The Wee Reid Hen
Author(s): Wendy de Rusett
Copyright holder(s): Wendy de Rusett
Mill Machinery (Sheep & Horse)
Actors: Follow the narrators with clear mime. Work with the Musicians so they can follow your mime. Mill Machinery and Cart can be played by animal actors. It is more effective if the animals and hen, are standing, bent slightly forward with bent legs and animal-like movements and noises in between phrases.
Storytellers: Learn lines, if possible so that text is only a prompt sheet on A5 backed with dark-coloured card. Speak loudly, slowly, and expressively.
Musicians: Play a simple pattern of notes on the glockenshpeil as an introduction and whenever the hen moves across the stage. Experiment with patterns of notes as a “theme tune” for the hen. A few notes from the traditional tune “The Hen’s March To the Midden” repeated, works well. Use shakers, scrapers and/or tambour, where they suit such actions as harvesting, and the mill working.
Costumes and Masks: Long animal and bird masks can be made which show the actor’s face as well as the animal’s when the head moves up and down. Costumes can be simple leggings and T-shirts the colours or patterns of the creature. A tabard can be placed over those play the Mill machinery. Others including Storytellers and musicians can be dressed as country folk of the 19th Century.
SCENE 1: The hen finds grain, the sheep refuse to help her plant it.
Actors: Form an arc on stage from left to right as the audience sees, in the following order: Storyteller 1, Storyteller 2, Sheep, Miller, Cows, Horse, Pigs, Farm-wife, Storyteller 3, Musicians
S.teller 1: There wis aince a wee reid hen fa bade on a fairm.
S.teller 2: Ae day she gaed oot for a danner an she fan a heap o corn. (Musicians)
S.teller 3: She thocht till hersel. I’ll hae tae saa this corn.. But a canna dae it masel. I’ll awa an speir gin the sheep’ll help me. (Music as hen struts to cows)
Hen: Fit like the day, sheepies?
Sheep: Fine. Baa.
Hen: Wid you help me saa this corn?
Sheep: Baa baa. Na, na, we're awa tae be clippet. Baa.
Hen: That’s a peety. Ach weel, I'll jist hae tae dee’t masel.
S.teller 1: Sae the peer wee hennie hid tae saa the corn aa hersel. (Music & mime)
SCENE 2: The cows refuse to help the hen harvest the corn.
S.teller 2: The sun cam up (Music & mime from St.s 1+3) an the rain cam doon (Music) an the grain grew heech, an turned bonnie yalla, ready for hairstin (Music)
S.teller 3: But she cuidna hairst it hersel, she thocht. I’ll awa an speir gin the coos’ll help me. So she gaed doon tae the coo park.
Hen: Fit like, Coos?
Cows: Fine. Moo. Fit like yersel?
Hen: Fine. But I’m needin a han tae cut doon this corn.
Cows: Moo, moo. We're awfae sorry, but we're awa tae be milket.
Hen: Ye’re nae sorry at aa. Weel, I'll jist hae tae dae it masel.
S.teller 1: Sae the peer wee hen cut doon the hale park hersel, an gaithert the corn intae bonnie stooks. (Music, with scrapers and shaker)
SCENE 3: The horse refuses to help the hen thrash the corn.
S.teller 2: Syne the corn wis ready tae thrash an pit intil a pyock.
S.teller 3: I canna dee this masel, she thocht. I’ll awa an speir gin the horse’ll help me.
Hen: Fit like Horsie?
Horse: Nae bad. Neigh bad. Yer looking awfae trachlet. Fit's a dee wi ye?
Hen: I'm needin help tae thrash ma corn an pit it intil a pyock.
Horse: Na. Na. Neigh. Neigh. I cannae help you the day. I've tae gie ridin lessons.
Hen: Ridin lessons? Fit neist? I'll jist hae tae dee it masel.
S.teller 1: Sae the peer wee craiter thrashed aa the corn hersel an fullt it intil a pyock for tae tak tae the Miller. (Music and mime, with shakers & scrapers)
SCENE 4: The pigs refuse to help carry the corn to the Miller
S.teller 2: Syne the wee hen wis needin help to cairry the pyock tae the Miller, sae she gaed awa tae see if the pigs wid help her.
Hen: Fit like, piggies?
Pigs: Fine.Oink, Oink. Fit like yersel?
Hen: Wid you twa piggies help me tak this corn tae the Miller?
Pigs: Fit’s that ye’re sayin? We’re a bittie deif.
