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Vocabulary | Drama + Theatre

 

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Lessons: Drama/Theatre Theatre Source Book

Dialogue Examples: The Little Princess by Frances H. Burnett, a professional playwright

(This is dialogue from a play written in 1911. The story for the play is even older. Young girls would behave differently now, but their feelings would be much the same.)

princess

Characters:
Sara, the little princess.
She is an orphan and the money her father left her is gone. No longer does she have lovely dresses and the kindness of the school owner. She is forced to live in a small room at the top of the house and work from early morning to late evening. Often she gets nothing to eat. Becky, the scullery maid. (Note how differently Becky talks. She doesn’t have the education that Sara does.)

Scene:
A garret under the roof at the girls’ school; rake roof with garret window, outside of which are showing housetops with snow on them. There are rat holes around. A bed, covered with an old blanket, sheet, and old coverlet, badly torn. A table with a bench behind it. Chairs, an armchair, and a four-legged stool above fireplace. A washstand with pitcher, bowl, soap-dish, and mug. An old trunk. A candle in stick unlighted.

(Sara’s school friend, Ermengarde, has gone to get a box of good things to eat to share with Sara. Sara is very hungry, but she has invited Becky, the maid who also has a room in the garret, to come share in the party. Sara and Becky are setting the table, pretending that it is a very fancy place, indeed.)

Sara: Ermy, you go for the box and we will set the table.
(Puts Ermengarde out of the door.)

Becky: Oh, Miss – oh, Miss, I know it’s you that asked her
to let me come. It makes me cry to think of it.

Sara (cheerfully, embracing her): No, no, you mustn’t cry.
We must make haste and set the table. What can we
put on it? (Sees red shawl) Here’s her shawl – I know she won’t mind. It will make such a nice red table-cloth. (Picks it up and spreads it on table with Becky’s help) What next? Oh! (Clasps hands delightedly) I know, I’ll look for something in my old trunk, that I used to have when I was a princess. (Runs to trunk, opens it and rummages in it. Stops and sees Becky) Becky, do you know what a banquet is?

Becky: No, Miss, is it something to be ‘et, or something to
be wore?

Sara (sitting by trunk): It’s a magnificent feast. Kings have
them, and Queens, and Lord Mayors. We are going to have one. Now begin to pretend just as hard as ever you can – and straighten the richly embroidered table-cloth. (Sara turns to trunk again, as Becky straightens table-cloth. Becky then stands, squeezing her eyes tight shut, clenching her hands and holding her breath. Sara takes package of handkerchiefs from trunk, rises to go to table, sees Becky and laughs.)

Sara: What are you doing, Becky?

Becky (opening her eyes and catching her breath): I was
pretending, Miss. It takes a good bit of strength.

Sara: Yes, it does – just at first. But it doesn’t take so
much when you get used to it. I’m used to it. Now
what do you suppose these are?

Becky (delighted): They looks like ‘ankerchiefs, Miss, but I know they ain’t –

Sara: No, they are not. They are plates and napkins. Gold
and silver plates and richly embroidered napkins – to
match the table-cloth. These are the plates and these are the napkins. (Giving each bundle to Becky separately) You must not take the napkins for the plates, or the plates for the napkins, Becky.

Becky: Lor’ no, Miss. They ain’t nothin’ like each other.

Sara: No, they’re not. If you pretend hard enough. (Steps
back)
Don’t they look nice?

Becky: Jest lovely, Miss. Particular them gold and silver
plates…

(Later, Sara learns her father did leave money for her. Sara gets to move into the lovely home of her father’s friend. She brings Becky with her.)