• The 15 Minute ‘Tempest’ (1986) – entire text. I have a few more of these 15 minute plays to add.
  • Sacrifice of the Green King (1991) – extract. This play takes the folktale of Robin Hood and inter weaves it with the events of the reign of King John. I will re-work this idea as an oral storytelling tale, and add it to the Tales page. It was also inspired by the songs of Rog Patterson.
  • Modern Man (1983) – monologue. Written as an audition piece for a Theatre Studies course. Inspired by studying Hamlet (the first Shakespeare I studied). It is similar to Theatre of the Absurd, which I am rather chuffed to say I had never read when I wrote this. So I kind of invented it again.


The 15 Minute ‘Tempest’

(The play carefully crafted by William Shakespeare in 1610-1611, then savagely hacked by Nick Hanks in 1986)


Shakespeare (in the bath): Full fathom five thy father lies!

Of his bones are corals made.

Monster, I do smell all horse piss at which my nose is in great indignation.

O woe the day! O, I have suffer’d

With those that I saw suffer! A brave vessel,

Who had, no doubt, some noble creatures in her

Dash’d all to pieces.

The very minute bids thee ope thine ears,

Obey and be attentive.

The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance.

We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep. (He sleeps through the rest of the play)


Scene i

(On a ship at sea. A storm with thunder and lighting. Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdinand and Gonzalo, shout, pull ropes etc.)


Gonzalo: Down with the top mast; yare; lower, lower; bring her to try with main course!

Sebastian: A pox o’your throat! You bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!

Ferdinand: Work you then.

Antonio: Hang, cur, hang! You whoreson! Insolent noise maker, we are less afraid to be drowned than though art.

Alonso: I’ll warrant him from drowning; though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell, and as leaky as an unstaunch’d wench (Exit with Sebastian)

Gonzalo: The King and prince at prayers! Let us assist them. Let us assist them for our case is as theirs. (Crack of ship timber)

All: (as they exit diversely) Mercy on us! We split, we split!


Scene ii

(Island, before the cell of Prospero. Enter Miranda and Prospero.)

Miranda: O woe the day! O, I have suffer’d

With those that I saw suffer! A brave vessel,

Who had, no doubt, some noble creatures in her

Dash’d all to pieces.

Prospero: No more amazement; tell your piteous heart,

There’s no harm done. The hour’s now come

The very minute bids thee ope thine ears;

Obey, and be attentive.

They father was Duke of Milan, and

They mother was a piece of virtue

She said thou wast my daughter and his only heir

A princess; no worst issue.

Miranda: O the heavens!

What foul play had we that we came from thence.

Prospero: The government I cast upon my brother.

He needs all be absolute Milan. Where on

A treacherous army levied, one midnight

Fated to the purpose, did Antonio open

The gates of Milan; and i’the dead of darkness,

The ministers for the purpose hurried thence

Me and they crying self. Where they prepar’d

A rotten carcass of a boat, not rigg’d,

To cry to the sea that roar’d to us!

Thou art inclin’d to sleep; tis’ a good dullness. (Miranda sleeps)

Approach my Ariel: come.

Ariel: (Enters) All hail, great master! grave sir!, hail I come.

I boarded the king’s ship; now on the beak

Now in the mast; the deck, in every cabin

I flamed amazement:

Prospero: What is the time o’ the day?

Ariel: Is there more toil?

Prospero: Thou liest malignant thing! Hast thou forgot

The foul witch, Sycorax, she did confine thee

Into a cloven pine. Where thou dids’t rent thy groans.

As fast as mill-wheels strike.

Caliban: (Enters)                                            All the charms

Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!

Prospero: Filth thou art!

I have used thee, till thou did’st seek to violate

The honour of my child.

Caliban: O ho, O ho! – would it had been done!

Thou did’st prevent me; I had peopled else

This isle with Calibans.

Prospero: Hag-seed, hence! (Exit Caliban)

Ariel: (Sings) Full fathom five thy father lies (Enter Ferdinand)

Of his bones are coral made.

Ferdinand: This ditty does remember my drown’d father.

Miranda: What is’t a spirit? I might call him

A thing divine; for nothing natural

I ever saw so noble.

