet alone.

Robin
My men are there to protect me, not to harm you.

Marian
All right, since I apparently have no choice about your men in the trees, let us proceed.

Robin
Sounds good to me.

Marian
We both know what Prince John is doing to the country. What you may not know is that Richard is being held for ransom that John will not pay. Richard will be killed soon unless John is forced to meet the ransom. I can’t force him. But perhaps together we could.

Robin
How could I force the Prince to do anything, my Lady?

Marian
You could kidnap him.

Robin
Kidnap the Prince of England?

Marian
Right.

Robin
How am I to get anywhere near the Prince?

Marian
Leave that part to me. I bait the trap and you spring it.

Robin
And what do we do with the Prince once we have him?

Marian
We hold him until he hands Richard’s ransom over to me, which I will have delivered to Bavaria by a trusted courier.

Robin
What’s in it for me?

Marian
You get Richard.

Robin
(chuckles) And what does that mean?

Marian
What does it mean? It means the rightful King restored to his throne. It means a vain, petty tyrant replaced by the benevolent and just rule of Richard the Lion Hearted.

Robin
That’s a bit abstract for me, Your Graciousness. You see, to us poor folk such high tone phrases don’t mean much. We think in terms of land and game and the exact number of coins in our pocket.

Marian
I see. Well, of course, in exchange for such loyalty and courage, Richard will pardon all your crimes.

Robin
And for my men?

Marian
The same.

Robin
And for the serfs?

Marian
The serfs? What can Richard do for the serfs?

Robin
Repeal all the taxes leveled by John. Force the price of bread down. Allow us to hunt on the common grounds.

Marian
I can’t speak for Richard on these matters.

Robin
Excuse me, my lady, but you must. Or it seems Richard will never speak again.

Marian
I will do my utmost to prevail with Richard.

Robin
I need a guarantee or the risk isn’t worth it.

Marian
I can’t guarantee.

Robin
Then I can’t kidnap the Prince.

Marian
Guaranteed.

Robin
Alright.

Marian
It’s agreed then?

Robin
I’ll have to talk it over with my men.

Marian
Are you not the Lord of your outlaws?

Robin
We have no Lord, my Lady. We are all free men of equal standing.

Marian
An odd concept. How do you decide anything?

Robin
We vote.

Marin
Well, vote then. But I trust you will use whatever influence you have over your “free men of equal standing.” Please inform me of your decision through Tuck.

Robin
Fine. 

(MARIAN extends her hand to be kissed. ROBIN shakes it.)

Marian
A Gentleman usually kisses a Lady’s hand, sir.

Robin
Do I need to remind  you, Lady Marian, that I am not a Gentleman? Besides, we are not courting. We are making a deal.

Marian
Quite right. 
(She returns the shake.)

 

THE THIRD PUPPET SHOW
New Hope for England

Judy as a Lady
Well, vote then. But I trust you will use whatever influence you have over your “free men of equal standing.” Please inform me of your decision through the fat friar.

Punch as Robin Hood
Fine. 

(JUDY extends her hand to be kissed. PUNCH AS ROBIN kisses it and continues to kiss her arm, higher and higher.)

Judy as a Lady
Sir, what are you doing?

Punch as Robin
My heart beats madly with new hope for England.

Judy as a Lady
As does mine. Our hearts now beat as one.

Punch as Robin Hood
Then let us seal our vows with a kiss. (Big kiss on the lips.) And now, my sweet Lady, will you stand us the honor of attending a merry banquet here in Sherwood Forest?

Judy as a Lady
Nothing would please me more.

(A backdrop descends within the puppet stage, depicting a great nighttime banquet in a glen in Sherwood Forest. People dancing joyfully around a big bonfire. Music begins simultaneously. PUNCH AS ROBIN bows to JUDY AS A LADY. They dance. Build to a higher level of gaiety. Slowly close the puppet curtain.)

Puppeteer

(Comes from behind or rises over the puppet stage.)

A deal is struck, a match is made
Between the outlaw and the maid.
The road of history takes a turn
What waits ahead we will soon learn.

John is evil, that’s clear as day,
Was Richard better in his way?
A serf and a Lady of the Court;
Just what’s been sold and what’s been bought?

The rich and poor have here clasped hands,
The outcome neither understands.
Our story starts now to unfold,
Our greatest tales are yet untold.


INTERMISSION
PART II

PROLOGUE

(Enter SEELY, the Sheriff’s man, who addresses the audience.)

Seely
Hear ye, Hear ye
A five hundred pound reward
Is here offered
For any information
Leading to the capture of the outlaw known as Robin Hood.
A one hundred pound reward
Is offered
For information leading to the capture
Of any of the members of his bloodthirsty gang.

(Exit SEELY.)

 

THE TRAITOR

(The SHERIFF and the PRINCE are walking quickly through a series of doors.)

Sheriff
Wait ‘til you see him, your Majesty, he isn’t so merry now.

Prince John
How did you catch him, exactly?

Sheriff
Well, I didn’t catch him, exactly.

Prince John
No riddles, Sheriff.

Sheriff
He turned himself in. He wants to sell us information.

Prince John
Ah, I see. Money: the miracle worker of the modern age.

(They come to the room where FREDERICK is being held captive.)

Sheriff
This way, your Highness.

(They enter the room. FREDERICK is bound in chains and gagged. SEELY and another GUARD stand on either side of his chair.)

Prince john
So this is our Judas.

(Indicates to the GUARDS to ungag him. They do.)

Frederick
I’ll get a much better price for my information, Pontius Pilate.

(The SHERIFF goes to slap FREDERICK’S face.)

Prince John
Touche. 
(The SHERIFF restrains himself.) 
The price you’ll get will depend on the value of your commodity.

Frederick
With my information you can capture Robin Hood.

Prince John
So you claim.

Frederick
There’s only one way to find out.

Prince John
Pay your price? (FREDERICK nods.) I suppose you’re right there. What is your price, my little stool pigeon?

Frederick
First, (indicating chains), this is no way to treat an ally.

Sheriff
You’re a captured outlaw, you piece of scum.

Prince John
Oh, come on now, Sheriff. We are going to be working together after all. Besides, what harm can an unarmed man do amongst this company? 

(SHERIFF gestures to guards to unchain FREDERICK. They do so.) 

All right. Down to barter. What’s your price?


Frederick
Number one: the five hundred pound reward. Number two: a complete pardon. Number three: a life-time appointment as deputy sheriff. Number four: I want a title. It don’t have to be nothing fancy; Franklin or Squire will do. But I need that, for security.

