To Ware and Not to Wear (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 10)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every second Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘To Ware and Not to Wear’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on the Labyrinth set, in which stand Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED, and – in a shocking turn of events – Little John returned as the Antichristmas Beast!]

Annabelle: Antichristmas Beast? Who or what is that? And on a Uri scale of one to ten – one being trying to be fashionable in a big, floppy hat with flowers, ten being the End of All Days with no hope of salvation – how bad is it that we’re lost in the Labyrinth with this guy?

Allyn/Jack [darkly ]: He is my enemy. The enemy of peace and joy, hope and mercy, and essentially all things Christmas. An enemy I thought I had seen forever slain. How is it you now stand before me, Beast?

Little John/Beast: I am returned by the Shadow.

Sir Wilbur: As ominous as it is vague, that.

Annabelle: No kidding. “Inkheart”s Shadow, formed of fire and the ashes of Capricorn’s slaughtered victims? Classic radio’s Shadow, knower of what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Let’s have some specificity.

Little John/Beast [annoyed ]: I don’t have any specifics. I was dead – destroyed by the power of Snow’s sword – and then, without explanation, a creature calling itself only “the Shadow” conjured me into this maze. I’ve been roaming the corridors ever since, all alone. …until lo and behold, my old foe appears.

Allyn/Jack: What dark power would wish you restored to life?

Little John/Beast [glowering ]: Maybe some people actually like me. Did you ever think of that?

Allyn/Jack: In between those times you tried to kill me? No, the thought never once crossed my mind. If something brought you back, that something is bad news.

Annabelle: Scale of one to ten?

Allyn/Jack [eyeing Annabelle sidelong ]: Worse than a floppy, flowered hat.

“What?” I can hear Hatter say. “I would totally wear that!”
“What?” I can hear Hatter say. “I would totally wear that!”

Sir Wilbur: So we should beware this Shadow.

Annabelle: We should also beware being lost in the Labyrinth forever. We’re still missing the Mad Hatter and our way out.

Little John/Beast: I know the way out.

Sir Wilbur: Do you indeed? Then perhaps—

Allyn/Jack: No. Absolutely not. Don’t you dare propose we form a temporary alliance with my archnemesis. I won’t stand for it.

Annabelle: Aww. But hero/villain team-ups are so cool.

Sir Wilbur: And our options are limited, Jack. I’m not suggesting you should like your former enemy – only that you should consider setting aside your differences in favor of a common interest.

Annabelle: Diplomacy. It’s what his knightly order’s all about. “Talk first, slay as a last resort,” that’s their motto.

Sir Wilbur: Um, not verbatim, but near enough. What say you, Beast? Would you be willing to guide us safely from this place?

Little John/Beast [stroking beard in drawn-out thought ]: I might. On one condition. [points one large, clawed finger at Annabelle ] Her.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘big, floppy hat with flowers’ and ‘the Shadow from Inkheart’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

Ravens, Wrens, and Writing Desks (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 4)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Ravens, Wrens, and Writing Desks’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a jungle scene all wet and green, steam rising from the grasses below, water dripping from the broad leaves and vines of prop trees. Making their leisurely way through the fake underbrush are Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow and Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter – both carrying hiking gear, the latter dressed up in khaki shorts and a pith helmet.]

Will/Hatter [in an exaggeratedly bad Australian accent ]: Previously in our genre-hopping adventure, we’ve explored the idyllic bed and breakfasts of Hobbiton, New Zealand, and the rugged, dragon-ridden Lonely Mountain. Today, our travels bring us to the wilds of a primeval rainforest!

Allyn/Jack [slapping at biting insects ]: A rainforest even remotely on the way to the North Pole?

Will/Hatter: Sure, sure, all in good— Jiminy Crikey!

[Will comes to an abrupt halt, leaving Allyn behind him no time to do anything but crash into his back. Unbothered, Will points to some high spot beyond the audience’s view.]

Will/Hatter: Why, it’s a gold-crested, tiny-winy thingummy bird!

Allyn/Jack [peering upward ]: That’s a wren.

Will/Hatter: Right, same difference. Extremely rare, those! Next to never seen in these parts!

Either a Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) or a Gold-Crested, Tiny-Winy Thingummy (Aviarus nosuchthingus). Hard to tell for sure.
Either a Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) or a Gold-Crested, Tiny-Winy Thingummy (Aviarus nosuchthingus). Hard to tell for sure.

Allyn/Jack: Actually, their various species occur in a wide range of habitats, with many preferring Neotropical regions like this.

Will/Hatter [tossing an irritated look over his shoulder ]: Fancy yourself an expert, do you?

Allyn/Jack: I grew up in a forest. I’ve also spent a great deal of time getting dragged around by loons and cuckoos. [pointed look at will ] So yes, I’m familiar with several common birds.

Voice from Above: Common? Nothing common about me!

[With a flutter, Robin Hood drops down onto the stage, a golden circlet on his head, and wearing a great kilt made of feathers of every shape, size, color, and ornithological species of origin.]

Will/Hatter: Ha! What’d I tell you? Gold-crested, tiny-winy thingummy. Sometimes appears like a wren, sometimes takes the shape of a hooded robin. Native to Scotland.

Robin/Bird King: Nothing of the kind. [poses grandly ] I am Raasuii, the Bird King, god of every feathered creature, great and small.

Allyn/Jack: Shapeshifting animal gods? Hatter, do you realize how far off course you’ve led me? This is the jungle of the Abishan!

Will/Hatter: What, that genie you met in the Fairytale Forest during that other adventure of yours?

Robin/Bird King: Genie? Far more than that! The great Abishan is lord over all in this jungle, even his fellow immortals. There are none with more power than he! …Well, maybe one.

Will/Hatter: What one? Which one? Does it start with the letter “M”?

Robin/Bird King: No. Perhaps you will encounter her in your travels. This jungle is, after all, lately part of her domain. But now, it is best you departed this place. There are creatures here less likely than I to see you as anything more than a meal. Even I might be tempted to do you ill if you don’t offer me any incentive not to, hint, hint.

Allyn/Jack: Oh. An offering. Of course. [reaches back into knapsack and withdraws a small pastry ] Perhaps you’d like a snack pie. A number of birds enjoy apple, yes?

Will/Hatter: Mm, pie for dinner. And I’ll throw in a riddle for dessert! This one’s in your honor, your birdship: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Robin/Bird King: Why?

Will/Hatter: Why else?

Allyn/Jack: What??

Will/Hatter: Exactly. Come on, Jack! Things to go, places to see, people to do! Cheerio, Bird King!

[Will drags Allyn away, Allyn tossing the apple pie into Robin’s hands before vanishing offstage. Robin stands blinking at the audience in shock for a long beat of silence.]

Robin/Bird King: I don’t think that man is flying with a full wingspan.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘a wren’ and ‘apple pie’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”