The Mayflower. From Scrooby, to Amsterdam, to Leyden, to Plymouth in the ‘New World’ – hardly the most direct route those Pilgrims could have taken (did they have Satellite Navigation Systems in those days?!)And it was hardly ‘plain sailing’ all the way when they got there – disease, harsh environment, terrible weather – certainly a disappointment for anyone out for a holiday! But after such unpromising beginnings, great things developed -including friendship with the locals, defying all fears previously harbored; and a great Thanksgiving tradition born (minus the turkeys and cranberries – let’s try to stick to the facts here!)
This Class Play, written to Readers Theater format, is written in 5 parts:
- 1. Background
- 2. Mayflower Voyage
- 3. First Sight of Land
- 4. First Winter and Spring
- 5. First Thanksgiving
with 6 speakers for each part. The play can be used either within the classroom, reading out loud in groups of 6; or as a ‘performance’ with the optional inclusion of music and a ‘Mayflower Song’.
The Mayflower. Sample Texts
William Brewster (Became religious leader of Plymouth settlement)
William Bradford (Became second governor of settlement – for 36 years)
Dorothy Bradford (Wife of William)
Richard Clyfton (Preacher – stayed in Amsterdam)
John Robinson (Teacher – stayed at Leyden)
Narrator: Our story begins in the year 1606 – in the tiny English village of Scrooby.
Dorothy: Are you men still sitting around talking?
Bradford: Indeed we are!
Robinson: We have so much to discuss, before we depart these fair shores – for Holland.
Dorothy: Are you sure it is necessary for us to make this move?
Clyfton: If it wasn’t, we certainly wouldn’t be doing it.
Dorothy: I mean, all that upheaval and disruption to our lives and our children’s ..
Brewster: We understand just how you feel. But we have no choice.
Bradford: If we stay here we will continue to be persecuted
Clyfton: And for what? What is our crime?
Robinson: Only that of wanting a simpler form of worship
Clyfton: One that doesn’t require there to be a priest between us and God.
Christopher Jones (Captain)
Robert Coppin (Pilot)
Elizabeth Hopkins (Mother of first child to be born, on voyage)
John Howland (Fell overboard, but rescued)
William Butten (Died on the voyage)
Narrator: And so it was, on September 6th 1620 a group of 102 passengers plus 30 seamen set off, on the adventure of a lifetime. The Mayflower was a cargo ship, and having to accommodate the extra passengers from the fated Speedwell, conditions aboard were cramped to say the least. And if the smell from unwashed bodies wasn’t enough, there was seasickness to boot!
Coppin: The weather’s not looking too hopeful, Captain!
Jones: That’s not going to ease the conditions down below!
Butten: Oh don’t go worrying about those useless landlubbers! They’ll just have to get used to conditions on board, just like the rest of us.
Elizabeth: (Sarcastically) Well, thank you for that bit of reassurance. We surely appreciate your compassion!
Butten: Huh! This one won’t last the course. I reckon I’ll be throwing her corpse overboard before the end of the voyage.
3.First Sight of Land
Myles Standish (Professional soldier)
John Alden (Cooper/barrel maker)
John Carver (First governor)
Suzanna White (Mother of second child to be born)
Peregrine White (Son of Suzanna, first white baby to be born in Plymouth)
Narrator: But before they made ‘New Plymouth’ their home, they had to sort out who was going to make the rules.
Carver: Well, men. We’ve survived 67 days at sea, but now we have to all get along and work together to survive on land.
Alden: Sounds easy enough to me.
Standish: Huh! You’d be surprised how easy it is for men to fall out with each other, in difficult times!
Carver: So let’s remove possible sources of conflict. We need to draw up a contract so everyone knows their rights.
Suzanna: You men! Always making life complicated!
Carver: Looking after you women!
Peregrine: And children! Don’t forget me – the first Pilgrim child born over here, in the New World!
4.First Winter and Spring
Priscilla Mullins (Married John Alden, had eleven children)
William Bradford (Second governor)
Samoset (Native American)
Squanto (Only survivor of local Patuxet tribe)
Massasoit (Chief of Wampanoags)
Narrator: And if that band of hardy pilgrims had thought life aboard the Mayflower was tough, they were in for a shock when it came to surviving their first winter on land.
Priscilla: I wonder how many of us would have stayed if we’d known the suffering we’d have to endure.
Bradford: Nobody was prepared for the hard climate and how tough it would be working and living in such harsh conditions.
Priscilla: After months of eating no fruit or vegetables, many got scurvy
Bradford: And pneumonia
Priscilla: 2 to 3 people dying a day from that Great Sickness.
Bradford: Half our population wiped out – until there were just 52 survivors from our original 102.
Speakers: (these can be 6 new speakers, for a class of 30; or a sample of previous speakers, for a
class of 25)
Native American 1 (referred to as N.A. 1)
Native American 2 (referred to as N.A. 2)
Settler 1: What a relief to think we’ll be starting our next winter well prepared!
Settler 2: That’s right! With stocks of venison, fish, birds,
Settler 3: Wild berries and fruits
Settler 1: Even without our beloved Mayflower, we will survive!
Settler 2: And let’s not forget our wonderful neighbors
Settler 3: All of whom are most welcome here today!
Settler 1: So what are we waiting for?
Settler 2: Let’s celebrate!
N.A. 1: Does that mean a party?
N.A. 2: (Aside) I didn’t think this lot had it in them!
N.A. 1: Can’t say we’ve ever had them down as ‘party people’!
Extract from ‘Mayflower Song’ (set to Bobby Shafto tune)
Just the Mayflower fit to sail
Things went fine until that gale
Then directions them did fail
And sent them too far northward.