Sheriff
Deputy sheriff! A peasant? You uppity son of a bitch.

Prince John
Please Sheriff! A steep price, my friend, but I’ll pay it. If we capture Robin Hood.

Frederick
It’s a deal. 
(He holds out his hand. PRINCE JOHN shakes it.) 
I’ll need it in writing, of course.

Prince John
Of course. Sheriff, some wine would be pleasant right now.

Sheriff
Seely. 

(SEELY gets wine and glasses, pours for PRINCE, SHERIFF, FREDERICK.)

Prince John
(Sipping wine.) Now, Master Informant, what am I paying for?

Frederick
Robin Hood is planning to kidnap you at the archery contest in September and hold you until you pay Richard’s ransom.

Prince John
(Laughs.) Both much more and much less than I would have expected from Robin Hood. More political an ambition than I would have imagined from a thief. Less smart than I would have hoped for from a Master Thief. How does the fool expect to capture me?

Frederick
With the aid of a Lady of the Court with whom he has been meeting.

Sheriff
A Lady of the Court? Smart-ass! You think we’d believe that a Lady of the Court would descend to the level of the gutter?

Frederick
Her name is Maid Marian, ward of King Richard.

Sheriff
Maid Marian?

Prince John
You actually expect me to take your word on this?

Frederick
She’s with Robin Hood right now and I can lead you to the spot.

Prince John
If what you say is true, Judas, it’s well worth the price. If it’s not, I’ll have you tortured to death.

Frederick
It ain’t me, but Robin Hood you’ll have tortured to death.

Prince John
Why are you doing this?

Frederick
I’ve already told you my price.

Prince John
But why now?

Frederick
I hate the bastard. It’s that simple. I want to be there when he and his buddy Little John are tortured. I want to see ‘em squirm, I want to hear ‘em scream, I want to see the life beaten out of them.

Prince John
You see, Sheriff? A man after your own heart. (sighs) Take him someplace while the Sheriff and I discuss our next move.

Frederick
I will have that in writing, Your Majesty?

Prince John
Yes, Master Songbird. I know a useful man when I meet him.

(The SEELY and the GUARD take FREDERICK off.)

Sheriff
I’m sorry to hear that Maid Marian is mixed up in this, Your Majesty. It must be very difficult…

Prince John
Shut up, Sheriff.

Sheriff
I only meant…

Prince John
I know what you meant, and I don’t want to hear it. I’ll take care of my personal problems myself. We’re here to take care of State business.

Sheriff
Yes, sir. I think that if we play our cards right we can have Robin Hood in chains by this time tomorrow.

Prince John
Yes, I imagine we could.

Sheriff
Then a few mop-up operations in Sherwood and we’re rid of this plague.

Prince John
I wish it were that simple.

Sheriff
Don’t you think my men can handle his cutthroats in a fair fight?

Prince John
I’m sure they can, Sheriff. However, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t allow Robin Hood his freedom for the time being.

Sheriff
But this is the chance we’ve been dreaming about for years. The moment of consummation is a breath away…

Prince John
If we hang him now we ensure his martyrdom, a dozen more outlaw kings will spring up to take his place, the people will make a shrine of his gallows.

Sheriff
We’ll have to take that chance, Your Highness. We can’t give him any more time. Now the serfs run off one at a time to the forest. Soon it’ll be ten at a time, fifty, a hundred! Make an example of him and his “merry men” and we’ll put an end to it.

Prince John
The dynamic of this quite escapes you, doesn’t it, Sheriff?

Sheriff
I know nothing about dynamics, but I do know serfs. I’ve dealt with them all my life. With all due respect Your Highness, you’ve never had to deal with them down in London. I grew up here on my father’s manor. I know them. I’ve seen the brutality they’re capable of. I’ve seen them burn and loot everything a noble family has worked generations to build. They’re animals. As long as they’re frightened, they’re sheep, but overnight they can turn into wolves.

Prince John
But time is now on our side. We have Robin hooked and we can reel him in whenever we want. Let’s use the time we now have to kill the Robin Hood myth. We can kill the man later. What we have to do is see to it that he’s blamed for every woman raped, every serf that’s robbed, every village that’s burned. We have to discredit him in the eyes of the very people who now love him. By the time we do haul him in I want the people to be grateful to us for having rid them of this bloody menace.

Sheriff
That won’t be easy.

Prince John
No. But it will be easier than fighting a martyr’s ghost for the rest of our lives.

Sheriff
(sigh of resignation) If you think it’s best.

Prince John
I know it’s best. Future rulers will rest easier if we nip this thing in the bud. Ideas rule quite as much as long bows, my dear High Sheriff.

Sheriff
And what of our new “deputy” in there?

Prince John
(Holds up a money bag.) I’m quite sure he can be persuaded to see the wisdom of our plan.
 

MARIAN AND ROBIN PLAY GAMES

(MARIAN and ROBIN over a chess board.)

Marian
(Moving the Rook) The Rook can only move straight ahead.

Robin
You have beautiful hands.

Marian
Watch the pieces, not my hands.

Robin
I’ve never seen such smooth hands. I guess that comes from not working, huh?

Marian
Robin, pay attention to the game.

Robin
I’ve got a better game we could play.

Marian
I know you do. But I’m not going to play, so watch.

Robin
I’m watching your eyes. Did you know they change colors?

Marian
Please, Robin, if you’d only learn chess you’d be so good at it.

Robin
What makes you so sure?

Marian
Because it’s the game of life, and you’re so good at life.

Robin
It’s not like my life.

Marian
Of course it is. If you had any patience, you’d realize that.

Robin
If I had any patience I wouldn’t be an outlaw.

Marian
(Ignoring him.) Now the Bishop can only move on a slant, like this.

Robin
That’s the first one that makes any sense.

Marian
Why’s that?

Robin
Because the bishops have a slanted way of looking at things.

Marian
No jokes—

Robin
No jokes. No flirting. This game is no fun.

Marian
Yes it is, once you learn all the rules and begin to plan strategy. That’s where the fun comes in, planning the strategy. Learning how to manipulate the rules and restrictions to your advantage. It’s just like politics. (Pause) Would you please stop staring at me?

Robin
I like to watch you breathe.

Marian
You’re impossible! 

(She gets up to leave.)

Robin
No, no. Don’t go. I’ll try to concentrate.

Marian
I know you can learn it. And when you do we can play for hours.

Robin
Whatever you say.

