This rhyming adaption of the 14th century Arthurian poem is suitable for 4-6 students to perform and only takes about 10 minutes or so to perform.

 

Characters
Narrator
Sir Gawain
Green Knight / Castle Lord
King Arthur / Castle Lady

 

NARRATOR
Once upon a Christmas time, at Camelot, King Arthur sat
Many gallant knights gathered around, richly feasting and growing fat.
Resplendent clothing, music soft, filled up the festive atmosphere,
While filling up the stomachs was well-seasoned meat of fish and deer.
But Arthur would not touch his food till all lords and ladies were served
And then, not till some daring feat or stunning story was observed.
That’s when in strode a knight, he was half-giant or so he seemed,
From his ornate gold-trimmed attire to skin and hair and horse all beamed—
Not because of their rich quality, no, they all seemed strangely obscene,
For none were normal colored, no, instead they all shone brightly green!

GREEN KNIGHT
Who is the lord of all these folk? With him I am hoping to talk.

KING ARTHUR
Welcome, Sir, it is I, Arthur; we welcome you to join our feast,
If you crave a fight for good sport, we’ll not disappoint in the least.

GREEN KNIGHT
I crave no fight but just a game, don’t worry you can all relax
With no defense I bare my neck, take one swing at it with my axe,
But, in a year and plus one day, I also get one whack at you.
Who would take me up on this game? Step up, show me what you can do.

[The knights look at each, look around]

Ha ha ha ha ha!
Are these the famed knights of Arthur, or just children too dumb to speak?
You beardless boys chicken livered, claiming strength but really weak,
Where are your boasts of valor now, your rousing and heroic words?
And your meaningless Round Table, isn’t its pageantry just absurd!

KING ARTHUR
By Heaven, Sir, you seem crazy but if that’s what you want then fine,
I’ll give you what you want so much—

SIR GAWAIN
Wait, my liege, this task should be mine.

Of all the great knights gathered here, I am weakest, dumbest of all
Perchance my life should see its end, well then the loss would be rather small.

[Sir Gawain takes some practice swings]

NARRATOR
The young Sir Gawain raised the axe and hacked right off the Green Knight’s head
But the Green Knight picked his head up, for he was strangely still not dead.

GREEN KNIGHT
Come see me if you dare Sir Knight, in a year and a day I’ll wait,
Keep your word and, if you can, prove Arthur’s knights are truly great!

NARRATOR
True to his word, twelve months later, Sir Gawain sought out the Green Knight
After much hardship and searching, however, he was nowhere in sight.
Gawain fought dragons, fearsome wolves, and slept in armor every night
And woke again to travel more, always facing some daring fight.
Cold and tired, running out of time, he prayed for help from the Divine
Then suddenly a castle appeared. Welcomed in, he began to dine.

CASTLE LORD
Oh, a knight of the Round Table, how wonderful is this news, Sir,
Just look at him, my lovely wife, this is splendid, don’ you concur?

CASTLE LADY
Indeed, I’ve heard of Sir Gawain and how I long to hear him talk,
I’ll take care of him very well, while you can go for a long walk.

CASTLE LORD
Okay, that’s just what I will do! As you rest from your long journey
I’ll go out hunting the whole day, at sunset back here I’ll hurry
And give you all the game I kill; in return, you’ll owe me nothing,
Just give me whatever right here, your good fortune has been bringing.
And after that I’ll help you find the Green Knight to complete your quest.
Now fully please enjoy my home, have leisurely pleasure-filled rest.

NARRATOR
For three days the Castle’s Lord hunted, deftly chasing down deer and boar
He skinned them, took out their innards, butchered them into bloody gore.
Meanwhile back in the Lord’s castle, in a soft and opulent bed
Sir Gawain had a strange visit that made him turn his weary head.

CASTLE LADY
Good morning, Sir Gawain, I’ve trapped you quite beautifully here
My lord is quite far away now, so you have everything to fear.

