Readers' Theater

Chapter 2 Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L'Engle

Scripted by Robert Sweetland

Chapter 2 Mrs. Who

Characters: Narrator, Meg, Mrs. Murray, Charles Wallace, Twins (Sandy and Dennis), Principal, Calvin, and Mrs. Who.


Enter: Charles Wallace -- Meg -- ? Mrs. Murray -- Twins -- ? Narrator

All: Sound effect (Alarm clock) Jangle Jangle Jangle!!!

Narrator: Meg woke, shook her head to clear it, and listened.

Meg: The worst of the storm sounds over. (shakes head) It must have been a dream. What was that word? Tess... Tess something.

Narrator: She dressed hurriedly and went down stairs to the kitchen. Her mother was making French toast and the twins were at the table.

Meg: Where's Charles Wallace?

Mrs. Murray: Still asleep. We had rather an interrupted night, if you remember.

Meg: I hoped it was a dream.

Mrs. Murray: No, Meg. Don't hope it was a dream. I don't understand it any more than you do, but one thing I've learned is that you don't have to understand things for them to be.

Meg: What is a tesseract?

Mrs. Murray: It's a concept.

Twins (Sandy and Dennis): It's a gyp we missed out on all the fun.

Meg: You'll be a lot more awake in school today than I will.

Twins (Sandy and Dennis): Who cares. If you're going to let old tramps come into the house in the middle of the night, Mother you ought to have us around to protect you. We know you have a great mind and all, but you don't have much sense.

Meg: I know we're morons.

Twins (Sandy and Dennis): I wish you wouldn't be such a dope. Use a happy medium for heaven's sake. You just make things harder for yourself. And Charles Wallace is going to have a time next year when he starts school.

Exit Mrs. Murray, Twins

Enter Principal

Narrator: At school Meg was tired and her eyelids sagged and her mind wandered. She was asked to name the principal imports and exports of Nicaragua, and though she had looked them up dutifully the evening before, now she could remember none of them. The teacher was sarcastic and the rest of the class laughed.

Meg. Who cares about the imports and exports of Nicaragua anyhow?

Narrator: The teacher told her. "If you're going to be rude, Margaret, you may leave the room."

Meg: Okay, I will.

Narrator: Meg flounced out. During study hall the principal sent for her.

Principal: Miss Porter tells me you were inexcusably rude.

Meg: (Shrugs)

Principal: I'm convinced that you can do the work. You are going to have to do something about your self. Well? ... Silence. What about it Meg? ... Is something troubling you? Are you unhappy at home?

Meg: Everything is fine at home.

Principal: I know how hard it must be on you to have your father away. Have you had any news from him lately? What was your father's line of business?

Meg: He is a physicist.

Principal: Meg, don't you think you'd make a better adjustment to life if you faced facts?

Meg: I do face facts. They're a lot easier to face than some people, I can tell you.

Principal: Then why don't you face facts about your father?

Meg: (Shouting) You leave my father out of it!

Principal: Stop bellowing.

Meg: Mr. Jenkins, you've met my mother, haven't you? You can't accuse her of not facing facts, can you? She's a scientist. She has a doctor's degree in both biology and bacteriology. Her business is facts. When she tells me that my father isn't coming home, I'll believe it. As long as she says Father is coming home, then I'll believe that.

Principal: (Sigh) No doubt your mother wants to believe that your father is coming home. All right, go back to study hall and try to be a little less antagonistic.

Exit principal

Narrator: Meg got home from school, her mother was in the lab, the twins were at ball practice and Charles Wallace and Fortinbras was waiting for her.

Charles Wallace: Come on. Let's go.

Meg: Where? I don't want to go anywhere till I've had something to eat.

Charles Wallace: (Hands her a paper bag) Here's a sandwich and some cookies and an apple. Thought we'd better go see Mrs. Whatsit.

Meg: Oh golly. Why?

Charles Wallace: Still uneasy about her?

Meg: Yes.

