An Ancient Greek Drama, written for first and second graders

by Mr. Sheehy

For a little unit on Greek history that my wife is teaching at our homeschool co-op, I have written a small play. I like to claim that it’s the best new ancient Greek play in centuries–after all, it seems like forever since Sophocles has come out with a new script–but I won’t defend that claim in court. I have chopped the chorus’s lines into parts, because I thought having first and second graders read five sentences in unison seemed like a pointless challenge, and I have obviously taken a few harmless liberties with the story of Oedipus. The students have already created their own Greek theatre masks, which they’ll wear while performing the play. I hope they enjoy it!

Parts

  • Queen of Thebes
  • Messenger to the Queen
  • Oedipus
  • Dead man
  • Chorus of three individual

Chorus enters.

Chorus:  O, woe are we!

Chorus 1: Our king is dead!

Chorus 2: Our city of Thebes is trapped!

Chorus 3: The Sphinx will not leave us alone!

Chorus: O, woe are we!

Enter Queen, followed by messenger.

Queen: Has anyone come today to save us?

Messenger: A young man has come to solve the Riddle of the Sphinx, my queen.

Queen: Does he look smart?

Messenger: No, my queen – he looks proud, but not smart. (Messenger exits.)

Queen: Four men have perished for answering the Sphinx incorrectly, will this be the fifth?

Messenger: (dragging body) My queen another has perished. (lays body on stage)

Queen: Five now!

Messenger: But my queen another man has come. He travels alone, but speaks boldly and cunningly to the  Sphinx.

Queen: Go, watch him and tell me what happens. And take this man away, as the sphinx will want to eat him.

(Messenger exits, dragging the body.)

Chorus: Could this be the one?

Chorus 1: If he solves the riddle, the city will be free!

Chorus 2: If he solves the riddle, he will marry the queen!

Chorus 3: If he solve the riddle, he will be our new king!

Chorus: Could this be the one?

Enter Messenger.

Messenger: My Queen! He has done it! He has solved the riddle and the Sphinx is gone!

Queen: O! O joy!

(Enter Oedipus)

Oedipus: My queen, your city is free.

Queen: O, hero who are you, and how have you done this? What was the riddle, for the Sphinx never allowed us to hear.

Oedipus: My Queen, I am Oedipus, I come from far away, across the mountains. The sphinx said to me, What animal walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three at night?

Queen: What a difficult riddle!

Chorus: How challenging!

Queen: What did you say?

Oedipus: I told the Sphinx the answer was simple, Man!

Queen: A man!

Chorus: A man!

Messenger: A man! But how is that so?

Oedipus: A man, as a babe, crawls on all fours. When grown he walks on two, and when old, he uses a cane to walk on three.

Queen: Brilliant!

Messenger: The words of a genius!

Chorus: The words of a King!

(Oedipus and Queen walk off stage side by side.)

Chorus: And so the city is free!

Chorus 1: Oedipus is our new king!

Chorus 2: Where he came from, we don’t know.

Chorus 3: Someday, we will find out.

Chorus: But today, our city is free.

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