Ferdinand: O, if a virgin

And your affection not gone forth, I’ll make you

The Queen of Naples. (Exit together)

Prospero: I must uneasy make, lest too light winning

Make the price the light. (Exit with Ariel)


Scene iii

(Another part of the island. Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo.)

Gonzalo: The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.

Sebastian: As if it had lungs, and rotten ones.

Gonzalo: Here is everything advantageous to life.

Antonio: Save means to live.

Gonzalo: Had I plantation of this isle, my lord, –

And were the king of it, what would I do?

Sebastian: Scape being drunk, for want of wine.

Gonzalo: I would such perfection govern, sir.

To excel the golden age.

Sebastian: Long Live Gonzalo!

Antonio:                                             Save his majesty.

(Enter Ariel. Solemn music. Alonso and Gonzalo sleep)

Antonio: My strong imagination sees a crown

Dropping upon thy head.

Sebastian:                                           As thou got’st Milan.

I’ll come by Naples, Draw thy sword: one stroke:

(Sebastian and Antonio draw)

Ariel: Awake! Awake! (Alonso and Gonzalo awake)

Alonso: Why, how now, ho! Awake! Why are you drawn?

Sebastian: Even, now we heard a hollow burst of bellowing

Like Bulls, or rather lions; sure it was a whole herd of lions.

Alonso: Lead off this ground; and let’s make further search

For my poor son.


Scene iv

(Yet another part of the island. Enter Caliban.)

Caliban: All the infections that the sun sucks up,

From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall! Lo! now Lo!

Trinculo: (Enters) What have we here? A man or a fish! (Thunder)

Alas! The storm is come again: my best way is to creep under his gabardine; there is no other shelter hereabout: Misery acquaints a man with strange bed fellows. (Trinculo hides under Caliban. Enter Stephano with a bottle.)

Caliban: Do not torment me O!

Trinculo: Stephano!

Stephano: Four legs and two voices; a most delicate monster.

(Pours drink into mouths of Caliban and Trinculo. Pulls Trinculo’s leg)

Thou art very Trinculo indeed. (Trinculo emerges)

Caliban: That’s a brave god, and bears celestial liquor

I will kneel to him. I’ pr’ythee be my god.

Stephano: I do assure thee: I was the man I’ the moon.

Here; bear my bottle. O now brave monster lead the way.

Caliban: Ban ‘Ban, Ca – Caliban.

Has a new master – Get a new man.


Scene v

(Prospero’s cell. Enter Miranda and Ferdinand bearing logs. Prospero observes.)

Miranda:                                                        If you’ll sit down

I’ll bear the logs a while.

Ferdinand:                                         No precious creature

What is your name?

Miranda:                    Miranda.

Ferdinand:                                         Admired Miranda.

Miranda: I am your wife, if you will marry me;

Ferdinand: Ay, with a heart as willing

As bondage e’er of freedom. Here’s my hand. (They hold hands and exit)

Prospero: Fair encounter

Of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace

On that which breeds between them! (Exit)


Scene vi

(Another part of the island. Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo. Music and a spirits leave food.)

Gonzalo: Marvellous sweet music.

Alonso: They vanish’d strangely.

Sebastian:                                                       No matter since

They left their viands

Behind; for me to stomach,

Will’t please you taste of what is here.

(Enter Ariel. Food vanishes to be replaced by angry spirits. Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio draw their swords.)

Ariel: You are three men of sin, whom destiny

That hath to instrument this lower world

And what is in’t – the never surfeited sea

Hath caused to belch up you. I have made you mad!

You fools! I and my fellows

Are like invulnerable; if you could hurt

Your swords are now too massy for your strengths. (Their swords droop.)

But, remember, – that you three

From Milan did surplant good Prospero.

Him and his innocent child. Else falls

Upon your heads, – in nothing but heart’s sorrow.

(Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio madly pursued by Ariel. Gonzalo exits after.)


Scene vii

(Prospero’s cell. Enter Prospero, with Miranda and Ferdinand holding hands and gazing at each other.)

Propero: Then, as my gift, and thine own acquisition

Worthing purchas’d take my daughter: But

If thou dost break her virgin know before

All sanctimonious ceremonies made

Will full and holy rite be minister’d

No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall,

To make this contract grow.

