Ghost Hunters / by Jeni Whittaker
HARRY POTTER-TYPE SCENE:
STAR TREK-TYPE SCENE:
MR DONG - alien with red nose
MR GIN - a green alien
KING ARTHUR SCENE:
SIR BORIS THE BOLD
SIR MAURICE THE MAD
SIR HORACE THE HORRIBLE
SIR CUTHBERT THE COWARDLY
and, of course, THE MONK
Written originally for 55 ten - eleven year old boys, there is no reason at all why many of the parts shouldn't be played by girls - with or without name changes. Doubling can also be done; the above cast list is written in scene order, so just make sure you don't double characters in adjacent scenes. The Boys and the Monk cannot be doubled.
Sample Pages from the script
O.K. Niceties over, let's to business ...
At this point, there's a dreadful din outside the door. It bursts open and Ant comes in at a run, skids to a halt in front of the others and then dives behind them. Suddenly the door opens again and Micko comes in.
Where are you, you little blighter? [sees the others] Oops, hi there fellas. What you doing here?
Could ask the same of you, Micko.
Just collecting what's owed me, that's all. Little worm, Ant, owed me money.
Your money was it, Micko, or Ant's?
Mine of course, Johnny. Would I take what didn't belong to me?
Yes, you would.
The door opens suddenly again and Bullet enters
Micko, show yourself you big bully. [Sees others] Oh!
I was looking for that creep Micko, but I see you've found him already. Have you got Ant too?
ANT crawling out from behind the others Here I am, Bullet.
You're safe then, little one. I saw him lamming into you and then you scarpered but I knew he'd catch up with you so I thought I'd see if you needed a little rescuing.
MICKO using a 'put on' posh drawl
Entirely unnecessary, old chap as you can see. Never !aid a finger on him.
Not for lack of trying though, eh?
MICKO back to normal voice
Now look here..
Shut up, Micko. We all know you, remember.
You're a rotten cad...
Listen to him, swallowed a load of plums then, have you?
Be quiet, or I'll make you.
And I'd be delighted to help.
FRED jumping up and down wildly
Ssh! Shut up everybody.
What is it?
What do you think you're doing?
Taking what's not rightfully yours.
What is in fact rightfully ours.
Stealing, I calls it
We weren't stealing. Buried treasure belongs to anyone who finds it.
PRUNEFACE Tell that to Black Bart.
That'll make him laugh, that will.
I still calls it stealing.
I thought your chief was called Red Admiral or Admiral Red or something.
Catch our chief calling 'isself after a soppy butterfly. Nah. Black Bart's 'is name.
Black is 'is heart.
And black is his temper.
'Specially with thieves wot are caught stealing! I wouldn't like to be in your shoes.
You don't have to take us to him, do you?
Nonsense! I'm not afraid of any old pirate. Take us to your leader.
'Appy to oblige, young master. This way, please.
They exit. Enter from the other side Chopper and Yeller.
They've gawn. Thank gawd.
What d'you mean?
I mean there were four of them and only two of us.
With me and my flying fists? They don't call me Chopper for nothing. We'd 'ave beaten them, easy.
Well, now that they've gone, we don't have to, do we? We can just take the loot back to Admiral Red and leave the island before Black Bart's lot know that we've gone.
Where's the fun in that? I vote we go after them, chop 'em about a bit and then get that there treasure trove.
I tell you what. You go after them, I'll take the stuff back. All right?
Nah! It's not all right Think I'll trust you not to pretend you'd done everything by yourself. Trouble is, you're as yeller as your name says, but you're coming with me all the same. Just so as I can keep an eye on you. [He yanks Yeller after him.]
Enter Black Bart from one side and the four gang members, Jack and Johnny the other.
Look what we found, sir.
Two sneaking little thieves, sir.
Can we torture 'em, sir?
Alter those pretty faces a little? Please, sir.
Black Bart stalks round Jack and Johnny
Two boys, eh? Slithering sea-snakes, what have you to say for yourselves? How did you get here?
We don't know, sir.
BLACK BART Don't know? Blithering belugas, how can that be? Are you spies? Has that idiotic insect Red Admiral sent you to worm your way into my crew as cabin boys? Well?
Can the other one speak? Or has someone else already cut out his confounded tongue?
