A while back, the La Grange Area Teen Theater Ensemble (LATTE) put on a show called “Politically Correct Bedtime Stories,” which was exactly what it sounds like. Pretty much the stories listed here. I submitted a skit that they could perform. The director enjoyed it, but the higher-ups deemed it inappropriate (Nick wrote something inappropriate!? I’m shocked, shocked). I re-read it, and it’s all right, and doesn’t deserve to be almost forgotten. Enjoy!
The Politically Correct Rebuttal
By Nick Edinger
As the last Politically Correct Bedtime Story is being cleaned up backstage, RICA GUTERMUTH steps forth. Though delicate and thin, she brings over two books to the center of the stage to stand on, adjusting her glasses before speaking in a loud, sarcastic voice.
RICA: Are we having fun?
After an awkward silence, the front lights turn on to reveal the heroine.
RICA: (booming) You felt that, didn’t you? Therein lies in the power of words. Even individual syllables harken the most intellectually challenged under my power. For I am Rica Gutermuth, who used only her speech to conquer the forces of problematic in the land of Grimm and Goose. And you mock me here! ‘Political Correctness’ insures no injury on the common folk under my rule- need I remind you of the power of words. Why, I summoned myself to your world from mine with just one utterance: ‘Taxi!’ So let me tell my story here, and then maybe we’ll talk some more over refreshments. You seem docile overall… it’s fortunate, then, that I only referred to you as ‘intellectually challenged.’
As she steps back, all the lights flicker on to reveal the set of an abandoned school, with a janitor pushing around eggshells on the floor.
RICA: It may surprise you to hear about the Grimm and Goose School System. No one had time for it back then: to survive, either a witch hired you to build a gingerbread house, or you begged your fairy godmother for pocket change. But as the youngest of 11, my Mother reared me as the family lottery ticket, to try this new-fangled ‘learning’ offered by the dusty professors inside. It was lonely and tiring at times, save for occasional visits from Mary and her diminutive familiar. But whenever Father returned from work with bruises, the teachers would always be there for me, letting me pour over their dictionaries to summarize my emotions. When I learned more of my world as a woman, there was only one logical path ahead: to defeat the cruel queen of this land with my one skill. I began this, appropriately, at the school.
The janitor finally looks up.
JANITOR: School’s over, hon. Go home.
RICA: Custodian! If you please, I wish to know the way to the queen’s castle.
JANITOR: Bug off. (He goes back to sweeping)
RICA: Friend! Acquaintance!
Janitor keeps sweeping.
RICA: You leave me no choice but to unleash my more sinister spells… janitor!
JANITOR: (finally stopping) What?
RICA: You’re a janitor!
RICA: Do you not understand the connotation of the word janitor? Janitor! Janitor!
JANITOR: (going back to sweeping) Stop that.
RICA: Janitor! Janitor! Janitor! Janitor! Janitor! Janitor! Janitor!
JANITOR: What are you doing?
RICA: I’m eviscerating you emotionally…
JANITOR: Look, can you give it a rest? Some dope fell down from that wall, and the queen’s got me working like a horse as it is.
RICA: You force me to delve deep into my vocabulary! Brute! Swine! Aggressor! Royalist! Double Dipper!
JANITOR: All right! (Sighs) She lives south of here. There’s a road of hair that leads up to one of her towers. Go away.
RICA: I hope I didn’t injure you that much. (Picks up a dictionary from the front of the stage, opens it up) Let me find you some nice words, this shouldn’t take too many hours.
JANITOR bolts out of there. After looking up to see him depart, RICA shrugs before returning to face the audience.
RICA: He really missed out on such adventures in here! There’s such sweetness in words ‘canoodle,’ or ‘doozy,’ or ‘malarkey.’ But I had a greater duty to my people and to the language itself, so onward I travelled, through bucket-laden hills and past acrobatic cows, until I came upon a frightening sight.
The HUNTSMAN walks onstage with SNOW WHITE while RICA watches from a distance behind some trees. SNOW WHITE carries a picnic basket with her.
SNOW WHITE: Look at that blue sky! Was mother planning on joining us?
HUNTSMAN: I dunno, Miss White. Queen just told me to go here with you. Nothing else.
As SNOW WHITE sets down the picnic basket and begins setting up (pulling from it a blanket, a can of beans, and a microwave), the HUNTSMAN draws his knife and contemplates it. Only RICA sees the drawn knife, muffling a gasp at it.
HUNTSMAN: Miss White, how would you react if I apologized for somethin’ in advance? Would it make ya nervous?
SNOW WHITE: (not facing the HUNTSMAN) Can you see if there’s an outlet anywhere around here? Thank you!
HUNTSMAN: (approaching SNOW WHITE with the knife drawn) Well, I hope ya don’t take this too hard, but it’s what the Queen wants. I’ll just- I won’t get to see you and the folks on Christmas, that’s all.
She bursts out of her hiding spot, in front of a stunned HUNTSMAN and SNOW WHITE.
RICA: Not everyone can afford Christmas, you know! Why, you could have changed that poor girl’s religion without knowing it! Now put that awful thing away.