Marian
All right. Where did we leave off?

Robin
The Bishop.

Marian
Yes, the Bishop.

Robin
Who moves on a slant.

Marian
The Bishops go on either side of the King and Queen.

Robin
Right. On either side.

Marian
Then comes the Knights. They can move two forward and one to either side.

Robin
That’s the only way they can move?

Marian
Two forward and one to either side.

Robin
What a ridiculous way to move.

Marian
What’s ridiculous about it?

Robin
Well why? Why can they only move that way?

Marian
It’s the rule.

Robin
This game has too many rules.

Marian
All games have rules. That’s what makes them games.

Robin
I don’t like rules. Especially rules that don’t make sense. Or rules that aren’t fair.

Marian
Not fair? How can you say that? There’s no value system involved. What can be unfair about chess?

Robin
For one thing, why can the Pawns only move one space at a time, but the Knight gets to move three? If we played this game my way the Pawns on both sides would all rush the other pieces and capture the King. They could do it. There’re more Pawns than Knights or Bishops.

Marian
That wouldn’t be a game, it would be anarchy.

Robin
It wouldn’t be anarchy for the pawns.

Marian
A game has to have rules, it has to have order. That’s the challenge.

Robin
Are there rules about me laying my hand on your breast?

Marian
There certainly are. It’s against the rules.

Robin
(Knocks the chess board over.) 
Then damn your rules.

Marian
Robin, you pick those up. It’s Cecily’s set.

Robin
She can afford another one.

Marian
These come from France. 
(She bends down to pick them up.)

Robin
Are your legs as beautiful as your neck?

Marian
Robin!

Robin
I don’t want to make sense out of this game, Marian. I just want you.

Marian
What a thing to say. How can you just say that like that?

Robin
It’s not easy. Especially with you. I never said that to a Noble Lady before, never mind such a special Lady. But it’s just an honest to God deep down feeling. I want you. Don’t you want me?

Marian
Of course not! How could we? I mean, where? I mean do you think we could? I mean, yes, actually, I do. I do want you. Of course I do. 
 

THE FOURTH PUPPET SHOW
How The False Robin Hood Tried To Fool The People

Punch
Ladies and Gentleman, now witness a pageant of our complex and confusing times. It’s called “How the False Robin Hood Tried to Fool the People.” Our hero, His Lordship, the High Sheriff of Nottingham.

(PUNCH to one side of the puppet stage. Enter the SHERIFF PUPPET.)

SHERIFF PUPPET
I am the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Robin Hood has me in a jam.
For the life of me, I can’t catch that thief,
And it’s bringing the Prince and me so much grief.
I can’t catch him by force, because he doesn’t fight fair;
He sneaks up on us and drops out of the air.
And just when I think I’ve got him caught
The serfs hide him out and it’s been for naught.
What can I do to stop this evil force?

(Strikes a pose of intense concentration.)

Hallelujah! I’ve got it! Of course!
I’ll dress my men in Lincoln green
And we’ll roam around where we can be seen.
We’ll rob and rape and ruin the land
Pretending to be Robin Hood’s band.
We’ll turn the people against him with our slaughter.
Until he is like a fish out of water.

(Exit the SHERIFF PUPPET.)

Punch
The Sheriff wasted no time in starting his strategy of deceit; He dressed his men in Lincoln green from head to feet.

(Enter the SHERIFF PUPPET and the hand with fingers representing his men. All are wearing green. Together they chant;)

Sheriff and His Men
We love to loot and burn and kill,And take our pleasures where we will.Our coats are green, our souls are vile.We like to murder and defile.We live free of God and Law.We’ve tasted blood and we want more.We’re Robin Hood’s Merry Men.If you don’t believe it we’ll tell you again.

(Enter a PEASANT PUPPET.)

Sheriff
Ah, a peasant!Halt you peasant scum:Robin Hood’s men have come.

Peasant
If you’re Robin, why do you talk like that?

Sheriff
Some money, eh? We’ll take that. 
(He grabs the peasant’s purse.)

Peasant
What’s happened Robin? You used to help the poor.

Sheriff
Don’t be a sucker, I don’t do that no more.

Peasant
Oh woe and well-a-lack,Robin Hood has turned his back.

Sheriff
Ha, ha, it’s working men.Let’s go and do it again.

(Enter JUDY.)

Sheriff
Look at that shorty; she sure makes me feel naughty. 
Hey good looking, what ya got cooking?

Judy
Nothing for you, you dirty old man.Leave me alone, do you understand?

Sheriff
Don’t talk to me like that, bitch.I’m Robin Hood and I do what I wish.

Judy
You’re Robin Hood? Oh how sad.I thought you were good, now I see you are bad.

(SHERIFF begins violent moves against JUDY.)

Punch
Excuse me folks, I’ve got to get into the story right awayBecause I’ve got an important part to play.

(Exit PUNCH. Action freezes. Re-enter PUNCH AS ROBIN HOOD. Blast of horn.)

Punch as Robin Hood
Don’t be fooled Judy! I’m the real Robin Hood.

Sheriff
No! Don’t believe him. I am.

Judy
Oh Lord, how am I to know?

Punch as Robin Hood
Who’s your friend and who’s your foe?

Judy
Ahhh! (She kicks the SHERIFF in the groin, he doubles over.)

Punch as Robin Hood
It’s all a dirty, lousy trick.Let’s cut through this masquerade quick.

(Blows on his horn. The “real” Merry Men appear as fingers on another hand.)

Sheriff
(Still gasping in pain) Curses, I’ve been foiled again!Will this frustration never end?I’ve tried to turn the people against himBut his deeds shone through. I’ll never win!

(Big fight. ROBIN HOOD, the MERRY MEN, JUDY and the PEASANT PUPPET drive the SHERIFF and his men from the stage.)

Punch as Punch
(to the audience.) In real life we haven’t defeated the Sheriff yet,But we will if we see through his lies, I bet.

 

SONG ON DISCERNING THE TRUTH

The Singer
(sings)
Not every fact is true.
Not every truth is told.
Be careful: 
Smell it,
Study it,
Hold it in your hand.
It may be made for your enemy’s hand. 
So consider it
Carefully.

Not everything is that seems to be. 
Not everything that seems to be is. 
Be careful: 
Listen to it, 
Watch it, 
Talk it over with your friends. 
It may look good to your enemy. 
But you have a different set of eyes. 
So consider it
Carefully.

