A Christmas Tale

This play appears in the current issue of Sheep Canada Magazine.

A Christmas Tale
A Play in one act

Cast of Characters:          
Flopsy – a ewe                                  
Dora – a ewe
Frank- a ram                                    
 Barn Cat
Floyd- a rooster                                 
Juliet- a ewe
The Ewe Chorus                               
 The Forgetful Farmer

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the barn,
many creatures were stirring, for the lights were left on…

Two ewes at the feeder picking through the leavings of their evening meal.

Flopsy:                  Can you believe it? She left the lights on in here AGAIN!
Dora:                     I know, eh? All that talk about what picky eaters we are, how much hay we waste, and she goes and leaves the lights on. Sheesh! Talk about waste! Hey, what time you think it is?
Flopsy:                  Dunno. Pretty late I guess.
Dora:                     Hmm.  Must be something going on. This is late, even for her.

Frank the Ram saunters over, looking for a snack.

Frank:                   Ladies. What’s up?
Flopsy:                  It’s late; the lights are still on; nobody seems to be around.  Any idea what’s going on?
Frank:                   Christmas.
Ewes:                   Christmas? 
Frank:                   Yeah, you know, it’s one of those human holidays. See, there’s this pudgy bearded guy in a fuzzy red suit who throws presents at you from his magic space sleigh.  And then there’s, like, all this food and singing and parties and stuff. Oh, and visitors- lots of visitors.  Remember last year when those small humans came into the barn and chased us around while the other big humans took pictures with those camera thingies?
Ewes:                    Yes.
Frank:                   Well, that was Christmas.
Ewes:                    Oh. Great.
Frank:                   Oh yeah, and here’s the totally cool part…I almost forgot… (Frank noses around in the feeder) mhmph…alfalfa… awesome! Hey, do you ladies mind if I eat that?
Ewes:                    No, go right ahead.
Frank:                   (Chewing) Mmmm…this is pretty good…now what was I saying? Oh yeah, yeah, the cool part. So, I heard from this other ram back on the farm where I used to live that at midnight on Christmas animals can TALK!  
Dora:                     Talk? Like with your mouth?

Flopsy shoots Dora a look.

Flopsy:                  No, like talk with some other body part, you moron.
Dora:                     What? It’s a legitimate question.  Ever stand next to Juliet when we’re eating grain? I’m pretty sure that’s not her mouth talking.

Both ewes laughThen from across the barn-

Juliet:                    Hey, I heard that!!
Flopsy:                  Talking. What a strange idea. I wonder if it’s true … (pauses) …WaitDo you suppose maybe we’re talking RIGHT NOW?!
Frank:                    (Stops mid-chew) Whoa…We totally are talking! Oooooooh Freaky!

Frank, Dora and Flopsy all look at each other with amazement.
Just then Barn Cat appears from the shadows as he slinks through the sheep pen 
on his way to somewhere else.

Flopsy:                  Hey Cat, do you think animals can talk?

Barn Cat stops mid-slink.

Barn Cat:         Talk? Talk about gullible, you mean. You sheep will believe anything. Of course animals can’t talk.
Flopsy:             Well, if animals can’t talk, then how are we having this conversation?
Barn Cat:          What conversation? We’re not having a conversation.  You only think we are having a conversation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be. Somewhere that isn’t here.
Cat performs ninja moves and silently exits.

Flopsy:                  Cats are SO weird. And what does he mean by gullible? Who’s gullible?
Dora:                     I think Gullible was that spotted ram we met a couple of years ago, remember?
Frank:                   Ladies, if I may interject.  Gullible means you believe stuff easily without requiring proof…. Like that time I totally invented cold fusion and fooled all those journalists and almost won a Nobel Prize…Oh wait… that wasn’t me. But you get the idea. Hey, is that some of that fescue and reed canary grass blend? That stuff’s awesome! You ladies mind?
Ewes:                    No, go right ahead.

Across the barn in the chicken pen, Floyd the rooster begins to crow.

Floyd ( singing):     I’ve been really tryin’, baby
                              Tryin’ to hold back this feeling for so long
                              And if you feel like I feel, baby
                             Then come on, oh, come on
                              Whoo, let’s get it on…..

Flopsy:   There goes that fool of a rooster. The lights are on so he thinks it’s day! Dumb as a bag of hammers.

Ewe Chorus:       SHUT UP!!!

Dora:                     I can’t believe the hens fall for that “Oh baby, baby” routine. Talk about, wait, what was  that word again?

Cat returns, this time with a mouse tail dangling out of his mouth. 
He mumbles because his mouth is full. 
Cat:                        Mullible.
Flopsy:                  What’s that, cat? By the way, you’ve got something stuck in your teeth.
Cat spits out the mouse.
Cat:                        Ahem. I said it before and I’ll say it again. You sheep are gullible.
Flopsy:                  Okay Cat, if you’re so smart, give me one example of how we are gullible.
Cat:                        In a word:  Freezer.