Oooh, please, sir. Let me.
Shut up, Nasty, confound you. Well?
I can speak, sir.
BLACK BART And can you shed any light on this matter? What do you say, you lily-livered limpet you, you crenellated crustacean?
Just as Jack did really. I don't know how we got here and we're not spies.
Most unsatisfactory. I can see a period of painful punishment is in order. [The four crew members jump up and down] Take them to the plank. Perhaps a short walk towards the shark-infested sea will refresh their miserable memories. Seize them!
Up and at them! Its that rascally Red Admiral's lot. Don't let me down now! For Black Bart and the frolicking freedom of the high seas! Lay on!
They turn to attack Chopper and Yeller. All freeze frame as a strange man dressed as a monk steps in and pulls Jack and Johnny aside.
Well, where are those boys? And more importantly, where is that book? How did it go missing in the first place? You were supposed to guard it.
A little quarrel, master.
Nothing but a little squabble. Biting and jumping.
Scratching and scrapping because he stole my marshmallows, my scrumptious lovelies.
His pretties, his pink-and-white pretties. I took them, yum, yum. I ate them all up. [They squeak and jump and hiss at each other.]
Stop that at once! I'll conjure up some more if that's what the fuss is about. So, during your little squabble, the book went missing.
Oooh yes, master. Lots more marshmallows, please. Lots more and we'll find it again.
Now, that book of displacement spells has been in my possession for a long time. I wonder how that Tim pest found it. Never mind, its found now, but I need it along with the missing Book of Invisibility and then my collection will be complete. A little practice and I'll be a greater magician even than Grimwald. Then I can be the next headmaster of Grindlescoop Hall and all those bright young minds will be in my control. No more learning of useless subjects like Creative Imagination, Herbal Healing and the Casting of Kindly Dreams. All that's a waste of time! Nightmares! Now that would be much more useful! Poisonings and stomach cramps; I could see lots of uses for teaching how to give those. Now, gremlins, you go that way and look for those pesky boys and I'll go this. We'll soon find them. [As he starts to leave, a small boy , Kevin, enters on the same side and nearly bumps into him. He is carrying a large red book with gold writing.]
Wasn't that Mr Wagstaffe, the Dream teacher, I saw leaving? That's very odd, he didn't seem to notice me. When Tim's spell sent us all into the library, I fell a little way off from everyone else, on top of this book. It's fascinating. I've been reading some of the wonderful words out loud. Like this one ....Scarafulous. ... Orkilogical... Aren't they lovely?
Oh good, I can hear someone coming. It's Oliver and Jamie. Hi, Oliver. Hi,
Oliver and Jamie enter. It's important to remember no one can see Kevin, who is invisible. Nor can he be heard. Anything he holds is also invisible so long as he holds it.
Do you think the others are having any more luck than us?
I hope so. I haven't seen any books with bright covers even.
I've got one. Look! [He jumps up and down in front of them waving the red book.
They don't react] I'll make you notice me. How dare you pretend I'm not here! [He puts the book on the floor, still holding one end, and Oliver trips over it. The book flies out of Kevin's hand.]
Strange boys. How here?
You're right. How did you get here? Did you come with the Swizzleseller?
It's too long a story for now. But we're from Earth.
Good heavens! We haven't visited Earth recently and it's three billion light years away. DR SPARK
Three and a half in fact, Captain.
Quite ... so...
Well, never mind for the moment. The most important thing is that no one uses these swizzlers again.
They're dangerous. They had you all hypnotised.
1 don't believe it.
That would explain a lot. Let's see. Get up! [Swizzleseller and Burly do] Jump up and down [They do]
Dong knew. Smell funny. Good nose. [He taps end of nose]
Did we do anything silly? What did they make us do?
It's all right. Nothing yet, we saved you.
Brave boys. Smell nice. Good boys. Stay here?
No. I want to go home. I've had enough for one night.
Yes, but how?
You can't go yet. There's so much to ask you. Like how did you get here?
Enter the Monk
Another time. I've come to take them home.
BULLET and MICKO
Who are you?
Never mind that. You're safe with me.
Another alien. How did you enter the starship without the alarm going off?
It's easy for me. I come and go as I please.
Very strange. No smell. Nose ill? Can't tell.
We really must see to the ship's defences. We can't have any old person just coming in as they please.