 

SECOND THOUGHTS

(A clearing in Sherwood Forest. ROBIN and MARIAN are sword fighting.)

Robin
You’ve got to use the sword as a shield too. Bring it straight down as if you wanted to get me right where my neck meets my shoulder. 
(She does, he blocks it by bringing his sword perpendicular to hers.) 
But you can’t stop at defense; you’ve got to turn the energy back on your opponent. 
(He does so. They fight for a while.) 
Most men will be bigger than you, so you got to be faster and more mobile than they. If he comes at you hot and heavy (He does), you’ve got to move faster and have a wider swing. 
(She defends herself)

(Enter FRIAR TUCK and CECILY led by WILL THE COBBLER)

Tuck
The songs say Robin Hood has turned things upside down, but I doubt even the poets could imagine a Lady with a broad sword!

Robin
(Turns his head toward TUCK) 
Friar Tuck! Glad you got here. 

(Marian swings furiously and knocks Robin’s sword out of his hands. They both collapse laughing.)

Cecily
Marian, I never!

Marian
I guess you never did. It’s great fun.

Tuck
Taken the place of chess, Lady Marian?

Marian
Oh no, they supplement each other. Sword fighting does for the body what chess does for the mind.

Tuck
I wonder at its usefulness at court.

Marian
At court, none. But court, as you well know, is not the whole world.

(Enter LITTLE JOHN, FREDERICK, CIDER and the other MERRY MEN. CECILY moves to MARIAN.)

Little John
It’s about time you got here, Friar.

Tuck
Giving the Sheriff the slip is not an easy task.

Cider
Not when you’re such a big target. 

(The MERRY MEN laugh.)

Tuck
We all pay for our sins, Cider. I pay for my love of food with this. (He pats his belly)

Little John
I don’t mean to be unsociable, but we do have serious questions to settle this afternoon.

Marian
What’s there to settle? All we have to do is finalize the plans for the archery contest Saturday.

Cecily
It’s so daring of you Robin; to enter the contest in disguise and then, right after you win the golden arrow, to kidnap John! What a ballad it will make.

Robin
(shrugs modestly) It was Marian’s idea.

Little John
It’s a foolish and unnecessary adventure.

Tuck
I’m afraid I must agree with Little John on the question of the contest.

Marian
But Tuck, it will be such a triumph!

Little John
It’s not just the contest I’m talking about, I’ve got questions about the whole kidnapping plan.

Marian
What questions can you have? It must be done to save Richard.

Little John
Excuse me, Lady Marian, but saving Richard is not as important to me as saving the poor.

Marian
Saving Richard will be helping the poor.

Little John
Maybe. That’s just what my questions are about. These attacks we’ve launched on the Sheriff’s imposters are working better than we even hoped. Not only are we exposing them but more and more men are joining us.

Cecily
Oh yes. There’s even a puppet show about it. And a song. I’ve learned a new Robin Hood ballad. Would you like to hear it?

Marian
Not now Cecily!

Little John
My question is this: when we drive the Sheriff’s men out of a village, instead of retreating back to Sherwood, why don’t we arm the serfs and artisans and attack the local nobility? Liberate England village by village, manor by manor. That will help the poor far more than freeing Richard.

Marian
Do you realize the implications of what you’re saying? It would destroy all order.

Little John
Not all order, My Lady, just the old order.

Marian
That’s not we’re here to do. We’re here to redress some wrongs, not to destroy the most humane social system yet devised by Man and return England to barbarism.

Little John
Maybe you and I are not here for the same reason, my Lady.

Tuck
John, be careful, making revolution is a terrible responsibility, even were it possible.

Frederick
We got to put first things first.

Tuck
Precisely. We have a chance here to effect some concrete change. Let’s not throw it away on an overambitious scheme we are in no way prepared to handle.

Little John
We can handle it if we decide to.

Will the Cobbler
Why can’t we kidnap the Prince and then when Richard’s free start on Little John’s plan?

Little John
Because it’ll divert us from what we should be doing. And it will fool the people into thinking Richard will really make a difference when all we’ll be doing is replacing one oppressor with another.

Marian
Richard is not an oppressor.

Little John
Not for you. You’re a noblewoman.

Marian
Not for you either; you’ll be pardoned.

Little John
Pardoned! Are you really that blind? He won’t pardon me or my people from poverty, will he?

Tuck
John, I know how you feel. I share your dream. It was Christ’s dream. But we have to deal in realities. One of the realities is that we can’t afford to alienate the sympathetic nobility and clergy. We’re not strong enough yet.

Little John
If we listen to you we’ll never be strong enough.

Frederick
Vote. We’ve heard it all already. Vote.

Robin
I guess the question is clear. All those in favor of going through with the kidnapping on Saturday? (Slowly, in some cases regretfully, all the MERRY MEN except LITTLE JOHN raise their hands.) All those opposed? (Only LITTLE JOHN raises his hand.) It’s decided.

Cecily
Now would you like to hear the ballad?

Marian
(To John) Excuse me, but since we’re being so frank; can we trust you to go along with the plan?

Little John
The will of the majority is to us like the will of your King is to you.

Cider
Now that it’s settled, let’s get over to the food and have Cecily sing us that new song.

(All exit except ROBIN and LITTLE JOHN linger behind the crowd.)

Robin
This doesn’t mean we can’t adopt your plan later, John

Little John
Damn you! You’re supposed to be the leader, but you let yourself be pushed around by that overfed priest, by Marian, by Frederick, by anyone with a big mouth.

Robin
The majority rules.

Little John
I didn’t hear you voice your opinion once. You’re the only one who could’ve countered the influence of a priest and a noblewoman. What’s the matter?

Robin
I don’t know what my opinion is.

Little John
You’d better find out.

Robin
All these decisions. I tell you, John, it scares me. I’m not made for this. I like things clear cut, like they used to be. I had to rob from the rich; so I did. When I take a risk, I like to know I have no other choice. These decisions are killing me.

Little John
Well, you took the easy way out and the choice was made for you. What’s done is done. But watch Frederick. He hasn’t opened his mouth at a meeting since that time he pulled a knife. Why does he suddenly have an opinion?

Robin
Good question.

Little John
Damn right.

Robin
I’ll keep my eye on him on Saturday.

Little John
As far as I’m concerned, anything that he, Marian, and Tuck can agree on has to be wrong.

Robin
(Laughs) You hate too much, John. Let’s go have a drink.
 

(ROBIN puts his arm around LITTLE JOHN as they exit.)

