By Dr. Seuss
(Adapted for the stage)
Characters: (in order of appearance)
BLADES OF GRICKLE GRASS (#1 - #6), live outside of the Once-ler’s factory.
TRUFFULA TREES (#1 - #7)
TWO BROWN BAR-BA-LOOTS
Scene One: The street of the lifted Lorax. A chorus of six blades of Grickle-grass faces center stage. Three blades stand stage left and three on stage right. Their side that faces the audience should be dark and wilted. The Grickle-grass acts as a chorus at times also.
Where we grow, a slow-and-sour wind will blow, the song of the old crow, to our end of town.
(GRICKLE-GRASS splits in half; each side of three walks backward and opens up the center of the stage. The Once-ler’s door to his factory appears in the center.)
And if you look deep enough into my past, you’ll find the history of the lifted Lorax.
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS, #1
What was the Lorax?
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS, #4
And why was it there?
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS #2
And why was it lifted and taken somewhere?
From the far end of town, where the grackle-grass grows?
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS #5
The old Once-ler still lives here.
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS #3
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS #6
He’ll tell you, perhaps…
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS #1
If you’re willing to pay…
He’ll tell you how the Lorax was lifted away.
(BLADES #1 AND #2 knock on the Once-ler’s door cowardly. A tin pail lowers from a rope.)
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS #2
You have to toss in fifteen cents and a nail…
(BLADE #2 tosses coins and nail in the pail.)
BLADE OF GRICKLE-GRASS #1
And the shell…
(BLADE #1 tosses a shell in the pail.)
Of a great-great-great grandfather snail!
(The pail lifts back up. The ONCE-LER appears by sliding open a small window just big enough to show only his eyes.)
I will call you by Whisper-ma-Phone, for the secrets I tell are for your ears alone.
(The Whisper-ma-Phone lowers down.)
(Sounding as if he had smallish bees up his nose.) Now, I’ll tell you (pause) how the Lorax got lifted and taken away—It all started way back—Such a long , long time back—Way back in the days---
(GRICKLE GRASS turns away from ONCE-LER and is green! CHORUS starts swaying.)
ONCE-LER and GRICKLE-GRASS (CHORUS)
When the grass was still green
And the pond was still wet
And the clouds were still clean,
And the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…
One morning, I came to this glorious place.
(Seven TRUFFULA TREES skip out on stage, holding hands and singing “Wee, Wee, Wee.”)
And I first saw the trees
The Truffula Trees!
The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula trees!
Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.
(TRUFFULA TREES sway with the GRICKLE-GRASS and split, too. One stands far stage left. Two BROWN BAR-BA-LOOTS enter juggling fruit stage left.)
And, under the trees, I saw Brown Bar-ba-loots (pause) frisking around in their Bar-ba-loot suits (pause) as they played in the shade and ate Truffula Fruits.
(Two HUMMING-FISH enter humming and splashing around stage right.)
From the rippulous pond (pause) came the comfortable sound (pause) of the Humming-Fish humming (pause) while splashing around. (pause) But those trees!
Those Truffula Trees! (pause) All my life I’d been searching for trees such as these. (pause) The touch of their tufts was much softer than silk.
(TRUFFULA TREES “Coo.”)
And they had the sweet smell of fresh butterfly milk. I felt a great leaping of joy in my heart. I knew just what I’d do! I unloaded my cart.
(ONCE-LER picks up an ax and waves it out from behind the door.)
In no time at all, I had built a shop.
(ONCE-LER points ax toward TRUFFULA TREES and chops. Ax disappears.)
Then I chopped down a Truffula Tree with one chop…
(TRUFFULA TREES start crying as TRUFFULA TREE #1 falls over toward the ONCE-LER’s door and he pulls the tree inside with his green gloves. Behind where TRUFFULA TREE #1 was, the LORAX appears.)
And with great skill and with great speedy speed, I took the soft tuft. And I knitted a Thneed.