Quite. Mr Gin will see to it. He's Chief Engineer. Meanwhile, may I suggest all holiday is cancelled? We have a mission.
Sample Pages from Production Notes
PRODUCTION NOTES + TECHNICAL CUES etc.
N.B. These notes are suggestions only. You may find them helpful to follow; or they may act as a springboard for your own ideas; or you can choose to ignore them entirely!
INTRODUCTION: THEMES, THE PLAY'S INTENTION.
The play was written as a vehicle for a whole year group - Year 6 - in a preparatory school originally. It could equally well be done by Year 7. The brief was to give everyone of 55 boys an enjoyable speaking part and to allow individual forms to rehearse separately. Thus the format emerged of separate stories within a framework. The linking framework of the Ghosthunting boys were drawn from the best actors of the year regardless of individual forms and were rehearsed outside lesson time. The class scenes, however, could be rehearsed in lesson slots. This format, rehearsal-wise, worked very well. Boys were never hanging about getting bored and the play could be put together as a whole in the last couple of days before performance.
It was written for an extremely tiny stage with limited technical resources, so lighting and other technical cues are kept to a minimum - though if you have better technical equipment, of course, it also lends itself to some stunning special effects. In the breakdown of cues, I have given the original ones used, but also optional imaginative extras which would improve the finished product considerably.
There is nothing very deep about the play's intentions. It is largely a piece of fun. Nonetheless, certain themes creep in without being over-emphasised. Good always wins of course. The bully Micko toes the line by the end and earns the respect of the other boys.
Mad Max and his henchman Brains are outwitted by 999 with the help of two boys. Mr Wagstaffe is outwitted as is the Swizzleseller and Idle Jade learns that being a knight is not really about killing dragons and suchlike, but about courtesy and caring. The Ghosthunters themselves are always rescued from their various plights by the intervention of the very ghost they are hunting - the Monk; but perhaps their punishment is ironically never to recognise him and to leave with their anxious parents at the end of their vigil convinced they never saw the ghost at all.
CHARACTERS - all of whom will be 18/19 years old
JACK - a natural leader, charismatic and brave - though perhaps too impulsive and rash. The others look up to him. He has authority and certainty.
JOHNNY - his best friend. Not quite so charismatic but far more sensible. He does occasionally puncture Jack's too impulsive balloon.
FRED - likes his food. He could be - but doesn't have to be - plump.
CHARLES - very upper-crust voice and mannerisms. Father owns a newspaper. Confident character.
COPPER - very enthusiastic. The kind of boy that is carried away easily, interrupts, speaks quickly, impulsive.
BULLET - good sportsman, strong and athletic build. Very protective of Ant and against bullying. Takes such things personally and tries to sort them out himself. Brave.
ANT - must be physically small. Easily scared but quickly reassured by presence of protectors. Not a wimp - he stands up to the frightening Monk, for instance. Likeable.
CRISPIN - the boffin of the group. Very well-read and clever, with a tendency to use long words. Very much an individual, used to defending his likes and not reliant on anyone.
BARNEY - not very bright academically but a warm-hearted, thoroughly nice boy. A good sense of right and wrong. May be sporty and big in stature.
MICKO - bully. A chip on his shoulder, which may explain why he bullies smaller boys like Ant. He should speak with an accent that is stronger than any of the others. Perhaps he comes from a poorer family - he certainly envies the others. Care must be taken not to make him too dislikeable at the beginning, because he must develop during the course of the play.
THE MONK - is of course the ghost they are all hunting. Needs to be both mysterious and authoritative. Speech slow and commanding. Movements also slow and strong.
ALL THE ABOVE CHARACTERS ARE USED THROUGHOUT THE PLAY. THEY CANNOT BE DOUBLED.
THOSE BELOW ARE INTENTIONALLY CARICATURED AND CAN BE DOUBLED IF DESIRED.
Here follow brief descriptive handles on them.
THE PIRATE SCENE:
FOX - Second-in-command to Red Admiral. Might be quite bright if given a chance by Red. Perhaps a class above him shown through better speech.
RED ADMIRAL - vain and stupid. Shouts a lot.
CHOPPER - stupid and tough. Brawn not brains. Red Admiral's man.
YELLER - stupid and cowardly. Red Admiral's Man.
