A fastnachtspiel is a "Mardi Gras play"—sort of an April Fool joke—and Hans Sachs, the Meistersinger of Nuremberg, wrote many. The Narrenschneiden is based on one of Sachs' funniest plays, and this translation sticks closely to the German original. A doctor is called to a tavern to handle an emergency illness. He realizes he must operate immediately and lays the horribly bloated patient on the counter and cuts open his stomach right there in front of everybody. He removes an assortment of odd-shaped dolls, fuzzy snakes and square heads. These are the "Narren" (follies) which made the man sick, but they have made audiences laugh for 400 years. "Narrenschneiden" is an untranslatable German word meaning "the surgical removal of the follies that cause a man to make a fool of himself." This fastnachtspiel is ideal for assembly programs, a night of one-act plays, contests and children's theatre. Das Narrenschneiden was written by Hans Sachs in 1557, and the cast was made up of three men: der arzt (the doctor), der knecht (the assistant) and der kranke (the patient). Any of the roles may be played by a man or a woman. A director's script is available with a discussion of costume and set which will help each troupe decide whether to present the play in a modern setting or in a 16th-century setting.
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