YULE PLAY OF THE OAK AND HOLLY KINGS
Written by Locksley
(with apologies to Anna Franklin and the Selston Mummers)
(Enter Wise Woman)
Wise Woman: Pray Silence my sisters and brothers, and take heed of our play. We’ve come to make a cheeky rhyme on this Midwinter day. Listen to us and you shall hear of this great duel, as the kings of Oak and Holly fight for the crown of Yule.
But if you don’t believe a word I say, enter Oak King and clear the way!
(Enter Oak King)
Oak King: In comes I, Oak king of summer, the season of long days is where I’m from. I’ve come tonight to welcome back the Sun! With my leaves green and branches thick, I’ve escorted the Goddess since June, by ‘eck that’s gone quick!
But if you don’t believe a word I say, step in Holly King and clear the way!
(Enter Holly King)
Holly King: In comes I, Holly King of winter, the season of long nights is where I’m from. I’ve come tonight to welcome back the Sun! With my leaves sharp and berries red, I’ve come to take the Goddess to bed. And to reclaim my crown so we can wed!
Oak King: Silence wretch! Folk want sunny days and warmed nights, not dark evenings and candle lights. Be you here to challenge me? We’ll soon see whose tougher, me or thee!
Holly King: Be you the Oak King? He who took over on the longest day? Snatching my lady love out of the way? I’ll take you down and beat you up, you’ll be spitting your acorns into a cup!
(Holly and Oak Kings fight, eventually ending in Oak King’s death)
Oak King: Oh!!! Damn you Holly, its me that’s slain, who’d’ve thought it be so much pain!
(Oak King dies dramatically and once he dies, Holly stands victorious)
Wren: Oh woe, woe! Woe is me! Poor little wren has lost her tree! What happened to my nest? Where are my eggs? Whoever’s done this, I’ll pooh on his head! Ohhhh send for a healer!
Robin: Diddly dum, diddly dee, here comes Robin so gleefully! A healer you wanted? A healer you say? It’s a lucky thing I came this way.
Wren: Oh Robin, how camest thou to be a healer?
Robin: By going here, there and everywhere.
Robin: To the North, to the South, to the East and to the West, to the Shires and the Midlands is where I learned best.
Wren: Ohhhh, what canst thou heal?
Robin: The Itch! The stitch, cramps and gout. Pains of the innards, I’ll peck ‘em all out!
Wren: Canst thou cure the Oak King?
Robin: I’ll give it a go… it’ll cost you though.
Wren: How much?
Robin: Five pounds! But being a homeless bird: Ten!
Wren: You’ll be bleedin’ lucky, cure him then!
Robin: Hey, Jack! Have a nibble on this pill, its my own special recipe get it down yer bill and may you rise and fight again.
Wren: You idiot, it didn’t work!
Robin: Wren, Wren, don’t worry, I obviously gave him the wrong thing. That was my tablet for a broken wing. Here, let me try again: with feathers from my breast, as red as the sun at the crack of dawn, we’ll have no cause to mourn.
(Oak King gets up)
Oak King: A miracle! I’m cured!
Robin: Sisters and brothers all around, I’ve cured the Oak King safe and sound. I’ve made him better with feather, mud and fleece off a sheep, but he must now rest for its his time to sleep.
And if you don’t believe a word I say, enter Wise Man and clear the way!
(Enter Wise Man)
Wise Man: Here on this the longest night, you were all witness to this fight. The Oak King defeated, Holly King supreme, if only this was but a dream. Around us all the ground is frost and the air is chill, yet all about us there is hope yet still. Come the shortest day and the come longest night, we’ll see the slow return of light. For now, let us be together in this, the Holly King’s reign, until at Midsummer, the crown is passed again. Hearth fires hot and the outside cold, and for now this story is done and told.
ALL: We’ve come to give some Yuletide cheer, to celebrate the solstice at this time of year. We hope you’ve laughed, we hope you’ve cried, now let us get sherry, beer and pies!
Performed at Yule in darkest Lincolnshire 2013.