Pirates – part 2

I do not ask the children to stop thinking about play. Our contract reads more like this: if you will keep trying to explain yourselves I will keep trying to help you think about the problems you need to solve.

Vivian Gussin Paley (1981) Wally’s Stories

 The pirates nudging each other

When Richard told me his next story Ned was sitting next to him.
‘I’m going to do a play,’ said Richard.
‘There’s only two people. Ned, do you want to be in my play?”
Ned didn’t answer.
‘Ned, do you want to be in my play?’
‘Ned, do you want to be in my play?’
‘Ned, do you want to be in my play?’

Having cleared that up, and knowing that Ned would be in his play, Richard started his story.
‘It’s about two pirates’.
‘With a peg leg,’ whispered Ned.
‘With a peg leg’.‘And with a hook,’ whispered Ned                                         .
‘And a cut off hand,’ said Richard.
‘And with an arrow,’ said Ned.
‘And with an arrow,’ whispered Richard.
‘And with a sword,’ said Ned.
‘And with a sword. And with a gun.’
‘And with a stump,’ whispered Ned.
‘What’s a stump?’I asked.
‘Sometimes when pirates cut off their legs they have a stump, and sometimes they have
a peg leg.’
Richard had the last word,
‘I killed Ned off the plank.’

‘I’m not going to be the captain who gets killed,’ said Ned
‘Don’t you want to be killed?’ I said.
‘No ‘cause I don’t like closing my eyes’.

Ned’s ‘Maybe’ became ‘No’, and Adam played the part of the pirate who being got killed off the plank.

Ned was ready to tell me his story. This time his telling was much clearer. He knew exactly who the characters would be, what would happen to them, the sequence of events, and the ending. 
The nicie captain was a pirate and when it was the play, at the war, he gets killed. The captain throwed the knife in his back. There was so much blood that he fell on the floor and was dead, with his eyes open.
‘Is that you?’ I asked.
‘No I’m going to be the baddie pirate.’
Then one man had to walk the plank because he wouldn’t share the treasure. Then he walks the plank.
Richard asked Ned if he could be in the play. Ned ignored him, and went on with his story. The tugboat captain taked a knife out of a pirate’s shoe and threw the knife at the captain’s brother’s back. There was so much blood that he fell to the floor with his eyes shut tight.

He said to Richard, ‘If you want to be the brother you have to die.’
‘Does the captain die?’
‘Only at the end.’
‘Does some of the men die?’
‘I’ll be the pirate captain’, said Ned.
‘Will you die?’
‘Yep. But I’ll be alive.’

They talk about whose play will be first at mat time.
‘If you won’t let me be first I won’t let you be in my play,’ said Ned.
‘I won’t be in your play ever again,’ said Richard.

They did go on being in each other’s plays. Their narrated play scripts were told from their own point of view – they could choose which character they would be, decide what would happen, and who it would happen to. Storytelling gave them a new way of sharing their ideas and exploring challenging issues  – friendship, give and take, life and death, right and wrong, good and bad.

I will keep trying to help you think about the problems you need to solve.

Vivian Paley





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