The Lantern and the Fan

Scene 1

(Evening.  A man and his two sons, near a crackling fire.)

Father:  My sons -

Sons:  Yes, father?

Father:  It is time for you to go out and get married.

Sons:  (to each other) Awww!

Son 1:  (to Father) May we please wait?

Father:  You have waited too long already.  You are no longer young.

Son 2:  But Father, I am younger!

Father:  You are old enough for a wife.  Go to faraway villages, find good women, marry them, and bring them home.

Son 1:  (to Son 2) Yeah, let's find us some wives!

Son 2:  Let's get some women around here!

(all exit)

Scene 2

(Morning.  2 girls, Kyoko and Mariko, sitting and chatting.)

(Enter Sons)

Son 1:  Would you like to be our wives?

Son 2:  We're rich farmers.

(Kyoko and Mariko pause, look at each other)

Kyoko:  Well?

Mariko:  Well?

Son 1:  Well?

Son 2:  Well?

(Kyoko and Mariko rush over to Son 1 and Son 2 and hug them, or, leap into their arms)

Mariko:  Oh, yes!  Oh, yes!

Kyoko:  Take us away!

Mariko:  Marry us!

(all exit)

Scene 3

(Back at the home of Sons and Father)(All are sitting around, chatting, laughing, and having a good time)

Kyoko:  .. and that's how we met!

Mariko:  And...

Son 2:  ... here we all are!

(everyone laughs)

Kyoko:  Father-in-law, we have been here many months.

Mariko:  We miss our friends back home.

Kyoko:  May we please go visit our friends?

Father:  Do you love me?

Mariko:  Of course we do, Father-in-law!

Kyoko:  Who would not love such a fine man?

Father:  You may go visit your friends, if you truly love me.

Kyoko and Mariko:  Oh, thank you!  (they hug and dance around with delight)

Father:  But!

(Kyoko and Mariko pause)

Father:  You must prove your love.  If you wish to return, you must each carry out a quest!

  (to Kyoko) You must find, and bring back to me, fire wrapped in paper.

Father:  (to Mariko) And you must find, and bring back to me, wind wrapped in paper.

Kyoko and Mariko:  Oh, yes, we will!

Son 1 and Son 2:  (mocking) Oh, yes, we will!

(all exit)

Scene 4

(Back at Mariko's and Kyoko's village.  Mariko, Kyoko, and their friends are giggling and drinking tea)

Friend 1:  Is it really that great, being married?

Kyoko:  It's wonderful.

Mariko:  We love our husbands.

Kyoko:  And our dear father-in-law.

Mariko:  Yes, he's a fine man, too.

Friend 2:  Let's go get some husbands ourselves!

Friend 3:  Yes!  Let's all go get married!

Everyone:  Good bye!

(all friends exit)

Mariko:  It's been a wonderful visit.

Kyoko:  Time to go back to husbands and home.

Mariko:  But what about our quests?

Kyoko:  What were we to bring back to father-in-law?

Mariko:  You must bring fire wrapped in paper.

Kyoko:  Oh, I remember.  And you must bring wind wrapped in paper.

Mariko:  That sounds hard.

Kyoko:  Impossible, even.

(they pause)

Mariko:  Let's go ask the elders.

(all exit)

Scene 5

(Elders come on stage)

(Kyoko and Mariko come on stage)

Mariko:  (to Wise Elder) O wise one!

Wise Elder:  Yes?

Kyoko:  We seek paper that holds fire.

Mariko:  And paper that holds wind!

Wise Elder:  I know of no such paper.  Go ask the wiser one.

(Kyoko and Mariko go over to Wiser Elder)

Mariko:  O wiser one!

Wiser Elder:  Yes?

Kyoko:  We seek paper that holds fire.

Mariko:  (archly, making a face at Kyoko) And paper that holds wind!

Wiser Elder:  I know of no such paper.  Go ask the wisest one.

(Kyoko and Mariko go over to Wisest Elder)

Mariko:  O wisest one!

Wiser Elder:  Yes?

Kyoko:  We seek paper that holds fire.

Mariko:  (loudly, almost shouting at Kyoko) And paper that holds wind!

Wisest Elder:  There is no such paper in all Japan!  Give up!

Kyoko and Mariko:  Oh, no!

Mariko:  We can't give up our husbands!

Kyoko:  And our dear father-in-law!

Wise Elder:  Leave us.

Wiser Elder:  Enough foolish questions.

Wisest Elder:  (in a haughty voice) You annoy.

(Kyoko and Mariko exit)

(Elders exit)

Scene 6

(The forest.  Birds are chirping, a brook or stream is babbling)

(Kyoko and Mariko come onstage, weeping and sobbing)

(Kami comes onstage)

Kami:  I do not let people cry in my forest.  My trees do not grow well in salt water.