What Ariel, my industrious servant, Ariel!

Ariel: (Enters) What would my potent master?

Prospero: Some vanity of mine art; it is my promise

And they expect it from me.

Ariel:                                                  Presently. (Exits)

(Enter spirits as Iris, Ceres and Juno in glistening apparel. They prepare to sing. Miranda and Ferdinand continue holding hands and gazing at each other.)

Prospero: (Aside) I had forgot that foul conspiracy

Of the beast Caliban and his confederates.

(To spirits) Well done – avoid – no more. (They exit huffily.)

As I foretold you, there our actors were all spirits, and

Are melted into air into thin air

And this insubstantial pageant faded

Leave not a rack behind: We are such stuff

As dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

(To Ariel) Spirit we must prepare to meet with Caliban.

Ariel: I go, I go.

(Exit Ariel. There are three shrieks off. Re-enters with glistening apparel previously worn by Iris, Ceres and Juno. Dumps the clothes and makes All invisible.)

Trinculo: Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation.

(Trinculo and Stephano try on some of the clothes.)

Caliban: Within this half hour will he be asleep.

Wilt thou destroy him then?              

Stephano: Be you quiet monster. ‘steal by line and level’ is an excellent pass of pate. Monster lay to your fingers; help to bear this away.

(Sound of phantom dogs. They attack Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano.)

Prospero: Hey, Mountain, Hey!

Ariel: Silver!

Prospero: Fury! Fury!

(Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano pursued by sound effects.)

Prospero: Shortly shall thy labours end, and thou

Shalt have the air at freedom

How fares the king and his followers?

Ariel:                                                              All prisoners

Prospero: Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick

Yet with my nobler reason; gainst my fury

Do I take part the rarer action is

In virtue than in vengeance. Go release them Ariel.

(Ariel exits and quickly returns with dazed and confused Alonso, Gonzalo, Sebastian and Antonio)

Prospero: A solemn air, and the best comforter

To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains,

Now useless, boil’d within thy skull!

Gonzalo: All torment, trouble, wonder and amazement

Inhabits here.

Prospero:                                           Behold, sir king,

The wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero.

Alonso: Thy dukedom I resign: and do entreat

Thou pardon me my wrongs.

Prospero: Thy rankest fault,- all of them. I also forgive.

(Ariel reveals Ferdinand and Miranda, and then exits.)

Alonso: A most high miracle!

Miranda:                                            O, wonder!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world!

Prospero:                                           Tis new to thee.

(Re-enter Ariel with Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo.)

Prospero:                                           Go, sirah to my cell

Take with you your companions.

Caliban: Ay, that I will; and I’ll be wise hereafter,

And seek for grace. What a thrice- double ass

Was I to take this drunkard for a god!

(Exit Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo.)


Prospero: Sir I invite your highness and your train

To my poor cell. (Exit all, except Prospero and Ariel.)

My Ariel, –

Be free, and fare thou well!

(Aside) Please you draw near.

Now my charms are all o-er thrown,

But release me from my bonds

With the help of your good hands.

As you from crimes would pardon’d be,

Let your indulgence set me free.

(All return to stage to bow.)

(All exit, except Prospero, and Shakespeare still asleep in the bath.)


(Prospero holds up a sign with ‘Encore’ on it. He stands in the middle of the stage to conduct the chaos. What follows is done at speed.)


(Storm. Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdinand and Gonzalo, rapidly run on and off.)

Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdinand and Gonzalo: We split! We split! (Rapidly exit.)

Miranda: (Enters) O woe the day! (Enter Ferdinand.)

A thing divine.

Ferdinand: O, if a virgin.

(They gaze adoringly at each other and hold hands. Enter Ariel.)

Ariel: Is there more toil?

Prospero: Thou liest malignant thing! (Exit Ariel. Enter Caliban.)

Caliban: O ho, O ho!

Prospero: Hag-seed, hence! (Caliban collapses. Enter Trinculo who hides under him. Stephano enters.)

Stephano: Four legs and two voices; a most delicate monster. (Stephano Trinculo and Caliban stay in a heap drinking in a corner of the stage.)

(Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo.)

Gonzalo: The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.

(Exit Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo.)

Ferdinand: Admired Miranda.