 

THE ARCHERY CONTEST

(Both the puppet stage and the Royal Box in the reviewing stands at the archery contest are visible to the audience. THE SINGER sings the verses that are mimed by the PUPPETS. The spoken lines performed by the live actors.)

The Singer
(Sings)
On a bright sunny day, sing wan-doe-lay, 
as the leaves turned red and gold
Robin Hood, feeling good, 
Said to his men so bold;

A contest, they say, will be held today
In Nottingham’s wide green.
With arrow and bow I’ll win that show
Though I never shall be seen.

Come riddle to me how this can be
Brave Little John did groan.
It sounds like fun, but can it be done?
If you’re there you will be known.

Not so, not so, don’t you know,
I’ll shed my coat of green,
With my hat over my eyes in a tinker’s disguise
I’ll win but I won’t be seen.

(Enter PRINCE JOHN with MAID MARIAN on his arm. They seat themselves in the Royal Box in the reviewing stand.)

Prince John
Ah, Lady Marian, the day is almost as lovely as you are.

Marian
Yes, the weather is beautiful, my liege. Perfect for an archery contest.

Prince John
Perhaps a bit too much of a breeze.

Marian
Not enough to bother a truly great archer.

Prince John
Really? I had no idea you knew very much about archery.

Marian
Enough to enjoy the sport.

Prince John
No doubt. Yet I still maintain the breeze indicates we shall encounter some surprises this afternoon.

Marian
That would be great fun, wouldn’t it, your Highness?

(They both smile and are seated.)

The Singer
(Sings)
From far and wide, the archers did ride
To Nottingham’s green way.
For an arrow of gold, it was told
Would go to the winner that day.

The sky was bright and the wind was right
As Robin’s men entered the town.
The flags flew high in the cloudless sky
As Robin entered the first round.

Many shot well, but none yet could tell
Who would win the arrow of gold.
But round after round a tinker in brown
Was surprising both young and old.

(The SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM enters the Royal Box.)

Prince John
Congratulations, Sheriff, your contest is proving to be quite a success.

Sheriff
Do you think so, my Lord?

Prince John
But of course! I’ve never seen such shooting! Everyone of these finalists deserves the gold arrow: your Captain Phillip of Wren, Elwyn the Welshman, Sir Matt of Sleafor, and that commoner, the tinker, what’s his name?

Sheriff
He registered as Godfrey of Sherwood.

Prince John
A local boy? You should be very proud, Sheriff.

Sheriff
I hope to be before the day is over, Your Highness.

(SHERIFF and PRINCE JOHN chuckle.)

The Singer
(sings)
The sun grew high in the autumn sky. 
With just two in the final round: 
One of the Sheriff’s men, Phillip of Wren, 
And the bold tinker all dressed in brown.

I don’t mean to boast, but the target’s too close
Said the Tinker with a grin. 
Move it a hundred feet more, I do implore, 
More glory to he who wins.

So it was done, each and everyone
Leaned forward the target to spy. 
Phillip shot straight, his aim was great, 
He hit a perfect bulls-eye.

The crowd held its breath, all was still as death
As the Tinker took his aim.
All the eyes followed it, Phillip’s arrow was split, 
And a Tinker had won the game. 
A common Tinker had won the game.

At such an event, the rich were upset, 
While the common folk went wild. 
They carried the Tinker around, finally set him down
In front of the Prince who smiled.

(ROBIN disguised as a Tinker enters and bows before the Royal Box.)

Prince John
Rise Godfrey of Sherwood and receive the gold arrow. 
(ROBIN stands and MARIAN ceremoniously hands him the arrow on a black silk pillow.) 
Tell me, how is it that a Tinker learned to shoot so well?

Robin
Even a peaceful Tinker must defend himself these days your Highness, from treachery and the like.

Prince John
You no doubt refer to those treacherous dogs of Robin Hood’s.

Robin
His Highness knows to what I refer.

Prince John
I am glad to find you such an honest and loyal subject.

Robin
I’m glad you do too.

Prince John
You are free to go now, Tinker.

Robin
Thank you, Your Highness. 

(ROBIN turns and exits.)

Marian
Oh, John, everything has gone so perfectly today. I’d like to finish it with something special. Will you do me the honor of a stroll in the woods?

Prince John
You’ve been so friendly of late, Marian. To what do I owe this shift in sentiment?

Marian
I was such a little fool, wasn’t I? Perhaps I see you now with the eyes of a woman.

Prince John
I wish I could believe that.

Marian
Oh you must, Sire, you must! I know the loveliest little glen where we can be all alone.

Prince John.
Yes. I’m sure you do. If you will excuse us Sheriff, I’m confident you know what to do next.

Sheriff
Most definitely, Your Highness, most definitely.

(PRINCE JOHN and MARIAN exit in one direction, the SHERIFF in the opposite direction.)

The Singer
With the arrow of gold, Robin’s men so boldOut of the town did go.They’d fooled the Prince, they were convinced.What awaited, they did not know.

 

THE CAPTURE OF MARIAN AND ROBIN HOOD

Marian
Isn’t this the loveliest clearing, Your Highness?

Prince John
Yes, quite. Tell me, Lady Marian, did you find that Tinker attractive?

Marian
How so, my Lord?

Prince John
He was rather handsome, don’t you think?

Marian
I never notice such things in a commoner.

Prince John
Really? Strange. I’ve been told that some noble Ladies are particularly attracted to the, uh, rough aggressiveness of these commoners.

Marian
Certainly not I, Your Highness. I much prefer learned gentility in a man.

Prince John
Yes, but surely you were impressed by his skill with an arrow.

Marian
It’s not that kind of skill that interests me.

Prince John
And what kind of skill are you interested in?

(She holds out her hand. He takes it. This being the signal, the MERRY MEN including ROBIN drop from the trees, surround the prince completely. MARIAN pulls away from PRINCE JOHN.)

Marian
Checkmate.

Prince John
(To ROBIN) Why Godfrey of Sherwood, you’ve taken up another profession.

Robin
Your arrow of gold wasn’t enough to meet the needs of the poor. They want King Richard too.

Prince John
Do they? Too bad: I’m afraid you’re shooting far too high this time, Robin Hood. 

(He swiftly pulls a hidden knife, which he holds to MARIAN’S throat.) 

Drop your bows or I’ll cut your whore’s throat.

Marian
Don’t do it, Robin. You’ve got to capture him even if he kills me.

Sheriff
(Offstage) Now, men.