Hen: Ye heard fine fit I said. Wid ye help me?
Pigs: Nae the day, sorry. Oink, oink. We're rowin in the dubs an it’s awfae fine! We canna be bathered daein onythin else.
Hen: Dearie me! Ach weel, I’ll jist hae tae dee’t masel.
S.teller 1: Sae the peer wee hen hid tae cairry the pyock of corn tae the mill aa by hersel. Naebody wid pit themsels oot tae help her. (Music and mime)
SCENE 5: The Miller grind the corn for the hen and lends her a cart.
Musicians: Mill machinery team start mime, slowing down during speech. Mill grinding noises get louder as hen gets nearer, stop during speech. Tapping on door.
Hen: (Pecks on door) Onybody at hame?
Miller: Guid mornin Hennie. Fit can I dee for you the day?
Hen: Please, Mr Miller. I'm needin ae pyock o corn grun.
Miller: Aa richt. Can you gie me twa dizzen eggs in peyment?
Hen: It's a deal. I cannae shak hans sae I’ll shak ma feathers. I’ll be back the morn.
S.teller 1: Syne the Miller chaav’t awa an gied the hen ae pyock o meal in exchange for twa dizzen eggs. The hen wis fair chuffed. (Music, and mill sequence again).
S.teller 2: The neist morn the wee hen delivered her eggs tae the Miller an collected her pyock o meal. Then her een fell upon an aal cairt in the Miller’s yaird.
Hen: Excuse me, Mr Miller, could I get a len o yer wee cairtie?
S.teller 3: “Surely” said the Miller an loaded the pyock ontae the cairt, an awa she gaed straicht tae the Fermer’s hoose tae speir gin the wife wid mak a roon o breid.
SCENE 6: The Farm-wife agrees to make a loaf of bread for the hen.
Musicians: Hen music for journey with cart, tapping noise as she pecks on door.
Hen: (Pecks on door- Musicians)) Please Mistress, could you bake me a roon o breid?
Farm-wife: Surely. An there'll be plenty left for next week an the week aifter. Can you bring us a twa dizzen eggs as peyment?
Hen: Nae problem. I’ll be back the morn’s morn. (Cart return to be animal)
Musicians: Accompany hen going home and having a sleep. Hen settle into nest & sleep.
S.teller 1: Sae the wee hen gaed hame til her her bed, a cosy wee nest o strae.
SCENE 7: The animals try to eat the bread but the humans persuade them to agree to help the hen next year. They dance to celebrate.
S.teller 2: The followin morn she gaed back for her roons o breid, an wis jist aboot tae hae her breakfaist,... The breid smellt fine. (Animals crowd round noisily, but leave a space at the front for the audience to see the interaction)
Miller: Hey, haud back fae the peer wee hennie. Fit wey are yous aa croodin roon?
Cows: Oh, that's an awfae fine smell. Can we hae some?
Farm-wife: Far wis you fan the hennie winted help tae saa the corn?
Sheep: We canna min. We’re richt hungry. We’re tired o girse.
Miller: An far wis you aa fan the hen winted help tae cut doon the corn?
Horse: I wis working. I need an extra big helpin, cos I’m a muckle beast.
Farm-wife: Far wis you fan the hennie needed help tae thrash the corn?
Pigs: We wis asleep. We wint some tae. We never get fresh breid.
Miller: An far wis you fan the hen wanted help tae tak the corn tae me?
Animals: We’re awfae sorry. We’ll help neist time.
Farm-wife: You'll help neist time?... Is that a promise?
Animals: Ay, it is.
Hen: Neist time means this aifterneen. There’s fresh corn tae be saa’n.
Horse: We’ll be there. We’ll get yokit. We'll share the work, an share the breid.
Hen: Champion! Let's eat, an hae a perty.
Musicians: Accompany the animals cheering, singing and dancing.
S.teller 3: Sae the wee reid hen an the animals ett up aa the breid, sang an danced by the licht o the meen, until the wee smaa oors. (Animals dance to music)
S.tellers 1-3: Fae then on, ilka year the animals chaav’t thegither, had their denner thegither, an were the best o freens. (All put arms round each other)
Musicians: First pattern of notes then tambour as actors line up for bow for 3 seconds
Then rise together, smiling.
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Cite this Document
The Wee Reid Hen. 2021. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved January 2021, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=581.
"The Wee Reid Hen." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2021. Web. January 2021. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=581.
The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "The Wee Reid Hen," accessed January 2021, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=581.
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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2021. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk.