(Flute music is heard from offstage. The characters of the play are lined up one behind the other creating a moving "totem pole". They peel off one by one and create a tableaux of silhouettes. The last character is TREE. )
(Little Bird sits on a branch. A flute trill plays from offstage every time she's onstage.)
Once upon a time a ferocious tiger, charging through the forest, was caught in a trap. Along came a poor, humble man.
(Tiger enters and gets caught in a cage. Humble Man enters and notices Tiger in the trap.)
Oh humble one, please get me out of this trap, please, please, please!
Do you think I'm crazy? I know you, man eating tiger. If I set you free, you will devour me.
I swear on my mother's whiskers that I will not. Pretty, oh pretty please. I am in pain!
(Humble Man turns and scratches his chin in contemplation. From offstage, the audience hears flute music.)
The Humble Man freed the tiger from the trap, and immediately the ungrateful tiger pounced on him.
(Humble Man frees Tiger who immediately pounces on Humble Man.)
I have been hungry for many hours. I think that you will make a tasty dish.
I knew this was a bad idea.
(From offstage the audience hears flute music.)
The Humble Man begged and pleaded for his life. Desperate, he tried a new ploy.
Humble Man :
Tiger, let us make a bargain. I will ask three things whether or not they think that your actions are just. If they say yes, then you may eat me.
I like games, I always know how they are going to end.
(Tiger licks his lips. Humble Man runs off in search of three opinions.)
SETTING: Oak Tree
(Little Bird sits on a branch near the Oak Tree. From offstage the audience hears flute music. Oak Tree is asleep.)
And so the tiger agreed to the bargain. The humble man rushed off and soon he came upon a great oak tree.
(Humble Man runs onstage.)
Oak tree, wake up, wake up!
(Oak Tree opens one sleepy eye then the other. Yawns.)
Who dares to disturb my rest? I have a thousand leaves to sprout today! Good day! Good night......
(Oak Tree falls asleep again.)
Oak tree, oak tree, please WAKE UP! I need you to hear my story.
(Oak Tree slowly wakes up.)
Oh well, alright, but make it quick, my leaves are waiting.
Really quick-I came upon Tiger in a trap, I set him free, and in return he wants to eat me! Is that just?
Ho hum. All day long I offer shade to passing strangers, and how do they return my kindness? By cutting off my branches and using them for furniture. There is no justice in this world.
(Humble Man runs off in search of a second opinion.)
SETTING: Water hole
(Buffalo walks in circles wearing a harness attached to a water hole. Little Bird sits on a nearby branch. From offstage, the audience hears flute music.)
The poor humble man was terribly upset by this answer. He decided to seek out a living creature. He came upon a water buffalo - a very small water buffalo - walking in circles, turning a wheel that drew water from a well.
(Humble Man runs onstage.)
Buffalo, I need your heartfelt opinion. It's a matter of life and death. My life and death.
What makes you think I can spare a moment for matters which do not concern me?
You have a heart, you must have feelings. Please hear my tale.
Make it quick, my master is waiting for his barrels of water.
Thank you, kind buffalo, here's my story: I came upon Tiger in a trap, I set him free, and in return he wants to eat me! Is that just?
When I give good milk my master feeds me the finest food; but when I go dry, he chains me to this wheel all day long. There is no justice in this life!
(Humble Man's face falls. He walks off discouraged, in search of a third opinion.)
(Signpost stands in the middle of the crossroads. Little Bird sits on a nearby branch. From offstage, the audience hears flute music.)
The poor humble man felt completely alone in the world. He sat down by the side of the road and leaned against a signpost.
(Humble man enters and sits down, leaning against Signpost. Signpost bends forward to look at Humble Man.)
Are you going somewhere? Do you need directions?
(frustrated, and in despair)
(Signpost makes a humph noise and straightens up, huffily. Humble Man looks up at him.)
Signpost, please give me your opinion.
Oh...now you want my opinion. Everyday I serve people. I make their way easier. And are they grateful? No! Never! There is no justice in this life.
(Humble Man can't believe what he's hearing. He walks off even more discouraged, to return to the Tiger.)
SETTING: On the road back to the Tiger
(From offstage, the audience hears flute music.)
Little Bird :
On his way back to the tiger, the humble man met a jackal who saw the sadness in his eyes.
(Jackal and Humble Man enter from opposite sides of the stage.)
I love me, I love me not, I love me, I love me not . . .
(Jackal sees Humble Man and stops.)
Humble man, what is the matter? You look as if the world were about to end.
For me, it is. Tiger was in a trap, I set him free, and now he wants to eat me! Is that just?
(Jackal scratches her head and puts his arm around Humble Man.)
I am very sorry, but I do not understand at all. Take me to Tiger and explain the whole thing over again.
(Humble Man and Jackal walk off together.)
SETTING: Forest with empty trap
(Tiger waits for Humble Man's return sharpening his claws and licking his lips. Little Bird sits on a nearby branch. From off stage, the audience hears flute music.)
When they found Tiger, he was sharpening his claws and licking his lips.
(Humble Man and Jackal enter. )
Well, humble man, are you ready for dinner?
First grant a minute while I explain to the Jackal what has happened. Tiger here was in a trap, and I freed him, and now he wants to eat me.
Wait a minute, wait a minute.
(pointing to the humble man )
You were in a trap, And the tiger came along and..
No, no, you stupid jackal. I was in the trap, and...
Hold on, hold on.
(She holds her head in great confusion.)
The trap was in the tiger and you came walking along...
No, no, no, you numskull! I was in the trap. Look, I'm the tiger, right?
And this is the trap, right?
And I was caught in the trap, right?
(Jackal throws herself on the ground and pounds her head against a root.)
Oh, my poor brain. It cannot understand. How were you in the trap?
Like this, you imbecile!
(Tiger jumps into trap and is caught again. He freezes with a look of disbelief at his own idiocy.)
Ah, I see. And since you seem to like it there so well, we'll just leave you in it.
Wait, a minute, fellas, I was just kidding about the eating part, really.
(Humble Man smiles at the jackal and takes her arm as they walk away.)
And after that, the humble man never doubted that there was justice in this world.
(Little Bird plays a short melody on a flute, leading the characters in a line.)