The Re-Gift of the Magi

The Jester can’t afford much, but he gets an idea to re-gift old Christmas presents in order to get better ones. He also hopes to win the affections of Gilda the Goose Girl by giving her a gift that is better than one from his rival, Bartleby the Scrivener. It gets complicated when others in the castle find out that the gifts they receive are the ones they gave. The re-gifting epidemic is out of hand, and the Jester has some explaining to do. But the Queen has a plan to teach him about thoughtful gifts. Fun interaction with the audience and easy to produce.

Cast size: 4 Males, 3 Females, Extras M/F

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CAST OF CHARACTERS

 JESTER (M) funny man of the Court who’s in love with Gilda 

TOWN CRIER (M) the professional announcement maker and best friend of the Jester

KING (M) the ruler of the kingdom 

QUEEN (F) the real ruler of the kingdom

GILDA, THE GOOSE GIRL (F) a local girl who’s being pursued by Jester and Bartleby 

BARTLEBY THE SCRIVENER (M) a quiet guy who’s in love with Gilda; although he has almost no lines, he is on stage often. This role depends on a lot of good physical expression. 

SUE O’HARA LANAGAN (F) a cook for the castle 

EXTRAS (M/F): Members of the Court, Guards, Servants, and Pages.

SAMPLE PAGES

FANFARE AND WELCOME

(When guests have been seated, a second BRASS FANFARE will signal all entertainers to clear the hall.  Lights up; TOWN CRIER enters and greets guests as he makes his way to the main stage.) 

TOWN CRIER:
Welcome good lords and ladies fair!
The Christmas spirit’s in the air!
Our noble king will soon arrive; (JESTER enters reading a scroll; he wears a shoulder bag.)
The year is 1635!

‘Tis the wondrous season of joy, peace, good will, and—

JESTER: Presents! Lots of presents!

TOWN CRIER: Actually, I was going to say “good will and cheer.” (Notices scroll.) Jester, what is that in your hand?

JESTER: This? Oh, this is my Christmas list. (Unrolls it. It should be excessively long for comic effect.) 

TOWN CRIER: (Beat. Sarcastically.) Are you going to use bulk mail to send your list to Santa?

JESTER: Of course not. (Beat.) I sent my list with the Prince’s expedition to the North Pole.

TOWN CRIER:  Really?

JESTER:  Yep.  I sent it heir mail.  (Laughing.) Get it?  Heir?

TOWN CRIER: I see. Well, if you’ve already sent your list to Santa, then what’s this list?

JESTER: Oh, this is my list for the Royal Court.

TOWN CRIER: You’re buying every lord and lady a present?

JESTER: Of course not. This is a list to give them ideas on what to get for me.

TOWN CRIER: You are incorrigible.

JESTER: Why, thank you. I try to encourage them any way I can. (Begins to roll up the scroll.) I think it’s going to be the best Christmas yet! (Places scroll in shoulder bag.) There’s just one problem.

TOWN CRIER: What’s that?

JESTER: I’m trying to get a very special gift for Gilda, the goose girl. I’m trying to win her heart, but Bartleby the Scrivener keeps showing up. It always seems that she likes his gifts better. I mean, how can I compete? He makes good money. (Beat.) Who knew his copy shop would do so well? 

TOWN CRIER: So, what are you going to do?

JESTER: Well, I was talking to my friend Lord Fuzzywig. He suggested that I simply do some re-gifting.

TOWN CRIER: Re-gifting?

JESTER: Exactly. I have gathered up old Christmas presents that never really worked for me; then I re-wrap them and give them to someone else.

TOWN CRIER: Jester, I am ashamed of you! That goes completely against the Christmas spirit.

JESTER: (Ignoring him.) And I’m already getting some good gifts in return. (Reaches in bag and pulls out a spoon.) Look at this lovely, silver spoon I got; it will make a great gift for Gilda. Let’s see if Bartleby can top that.

TOWN CRIER: Where did you get that?

JESTER: Well, since it was Lord Fuzzywig’s idea, I gave him an early gift. Naturally, he felt compelled to give me something back.

TOWN CRIER: What did you give him?

JESTER: Oh, just some calligraphy piece I got several years ago. It was perfect. It said, “Mary Christmas, deer friend.” So generic—it can be re-gifted to anyone.

TOWN CRIER: (Beat.) Hold it! I gave you that gift! I spent three hours on that calligraphy!

JESTER: You misspelled “Mary.”

TOWN CRIER:  It’s a confusing word.

JESTER:  And “deer.” Lord Fuzzywig thought he was going on a Christmas deer hunt with Mary Queen of Scots.  It all worked out.  (BRASS FANFARE.) Ah, the Court is arriving. I must get ready! (Exits.) 