Dora looks slightly panicked    
Dora:                     What about Freezer?
Cat:                        Dora, what is Freezer?
Dora:                     Why, Freezer is a special place where only the Truly Good and Tasty animals go. A place where everything is perfect: the grass is green, the sun is always shining, the apples are ripe, and grain falls in gentle showers from the sky.  And there are no coyotes. Or intestinal parasites.
Cat:                        And it’s an actual place? (Commences gnawing on mouse)
Dora:                     Yes, of course it’s a real place, but why…..
Frank:                   If I may interject. Dora, perhaps Freezer is…  like a…um…a  metaphor. Not so much an actual place, more a state of complete peace, of perfect consciousness if you will….a sort of a goal on life’s path to spiritual enlightenment. (Frank sniffs the ground)  Oooh I think somebody missed a piece of corn….
Cat (choking):    Hack. Cough. Man, you have GOT to be kidding me! Do you seriously believe….

From across the barn, the rooster crows again.

Floyd (sings):   When a man loves a woman
                        Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found…

Ewe Chorus:       SHUT UP!!!!!

Cat:        Dora, look over there.
Dora:     Where?
Cat:        Over there at the turkey pen. Tell me what you see.
Dora:     Nothing. It’s full of emptiness.

Cat shakes his head in disbelief.

Cat:        Yes Dora, it’s “full of emptiness”. (making air quotes with his paws) And why is it empty, Dora?

Dora:     Because the turkeys were Truly Good and Tasty Animals, and they went to Freezer.

Cat:   Look, let me tell you something about Freezer, okay?  If Freezer is a state of complete peaceand perfect consciousness, then those turkeys began their path to enlightenment on the back of a truck. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was a Ford.
Dora (horror stricken) NOOOO! It’s a REAL PLACE!
Cat:        Oh, it’s a real place all right….
Dora:     Lalalala I can’t hear you!

Dora runs away and hides her head in an empty water bucket.

Flopsy:  Great. Now look what you did. It’s going to take hours to calm her down.
Frank:   Hey Cat! Why you gotta be such a downer, dude?
Flopsy: Yeah.  And I thought you said we couldn’t talk. That was a whole lot of talking for someone who doesn’t talk.
Cat:        I wasn’t talking. In fact, I’m not even here. I don’t exist. It’s all just your imagination.

Flopsy stomps on Cat’s tail.

Cat:        YEOOOOOW! What did you do that for?
Flopsy:    Did you feel that?
Cat licks his tail.
Cat:        Of course I felt that! What’s wrong with you?
Flopsy:  That’s funny. I thought you were a figment of my imagination.

Cat realizes to his embarrassment that he has just been outwitted by a sheep.

Cat:        I just remembered that… I forgot…to do……stuff.

Cat exits in disgrace.

Frank (laughing): Hey Flopsy, I don’t know if this whole “talking” thing is real, but I think you just proved the existence of Cat.

From across the barn, Floyd the rooster crows again.

Floyd (singing):                 And I can’t fight this feeling anymore
                                        I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for
                                        It’s time to bring this ship into the shore
                                       And throw away the oars, forever!

Ewe Chorus:   SHUT UP!!!!

Flopsy:           I can’t take much more of that rooster. Now he’s singing REO Speedwagon. 
We’re going to have to fight fire with fire here. Anybody know a song? Some Cole Porter?  
Blue Moon of Kentucky?  Anything?  Please!  Anyone?

Dora returns with a water bucket on her head.

Dora:   Oh I do! I know one! Pick me!
Dora begins to sing

Dora:                               Jingle bells, jingle bells
                                        Jingle all the way.
                                        Oh! what fun it is to ride
                                        In a one-horse open sleigh.

All the sheep join in.

                                        Jingle bells, jingle bells,
                                        Jingle all the way;
                                        Oh! what fun it is to ride
                                        In a one-horse open sleigh.

Outside, a car pulls into the yard.

Frank:   Uh oh, everybody pipe down! I see lights coming up the driveway.
Flopsy:  She’s home. Thank goodness! Now maybe we can get some rest. Shush, everybody! She’ll hear us!
The Forgetful Farmer enters the barn to turn off the lights.

Forgetful Farmer:     Oh for the love of Pete, what’s with all the racket? Knock it off you animals and go to sleep! Don’t you know it’s Christmas? Now goodnight! I’ll feed you tomorrow.

Forgetful Farmer turns off lights. The barn is now completely dark. The animals are quiet.

Flopsy (whispers):           Psst. Frank, do you think she heard us?
Frank (also whispering): Not a chance. Humans are totally clueless.
Merry Christmas!