(The SHERIFF and his MEN suddenly appear, completely surrounding the MERRY MEN.)

Little John
(Screams) Betrayal!

 

THE FIFTH PUPPET SHOW
The Sheriff’s Puppet Show

(SEELY and another Guard stand on either side of the puppet stage.)

Seely
Hear ye, hear ye: A puppet show will now be presented showing in all its glorious detail the capture of the blood thirsty bandit Robin Hood.

(The curtain rises. Tableau with a demon-like ROBIN HOOD puppet holding a knife to the throat of PRINCE JOHN puppet.)

Robin Hood Puppet
Now that I’ve finally got you, Prince John, I’m going to slit your throat. And when I’m through with you I’ll slit King Richard’s throat. I want to slit all the throats of all kings and nobles.

Prince John Puppet
You poor pitiful fool. Do you really think that’s possible? It’s not so easy to beat law and order. Sheriff! Arrest this man!

(Fanfare. A glorified SHERIFF puppet appears. ROBIN drops his knife and shirks in fear.)

Robin Hood Puppet
Oh please, Sheriff, please don’t kill me. I don’t want to die! Please, I’m afraid of hell, fire and damnation.

Sheriff Puppet
And so you should be. For you are guilty of the most grievous of sins: conspiring to use force and violence to overthrow the Christian government of England.

Prince John Puppet
But like all Englishmen great and small, you will not be executed without fair trial.

Robin Hood Puppet
Oh thank you, most merciful Prince.

Sheriff Puppet
You are too kind and just, Your Highness.

Prince John Puppet
I know, I know. But we must remember that we are a nation of laws, not men.

Robin Hood Puppet
I, to my everlasting regret, have learned that lesson too late.

(ROBIN HOOD PUPPET drops his head in shame.)

Sheriff Puppet
So ends all who dare to challenge our just and righteous order. One more example of the truth of the old adage: crime doesn’t pay.

(ROBIN HOOD PUPPET is led passively off by the SHERIFF PUPPET. Guards applaud enthusiastically while staring belligerently out at the audience.)


JANE BECOMES AN ORGANIZER

(Back at JANE’s hut. Enter WILL. One of his eyes is bandaged.)

Jane
Oh my God! Will!

Will
Jane?

Jane
Your eye.

Will
Caught something this afternoon when they got Robin.

Jane
Can you see?

Will
Not with that one no more. But the other’s okay.

Jane
It must hurt awful.

Will
Yeah. Jane, we need you. None of us can get into the city tonight because after today they know most of us and they’re watching. But Little John has a plan. You’ve got to visit everyone you know who loves Robin. Get everyone of them to visit ten more. By tomorrow noon every poor person in Nottinghamshire should be gathered in front of the tower. The only way to free Robin is with a mass attack and we have to do it fast. Under cover of the crowd we’ll move in to provide military command. But you have to get to them tonight.

Jane
I can’t do that. Are you possessed? I can’t talk to people. I wouldn’t know what to say.

Will
Say what’s in your heart and tell them to bring whatever weapons they have.

Jane
I can’t. Isn’t there someone else who could do it? My mouth would freeze.

Will
You couldn’t make shoes either until you had to.

Jane
Yeah, but…

Will
Well, damn it Jane, you have to do this. There’s nobody else we can trust. And if it isn’t done Robin will be hung for sure, they’ll hunt down the rest of us, and all the hopes of England’s poor folks will be snuffed out. Either you do it or it isn’t done.

Jane
I’ll do it.

Will
I know. You’ve got to go now. Be careful. Don’t take any main streets.

Jane
I wish we could’ve met when there was better times.

Will
There will be better times.

(She embraces him. Kisses his head.)

Jane
Has it stopped bleeding?

Will
Almost. It’ll heal up. 
(She turns to go) 
Jane. 
(She turns back. WILL indicates the shoes he’s wearing.) 
Look, they fit. 
(JANE turns and exits quickly.) 
Please, God, let her stay alive.

 

DEATH SENTENCE

(The SHERIFF and PRINCE JOHN are hurrying through a series of doors. They are both tense and agitated. The very faint singing of “Belly Rave” can be heard, grows louder as they near destination.)

Sheriff
Wait ‘till you see them, Your Majesty, there’s thousands of them.

Prince John
How the hell did they get there, Sheriff?

Sheriff
I don’t know. I honestly don’t.

Prince John
This doesn’t speak well for your internal security division.

Sheriff
Well, with Frederick’s cover blown, I had no way of knowing their next move.

Prince John
Didn’t you say that once you had Robin Hood the rest would be easy?

Sheriff
Be fair, Your Majesty, how could I anticipate this? Did you?

(They enter a room with a window. PRINCE JOHN goes to the window. “Belly Rave” gets louder.)

Prince John
Oh my God! What a mess.

Sheriff
I’ve never seen so many people in one place.

Prince John
I have. When Richard went off to the Crusades. But it’s one thing to have a crowd cheering for you and quite another to have them out for your blood.

Sheriff
If it’s blood they want, it’s blood they’ll get.

Prince John
Please stop your blustering, Sheriff. I’ve already got a headache.

Sheriff
Excuse me, Sire, I only meant…

Prince John
I know what you meant, Sheriff. You haven’t learned anything, have you? Brute force doesn’t solve everything; I warned you about the danger of songs.

Sheriff
I’ve used ten percent of the new revenue to suppress them, as agreed. Not that it’s done any good. How the hell am I supposed to capture a song?

Prince John
Exactly, I don’t mean to imply it’s your fault, Sheriff. It’s not. (sighs) Anyway, we have more immediate concerns. Just before you came bursting into my chamber with news of our humble vassals out there, I had learned from my intelligence sources, which, thank God, are more efficient than yours, that Richard is on his way back to England.

Sheriff
What!

Prince John
Ludwig, that “fat bellied sot” apparently got bored of the whole game and let him go.

Sheriff
Mary, Mother of God! What are we going to do? He’ll have my head. Damn, damn, damn, John, what can we do?

Prince John
When a house is collapsing, there’s only one thing to do: destroy the evidence and get out.

Sheriff
What’s that supposed to mean?

Prince John
It means, you thick-headed bore, that you have to kill Robin and his co-conspirators and destroy the bodies. And we have to get out of here.

Sheriff
Lady Marian too?

Prince John
Yes, Lady Marian too. If she lives Richard will know everything. Then we have to try to beat Richard back to London. It’s possible that we can raise an army against him. If not, I have to fix some financial records and switch some money around. Then we sail for France. I have friends there.