Charles Wallace: Don't be. She's all right.

Meg: How do you know?

Charles Wallace: Meg I know.

Meg: Why should we go see her now?

Charles Wallace: I want to find out more about that tesseract thing.

Meg: (Thinks for a moment) Okay, let's go, but let's take Fortinbras.

Enter Calvin and Mrs. Who

Narrator: They walked in silence for a moment through the fragrant woods. Charles Wallace slipped his hand confidently in Meg's, and the sweet, little-boy gesture warmed her so that she felt the tense knot inside her begin to loosen. Charles loves me at any rate, she thought.

Charles Wallace: School awful again today?

Meg: Yes. I got sent to Mr. Jenkins office.

Charles Wallace: (Sagely) I know.

Meg: How do you know?

Charles Wallace: I can't quite explain. You tell me, that's all.

Meg: But I never say anything. You just seem to know.

Charles Wallace: Everything about you tells me.

Meg: How about the twins?

Charles Wallace: I suppose I could if I wanted to. If they needed me. But it's sort of tiring, so I just concentrate on you and Mother.

Meg: You mean you read our minds?

Charles Wallace: I don't think it's that. You tell me, you see, sort of inad... inadvertently. That's a good word, isn't it? I got Mother to look it up in the dictionary for me this morning. I really must learn to read, except I/m afraid it will make it awfully hard for me in school next year if I already know things. I think it will better if people go on thinking I'm not very bright. They won't hate me quite so much. (They walk in silence for awhile. Listen attentively.) Somebody's here. Come on. (Starts to run).

Narrator: At the edge of the woods Fortinbras stood in front of a boy barking furiously.

Calvin: For crying out loud, call off your dog.

Charles Wallace: Who's he?

Meg: Calvin O'Keefe.

Charles Wallace: (With hands on hips.) Okay. Now tell us what you're doing here.

Calvin: I might ask you the same. (Starts to move) Whoa. Call off your dog.

Charles Wallace: Tell me about him Meg.

Meg: What would I know about him? He's a couple of grades above me, and he's on the basketball team.

Calvin: Just because I'm tall.

Charles Wallace: Tell us what you're doing here?

Calvin: What is this? The third degree? Aren't you supposed to be the moron?

Charles Wallace: That's right. If you want me to call off my dog you better give.

Calvin: Most peculiar moron I've ever met. I just came here to get away from my family.

Charles Wallace: What kind of family?

Calvin: They all have runny noses. I'm a sport.

Charles Wallace: (Grinning.) So am I.

Calvin: I don't mean in baseball.

Charles Wallace: Neither do I.

Calvin: I mean like in biology.

Charles Wallace: "A change in gene, resulting in the appearance in the offspring of a character which is not present in the parents but which is potentially transmissible to its offspring.

Calvin: What gives? I was told you couldn't talk.

Charles Wallace: If thinking I'm a moron gives people something to feel smug about, then why should I disillusion them?

Calvin: Listen, did anyone ask you to come here this afternoon?

Charles Wallace: (Looking suspiciously.) What do mean. Asked.

Calvin: (Shrugging and shaking his head.) You still don't trust me, do you?

Charles Wallace: I don't distrust you.

Calvin: Do you want to tell me why you're here?

Charles Wallace: Meg and I decided to go for a walk. We often do in the afternoon.

Calvin: (Putting hands in pocket) You're holding out on me.

Charles Wallace: So're you.

Calvin: Okay, old sport. I'll tell you this much. Sometimes I get a feeling about things. A compulsion. You know what a compulsion means?

Charles Wallace: Constraint. Obligation, Because one is compelled...

Calvin: (Interrupting) Okay, okay. I must remember I'm preconditioned in my concept of your mentality. When I get this feeling, this compulsion, I always do what it tells me. This afternoon I had this feeling that I must come over to the haunted house. That's all I know, kid. I'm not holding anything back. Maybe it's because I'm supposed to meet you. You tell me.

