WEREWOLF IN TOWN – Short Play

I wrote this on a vacation in New Hampshire with my wife and our three young kids. We were staying in a cottage by a lake. It was my first vacation after a year of working in New York City and transplanting the family first to Brooklyn and then to New Jersey in that one year.

I had earlier written a long narrative poem about a young werewolf but now, since my job was on a classroom magazine, I thought I would try to write a short play suitable for junior high schools.

I read it to our kids and some guests that week. That fall it was published and it has since spread on the teachers’ non-royalty-paying network. It was also anthologized in the U.S. and Australia. (Performance rights legally need to be paid to One Act Play Depot at oneactplays.net.)

I’m aware of non-authorized performance sin India and Crete, but I’m sure there have been many others. A friend had her students perform it in Moscow, and an adult version was performed off-off-Broadway.

The following is the safe-for-classrooms version.

CHARACTERS

Narrator

Tommy

Citizens

Father

Mother

Sister

Guidance Counselor

Doctor

Bull Hawkins

The Evil Angels

Sound Effects Person (siren, school bell, etc.)

Lily

Chief of Police

Farmers

Joe

Mary

As few as four actors can play all of these characters. The Narrator’s lines can be split among the actors.

PRODUCTION NOTE

This play can be performed by young people or as an Epic Fable by adults. It can be performed with no scenery, using just two chairs, a piano bench, props, and such costume bits as hats and aprons. The signs can be projected above the action or propped on an easel and changed by the actors.

SIGN: WEREWOLF IN TOWN

SIGN (changes to): Growing Up in Oak Valley

NARRATOR

Oak Valley was like 10,000 other towns–except for a neat little house on Elm Street, where there lived a boy with a problem.

TOMMY

Oww-woooooooo!

NARRATOR

It happened every month when the full moon rose in the sky. Long hairs came out on his forehead and his hands. Two of his teeth grew into long, sharp fangs.

(Tommy shows what is happening to him.)

He couldn’t stop howling at the moon.

SIGN: What boy wants a beard on his forehead?

TOMMY

Oww-woooooooo!–Why me? Other kids don’t worry about the moon. When it’s full, they go on doing their geometry or surfing the Internet for Elvis sightings. Not me. Oww-woooooooo!

NARRATOR

All over town, citizens asked the same question:

CITIZENS

(individually)

What is that?

Is it a wild dog?

Is it a wolf?

It must be the teenagers, fooling around.

What is this strange occurrence?

NARRATOR

Every month, Tommy asked himself:

TOMMY

What if my parents find out?

SIGN: A normal day with cornflakes.

(Tommy joins his parents and his sister at the breakfast table.)

FATHER

You’re late for breakfast, Thomas.

TOMMY

Sorry.

FATHER

You shouldn’t sleep so late. Bad for your character.

MOTHER

(touching Tommy’s forehead)

You look tired, dear. Did you sleep well?

SISTER

Well, I didn’t. All night long, I heard that sound. Some kind of a dog–or a wolf.

MOTHER

I heard it too, dear. It was probably an owl.

SISTER

It was a wolf.

FATHER

There haven’t been wolves in this vicinity for a hundred years.

SISTER

Then it’s a werewolf.

TOMMY

Awrk!

FATHER

Chew carefully, Thomas, and you won’t choke.

MOTHER

A what, dear?

SISTER

A werewolf.

(Tommy has practically collapsed.)

MOTHER

Oh, that’s just the foolishness you get from all that homework and reading you do.

FATHER

You should get more exercise, clean air, whatever . . .

MOTHER

It may, of course, be her growth spurt.

SISTER

Please leave my growth spurt out of this. It was a werewolf.

(Tommy gets up.)

FATHER

Where are you going, young man?

TOMMY

I’m too sick to go to school.

FATHER

He’ll turn into a bum some day. No character.

SIGN: Flashback

TOMMY

(as a little boy—holding a stuffed-wolf toy)

I don’t like this story, Mommy. Little Red Riding Hood gets off free at the end, and they shoot that poor wolf. It isn’t fair!

MOTHER

But the wolf wanted to eat Little Red Riding Hood.

TOMMY

Yeah!!! Daddy, why does the wolf always have to lose? Even to those three slobby little pigs?

FATHER

The purpose of these stories is to develop character. You must like the three little pigs, Thomas, or you’ll end up living in the gutter on bread crusts and banana peels.

SIGN: A desperate soul seeks solace.

(Back in the present, Tommy reads something in a newspaper, gets an idea,

and starts writing)

TOMMY

“Dear Clarissa Velveteen, I have a problem. I go–the moon–it always–”

(Crumples up his letter.)

What’s the use? How could she tell me what to do?

(Knocks on a door.)

GUIDANCE COUNSELOR

Come in.–Come in, Tommy. Sit down. What’s on your mind?

TOMMY

I don’t know if this is the kind of problem a guy should bring to his guidance counselor . . .

GUIDANCE COUNSELOR

You got the dime, I got the time.

TOMMY

Huh?

GUIDANCE COUNSELOR

Now, what’s the problem?

TOMMY

I’m a werewolf.