NASTY - as his name. Black Bart's man.
MUSCLES - very very stupid. Black Bart's man.
THICKO - ditto. Black Bart's man.
PRUNEFACE - ditto. Black Bart's man.
BLACK BART - Red Admiral's chief rival and captain of the other pirate ship. A nifty way with alliterative language! Speaks well - upper class accent. Swaggering walk. Hand flourishes.
THE 007-STYLE SPY SCENE:
JOE COOL - a 'goodie' but inept spy. Much looking over the shoulder and skulking around.
AL PACKER - ditto
999 [double nine nine] - needs to be packed with as many 007 mannerisms as possible. A clone of 007, without the girl problem!! Super cool manner, stance and drawling voice.
MAD MAX [MM - double M] - strong foreign accent. As his name suggests, madness is always bubbling below the surface. Many of his speeches need to have him rising from his chair, voice hysterical, eyes rolling and perhaps with some other tic to show his imminent loss of control. Brains is able to soothe him, as is stroking his pet guinea-pig.
THUG - supposedly a bad guy, working for Mad Max, but surprisingly soft-hearted. Practical no-nonsense type.
AMMO - physically a little weaker than Thug, but also sensible and courageous. Also supposedly a bad guy - with a soft streak.
BRAINS - as his name suggests, the real power behind Mad Max, who he keeps under control - just. Should be played very exaggeratedly upper-crust, with careful pronunciation of all his words. Precise and dangerous. Voice, as well as posh, should be silky and sinister. Actions and stance based on those of a butler. Could be a little camp.
THE HARRY POTTER-STYLE SCENE:
TIM - the Harry Potter parody, still practising his spells - he doesn't always get it right However, liked and respected by most of those with him.
SPIFF - just another typical boy
JEZ - ditto
JAMIE - ditto
OLIVER - becomes invisible with Kevin. Rather childish and selfish
CRAIG - another boy, quick-thinking.
GREMLIN 1 - nasty little creature, stooped and scuttling. It is short-sighted and uses smell instead, so actor should sniff exaggeratedly and look as though he is following his nose not his eyes. Speaks in a high 'witchy' sort of voice. Squabbles with his friend a lot, which involves leaping at him and rolling around on the floor, scrabbling with the hands and feet.
GREMLIN 2 - as above.
MR WAGSTAFFE - the baddie. The Dream teacher at Grindlescoop Hall. Wants to become Headmaster and use the talented boys who would then be at his disposal for his own power-seeking ends. Needs to be authoritative and come over as 'adult' in contrast to the boys. Speaks with some passion about his dreams - and we can see that this passion is beginning to turn his brain.
KEVIN - throughout most of the scene he is invisible. Needs to be acted well to be convincing. He is a plucky individual, likeable and feisty.
THE STAR TREK-STYLE SCENE:
CAPTAIN GLITTER - based on Captain Kirk rather than Patrick Stewart, but either model will do. Speaks with great certainty and authority. Stands braced and firm. Irritated by Doctor Spark.
LIEUTENANT BRIGHT - eager sidekick. Often confused by the aliens around him. Keen 'bright' voice and mannerisms.
DOCTOR SPARK - based on Doctor Spock, but more ponderous. A know-it-all who has to have his say, whatever. Drives everyone mad.
MR DONG - an alien with a long red nose. speaks in a low metalic monotone. Cannot string sentences together so his words are very cryptic and often open to misinterpretation. Needs an alien way of moving, perhaps slow and ponderous to match his slow gruff voice.
MR GIN - a green alien with a high robotic voice. Speaks fast and excitably. Movements should also be fast and jerky.
THE SWIZZLESELLER - a con-man, who must come over very much as the charming showman. Tends to speak like a salesman - very emphatic and enthusiastic about his product. Movements showman-like too - flourishes and poses.
HURLY - the Swizzleseller's sidekicks. Also given to circus-like flourishes. When not performing, behaves like a sulky bad-tempered kid.
BURLY - ditto
PRIVATE FIZZ - rather naive and not very bright, but awfully enthusiastic.
PRIVATE RAY - vain and also not very bright. Thinks he's clever, but he's not.
