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Noelle and the Really Big Boat
Noelle and the Really Big Boat

A tale of salvation, ecology, and sharing.


Voice in a dream
Noelle’s sisters Jane, Rain, and Elaine
Friendly farmer(s)
Ship builder(s)
Numerous animals: dogs, cats, mice, cows, horses, frogs, etc.

Act 1

(Noelle at center stage, sitting, covered in blanket and appearing asleep)

Narrator: Meet Noelle! Noelle is a young girl from a beautiful wooded valley, not far from here. Noelle had four sisters: Jane, Rain, Dayne, and Elaine. She loved to play outside, to go on long hikes in the woods, and to learn about the animals and plants and people who lived in the valley. Every afternoon, Noelle would go for long walks in the woods near her house.
Noelle: What a beautiful day it is! The sun is shining, the trees are blowing in the wind, and our river is running and splashing!
Narrator: And so it went for a long time. Until one night, she had a dream and a voice spoke to her, saying …
Voice in a Dream: Noelle! Noelle! Listen to me!
Noelle: What? Hello? Is someone there? Am I dreaming?
Voice: Yes, you’re dreaming. But I’m real, too, and I have something important to tell you. The valley will soon experience a great flood. For too long, people have been cutting down trees upriver, and now there is nothing to hold all the rainwater. Much of the soil is gone, and when the rains come this spring, a great flood will cover all the land.
Noelle: Oh no! That doesn’t sound good at all. What are we to do?
Voice: You need to build a really big boat, large enough for all the animals, and all the plants, and all your family and friends. That way, you and the valley can be saved, even though everything will flood.
Noelle: A boat? Wait, how big? To fit all the animals and plants and family and friends?
Voice: Yes. And you’ll need to grow food to feed all the people and animals, and have dirt for the plants.
Noelle: That sounds like a lot of work. I don’t think I can possibly do it myself; I don’t even know how to build a boat!
Voice: Yes, Noelle, you’ll need help from the people of the valley. Now, wake up … wake up … wake up.
Noelle: What a strange dream. Could it possibly be true?

Narrator: Noelle went out in the valley. She noticed that many trees were gone, and there was a lot of dirt showing, and it did seem like water was just flowing through places it had never flowed before. Could it be true? Could a terrible flood be coming?

(Noelle’s sisters come to one side of stage. Noelle is off stage to the other side, then comes to them as the narrator speaks)

Narrator: Noelle went to her sisters for help.
Noelle: Jane! Rain! Dayne! Elaine! Come here! So … I had a dream.
Jane: A dream?
Rain: About what?
Jane: Were there talking animals?
Elaine: Was it a good dream?
Noelle: Sort of. Well, no. But maybe. I had a dream that the river is going to flood, and water will cover all of this valley.
Jane: That doesn’t sound good at all.
Noelle: Well, no. But the dream also told me what to do about it. We have to build a really big boat, and put all the animals and plants and people of the valley in it!
Rain: All of the animals?
Elaine: All of the plants?
Rain: All of the people?
Jane: That’s gonna be a really, really, really big boat.
Noelle: Well, I suppose that two of each would probably do, but we need room for all the people, for sure. Are you all willing to help with this? I think we’ll need more than just the five of us.
Jane, Rain, Elaine: Yes! We’ll help!

Act 2

Building a boat, filling it up

(Jane, unfolding sheets of paper that look like a blueprint, which all the sisters proceed to look at)
Jane: I found these old instructions about how to build a big boat like we need!
Elaine: All these measurements are in funny words: What’s a cubit?
Jane: I don’t know, but this boat looks big enough. But how are we ever to build it? We’ll need help, that’s for sure.
Rain: We could down to the beach, where the ship builders live. They might be able to help us.