(ONCE-LER waves a sweater out from behind the door.)
(The LORAX jumps out to center stage. The TRUFFULA TREES skip around and cheer. The GRICKLE-GRASS sways. The HUMMING-FISH and BAR-BA-LOOTS clap.)
(With a sawdusty sneeze.) Mister! I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.
(The LORAX whispers to the TRUFFULA TREES and walks closer to the ONCE-LER’S door.)
And I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs…(Shouting and puffing.) What’s that THING you’ve made out of my Truffula tuft?
(Holds out the Thneed/sweater.)
Look, Lorax, There’s no cause for alarm. I chopped just one tree. I am doing no harm. I’m being quite useful. This thing is a Thneed. A Thneed’s a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
GRICKLE-GRASS BLADE #1
It’s a shirt.
It’s a sock.
It’s a glove.
It’s a hat.
But it has other uses. Yes, far beyond that. You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets! Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!
Sir! You are crazy with greed. There is no one on earth who would buy the fool Thneed!
(GRICKLE-GRASS turns back to wilted side. A BAR-BA-LOOT stomps on the ONCE-LER’s foot and gives LORAX a piece of fruit to put in his pocket. The TRUFFULA TREES turn their backs/cover their eyes.)
(Walking by.) This is great! And only $3.98!
(The LORAX lifts up his arms.)
You poor stupid guy! You never can tell what some people will buy.
(The TREES uncover their eyes, TRUFFULA TREE #2 falls over and the ONCE-LER pulls it inside with his green arms.)
(Crying.) I repeat, I speak for the trees!
(The LORAX freezes.)
(The GRICKLE-GRASS turns back to green.)
He told him
Shut up, if you please.
(ONCE-LER holds a phone out the door.)
He called all his brothers and uncles and aunts and said,
(In a sad, sad voice, almost not heard.) Listen here! Here’s a wonderful chance?
For the whole Once-Ler family to get mighty rich! Get over here fast! Take the road to
North Nitch. Turn left at . Sharp right at South Stitch. Weehawken
And, in no time at all,
in the factory he built,
the whole Once-ler family
was working full tilt.
They were knitting Thneeds
just as busy as bees,
to the sound of the chopping of Truffula Trees.
(TRUFFULA TREE #3 gags, chokes and falls over. The ONCE-LER drags it inside the door. The other TREES cry. The LORAX awakens and comforts the other TRUFFULA TREES.)
Oh! Baby! Oh!
(They turn back to wilted blades as they speak.)
#5 and #2: How his business did grow!
#6 and #3: Now, chopping one tree
#4: at a time
#1: was too slow.
So I quickly invented my Super-Axe-Hacker which whacked off four Truffula Trees at one smacker.
(ONCE-LER hacks out the door. TRUFFULA TREES #4, #5, and #6 faint and fall on top of the LORAX. The BAR-BA-LOOTS try to revive them.)
We were making Thneeds four times as fast as before! And that Lorax? He didn’t show up any more.
(The LORAX gets up and shakes it off. He walks over to the ONCE-LER’s door with the two BROWN BAR-BA-LOOTS and knocks.)
But the next week he knocked at the Once-Ler’s new office door.
(Snappy) I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees (pause) which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. (pause) But I’m also in charge of the Brown Bar-ba-loots (pause) who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loot suits (pause) and happily lived, eating Truffula Fruits.
(BAR-BA-LOOTS clench their tummies.)
NOW…thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there’s not enough Truffula Fruit to go ‘round. And my poor Bar-ba-loots are all getting the crummies (pause) because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies!
(One BAR-BA-LOOT faints and the other catches it.)
They loved living here. But I can’t let them stay. They’ll have to find food. And I hope that they may. Good luck, boys!
(The LORAX sends the BAR-BA-LOOTS away. The GRICKLE-GRASS and the last TRUFFULA TREE bows to them as they walk offstage right.)
I felt sad as I watched them all go (pause) BUT… (pause) Business is business! And business must grow (pause) regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.