TOWN CRIER: (Shaking his head.) He has no idea what this season is about.
(Looks to back of hall.) Oh, the King has arrived. (Calls out loudly.)
Ready the meal and heat the wassail!

Bring forth the meat and finest of ale!
Blow the clarion!  Singers appear!
The King and his court are drawing near! (Exits quickly.) 

After first course, action begins again . . . 

JESTER: Why, Gilda the Goose Girl! I was hoping I’d see you at the castle this evening. Merry Christmas!

GILDA: And the season’s greetings to you as well!

JESTER: What brings you here tonight?

GILDA: Oh, I just dropped by to see someone.

JESTER: (A bit hopeful.) Really? (Awkward silence.  Notices the bag.)  What’s in the bag? 

GILDA: Goose feathers.

JESTER: Ah.  Of course. (Another awkward silence.  BARTLEBY enters, and GILDA brightens.) 

GILDA:  Bartleby!  I was hoping to see you.  I have a present for you!  (She hands him the bag of feathers.  BARTLEBY looks in bag then looks up delighted.) 

JESTER:  The bag of goose feathers is a present for him?  Don’t you know it’s impossible for Bartleby to get down?  (Laughs overly.) Get it?

(BARTLEBY and GILDA stare at JESTER.  Then BARTLEBY holds the bag to his chest with a big smile.  He scribbles something on a piece of paper and hands it to GILDA.) 

GILDA:  (Reading note aloud.)  “These will make perfect quill pens.  Thank you.”  (BARTLEBY reaches inside of his cloak and pulls out a piece of paper with GILDA’S face drawn on it.  He hands it to GILDA.)  For me?  This is how you see me?  It’s beautiful!

JESTER: He probably copied it. (Laughs overly.)

GILDA: Hush, Jester. (JESTER stops laughing.) Thank you, Bartleby.

(BARTLEBY bashfully bows and then exits. GILDA watches as he exits.)

JESTER: I have a gift for you, too, Gilda. (Reaches in bag and brings out present.) 

GILDA: Why, thank you, Jester. You shouldn’t have.

JESTER: Oh, it was nothing, really. Go ahead an open it.

GILDA: (Unwraps the spoon and holds it up.) Why, Jester, it’s beautiful! It’s . . . it’s . . . hey, wait a minute. I gave this spoon to Lord Fuzzywig last year!

JESTER: What? It couldn’t be! (Beat.) What makes you think it’s the same spoon?

GILDA: Because it has _________. (Describes markings on the spoon.) He told me that he would treasure it always. (Looks around the audience until she sees an audience member who will become Lord Fuzzywig. She crosses to his table; JESTER follows.) Lord Fuzzywig, you should be ashamed!

JESTER: Yes! You should be ashamed!

GILDA: I saved for eight months for this spoon.  Now you re-gift it?  How could you?

JESTER: That’s terrible! Don’t you know anything about the spirit of Christmas?

GILDA: (Glares at JESTER.) I can handle this, Jester. (To Lord Fuzzywig.) Lord Fuzzywig, what do you have to say for yourself? (Improvise with answer.) Clearly there has been a mistake. Perhaps your dinner companion “borrowed” it in a fit of pique? She looks to be the jealous type.  (To female companion.)  Let me assure you, dear lady, that I have nothing but daughterly affection for Lord Fuzzywig.  (Beat.)  Make that grand-daughterly affection.  So, now that we have that cleared up, I shall return this special gift. You can keep it right here at the table. Merry Christmas, Lord Fuzzywig. Again. (Returns the spoon and returns to stage; JESTER follows.) 

JESTER: Can you believe that guy? Some people just don’t understand the value of a heartfelt gift.

GILDA: Clearly it was a misunderstanding, though I don’t know how you ended up with it, Jester.

JESTER: Hey, I was just—

GILDA: And I’m sorry I couldn’t keep it. But it belongs to Lord Fuzzywig. (Looks at audience member with knowing eyes.)

JESTER: (Glares at Lord Fuzzywig.) Yes. Very special indeed. (To GILDA.) Well, it’s the thought that counts. (Smiles sheepishly.) 

GILDA: Yes, thank you, Jester. I will treasure the thought. (Exits.) 

JESTER: Well, that didn’t go as planned. (Glares at Lord Fuzzywig.) And thanks to you, I’ll have to find some other present to win Gilda’s heart.

TOWN CRIER: (Enters.) How now, Jester? Still giving away heartfelt gifts for your own personal gain?