(All walk off stage left. Ship builders enter from stage right, then after a moment Noelle and sisters walk towards them)

Narrator: And so they went to the beach. Noelle explained their problem; a flood was coming and they needed to build a boat, a really big boat, so that all the people and animals and plants could be saved.
Noelle: We don’t know how to build a really big boat. We thought you might be able to help.
Ship builders: We can help! We’ll get the materials together and help you build your boat! Everyone can pitch in.

(Ship builders move to one side, begin working)

Narrator: Soon the boat started to take shape. It was larger than any boat any of them had ever seen; in fact, on the inside it looked rather like a giant church sanctuary, with benches and floors and everything; it looked a little bit like this room we’re in right now, actually! And Rain started to worry. Having a boat was one thing, but even if there was enough space for all the people and animals and plants, what would they all eat?

Rain: We’ll need lots and lots of food for everyone, won’t we?
Elaine: We can take everything from the kitchen and the pantry back at home.
Jane: I don’t think even that will be enough. We’ll have to grow a lot more food, I think, and not just in our garden.
Noelle: Maybe we can get the farmers of the valley to help us grow food!

(Sisters walk across to where farmers have come onto stage)

Narrator: And so they sought out the farmers. Elaine explained what was happening to the farmers.
Elaine: Can you help us grow food for everyone?
Friendly farmers: We can help! Come to our fields, and let’s grow food for the boat! We can grow grain and harvest nuts, we can grow vegetables and pick fruits, so that there’s food for everyone.

(Everyone goes far to the sides, then, as the narrator is speaking, Noelle goes to center and starts beckoning everyone: her sisters, the builders and farmers, and all the animals, to come to her on the boat.

Narrator: In time, the boat was finished, and then the food was gathered in and put into the boat. When a heavy rain started, Noelle and her sisters invited everyone into the boat. It rained and rained (maybe this is a time to do that rain exercise -- you know, the snapping and clapping and stomping thing?)

Song: Rise and Shine

Act 3

The Flood

(Noelle and sisters to center stage)

Narrator: It poured for days and days. It rained and rained and rained and rained, but the land didn’t drink up the water like it used to. Instead, all the water collected in the streams and rivers, then it overflowed them, and soon the whole valley was flooded. For days and days and days, the valley stayed flooded, and the really big boat floated on the water. Everyone on the boat was safe. But as the days stretched into weeks, a problem emerged; there wasn’t enough food to last too much longer.

Noelle: We’re almost out of food! What will we do?
Rain: I don’t know! There must be something we can do to feed everyone; surely this flood will go down soon and we can return to the valley.
Elaine: Maybe we can ask everyone if they have any scraps of food left. Maybe we can all share that?

Narrator: So they asked everyone if they had anything left to share. And lo and behold, many people and animals did!

(As each group prepares to say their line, they walk forward)

Deer: We have grain we can give!
Mice: We have spices! Here, let’s share them!
Cows and goats: We have milk; all the milk you need!
Squirrels: We have nuts!
Rain: And we still have some bags of sugar!
Narrator: More and more animals and people stepped up, sharing the remnants of good they had left so that everyone could eat.
Noelle: But what we can make with all that?
Elaine: I know. We can make pudding. We’ll call it Noelle’s pudding!

Narrator: And so they made pudding. All the animals gave what they still had, and Noelle and her sisters mixed it all together, and cooked it, and soon a lovely fragrance was wafting all through the boat. And when it was ready, everyone wanted some:
Everyone: Let’s have pudding!
Noelle: When we share, there’s enough for everyone. And look, I think I see a rainbow. And, at the end of it, is that land?!
Narrator: And it was land. Just the top of a hill was showing, peeking out of the muddy waters. Soon, the waters receded and more and more land showed, and soon the boat was sitting on land again in the valley. The people and animals poured out, rejoicing, and they brought out the plants and began rebuilding their valley. Together, they worked to make it beautiful again, and they were always careful to leave plenty of trees and grasses, so that such a great flood would never come again.

About the Author

  • The Rev. Christian Schmidt is senior co-minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley.

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