I wanted the children to perform a 'Brothers Grimm' story in the school and the opportunity for a performance came up at the Christmas Production. The Elves and the Shoemaker is one of the few stories with a Christmas theme. The children and parents recognise it and I found it easy to adapt to a basic level of German. Children who have been learning German for just a few months will be able to perform it in German. You will need a covered table as the centrepiece for the performance and I suggest that you manage the music during the performance. As you read the adaption you will see that I have put my own twist on the play with the introduction of 'Nena' and '99 Red Balloons'. Please see below for the script and everything you will need for the performance.
The Elves and the Shoemaker – The Oval Primary School
Appropriate clothing for the characters
A change of clothes for the shoemaker and
his wife (when they become rich)
Lots of red balloons
A covered table (centerpiece for the play)
Shoes under the table
Nena – 99 Red Balloons (German)
Abba – Money Money Money
Elf song suggestion – Denkmal by wir sind Helden
2 - 4 Elves
This is a short and very sweet German story about a Christmas gift. It was written by the Brother’s Grimm and is called ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’
A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, became so poor that at last he had nothing left but enough leather for one pair of shoes. So in the evening, he cut the leather into the shape of the shoes, and he left his work on the table to finish in the morning. Before he went to bed, he asked God to help him.
Lieber Gott. Ich bin so arm. Bitte helfen Sie mir.
Dear God. I am so poor. Please help me.
Elves enter and shoemaker goes backstage
Elves make shoes to elf/German song (Denkmal by wir sind Helden?)
He was astounded, and did not know what to make of it. He took the shoes in his hands to look at them more closely and he saw that they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them.
Meine Frau. Schau mal. Diese Schuhe sind fantastisch.
My wife. Look. The shoes are fantastic.
The shoemaker and wife look into the distance in shock and believe they can see ‘Nena’
Ist das Nena?
Is that Nena?
Ja, das ist Nena!
Yes , that is Nena!
’99 Red Balloons’ starts and Nena enters.
Elves help with balloons and dancing.
Ich liebe diese Schuhe. Sie sind großartig. Ich kaufe sie sofort.
I love these shoes. They are great. I will buy them straight away.
Narrator 2: The shoes pleased Nena so much, she paid more than the usual price. Now the shoemaker had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes.
Narrator 1: As before, the shoemaker cut the leather into the shape of the shoes, and he left his work on the table to finish in the morning. The following morning he found the four pairs were made – and so it went on; any leather that he cut out in the evening was finished by the morning. Soon he was no longer poor, and he even became quite rich.
Entire Cast (led by shoemaker):
Das ist gut aha aha, ich mag es aha aha x2
(to the tune of that’s the way I like it)
Money Money Money playing, Shoemaker and wife high fiving the audience
Narrator 2: Now one evening, not long before Christmas, the man finished cutting out the leather as usual. This time he suggested to his wife that they stay up to see who is lending them a helping hand
Bleiben wir heute Nacht wach um zu sehen, wer uns hilft.
We will stay up tonight to see who is helping us.
Elves make shoes to elf/German song
The shoemaker and his wife were amazed. Because it was winter they could see that the elves shivered while they worked. The shoemaker’s wife suggested they give the poor elves a Christmas gift of clothes.
Ich denke, wir sollen den armen Elfen Kleidung schenken.
I think we should buy the poor elves clothes as a present
The shoemaker and wife leave a present on the table instead of leather and hide. The elves come out as usual, looking confused at first then delighted, running around the stage.
Elves: Wow, super, fantastisch, prima, wunderbar, großartig, schön
From that time on they came no more, but as long as the shoemaker lived, all went well with him, and all his business prospered.