JESTER: You make it sound like a bad thing.  (TOWN CRIER stares at JESTER.)  Look, I’m sorry about the parchment. I was just trying to figure out how to get a better gift for Gilda. Turns out that Lord Fuzzywig’s idea wasn’t so good. (Glares at audience member.) 

TOWN CRIER: (Aside to JESTER.) Well, he doesn’t have the best reputation in the village.

JESTER: And now I’m back to square one. What can I get for Gilda? . . .

After the main course, action begins again . . . 

JESTER: Good evening, my King! Would you care for a joke to pass the time?

KING: Indeed, Jester. Give us some mirth.

JESTER: Ah, I have prepared some short riddles. Tell me this: what is a parent’s favorite Christmas carol?

QUEEN: I’m sure I don’t know.

JESTER: Silent Night! Get it? (Laughs. COURT laughs politely.) Ah, here’s another. Why does Santa enter through the chimney? (Beat.) Because it soots him. (Laughs overly.) Oh, and how about this one. What do you call—

SUE: (Enters angrily.) Where is he?

KING: Where is who?

QUEEN: Sue, whatever is the matter?

SUE: I’m quite beside myself! I scrimp and save and sacrifice to give the perfect Christmas gift.

KING: Yes?

SUE: Well, two summers ago, I worked weekends at Percival’s Pub in the village so that I could buy a penny whistle for a very special friend for Christmas.

KING: I’m still unclear why you are angry.

SUE: (Holds up the penny whistle.) Because I just got it myself for a Christmas present.

QUEEN: How do you know it’s the same one?

SUE: Because I carved my initials in it.

QUEEN: Sue O’Hara Lanagan?

KING: S-O-L.  How appropriate.

SUE: Someone gave me this penny whistle again as a present!

QUEEN: Well, who gave it to you?

SUE: The Jester.

QUEEN: Jester? Where did you get this penny whistle?

JESTER: (Shocked.) I got it from Lord Fuzzywig! (To Lord Fuzzywig.) Don’t tell me you re-gifted that present, too? I am shocked, sir.  Shocked, I tell you! (As conversation continues, he makes a quick exit, unseen.)

SUE: Lord Fuzzywig, surely there has been some mistake. You said you’d treasure it always.

KING: Is this true? Lord Fuzzywig, what do you have to say for yourself?

(TOWN CRIER enters and observes.) 

SUE: (Crosses to his table.) Lord Fuzzywig, is there some explanation? (Improvise with answer.) Clearly there has been a mistake. Perhaps your dinner companion “borrowed” it in a fit of pique? She looks to be the jealous type.  (To female companion.)  Let me assure you, dear lady, that I have always thought of Lord Fuzzywig as a beloved uncle.  (Beat.)  Make that grand-uncle.  So, now that we have that cleared up, I shall return this special gift. You can keep it right here at the table. Merry Christmas, Lord Fuzzywig. Again. (Returns the penny whistle and returns to stage; JESTER follows.)

KING: Well, I am glad that matter is resolved.

QUEEN: What about the Jester?

KING: What do you mean?

QUEEN: If I understood correctly, the Jester also received it as a gift then turned around and gave it to Sue.

SUE: Hey, that’s right!

KING: What do you have to say for yourself, Jester? (Sees that he is gone.) Jester?

TOWN CRIER: I believe he’s made a quick exit, my King.

QUEEN: It appears we have an epidemic of re-gifting going on around here.

TOWN CRIER: And the Jester is embracing the idea. He’s gathered an entire bag of presents that he plans to re-gift.

SUE: So, he’s missing the meaning of Christmas.

KING:  Yes, he must get out and buy retail at Christmas to prop up our economy.

QUEEN:  Wrong meaning, dear.

TOWN CRIER: I believe she means that gifts should come from the heart.

KING:  And your local retailer.  Who pays local taxes.  Unlike those imports from the Amazon.

QUEEN: Well, something must be done about this.

KING: I agree.

QUEEN: (To KING.) I mean about the Jester. Town Crier, can you get ahold of the Jester’s bag?

TOWN CRIER: Yes.

QUEEN: Then, I have an idea! (She signals them to come closer and speaks in a low voice so that the audience cannot hear.) 

SUE: Oh, that’s very good, my Queen!

TOWN CRIER: It’s brilliant! (To SUE.) Let’s find Gilda; I’m sure she’ll help us. (TOWN CRIER & SUE exit.)

KING: (To QUEEN.) I had no idea you were so conniving.

QUEEN:  If I were not so conniving, you would have married my elder sister.  You are lucky I’m conniving.

KING: You’re the lucky one.  Your sister married Lord Fuzzywig.

QUEEN:  True.  She got her just desserts.

KING:  Speaking of dessert, I see that it has arrived.