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The Spiriting Of Burd Ellen

    by Ron Nicol


Youth Winner- 2005 SCDA Ayrshire District Festival (Largs Junior Players)
Finalist - 2005 SCDA Western Divisional Youth Final (Largs Junior Players)
Junior Winners - 2005 SCDA Highland Divisional Youth Festival (Auchtertyre Primary School)
Winner - 2006 SCDA Moray Firth Youth Festival (Dingwall Academy)
Senior Winner - 2006 SCDA Highland Divisional Youth Festival (Dingwall Academy)
Finalist - 2006 SCDA Highland Divisional Final (Dingwall Academy)
Finalist - 2006 SCDA Scottish National Youth Final (Dingwall Academy)
Best U12 Actress & Actor - 2008 Nottinghamshire Youth Festival (Ravenshead Youth Theatre Group)
Youth Winner - 2011 Argyll-Kintyre District One Act Festival (Peninver Players Juniors)
Finalist - 2011 SCDA Western Divisional Youth Final (Peninver Players D C Juniors)


Youth One Act Fantasy Play: 'The Spirit OF Burd Ellen' by Ron Nicol

Based on a traditional folk tale and set in the Middle Ages, “The Spiriting of Burd Ellen” tells of the mysterious disappearance of Burd Ellen, Childe Rowland’s sister. Rowland, reputedly a child of the legendary King Arthur, consults the wizard Merlin, who suspects that Ellen has been spirited away by the Elves. Ignoring the misgivings of his mother Queen Guinevere and the warnings of Merlin, Rowland courageously sets out alone on a perilous journey to the Dark Tower in the Land of Faery to rescue his sister.

On his way through the realm of the Elves Rowland encounters a Herdsman, a Cowherd and a Henwife who are in charge of the horses, hens and cows which belong to the awesome and all-powerful King of Elfland, and is given directions to the Dark Tower.

Rowland eventually finds the round green hill he’d been searching for. Uttering the magic spell he’d been given he enters the Dark Tower, to find that Burd Ellen and her Shadow have indeed been captured by the Elves. With a little assistance from Merlin, Rowland avoids a trap which would see him made captive should he eat any food in Elfland, and following a brief but successful fight with the King - who proves to be rather less than awesome and all-powerful than suggested - manages to obtain the release of his sister.

Rowland and Burd Ellen return to Camelot – but unfortunately not to the triumphant hero’s welcome from Guinevere and her court that Rowland had been expecting.

A full length version of this play is available as 'Childe Rowland'

"...a lovely play ... a wonderful asset to children's theatre..." (SCDA Scene)

 "lively, inventive and often hilarious" (Amateur Stage)

 "full of fun and good humour" (Ross-shire Journal)


45 mins approx


(4m, 3f, 3m/f with many other minor characters)

  • Stage Manager (m/f)
  • Merlin the Magnificent
  • Childe Rowland
  • Burd Ellen, his sister
  • Queen Guinevere, his mother
  • Elfin King
  • Herdsman (m)
  • Cowherd (m/f)
  • Cockerel (m/f)
  • Henwife (f)
  • Knights
  • Elves
  • Stage Crew (two or more, m/f)
  • Burd Ellen’s Shadow (non-speaking mime)
  • Horses, Cows, Hens

The play can be performed by groups of all sizes. Although written with youth groups in mind, it has also been played with success by adult and mixed-age groups. Several characters make only one appearance, so doubling and trebling is possible - with consequent opportunities for a variety of virtuoso performances by individual actors! Many roles can be male or female, with the text changed where necessary. There can be as many Stage Crew members, Knights and Elves as desired, with the lines distributed as the director wishes. The animals offer parts for many extras, and there can be as many or as few as desired.


  • Perusal Script (The Spiriting Of Burd Ellen)
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