Mariko:  Is this your forest?

Kami:  I am part of this forest and it is part of me.  I am the Kami, the wood spirit.

Kyoko:  Do you eat young wives?

Kami:  No, my wild beasts do that for me.

(Kyoko and Mariko shriek and cringe.  The either hug and huddle, or, one jumps into the other one's arms)

Kami:  Don't worry; they're all asleep right now.

(Kyoko and Mariko stop cringing/huddling.  If one is holding the other, she drops her.)
(Kyoko and Mariko stop being afraid and resume sobbing and weeping.)

Kami:  Stop crying!  What are you doing in my woods?

Kyoko:  Can we help crying? Unless I can carry to my father-in-law fire wrapped in paper, I can never go home.

Mariko:  And unless I can carry wind wrapped in paper, I can never go home.

Kyoko:  None of the wise elders ever heard of such things.

Mariko:  What shall we do?

Kami:  It is easy enough to wrap fire in paper.  Here is a piece of paper.  Now watch!

(All three huddle together, hiding what's going on from the audience.)
(Mariko and Kyoko occasionally burst out in exclamations of surprise and delight.)
(Kami stands, holds up a Japanese lantern, and gives it to Kyoko)

Kami:  Now put a candle inside, and you have paper holding fire. What more could you ask?

(Mariko and Kyoko put an electric candle inside the lantern and turn it on)

Kyoko:  Hooray!  I've solved it!

Mariko:  You've solved it?

Kyoko:  I'm done with my quest!  I'm free to go home!  Goody!  Goody!

Mariko:  Goody for you, maybe.  But I've lost my husband, father-in-law, family, friends, and now you as well!

Kyoko:  Now we know how to carry fire in paper, but surely no one can carry wind!

Mariko:  O dear Kami, can any one carry wind in paper?

Kami:  That is easier, for wind does not burn holes.  Watch!

(Kami pulls out a large piece of paper, with a picture on it of a tree covered with white blossoms.  Two women stand under the tree, gathering the blossoms)

Kami:  The two women are yourselves.

Mariko:  And the blossoms?

Kami:  They are the gifts that your father-in-law will give you when you go home.

Mariko:  (wailing) But I cannot go home, for I cannot carry wind wrapped in paper.

Kami:  Here is the paper, and there is always plenty of wind.  Why not take them?

Mariko:  (sorrowfully) Indeed, I do not know how.  (starts weeping again)

Kami:  This way, of course.  Let me show you. 

(All three huddle together, hiding what's going on from the audience.)
(Mariko and Kyoko occasionally burst out in exclamations of surprise and delight.)
(Kami stands, holds up a Japanese fan decorated like the paper was, and gives it to Mariko)

Kami:  (waving the fan in Mariko's face) Does not the wind come to your face?  And is it not the fan that has brought it?

Kyoko:  The lantern carries fire wrapped in paper!

Mariko:  And the fan carries wind wrapped in paper!

Kami:  (formally) Precisely.

(all exit)

Scene 7

(At father-in-law's house)(Father-in-law and Sons are on stage)

(Mariko and Kyoko rush onstage)

Kyoko:  Hooray!

Mariko:  We're home!

Sons:  Hello, dear beautiful wives!  (Sons rush to wives, miss them, trip, and fall down in a heap)

(Kyoko and Mariko walk away from Son 1 and Son 2 and cross over to Father-in-law)

Kyoko:  I have fire wrapped in paper.

Mariko:  I have wind wrapped in paper.

Father-in-law:  I am so very glad you are back!  Take these beautiful gifts! (hands gifts to Kyoko and Mariko)

(Mariko and Kyoko sigh and exclaim)

Father-in-law:   The lantern and fan are truly marvelous.  But two precious things in this home I value even more, and that is you two, my beautiful daughters.

Son 1 and Son 2:  (still lying in heap on floor)  Yeah!

The End

Time:  8 minutes read-through time, which does not include scene changes, stage business (pantomime building lantern and fan, "lighting candle"), applause, bows, laughter, et cetera.


Son 1 (male)
Son 2 (male)
Kyoko (female)
Mariko (female)
Father-in-law (male)
Friend 1 (female)
Friend 2 (female)
Friend 3 (female)
Wise elder (either male or female)
Wiser elder (either male or female)
Wisest elder (either male or female)
Kami (either male or female)


A "Kami" is a spirit or god/goddess.  "Kami" is sometimes translated into English as "divine".

If you can, consider casting a 4-year-old girl as the Wisest Elder.  You may get a laugh when she says in a haughty voice "You annoy."

Authors:  Ashley Heska and Leo Heska
Based on a Japanese folk tale


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