Miranda: I am your wife.

(Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo. Chasing food.)

Ariel: I have made you mad!

(Exit Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo. Chasing food.)

(Enter Iris, Ceres and Juno in glistening apparel.)

Prospero: Melt into air. Leave not a rack behind. (Iris, Ceres and Juno try to exit but collide with each other and argue in a corner of the stage.)

(Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo. Dazed and confused.)

Prospero: Behold, The wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero.

Trinculo: I do smell all horsepiss!

Alonso: Thy dukedom I resign.

Prospero: Be free. (All drop exhausted.)

Miranda: O brave new world!

Shakespeare: (Suddenly wakes from this nightmare and sits up in the bath and shouts) I’ll drown my books!

(All bow and exit before any vegetables are thrown.)


Sacrifice of the Green King

(Extract by Nick Hanks. 1991)

(Sherwood forest. A gathering of hooded figures. LITTLE JOHN enters carry garlands of woven foliage, like those on his hat. ROBIN enters from the woods and stands on a tree stump and addresses them.)

ROBIN: This is the time. Your own purpose has brought you jointly to this place. You butchered, you homeless, you beggars and paupers. And you with wounded consciences who dare to stand up for your fellow men. This purpose goes to the very heart of us all. Even in our weakness and pains, it gives life and strength. Scarlet is dead. Friar Tuck is to be hanged, tomorrow at the gallows oak. Your families are taxed out of home and a living, and some to the grave. Women and children are beaten bloody and left to starvation, while weak souls look on, clinging ever more frantically to their crumbling way of life. Some people come here to seek refuge from the worlds problems, to be free of them. They can’t escape the troubles of this island, any more than we can the perils of life. So they must be of a mind with us. There is no more flight, so we must fight. The taxing has turned to axing. The very heart of this land now suffers with you. More pain to pay for their warring ways. Timber for money and ships. The last props of this dying state. The land on which we stand is left fallow. Farms decay without tenants, as people starve. High summer has become barren winter. So the land, this rich  and wondrously diverse land, in which we all share, the foundation on which all is built, even she is dying.


ROBIN: If it fails, nothing will succeed. England our mother, who bore us in her sheltered forest arms, suckled us with the sweet waters from her hills, birds on her breath, and from fertile loins abundant food. You her children, who come to her seek comfort and peace, now looking like gnarled oaks. twisted by the growing storm, struck down by heaven’’ lightening and aged in advance of your years by woes. You were rejected by the nation, and return to nature. The crown that sits about England’s oak doth shrink and crack the growing heart wood, crowns and kings, flags and armies are not England. This is the fiction of the Conquerors kindred. The land is England. So reject this family and its emblems, remember again your loyalty rests with eternal England, and not with its temporal tenant over-lord.

(LITTLE JOHN distributes garlands of vegetation amongst those gathered there. He rubs their cheeks with green moss.)

ROBIN: Now don her colours, become true Englishmen. Bind your purpose to her with these garlands, her flags and legal leaves. Kneel, and let your knees imprint your seal in the earth.

(The gathering kneels.)

ROBIN: And as you resolve to protect her, her colours shall protect you in her realm. Your cloak of green will mingle with hers and render you invisible. With skin of bark, ivy cheek, stick finger, and mossy hair. A thousand Jack-in-the-Green could hide in a copse.  From your mouths you must speak this leafy message, and this will cloak others, so the seeds I have planted in your minds will spread through out the land. Harvest all you can. Sow and reap for all our sakes. Spread the green through the land. Block the tributaries of this stinking state. Clog and suffocate their draining ditches. Stop the bleeding.


ROBIN: Go now. You must tend to your own. I will muster what I can to save the Friar. From whence we shall to Nottingham to bring down Normandy and his Norman tyranny!

(The gathering make a tunnel with their swords & staves, ROBIN walks through it and exits. They exit severally.)

Modern Man

(Nick Hanks. 1983)

(The setting. A man sitting cross-legged on the floor in a plain room, windowless, with one door on his left.)