Regardless of crummies in tummies, you know?
I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got. I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads. I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads (pause) of the Thneeds I shipped out.
(Toy dump trucks roll across the stage carrying smoke bombs.)
I was shipping them forth (pause) to the South! To the East! To the West! To the North! I went right on biggering…selling more Thneeds. And I biggered my money, which everyone needs.
(The LORAX, the last TREE, the GRASS and the two HUMMING-FISH all shake their heads “no.”)
(Coughing and whiffing.) I am the Lorax!
(Coughing and whiffing.) He is the LORAX!
(Sneezing, snuffing and snarggling.) Once-ler! (He croaks.) Once-ler! You’re making such smogulous smoke! My poor Swomee-Swans…why, they can’t sing a note!
(The sound of sick birdsongs is heard overhead.)
No one can sing who has smog in his throat. And so—(LORAX waves up in the air) please pardon my cough—they cannot live here. So I’m sending them off.
(The GRASS and the TREE and the FISH wave to the ceiling.)
Where will they go? I don’t hopefully know. They may have to fly a month…or a year…To escape from the smog you’ve smogged-up around here.
(SLIME starts to roll down the outside of the ONCE-LER’s door.)
Snapped the Lorax, his dander was up!
Let me say a few words about Gluppity-Glupp.
(The FISH hum over to the door and smell the GLUPPITY-GLUP. The dump trucks with smoke bombs roll across the stage again.)
Your machinery chugs on, day and night without stop (pause) making Gluppity-Glupp. Also Schloppity-Schlopp. And what do you do with this leftover goo? I’ll show you. You dirty old Once-ler man, you!
(The HUMMING FISH fall over in front of the ONCE-LER’s door.)
You’re gluimping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed! No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed.
(The LORAX lifts up the FISH.)
So I’m sending them off. Oh, their future is dreary. They’ll walk on their fins and get woefully weary (pause) in search of some water that isn’t so smeary.
And then he got mad! He got terribly mad!
NOW LISTEN HERE, DAD! ALL YOU DO IS YAP-YAP AND SAY, ‘BAD! BAD! BAD! BAD!
BAD! BAD! BAD! BAD!
Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you (pause) I intend to go on doing just what I do! And, for your information, you Lorax, I’m figgering on…
(Spinning around and around.)
biggering and BIGGERING AND BIGGERING AND BIGGERING, turning MORE Truffula Trees into Thneeds
Which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!
(All shake their heads “no,” and the GRICKLE-GRASS stops with its wilted side facing the audience. The ONCE-LER’s axe swipes out the door.)
(The last TRUFFULA TREE falls over.)
The very last Truffula Tree of them all!
No more trees.
No more Thneeds.
No more work to be done.
So, in time…
His uncles and aunts, every one,
Jumped into his cars and drove away under the smoke-smuggered stars
Now all that was left ‘neath the bad smelling sky
Was my big empty factory, the Lorax, and I.
(The LORAX drops a note on the ground and gives the ONCE-LER a sad, sad backward glance, then lifts himself by the seat of his pants. He jumps on a mini trampoline and bounces offstage. The ONCE-LER unfolds the note and shows it to the audience. It reads, “UNLESS.”)
Whatever this means, well, I just can’t guess.
#6: That was long, long ago.
#3: But each day since that day
#5: He’s sat here and worried
#2: And worried away.
#4: Through the years, while his buildings have fallen apart
#1: He’s worried about it with all of his heart.
(He comes out from behind the fence, but is still disguised by boards.)
But now, Now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
(ONCE-LER throws a seed to the audience.)
So, Catch! It’s a Truffula Seed. It’s the last one of all! You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds. And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
(Each turns back to its green side as it says its line.)
#6: Plant a new Truffula.
#3: Treat it with care.
#5: Give it clean water.
#2: And feed it fresh air.
#4: Grow a forest.
#1: Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back.
(All of the characters return to the stage and take a bow.)