Sheriff
What am I to do with the bodies?

Prince John
Burn them! When the rabble bursts in the front, we’ll slip out the back and they’ll find their beloved Robin a pile of ashes. Let them liberate his dust!

Sheriff
This will be a pleasure. 

(He exits.)

Prince John
Ah, Marian, how I would have enjoyed a French exile with you. 

(Takes a last look out the window. Shrugs. Exits.)
 

THE GREAT ESCAPE

(AGATHA is visiting MARIAN in her prison cell in Nottingham Castle.)

Marian
I really would have expected better from you, Agatha.

Agatha
I am a nun, Marian, my connections to the world must remain limited.

Marian
You connections to me are real!

Agatha
Yes, of course.

Marian
Or maybe I was just another chess piece you enjoyed moving around.

Agatha
Marian, I love you. You know that. But all I can do for you now is take your final confession and comfort you.

Marian
That’s a lie and you know it.

Agatha
How dare you!

Marian
I’ve dared quite a bit.

Agatha
Yes, and look where it’s gotten you.

Marian
Right, and it’s going to get me out of here. Please Agatha, call the guard in here so I can hit him over the head with the cross. 

(She takes a heavy wooden cross from the wall.)

Agatha
That is not what a crucifix is for.

Marian
The last thing I need now is a lecture on theology. My life is at stake.

Agatha
So is mine if I help you. 

(They stare at each other for a moment.)

Marian
That’s right. (another pause) And so is Richard’s. (third pause)

Agatha
All right. God be with us both, Marian. Now stand back. 
(MARIAN positions herself behind the door.) 
Guard! Help, the Lady’s gone mad! Guard! 
(GUARD rushes over, unlocks the door. MARIAN smashes him on the head with the crucifix. He falls down, unconscious.)

Marian
Forgive me, Agatha, but if I hit you it’ll look like you tried to stop me.

Agatha
What?

Marian
It’ll probably save your life. 

(MARIAN smashes AGATHA over the head. AGATHA falls, unconscious. MARIAN grabs the GUARD’S keys and picks up his sword. She rushes to Cecily’s cell which is right next to hers. Fumbles with the keys until she finds the one that fits. Opens the door.)

Cecily
Marian! How did you…?

Marian
Agatha lured the Guard in and I smashed him one.

(A GUARD appears down the hall.)

Cecily
Marian, quick! 

(She pulls MARIAN back inside her cell. The door remains slightly ajar.)

Guard
(Noticing the door) What the hell? 
(He pushes open the door and is promptly run through the stomach by MARIAN.)

Marian
Oh my God, Cecily, I’ve killed him!

Cecily
What did you expect?

Marian
I don’t know. (She pulls the sword out.) Quick, grab his sword. We’ve got to get to Robin.

Cecily
Me? I don’t know how to fight.

Marian
Just remember that the sword can be used as a shield too. Also, any guard we run into will be bigger than you so you have to be faster and more mobile than him.

Cecily
(Picking up the sword.) Jesus, Marian, this is heavy.

Marian
I know, lets go. 

(They run down numerous corridors, up stairs, etc. MARIAN points.) 

That’s where Agatha said they were keeping him. 

(Two GUARDS appear.)

Guard I
Now Ladies, put down those swords.

Marian
Give us the keys.

(The GUARDS approach casually, not expecting effective opposition. MARIAN attacks suddenly, surprising GUARD I and killing him quickly. Meanwhile, GUARD II goes for CECILY. She manages to block his thrusts and by comic twists and turns to avoid being stabbed. As soon as GUARD I bites the dust, MARIAN comes to CECILY’S aid. Together they are able to dispense with him.)

Cecily
(Gasping for air.) It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to defend yourself.

Marian
The keys! 

(MARIAN searches GUARD I, CECILY, GUARD II. CECILY finds them.)

Cecily
Here. 

(She tosses them to MARIAN who goes to the door and unlocks it. ROBIN emerges. The three embrace.)

Robin
Marian, it’s wonderful! The people have stormed the gates. They’ve broken into the castle. I could see from my window. Come on, let’s go join Little John’s Poor People’s Army.

(Enter the SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM.)

Sheriff
Die, peasant scum!

(The SHERIFF attacks. There ensues a tremendous climactic sword fight which ends when ROBIN kills the SHERIFF. CECILY and MARIAN embrace ROBIN. MARIAN and CECILY exit.)

 

THE RETURN OF RICHARD

(Enter LITTLE JOHN, one of’ his legs is bandaged; he is limping.)

Little John
We’ve done it, Robin! We’ve captured Nottingham! The Sheriff’s dead and the Prince is hightailing it back to London.

Robin
How badly are you hurt?

Little John
Hurts like hell. But the arrow’s out.

(Two MERRY MEN drag in FREDERICK. He has been severely beaten.)

Robin
Why’d you do it, Frederick?

Frederick
Same reason you did what you did; I was looking out for number one.

Robin
I’m looking out for the people.

Frederick
You pompous ass. You and your fanatic friend disgust me. 

(He musters his remaining strength and spits in ROBIN’S face.)

Robin
String him up. 

(The MERRY MEN drag FREDERICK off.) 

If I’d listened to you this never would have happened.

Little John
It’s good that it happened. Now everything’s busted wide open. There’s no more middle ground. The war between the rich and poor is out in the open.

Robin
Look at the price.

Little John
Look at the future. 

(JOHN’S leg gives out and he falls.)

Robin
For Christ’s sake, stay off that leg for awhile. We need to leave enough armed men to keep Nottingham secure. The rest of us should march south after the Prince.

Little John
Yes. The serfs will swell our ranks as we march.

Robin
There’s no choice. If we stay here we’ll be sitting ducks for the Prince once he can muster an army. Either we finish him now or he finishes us.

Little John
Now we’re really going to turn the world upside down.

Robin
I’m beginning to believe we really can.

(Enter MARIAN and FRIAR TUCK.)

Marian
Robin, wonderful news! Richard has returned!

(LITTLE JOHN scrambles to his feet.)

Tuck
Apparently Ludwig of Bavaria tired of waiting for a ransom and set him free. Richard has entered England in disguise and is right now in Nottinghamshire.

Robin
What?

Tuck
It is a strange conjuncture of historical forces. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Robin
You know where he is?

Marian
Oh yes. I’ve talked with him. He knows all about Prince John’s treachery and your heroism. He wishes us to report to him immediately so he can assume command of our army.

Little John
It’s our army, Marian, not his.