MAN: Shall I do it or shall I not do it, that’s the question. (Pause) So what’s the answer? I think I’d better take stock of the situation and assess my surroundings. (Pause. Looks around.) Well, there doesn’t seem to be any immediate threat in here. Only a few dark corners, and of course the door, myself, and a comb. (Finds a comb in his pocket.) Well. As I seem to have assessed the situation, I think it’s time for me to make a decision. Am I going to open the door or not. (Pause) I think I need some more information. (Pause) This door. (Walks over to examine the door) It’s not too small to get through, nor so big that it can’t be moved. Well, there’s no light so I can’t see what’s on the other side. No draughts, or obstructions to prevent the door from opening. (He gets oil on his fingers through examining the door) Oh, its well oiled. No dry rot or damp, and a nice smooth finish too. It doesn’t seem to be locked, so I’ll go straight ahead. (Long pause) But I haven’t examined the consequences yet. (Pause) Yes, I think I’d better. That’s very consequential. I mean there could be absolutely anything on the other side. I’ve nothing to go on to give me any idea of what’s behind that door. (Pause) It could be a room full of dynamite or a ravenous tiger. (Gradually moves away from the door) There could just be a cliff which I’d fall over and plummet to my death. Or a pool of ferocious piranhas which I’ll take an unsuspecting dip in. Or even worse, the door could open out underwater, so if the piranhas don’t get me I’ll be smashed against the wall by the force of the water. (Pause. He has now returned to his starting position) No, I don’t think so. Piranhas don’t live in this climate, perhaps another small shoal species. May be sprats. (Pause. Considers and feels reassured. Sits) Perhaps there’s nothing there at all. (Pause. Considers again and feels a little uncertain) Just nothing. (Pause. The uncertainty grows) Lots of nothing. An endless black void in which I’ll wander forever, and ever, and ever. (Pause) Perhaps, it’s a seemly harmless field of poisonous mushrooms. (Pause) Mushrooms. (Pause) Food. (Pause) I’m hungry. There’s no food in here is there? (Stands up and looks around) No. Doesn’t look like it. I’d better see if I can find some in… (Tentatively) yeah. I never thought of that. There could be all sorts of good food in there. Piles and piles of it. Masses and masses. Or even money, yeah, great! Millions and millions. Billions and billions. I’d be a millionaire! (Pause. Moves closer to the door) May be I’ll meet the girl of my dreams, or even a whole harem. (Pause) Yeah, just imagine that! (Very long pause) Or even someone just like me wandering what’s on the other side. (Pause) Ah, what if he isn’t friendly? (Pause) He could even be armed with a knife, an axe, or even a machine gun. Crumbs! I think I’d better take up a defensive position. (Moves far away from the door and tries a series of locations to stand ready) Here, no, I’m in direct line of fire. Here, no, the door then would be in the way when he enters. Here, ah yes. I can be see him as soon as he opens the door. And he can see me. (Pause) Well I think it’s best to take up a central position. (Returns to starting position) Yes that’s it. And stand edge on to decrease the surface area to attack, and so increase my chances of survival. (Pause) Now, a weapon? (Tries pockets) Ah, my comb, well it’s all I’ve got and it’s better than nothing. It’s good solid steel. A bit thin, but still good and solid. It’s a pity it’s not sharp, but it’s still. (Tries the strength of it and it snaps) Oh. It’s snapped. (Pause) Perhaps fists are better after all. (Pause) Ah ha! It may be shorter now but at least it’s sharp. Right, I’m ready. (Very long pause) Why don’t I attack first. Element of surprise. The best form of defence is attack as they say. Yes, now which hand, my left? Yes, that’s the strongest. So open with right and stab with the left. No, I’ll get my arms knotted that way. Right, I’ll stab with my right and open with my left. (Purposefully moves to the door and almost takes the door handle)  But the handle might be electrified. (Pause. Returns to the starting position and sits) Yes, I’d better wait, and see what develops. (Pockets comb. Very long pause) Well, at least in here I’ve got four walls, a floor and a roof over my head. Light. Warmth. Conversation. (Pause) There are no leaks or draughts. In fact it’s so nice I think I’ll stay, and see how the situation develops. Yes, that’s much the best way. It’s a pity there’s no food, but something’s bound to happen. (Pause) Eventually. (Very long pause. Regards the door several times) Now the question is. Shall I do it, or shall I not do it.

(Black out.)