THE KING ARTHUR - STYLE SCENE:
SIR SWINGALOT - all the knights except Cuthbert are pretty well interchangeable. They are not really bad, just a little over-enthusiastic and full of bluster. A lot of shouting and grimacing and strong gestures like shaking fists, banging fists on tables, and so on.
SIR CRINGEALOT - as above
SIR PRANCEALOT - a favourite with the ladies! Could be a little more effeminate than the others.
SIR BORIS THE BOLD - as Sir Swingalot
SIR MAURICE THE MAD - ditto
SIR HORACE THE HORRIBLE - ditto
SIR CUTHBERT THE COWARDLY - dearly a cut above the others. His power is with words and ideas, not brawn like the others - who don't respect him because their whole ethos is the power of the sword. His manner is polite and pleasant. He can be firm when he knows he's right.
IDLE JACK - a bumptious boy - should be physically smaller than the others if possible. Wants to be a hero but lacks the `courtesy' that Cuthbert says he needs. Is put down a peg or two during the scene, but still remains enthusiastic and bright-voiced. Agile movements.
Though written for all boys, there are many characters here that could equally well be girls - or it could even all be done by girls. Why not?
Written originally for a very small stage, the setting was minimal. Obviously, if you have more resources, you can add to these. The basic minimum, however, is:
A free-standing flat at the back of the stage which can be reversed. On one side is painted shelves of books, on the other it is blank and painted blue, but has hooks on which a variety of items can be attached: a palm tree for the Pirate scene; a lamp-post for the spy scene; a complex looking array of buttons and metal gadgets for the Star-Trek scene - or, better maybe, a 'window' with the stars shown through it; castle -style windows amidst a sample of grey brickwork for the King Arthur scene.
Two bookcases, one each side of the stage jutting out onto the stage from the wings about half-way down from the back. Both bookcases need to be light and on wheels so that they can be pulled into the wings quickly.
It would be nice if the back part of the stage is raised. This gives different levels for the boys to sleep in more interesting positions, some propped up against it, etc. It also obviates the need for seating in the Star Trek scene and reduces the need in the King Arthur scene as the front of the raised area can be used for this purpose.
There are brief black-outs between each scene, except for the light on the two lookouts - different boys, dependent on the scene, who are watching for the ghost at the front of the stage. In these blackouts, the scene changes need to be done quietly, without interrupting the flow of the action thus:
1. PAGE 2. The bookcases for the library as shown above.
2. PAGE 10 - Cue: Blackout at the top of the page after JACK: 'Lights out.' Remove side bookcases, reverse back flat with palm-tree addition. Add, in same position as one of the side bookcases, a 'rock' - can be made of papier-mache, or polystyrene - doesn't need to carry weight. Behind rock, concealed, treasure chest.
3. PAGE 15 - top of page. Cue: Monk -'Time to leave, I think.
Come with me.' In short blackout, remove rock and chest Push on
side bookcases. Lighting so dim, probably not necessary to reverse
back flat, but remove palmtree and add lamppost
Further down the page: Cue: Jack -'Keep a good watch now and wake us if you see the ghost.' In ensuing darkness, pull off side bookcases.
4. PAGE 22 quarter of the way down page. Cue: Charles and Copper - Cheerio! ... Wow!' Brief blackout [not indicated in script] during which reverse backflat to books and push on both side bookcases.
5. PAGE 32. Top of page. Cue: Bullet - 'Don't wake the others or I'll do you, right? Sit down.' In the blackout, reverse backflat and hang window with stars or complex gadgetry on it Remove bookcases at sides. If no raised level, modern looking stools, 3 per side, are needed. Towards back of the stage, a desk with buttons, knobs, flashing lights, etc. as your imagination dictates.
6. PAGE 39. Near top of page. Cue: Monk - 'No. To the library.' Slide on two side bookcases in the blackout. In dimness, not necessary to reverse back flat but remove star window and add castle windows/ brickwork. Remove Starship desk and stools if used. further down the page. Cue: Bullet - 'O.K.' slide off side bookcases.
7. PAGE 47. Near top of page. Cue: Crispin - 'We think it was the librarian perhaps, from long ago when the school was a monastery.' Reverse backflat to bookshelves. Bring on two side bookcases. Remove table and benches brought on in last scene.
Note: some of the above are mentioned again in the Props list, which contains a note of all the stuff that needs to be made rather than acquired.