Stone Soup

Actors: Villagers, men leaders, old woman, woman 1, woman 2, old man

Props: Big pot, stone

Narrator: Once there was a village high in the mountains. Before winter, all the strong men of the village left to hunt for animals in a far-away place. That meat would be the food for the people during the winter. After a few weeks, the weather began to turn cold, but the men still had not returned. The people of the village began to worry.

Villagers: The men have gone. They have left us without meat for the winter. Perhaps we will starve. What can we do?

Narrator: There was an old woman who lived in a hut at the edge of the village. The leaders of the village had always told the people that she was a witch and that they should stay away from her. But she had an herb garden. Whenever some child had a fever or a stomachache, its mother would secretly visit the old woman. She always kindly gave them healing herbs and also a cup of tea and kind words.

Therefore some of the women of the village had an idea:

Woman 1: Let us go to ask the old woman for advice since our men have not come back. She may be able to help us.

Old woman: Do come in. I’ll make you some tea. Something very important must have happened for you to all come to visit me.

Woman 1: Please tell us what to do. All the men have left our village to hunt for meat, but for many weeks they have not come back. Winter is coming, and we don’t know what we shall eat.

[the old woman pours tea for them and then answers]

Old woman: This is a very important problem. I will have to think about what to tell you. Come back to me in 3 days. I will cook a pot of stone soup. After we have eaten it together, the answer will come.

When you come back in 3 days, bring something to put in the soup and bring a stick of wood for the fire. Bring your families and everybody else from the village.

[as they return to their homes]

Woman 1: How could the old woman make soup from a stone?

Woman 2: How can she feed all of us with the few things she has?

Narrator: Three days later the old woman cleared a large area in front of her hut. She placed rocks in a circle around the fire pit for them to sit on. She built a fire and put a big pot on it. Into the pot she put water, and then some herbs from her garden. And finally, she put a stone in it.

The villagers came back. Each one had a few vegetables and a stick of wood.

Old woman: Welcome, welcome. Put what you have brought into the pot, and stack your wood over there.

[stirs the pot, and then looks into it]

I think the soup is ready now. Each of you come and have some.

[They come pretending to carry bowls, as she ladles the soup into each one. They all sit together in a circle around the fire.]

Narrator: After everyone had eaten all they wanted, they took the pot off the fire and put more sticks of wood onto it. As the night became cold, they huddled together, talking softly. The children fell asleep.

Villager 1: What will happen if the men don’t return? What will we eat during the winter?

Woman 1: We have some roots and berries that we have saved.

Woman 2: We can take the children to look for nuts and mushrooms in the forest.

Old man: I can take care of the babies while you search in the forest.

Villager 2: I know how to catch fish from the stream.

[they leave, still talking about their plans]

Woman 1: The old woman didn’t give us any advice.

Woman 2: She just said to come together for a pot of stone soup, and the answer would come. The answer came to us as we talked to each other. Maybe it was a magic stone.

Old woman: It was just an ordinary stone from the river. The miracle was that you discovered what you could do as a group. A village that can make stone soup can do some amazing things.

Narrator: The winter was long and hard, but no one in the village was hungry or cold. Some families lived together to save firewood. The old woman showed them some plants they didn’t know they could eat. They ate many pots of stone soup.

When the weather turned warmer, the men returned. They had gone far away in search of bigger animals, but then they were too tired to carry the meat back. They made a shelter from the animal skins and ate the meat, while they worried about the people in the village. They were very surprised to find everyone healthy.

Men: How did you live while we were gone?

Villagers: We ate stone soup!

Men: Stone soup?

Woman 1: Yes. Now that we know how to make stone soup, things are different here. We make our decisions together in the stone soup circle. You are welcome to join us.

Narrator: The leaders were accustomed to being in control, but they were too tired from their long journey to argue. They agreed to try stone soup.

So they all sat together in a circle around the fire and shared stone soup.

Sit together in a circle. Questions:

What does it mean to sit in a circle?

What is in stone soup?

How can we be like that village?

What problems do we have here?

How can we work together to solve them?