The HUNTSMAN sheaths his knife as RICA kneels down to talk with SNOW WHITE.
RICA: Nice to meet you. I’m Rica Gutermuth. Did you know that your companion almost made you celebrate Christmas? And tired to stab you a moment ago?
SNOW WHITE: A friendly stabbing?
RICA: No, it couldn’t be… or could it? You’re brilliant! If you call it a ‘friendly stabbing,’ the power of the words should protect you! And you (to the HUNTSMAN). I’m not sure what you were trying to accomplish, but I will not tolerate violence here. We’re going to try this again, only with our words. Ready?
RICA: Don’t make me use my nasty words!
HUNTSMAN: (sighs) I walk up to Snow White and stab her.
SNOW WHITE: Friendly stabbing?
HUNTSMAN: No. Stabby stabbing.
SNOW WHITE: Friendly stabbing.
HUNTSMAN: Stabby stabbing.
SNOW WHITE: Friendly stabbing.
HUNTSMAN: Stabby stabbing.
SNOW WHITE: Friendly stabbing!
HUNTSMAN: Stabby stabbing!
This continue this as they exit. RICA travels back downstage to speak with the audience.
RICA: Now isn’t this much better? Thank Goose they put aside their barbaric ways and stepped into my world for a change. They seemed like nice people, but my quest could not wait. It didn’t take long for me to traverse the road of hair up to the queen’s tower, which was only an extension of her sprawling castle. The woman with the hair cried to see me; turns out those weren’t tears of joy, but tears of ‘You climbed my hair up a thirty-story building.’ My hair-cutting spell needed some time to work, so I decided to overthrow the queen as soon as possible.
RICA steps into the room of the QUEEN, who sits atop a high throne and looks down at RICA. TWO GUARDS stand with her.
QUEEN: Who dares stand before me uninvited?
RICA readies her hands and face for a powerful battle of words.
QUEEN: Are you trying to steal my Tinderbox? Are you complaining to me about your work policies? Are you trying to get your kittens some mitten handouts? Speak up!
RICA: You’re… a tyrant!
RICA’s pointed finger extends to the QUEEN for a long time.
QUEEN: A what?
RICA: You’re a tyrant, you’re a, a despot, a dictator, an oppressor, persecutor, hardliner, tormentor, heartbreaker, dream-maker, love-taker, bully!
QUEEN: (to offstage) Seize her.
RICA: No! (As TWO GUARDS swarm around her and try to pull her away) My words are more powerful than any force of yours! You’re supposed to listen! Let me go! Let me go!
An infuriated SNOW WHITE storms into the room. Everyone freezes as she stomps over to the queen’s throne, fuming.
QUEEN: (terrified) Yes, my precious?
SNOW WHITE: (pointing offstage) Friendly stabbing times infinity.
HUNTSMAN: (offstage) Ya not allowed to do that!
HUNTSMAN runs in, also upset.
HUNTSMAN: I called no infinities!
SNOW WHITE: Well I called no calling no infinities!
RICA: See, isn’t this much more civil?
SNOW WHITE and the HUNTSMAN begin bickering nonsense at each other while the TWO GUARDS let go of RICA to approach the QUEEN.
GUARD 1: Isn’t that your huntsman?
GUARD 2: It is! You tried to kill the princess!
The QUEEN tries to sprint off, but the TWO GUARDS catch her and begin to drag her away. RICA begins examining the vacant throne.
QUEEN: Wait, wait! (The GUARDS stop right as they’re dragging her past the now-silenced SNOW WHITE) I’m sorry you’re more beautiful than me, dear. I’ll make it up to you. You can have the apple in the fridge I had specially prepared, all for yourself.
SNOW WHITE: Oh! I like apples!
RICA: (to the GUARDS) Take her to the dungeons and subject her to nasty names for all time!
GUARD 2: You’re not the queen. (referring to SNOW WHITE) She is now.
SNOW WHITE: I’m a princess.
GUARD 1: But now you’re-
SNOW WHITE: Queens are old. I’m a princess.
The TWO GUARDS shrug before dragging a reluctant QUEEN offstage. RICA assumes the throne.
RICA: Now! There are going to be many changes throughout this land, including no violence and mandatory schooling. But my first duty to my people is to protect them from harm in my new world. I’m going to outlaw several words. Including stabbing.
HUNTSMAN: Aw come on!
RICA: You saw what my vile words accomplished here! I did what I had to do, but I don’t want to call people ‘bullies’ or ‘janitors’ if I can avoid it. And if those words can upturn a kingdom, imagine what they can do in the hands of commoners. So, in my first year, I will institute a political system enforcing the correct use of the English language. I’ll look into a snappier name for that.
SNOW WHITE: Ok. I like apples.
SNOW WHTIE skips offstage as RICA returns to address the audience.
RICA: So these ‘Politically Correct Bedtime Stories’ you’re making fun of? That is my glorious utopia. Consider this as you lock your doors tonight and applaud your violent cinema. I hope I didn’t emotionally damage any of you this evening, but I have little time to make amends: I’ve promised to play Pictionary with these three eager mice in my castle. Until next time, remember me, and remember the power of words.