THE MASK OF THE RED DEATH
Script for School Theatre
Storyteller: Once upon a time there lived Prince Prospero. He was a brave
and wise prince. He lived happily with his people in his beautiful country
for many years. But then a terrible thing happened. For a long time the
Red Death was everywhere in his land. There had never been such a serious
illness that went from person to person very quickly, killing nearly everyone.
There never was a plague that killed so many, and there never was a death
Red Death: First, you feel burning pains in your stomach. Then everything
begins to turn round and round inside your head. Then blood begins to
come out through your skin – yes, you begin to bleed all over your body
– but most of all through your face. And of course when people see you
they leave you immediately. Nobody wants to help you. Your terrible face
tells everyone that it is too late. ...Too late!
1st Lady: Oh, my Prince! What a terrible disaster! The Red Death came
to our country!
1st Man: Yes, my lord! It’s true! We saw so many people dead in the streets
of our town! They are all red with blood!
Prince: Isn’t it possible to help them?
2nd Man: No, The Red Death is a very short illness – only about half an
hour, from its beginning to its end!
2nd Lady: My Prince! What are we to do? Who can help us? Half of the people
in our land are dead!
Prince: We must go away from this city! We are going to my castle, in
the middle of the forest! We’ll be safe there! And when the Red Death
ends we’ll be able to come back to my palace. Be ready to go in an hour!
Storyteller: And Prince Prospero chose a thousand healthy and happy friends
and took them away from the city. Over the hills they went, far away to
the Prince’s favourite house. It was large and beautiful, with a high,
strong wall all around the house. The wall had only one door: a very strong
Prince: Here we are at last! Now, my friends, let’s close the door. I’ll
lock it and throw the key over the wall into the lake outside.
1st Man: Right you are! Now nobody will be able to come in or out of the
1st Lady: And we’ll be safe here inside!
Prince: There is plenty of food in the house, enough for more than a year.
We don’t have to worry about the Red Death outside any more.
2nd Man: Let the outside world worry about itself!
2nd Lady: How happy we are to have such a clever prince!
Storyteller: So everyone soon forgot the terrible plague. They were safe
inside the Prince’s beautiful house and they had everything they needed
to have a good time. There were dancers, there were musicians, and there
was beauty. All this was inside, The Red Death was outside.
3rd Lady: Hello, my friend! Have you heard about the party?
4th Lady: The party? What party do you mean?
3rd Lady: Prince Prospero is going to give a special party for his friends.
4th Lady: Will it be a masked party?
3rd Lady: Yes, and a most unusual one!
1st Man: This party will take place in the newest part of this house,
in the rooms which he almost never uses!
2nd Man: As far as I know they are very unusual, those seven rooms, aren’t
1st Man: Of course, that’s why the Prince has chosen them for the party.
You know he is an unusual and strange person and he often has very unusual
4th Lady: Oh, I saw those beautiful rooms! The Prince decorated them himself
in his own unique way.
3rd Lady: I’m looking forward to that wonderful party!
Storyteller: The day of the party came. The rooms were really unusual.
The first room was blue, in the second room everything was purple, in
the third everything was green. So, every room had its special colour.
In the seventh room everything was black – everything but the windows.
They were deep, rich, red colour, the colour of blood. And the light filled
the rooms with bright, rich and strangely beautiful colour. That light
was horrible. It gave a terrible, wild look to the faces of people who
1st Lady: Oh, what a wonderful party we are having today!
2nd Lady: Yes, really! We can say that our Prince has a truly fine eye
for colour? I enjoy these strange decorations!
1st Lady: Some people think our Prince is mad but he isn’t. Look! What
excellent dresses he chose!
Storyteller: Yes, many dresses looked more than just strange. There was
a bit of everything at the party: the beautiful, the ugly, and a lot of
the horrible. They looked like a madman’s dreams, those strange masked
people, dancing to wild music.
People are dancing to music
Storyteller: They went up and down, changing colour as they danced from
room to room until the minute hand on the clock that stood against the
far wall of the black room came up to the hour and then, when they heard
the first sound of the clock, everything stopped.
The sound of the clock
Storyteller: The musicians stopped playing to listen to the clock. The
dancers stopped dancing. The whole party stopped. Everybody listened to
1st Man: Some people’s faces became white...
2nd Man: Other people’s heads began to go round and round...
1st Lady: Others put their hands to their heads, surprised by sudden strange,
2nd Lady: Why did I stop dancing? I can’t understand!
1st Lady: Neither can I! I think next time we hear the sound of that strange
clock we shan’t stop dancing any more!
2nd Lady: Certainly! Next hour we shan’t be so stupid.
The dancing goes on
Storyteller: It was midnight. Again the clock made the same strange,
deep and so sweetly musical sound! Midnight! It seemed like there was
no end to the sounds this time each sound seemed to go on forever. But
now people became paler and their thoughts were even stranger than before.
And some of them saw a tall masked man walking slowly and silently among
them. People looked at him with anger and horror. Horror at choosing that
mask! It was not funny! His mask was the face of a dead man. He was wearing
black clothes. And he had a death mask, but it was the colour that made
everyone shake with horror. The mask was red. It was the mask of the Red
Prince Prospero saw the stranger and became mad with anger. He waved his
hand and the music stopped immediately.
Prince: Who? Who has done this horrible thing? Catch that man! Take off
his mask! We will cut off his head in the morning!
1st Man: My lord! We can’t do that! It’s the Red Death!
2nd Man: We are afraid of him! How did he get here?
3rd Lady: Oh, dear! Who can save us?
4th Lady: I’m afraid, something strange is going to take place!
Everybody stepped back against the walls of the room
Prince: Then I’ll stop him! I’m not afraid of anyone!
Prince, pulling out his knife, ran after the man with the red mask on
Storyteller: The masked man turned suddenly, and gave a terrible, cutting
cry. The prince’s knife fell without a sound on the black floor and Prince
Prospero fell without a sound next to it. Dead.
Red Death: Suddenly the dancers were no longer afraid. A crowd of them
ran up to me. But they couldn’t catch me! Because nobody can catch the
The light goes out. People see the black clothes and the mask on the
Storyteller: Everyone cried out in horror! There was nobody there. The
man’s body was nothing but air! Now everybody understood that the Red
Death was now among them. He came like a thief in the night! And the people
began to die the terrible death. Soon the last person died. And the last
lamp went out. And even the clock stopped. Everything was silence and
Adapted from Edgar Allan Poe,
by Irina Gutkina, School “Znanie”