GUIDANCE COUNSELOR

(pulling self together)

Well . . . perhaps you’d enjoy a career as a night watchman . . .

TOMMY

I wasn’t planning my future. I’m a werewolf now.

GUIDANCE COUNSELOR

Make more friends in school. Extra-curricular activities. A part-time job . . . Now, go back to class!

TOMMY

(hopelessly)

Thank you.

(Walks to another area.)

Doc, you’ve taken care of me since I was a baby.

DOCTOR

I have?

TOMMY

I was much smaller then.

DOCTOR

I think I remember.

TOMMY

Well, I have a problem every month.

DOCTOR

What kind of problem?

TOMMY

I’m a werewolf.

DOCTOR

Do you get fresh air and exercise?

TOMMY

Yes, I run through the woods and the hills. I howl at the moon.

DOCTOR

Here’s a prescription. You’ll feel–what’s the proper scientific term?–fit as a fiddle.

TOMMY

(hopelessly)

Thank you.

(Crumples up the prescription.)

SIGN: How desperate can you get?

TOMMY

Dad, are you busy?

FATHER

I’m trying to do something with the bills.

TOMMY

Dad, I’ve got a problem.

FATHER

(to Mother)

You have to check your expenses. Your costs, your expenditures, whatever . . .

MOTHER

Please leave my whatever out of this.

FATHER

How do you spend so much on food?

MOTHER

Sometimes I think someone must be eating raw meat out of the refrigerator. It disappears about once every month.

TOMMY

That’s exactly what I–

FATHER

Gee whiz, I wouldn’t think even you could say something so stupid, dear.

MOTHER

A genius like you wouldn’t see something stupid if it hit him in the face!

TOMMY

Mom, Dad, I—

NARRATOR

He decided it wasn’t the right time to tell his parents.

SIGN: For a werewolf in a small town, life can be lonely.

Tommy was afraid to hang around with the other teenagers–especially at night. Bull Hawkins, the leader of the town’s toughest gang, the Evil Angels.

BULL HAWKINS

What’s the matter, Tommy? We never see you at the hamburger joint, makin’ faces at the cops like a normal guy. Won’t your mother let you out at night?

(Shoves Tommy in the shoulder.)

EVIL ANGELS

Get ‘im, Bull! Get ‘im! Break ‘im in two!

(They laugh savagely.)

SIGN: But joy will sweeten the bitterest life.

NARRATOR

It was his 18th birthday, but Tommy wasn’t celebrating.

SCHOOL BELL

Rrring!

(Tommy, moving between classes, bumps into Lily. He helps pick up her books and papers.)

TOMMY

(shyly)

Hi.

LILY

Hi. I’m Lily. I’m a new girl here at Oak Valley High School. I’m glad to meet you.

TOMMY

Hi.

LILY

If you’d like to know me better, come and see me Saturday night.

TOMMY

Saturday?

LILY

What’s wrong? Don’t you like me?

TOMMY

How about next Tuesday?

LILY

No–Saturday or never.

(Romantically)

There’s a full moon that night.

TOMMY

I know.

LILY

We can take a long walk in the moonlight.

TOMMY

Lily, listen: I’m not like the other kids around here.

LILY

I know–you’re so kind and sweet.

TOMMY

There’s something a little . . . funny about me.

LILY

Don’t you think I can like you enough so I won’t care if there’s something . . .  funny about you? Please–believe me.

TOMMY

Yes! I believe you!

LILY

I’ll see you Saturday at eight. We can meet at the edge of the woods.

TOMMY

(musing to himself)

Maybe the calendar is wrong. Maybe the moon won’t be really full until Sunday night. Maybe this will be a real teenage romance. Oh, wow!

SIGN: The strongest wishes cannot alter the motions of the spheres.

LILY

Where is that sweet boy? It’s two minutes after eight. Is he standing me up?–Oh, that must be–

TOMMY

Lily! Lily! Oww-woooooooo! Oww-woooooooo!

LILY

(screaming)

Ahhh!!

NARRATOR

Lily ran away.

LILY

Help! Help! A werewolf!

TOMMY

And she said she wouldn’t care if there was something funny about me.

SIGN: Panic in the streets.

LILY

A werewolf! A werewolf!

CITIZENS

A werewolf!

TOMMY

Oww-woooooooo!

CITIZEN 1

We’ve got to catch him!

CITIZEN 2

We can’t let someone go around scaring our kids!

LILY

(crying)

He ate Tommy!

CITIZENS

He ate Tommy!

MOTHER

Poor Tommy!

FATHER

I knew this would happen.

SIREN

Er-errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

TOMMY

Oww-woooooooo! There I go again.

CITIZENS

There he is! After him!

NARRATOR

Bull Hawkins and the Evil Angels, looking for some good rough fun, joined the Chief of Police and his officers in the search for the werewolf.

BULL HAWKINS

Who’s afraid of a werewolf anyway?

NARRATOR

After 10 minutes in the woods, there were three strange howls:

TOMMY

Oww-woooooooo!

BULL HAWKINS

Yowwwwww!

ALL THE EVIL ANGELS

Yowwww!

(Running out of the woods)

Help! The werewolf! Help!