Robin
John, with Richard the Lion Hearted in command we can rally not only serfs, but the whole nation to our cause.

Little John
With Richard the Aristocrat in command we won’t have a cause. We won’t be able to return the land to those who work it.

Marian
Our cause is Richard; the rightful King.

Tuck
And the reforms we’ll get from him.

Robin
Right, I’m not forgetting the people. The people are our cause and perhaps the King is our ally. After all, he’s come to us. To Robin Hood. He needs me.

Little John
Of course he does; to put a lid on the rebellion. But we don’t need him.

Marian
A country needs its king.

Tuck
We need each other. I may also point out, Robin, that if we turn our backs on Richard, we’ll have to fight John and him.

Little John
Of course we will; but it’ll be a fight that’ll mean something.

Marian
I’m sick of your crazy all-or-nothing attitude, John, sick of it. Victory is so close, please don’t endanger it with your stubbornness. Think of those who died.

Little John
What the hell do you know of them, Lady Marian? They were serfs and artisans; people who suffered under John and suffered under Richard and suffered under Richard’s father before him. If they’ve got to die, let them die for a better world, not for the same old shit.

Tuck
Richard’s return means we don’t have to rip England asunder. We can now save the country without a long civil war. A good King is something the serfs can understand.

Little John
A good life is also something they can understand. Robin, we need to capture Richard and execute him.

(MARIAN slaps LITTLE JOHN.)

Robin
John, we can’t do that.

Little John
Why the hell not?

Robin
He’s the King, for Christ’s sake! I’m not going to risk everything we’ve accomplished. Look what we’ve done. It’s more than I ever dreamed. Now the King, the King of England wants to talk to me. And I’m going to talk to him. I’ll explain what the people need. It’s so close, so easy now. It’d be crazy to risk everything for a dream. I can’t risk my life, Marian’s, yours, on something that doesn’t seem real to me. I’ve got my hand on something solid now. I’m not going to let go. The King of England wants to meet the Hero of the Poor. The Hero will go and talk, just talk. If he grants our reforms as Marian promised…

Marian
He’s assured me he will. And more, he wants to reward you, all of you…

Robin
If he backs out of the deal, then we’ll act accordingly.

(LITTLE JOHN goes to punch ROBIN, his leg gives out again, he falls.)

Little John
We part ways here.

Tuck
Come along, time is of the essence.

(MARIAN, ROBIN and TUCK begin to exit as WILL enters.)

Will the Cobbler
Robin, they…

Robin
I can’t talk now, Will. 

(MARIAN, ROBIN and TUCK exit.)

Will
John, they killed her. They killed Jane.

DEATH HAS HIS FAVORATES

The Singer
(sings)
Death has his favorites;
Death loves the poor,
For he gathers them in great numbers.
He pities them so
He lets them go
Pass over to Paradise
Quickly.

Rejoice at Death bearing gifts
Such as hunger and cold
Disease and hard, hard labor
And the swift sword of the law.
All these gifts for the poor
Surely Death, surely Death has his favorites.

Death has his favorities
He don’t play it fair
For he makes the rich wait longer.
But he so loves the poor
And keeps gathering more
To pass over to Paradise
Quickly.


EPILOGUE

(On the screen and on the puppet stage a large KING RICHARD towers over a tiny PRINCE JOHN.  AGATHA, CIDER, LITTLE JOHN and FRIAR TUCK stand in front of the screen watching. The shadow scenes are duplicated by puppets on the puppet stage.)

Shadow/Puppet of King Richard
John, for violating the trust we placed in your hands and for sorely oppressing our beloved people, you are banished from England, Wales, Cornwall, Normandy and Brittany.

Shadow/Puppet of Prince John
I humbly obey the will of my Sovereign, though I must protest that all I did I believed to be for the good of England. 

(He turns and exits.)

(Enter SHADOW and PUPPET of ROBIN and MARIAN. ROBIN kneels before KING RICHARD.)

Shadow/Puppet of King Richard
We, King Richard, do hereby proclaim you, Robin, Baron of Locksley, Earl of Sherwood and Nottingham and Lord of all the lands and manors heretofore belonging to the traitor Rupert, late High Sheriff of Nottingham. Arise, Robin of Locksley. 

(The SHADOW OF ROBIN arises as does PUNCH as ROBIN.) 

My first command to you, my Lord Earl, is to take in marriage the hand of my dear ward, the Lady Marian. 

(The onlookers, except LITTLE JOHN, cheer. The SHADOWS and PUPPETS freeze.)

Agatha
These young people are the hope of the world.

Cider
I never thought I’d live to see the day a former serf would marry a Noble Lady. Times must really be changing.

Little John
Nothing’s changed for the rest of us.

Cider
No John, you must be wrong. All those years we spent in the woods couldn’t have been in vain.

Tuck
In vain? Of course not! Those who yearn for Heaven on Earth must wait for the Judgment Day. For the rest of us the waiting is over. This is a day to rejoice. The rightful King has been restored to his throne and the rich and poor are reunited through true Christian love.

Judy as Marian
Oh darling!

Punch as Robin
With this kiss let England be united.

(Big kiss of both the PUPPETS and the SHADOWS. The SHADOWS fade. 

(The live ROBIN HOOD and MAID MARIAN in pool of light, while in another pool of light THE SINGER sings.)

 

REFLECTIONS ON DEFEAT

The Singer
(sings)
Every battle lost contains a lesson.
Defeat doesn’t require mourning;
It requires study.

When your road is blocked, start hacking a new path.
When your home is destroyed, start gathering wood.
No one ever claimed birth was painless.

If they cut off your hands, fight with your tongue.
If they kill you, leave at least one fighter behind.
No one ever claimed you’d live to see victory.

Every battle lost contains a lesson.
Defeat doesn’t require mourning;
It requires study.

When a truce is called, time to plan the next battle.
When you can’t be a soldier, keep the weapons in working order.
No one ever promised you’d be a hero.

Here we lost
They took our anger and turned it into frustration.
Here we lost:
They took our hero and made him their own.

Every battle lost contains a lesson.
Defeat doesn’t require mourning;
It requires study.

(Lights down on ROBIN, MARIAN and THE SINGER.  Up on LITTLE JOHN and WILL THE COBBLER as they slowly limp across the stage as the entire CAST sings.)

 

The Cast
(sings)
Belly rave, belly rave
I shot a deer for belly rave.
And now they hunt me to my grave,
Belly rave, belly rave.

 

THE END