Characters: Three storytellers, Dresser, Emperor, Two soldiers, Royal Advisor, Slick, Slicker, four subjects, father, small child.
Storyteller 1: Once upon a time, there was an emperor.
Storyteller 2: He didn’t spend much time ruling his empire
Storyteller 3: Because he was too interested in how he looked and what clothes he wore.
Emperor: (looking in the mirror) I wonder what clothes I’ll wear today. Dresser come here at once.
(Dresser comes rushing holding up two outfits, the emperor grabs one.)
Dresser: That is the tenth outfit you have tried on today, Your Excellence.
Emperor: It is important to look good when you are the emperor of all that you can see and beyond.
(Enter two soldiers.)
Soldier 1: (bows) Your Excellence, the enemy is attacking us.
Soldier 2: (bows) By land, air and sea. What shall we do?
Emperor: How dare you interrupt me with these trivial matters. I’ve way more important things to worry about, like what outfit I’m going to wear today. Please leave at once.
Storyteller 1: When the royal advisor came to advise, he dismissed him.
Royal Advisor: We must talk about how to run the empire.
Emperor: Go away, can’t you see I’m busy admiring myself and my beautiful clothes. Dresser, let’s go outside so all my subjects can admire my clothes.
(Walks up and down like he is on a catwalk. He turns and twirls so all his subjects can see and admire him.)
Subjects: (bows) You look amazing, Your Excellence.
Emperor: Dresser, next week is the annual royal parade. What shall I wear?
Dresser: You have 10,438 outfits to choose from.
Emperor: I need something new and different. I want to look fabulous. I want the whole empire to talk about me and my beautiful clothes. Find me the finest tailors in the land at once.
Dresser: (Comes on stage ringing a bell.) Hear ye, hear ye, the emperor needs a magnificent outfit for the royal parade. Can anyone help? Hear ye, hear ye.
(Enter Slick and Slicker.)
Slick: Do you hear that? We could make lots of money.
Slicker: But we aren’t tailors.
Slick: I know, but I’ve got a plan.
(They huddle together and whisper.)
(Dresser enters the palace with Slick and Slicker. The emperor is sitting on his throne.)
Dresser: I found them, Your Excellence.
Slick: I’m Slick.
Slicker: I’m Slicker. At your service. (Both bow before the emperor.)
Slick and Slicker: We are the finest tailors in the land.
Slick: I’m sure you MUST have heard of us.
Storyteller 2: The emperor liked to pretend he knew everything, so he said…
Emperor: Of course, I’ve heard of you.
Slick: Well then, you must know our clothes are very special.
Slicker: Oh yes, they are magic clothes.
Slicker: Why, have you not heard? only very clever people can see our clothes.
Slick: Our clothes are invisible to stupid people.
Emperor: Make me a magic outfit at once.
Slicker: Well, it is very expensive.
Emperor: Money is no object. Here take this. (He throws a bag of money at them.) Now get to work at once. You have only a week left to make me the most spectacular outfit for the royal parade.
(Emperor and Dresser exit.)
Storyteller 2: After a few days, the emperor was excited to see his new outfit. He knocked on the door.
Emperor: Knock, knock, may I come in?
Slick and slicker: Oh no, you can’t come in. We want the outfit to be a surprise.
Emperor: Dresser, go inside and look at the outfit and tell me how fabulous it is.
(Enter Dresser. Slick holds up an imaginary outfit.)
Slick: So, what do you think?
Dresser: (Speaks to the audience.) I can’t see anything, but if I say so, everyone will think I’m stupid.
Dresser: It is wonderful, the emperor will be so happy.
Storyteller 3: He scuttled off to tell the emperor that his outfit was amazing.
Storyteller 1: News quickly spread across the empire about the magic outfit. Everyone came the day of the parade to see this fantastic suit.
Storyteller 2: On the day of the parade, the emperor entered the room for the first time.
Slick: (Holds up the outfit.) Well, what do you think?
Emperor: (Speaks to the audience.) I can’t see anything. I must be stupid, but I can’t let them now. I’ll pretend I can see it. (Turns to Slick and Slicker.) It is amazing, magnificent, fabulous.
Slicker: Well, put it on then.
Dresser: I will help you. You look fantastic.
Emperor: It is a perfect fit. Dresser, carry my train.
Storyteller 3: He admired himself one last time. The soldiers opened the palace doors.
Emperor: Let the parade commence.
Storyteller 1: The crowd gasped with excitement. They knew only clever people could see the clothes.
Subject 1: You look so handsome.
Subject 2: Such an amazing outfit.
Subject 3: What magnificent tailoring.
Emperor: The clothes I’m wearing must be beautiful.
Small child: I can’t see. I want to see the emperor’s new clothes.
Father: Come here, I’ll show you. (Father picks up the small child.)
Small child: But the emperor has no clothes on.
Subject 4: What did he say?
Subject 1: He said the emperor has no clothes on.
Subject 3: He is right, the emperor is naked.
Subject 4: The emperor has no clothes on.
Storyteller 2: Everyone started to whisper and the whispering turned into shouting.
Everyone: The emperor has no clothes on.
Emperor: (Looks down.) They are right. I’ve got no clothes on. (He tries to cover himself up.)
Slick and Slicker: Time to go with our bags full of money. (They tip toe off the stage quickly without anyone seeing them.)
Emperor: Cover me up at once. (Dresser comes running in with a blanket.)
Storyteller 3: The emperor got what he wished for. People talked about the emperor with no clothes for years to come.
For more plays based on Hans Christian Andersen’s stories, click here.