"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" by John HoweSir Gawain and the Green Knight: Short Student Play Version The Society July 5, 2016 For Educators, Poetry 1 Comment 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 Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) One Response james sale July 6, 2016 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 Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.