SIR GAWAIN
Good morning, good Castle Lady, that’s quite a good joke that you’ve made,
I’m at your service, however, if you could leave it’d be an aid,
For I still need my formal clothes before I can be of some use.

CASTLE LADY
I’ll tuck you firmly into bed and you’ll face my loving abuse.

SIR GAWAIN
My lady, see my symbol there, the perfect pentangle on it,
It never stops nor ever breaks, it judges each deed I commit,
Its five points stand for fellowship, for cleanness, generosity,
For courtesy and most of all, compassionate, faith-filled piety.

NARRATOR
She pressed on with her tempting words, but her attacks were all misses
All that occurred between the two were plain and courteous kisses
All of which Sir Gawain gave then to the Lord upon his return
While the Lord gave Gawain all those meaty animals he had earned.
There was only one thing Gawain didn’t properly give to the Lord…

CASTLE LADY
This green girdle can protect you from any lance, axe, or sword,
Take it as my one love token to save you from the Green Knight’s blow
It will be our little secret that no one else will ever know.

SIR GAWAIN
Thank you, this may be my one hope, a present sent down from Heaven
For tomorrow I face that green man and this head I may abandon.

NARRATOR
The next day Sir Gawain was shown to the Green Knight’s lone grassy knoll.
And after sharpening his blade, up to Sir Gawain he did stroll.

SIR GAWAIN
Take your swing Green Knight I’m ready, I am true to my word you’ll see.

GREEN KNIGHT
You’ve had many chances to run, but instead now you’ve come to me.

[Sir Gawain kneels down and extends his neck. The Green Knight raises his axe and gets ready to swing. Sir Gawain then looks backward and flinches]

GREEN KNIGHT
What? Flinching away is it true? You are simply not Sir Gawain!
Do I flinch at severing swings? Such behavior’s a shameful stain.

SIR GAWAIN
Take your swing, Sir Knight, I’m ready! Although once my own head does roll
Unlike you, my body will stop, lie dead upon this grassy knoll.

[The Green Knight raises his blade again and then lowers it again]

GREEN KNIGHT
Now that you have recovered your nerve, I will have to hit you for sure…
I wonder if King Arthur has, for severed necks a special cure?

SIR GAWAIN
My goodness! Get on with it, man! Now strike unless you’re afraid.

GREEN KNIGHT
Of course you must complete your quest, to honor the vow that you made.

[The Green Knight swings but only nicks his neck]

SIR GAWAIN
Huh?
Not one more strike you’ve had your chance, and if you want another one
You’ll not get it so easily, through fierce fighting it must be done!

GREEN KNIGHT
My good fellow don’t look so fierce, you have fulfilled your debt in full
You’ve kept your promise like gold, no malicious thoughts do I mull.
Look closely at me and you’ll see, that I’m in fact the Castle’s Lord
Transformed by Morgan the Fairy, to create for Arthur discord.
She hoped to scare the queen to death, and test the strength of Arthur’s name,
To see if Camelot was worth all its glory and boundless fame.
I raised my axe three times at you, each for a time I went to hunt,
The first two times you performed well, and you did not put up a front.
Thus, for those two times I struck not, and let you off without a blow,
If you had not done well before, your blood would gush out, not flow.
The last time however you lied, and the girdle secretly took,
But you resisted my wife’s charm, from cleanness you were never shook,
So for that I gave a small nick, upon your neck a tiny cut—

SIR GAWAIN
How asinine I truly am, that woman made me the joke’s butt!

GREEN KNIGHT
Don’t be so hard on yourself, Sir, you’ve come through exceedingly well,
You have nothing else to repay, and have a great tale to retell.
Keep the girdle, as green as me, remember what you’ve learned from this
All debts must be repaid some time, and not a single one is missed.

ALL CHARACTERS
The Divine in Heaven sees all, each thought is judged evil or good,
Remember Sir Gawain’s strange quest, keep your vow and do what you should!

 

Adapted by Evan Mantyk

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One Response

  1. james sale

    This is great fun – although I know and love the poem, found myself having to read on – this is ideal for introducing young students to the poem.

    Reply

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