BULL HAWKINS

He bit me! And he ripped my leather jacket!

NARRATOR

The search continued until the moon went down and the sky was becoming light with the approach of daybreak. Tommy snuck out of the woods–and met the Chief of Police!

CHIEF OF POLICE

Who’s there? Keep back!

TOMMY

Please! Listen! I can explain!

CHIEF OF POLICE

Tommy–it’s you. Don’t worry, son. It’s all right now. A werewolf doesn’t come after you every day.

TOMMY

(checking forehead, teeth, and hands–with relief)

No, I guess he doesn’t.

CHIEF OF POLICE

So run on home now. Your parents will be relieved and happy to see you.

SIGN: A boy makes a decision.

TOMMY

I can’t face them again. People will remember things . . . And then the full moon again . . . Wait—I’m 18—that’s old enough! I’m leaving home!

NARRATOR

So he took a bus on the highway and rode to another state. He found a farm in the mountains where the people were happy to take him in. Even when he told them about his condition.

SIGN: Song About the Acceptance of Individual Differences

FARMERS

(singing)

We don’t care if you are different

‘Cause your difference makes you you.

Everyone’s created different–

You’ll be loved for what you do–

You’ll be loved for what you do.

FARMER

Heck, man, I get ingrown toenails every now and then.

SIGN: Song About Everyone Belonging Somewhere

FARMERS

(singing–with Tommy contributing howls)

There’s a place for every person

Though he be a giant or a gnome–

Whether things improve or worsen,

Though around the world he has to roam.

Though the world may need traversin’

At the end of the road is home!

NARRATOR

Tommy helped with the planting and the other work of the farm. For the first time since his childhood, Tommy felt hopeful about life.

FARMER

Look, you’re welcome to stay here as long as you want. You’re a good worker, and we think your howling is terrific.

SIGN: An accident threatens the survival of the farm.

But we can’t afford to lose any more chickens. So be careful next month. Okay?

TOMMY

Okay. And you know what I’ll do? I’ll get a part-time job. I want to pay for some new chickens.

FARMER

Hey, that’s great.

OTHERS

Yeah. Great. Thanks.

SIGN: JOE’S CAFÉ   Cheap Eats

(Customers sit at a counter.)

JOE

Say, Tommy. You have a way with a scrambled egg. How about working the night shift? You’ll get better tips.

TOMMY

No, Joe. No–I really can’t.

JOE

What a bunch I got working for me! Mary won’t work nights either.

MARY

I’ve told you before, Joe. I just can’t.

NARRATOR

Mary Wolf was the lovely young woman who worked behind the counter with Tommy.

SIGN: Don’t jump to conclusions!

TOMMY

She has such nice, kind eyes. I’d like to stroke her smooth, dark [or tawny or golden] hair. Her teeth are shiny like electric pearls.

SIGN: Twilight falls with the inevitability of dusk.

NARRATOR

One afternoon, it was the end of their workday.

MARY

Six o’clock! Time for Tommy and Mary to hang up their aprons and go home.

TOMMY

Yes.

MARY

Full moon tonight.

TOMMY

I know.

MARY

Where’s Joe? I want to get home as soon as I can.

TOMMY

Me too.

MARY

Still live at the farm?

TOMMY

Oh, yes.

MARY

I’d like to see it sometime.

TOMMY

Oh, yes.

MARY

What’s the matter? Can’t you talk?

TOMMY

Oh, Mary, I love–

TELEPHONE

Rinnng!

MARY

Hello, Joe’s Café.

JOE

Mary, this is Joe. My car is stuck in the mud. You and Tommy will have to keep the place open till I get there.

MARY

Joe, I’ve told you before–I can’t work at night.

JOE

As a favor to me?

MARY

Okay.

(Tommy and Mary work, growing increasingly nervous, turning aside from

others as it gets darker outside. Tommy notices Mary’s strange behavior.)

TOMMY

I must be making her nervous.

(Tommy can’t stand any more. He looks outside, sees the moon’s first rays,

and bolts for the door. Mary rushes out too. Joe is entering.)

JOE

Thanks, kids, I appreciate–They’re sure in a hurry!

SIGN: The race up the hill.

TOMMY

I have to get away from people before I do my first howl! Where’s the hill I brought the chickens to last month?

NARRATOR

As he ran up the hill, Tommy heard a sound that was both strange and familiar.

MARY

Oww-woooooooo!

TOMMY

Mary!

MARY

Tommy!

TOMMY

Mary!

MARY

Tommy!

BOTH

Oww-woooooooo! Oww-wooooooooooooooooooooooo!

SIGN: Happy Ending

NARRATOR

Tommy and Mary have their own little house on the farm. The others lock up the chickens on certain nights. Everyone loves their charming little son. Tommy is teaching him to hunt, so the farm will have enough protein and warm clothing. Mary is teaching him to sing to the moon.

MARY

(reading)

“So the wolf ate up Little Red Riding Hood, and he lived happily ever after.”

(Everyone sings “Song About Everyone Belonging Somewhere.” The words can be

written on a sign, with the audience encouraged to join in.

(Dimout.)

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