Charles Wallace: (Gazes at Calvin's eyes probingly for a minute in a glazed over look.) Okay. I believe you. But I can't tell you. I think I'd like to trust you. Maybe you'd better come home with us and have dinner.

Calvin: Sure, what would your mother say?

Charles Wallace: She'd be delighted. Mother's all right. She's not one of us. But she's all right.

Calvin: What about Meg?

Charles Wallace: Meg has it tough. She's not really one thing or the other.

Meg: What do you mean?

Charles Wallace: Not now. I'll tell you about it later. (Looking at Calvin then at Meg.) Okay, let's take him to meet Mrs. Whatsit. If he's not okay she'll know.

Narrator: The haunted house was half in the shadows of a clump of elms. The late afternoon light had a greenish cast which the blank windows reflected in a sinister way. An unhinged shutter thumped. Something else creaked. A board was nailed across the front door, but Charles lead the way around to the back. The door there appeared to be nailed shut, too, but Charles Wallace knocked, and the door swung slowly outward, creaking on rusty hinges. Up in one of the elms an old black crow gave its raucous cry, and a woodpecker went into a wild ratatat-tat. A large gray rat scuttled around the corner of the house.

Meg: (Shriek) EEEEeeeee!

Charles Wallace: They get a lot of fun out of using all the typical props. Come on follow me.

Narrator: They entered into a sort of kitchen. There was a huge fireplace with a big black pot hanging over a merry fire. Why had there been no smoke visible from the chimney? Something in the pot was bubbling, and it smelled more like one of Mrs. Murray's chemical messes than something to eat. In a dilapidated Boston rocker sat a plump little woman. She wore enormous spectacles, twice as thick and twice as large as Meg's, and she was sewing busily, with rapid jabbing stitches, on a sheet.

Charles Wallace: (Cross and bossy.) I really don't think you should have taken one of Mrs. Buncombe's sheets without consulting me. What on earth do you want them for?

Mrs. Who: Why, Charlsie, my pet. Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point, French, Pascal. "The heart has its reasons, wherof reason knows nothing."

Charles Wallace: (Crossly) That's not appropriate at all.

Mrs. Who: (Smiling.) Your mother would find it so.

Charles Wallace: I'm not talking about my mother's feelings about my father. I'm talking about Mrs. Buncombe's sheets.

Mrs. Who: (Smiling.) In case we need ghosts to frighten anybody away, of course. I should think you'ld have guessed. But we really didn't mean you to know about the sheets. Auf frischer Tat ertappt. Germa? In flafrante delicto. Latin, Caught in the act. English. As I was saying...

Charles Wallace: (Holds up hand in a peremptory gesture) Mrs. Who, do you know this boy?

Calvin: (Bowing) Good afternoon, Ma'am. I didn't quite catch your name.

Mrs. Who: Mrs. Who will do. He wasn't my idea, Charlsie, but I think he's a good one. It's getting near time, Charlsie, getting near time. Ab honesto virum bonum nihil deterret. Seneca, Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable. And he's a very good man, Charlsie, darling, but right now he needs our help.

Meg: (Demandingly.) Who?

Mrs. Who: And little Megsie? Lovely to meet you. Your father, of course. Now go home, loves. The time is not yet ripe. Don't worry we won't go without you. Get plenty of food and rest. Feed Calvin up. Now off with you? Justitiae soror fides. Latin again, of course, Faith is the sister of justice. Trust in us? Now, shoo? (Pushes them out the door.)

Meg: Charles, I don't understand.

Charles Wallace: (Takes her hand) No I don't either, yet. I'll tell you what I know as soon as I can. But you saw Fort. Not a growl. Not a quiver. Just as though there weren't anything strange about it. So you know it's okay. Let's not talk till we've had something to eat. I need fuel so I can sort things out and assimilate them properly.

Calvin: Lead on, moron. I've never even seen your house, and I have the funniest feeling that for the first time in my life I'm going home!

Enter all




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