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Acting and Dramatic Games Mother Mother The Pot Boils Over

( Acting and Dramatic, Call and Response, Choreographed )

This is a traditional dramatic game. One player represents an old witch another a mother another the eldest daughter another a pot boiling on the hearth and the balance are children named for the days of the week Monday Tuesday etc.

The old witch hides around the corner of a house or other convenient place and peeps out while the mother says to her eldest daughter “I am going away and I want you to let nothing happen to your sisters.” To the others she says “Monday you take care of Tuesday and Tuesday you take care of Wednesday ” etc. until she comes to the last child when she says “And Saturday take care of yourself.” Then to the eldest “Be sure and not let the old witch take any of your sisters. You can also get the dinner and be sure not to let the pot boil over.”

The mother then goes away and stays at a distance out of sight. As soon as the mother has gone the old witch stooping lame and walking with a stick comes and raps with her knuckles on the supposed door. The eldest daughter says “Come in What do you want ”

Old Witch. Let me light my pipe at your fire my fire is out.
Eldest Daughter. Yes if you will not dirty the hearth.
Old Witch. No certainly I will be careful.

The eldest daughter lets her in and goes about her work setting the table or looking on the shelf when the old witch suddenly stoops down and blows the ashes on the hearth whereupon the pot makes a hissing sound as though boiling over and the old witch catches hold of Monday and runs away with her.

The eldest daughter cries out “Mother mother the pot boils over ”
The mother calls back “Take the spoon and skim it.”
“Cant find it.”
“Look on the shelf.”
“Cant reach it.”
“Take the stool.”
“Legs broken.”
“Take the chair.”
“Chairs gone to be mended.”
Mother “I suppose I must come myself ”

The mother then returns looks about and misses Monday. “Where is my Monday ” she demands of the eldest daughter.

The daughter says “Under the table.” The mother pretends to look under the table and calls “Monday ” then says “She isnt there.” The daughter suggests various places up on the shelf down in the cellar etc. with the same result. Finally the eldest daughter cries and says “Oh please mother please I couldnt help it but some one came to beg a light for her pipe and when I looked for her again she had gone and taken Monday with her.”

The mother says “Why that was the old witch ” She pretends to beat the eldest daughter and tells her to be more careful in the future and on no account to let the pot boil over. The eldest daughter weeps promises to be better and the mother again goes away. The old witch comes again and the same thing is repeated until each child in turn has been taken away the old witch pretending each time to borrow a different article that is used around the fire as the poker the kettle etc. Finally the eldest daughter is carried off too.

The pot which has boiled over with a hissing sound each time the old witch has come to the hearth now boils over so long and so loudly that the mother hears it and comes back to see what is the matter. Finding the eldest daughter gone too the mother goes in search of them to the witchs house. On the way she meets the old witch who tries to turn her from her path by speaking of various dangers.

The mother asks of her “Is this the way to the witchs house ” and the witch replies “There is a red bull that way.”

“I will go this way.”
“There is a mad cow that way.”
“I will go this way.”
“There is a mad dog that way.”

Finally the mother insists on entering the witchs house. The witch refuses to let her in saying–

“Your shoes are too dirty.”
“I will take them off.”
“Your stockings are too dirty.”
“I will take them off.”
“Your feet are too dirty.”

The mother grows angry at this pushes her way into the house and calls her children. The witch is supposed prior to this to have cooked the children made them into pies and put them in a row naming them apple pie peach pie etc. They stand or sit with their faces or heads covered.

The mother approaches them and says “You have some pies ” The old witch says “Yes some very nice apple pie.” The mother proceeds to taste the apple pie and says “This needs more sugar.” The witch pretends to stir in more sugar whereupon the mother tastes again and says “Why this tastes exactly like my child Monday ” Monday thereupon uncovers her face and says “It is Monday ” The mother shakes her and says “Run away home ” which she does.

This is gone through with each pie in turn the mother finding them in need of more salt or longer cooking or some other improvement before she discovers in each case one of her children. When all have been sent home the mother joined by the children chases and catches the witch.

the game probably illustrates some of the practices and customs associated with fire worship worship of the hearth and ancient house ritual. The magic pot boils over when anything is wrong and as a warning to the mother that she is needed. The incident of the witch taking a light from the hearth is very significant as according to an old superstition the giving of a brand from a hearth gave the possessor power over the inmates of the house. The sullying of the hearth by the old witch in blowing the ashes has also an ancient significance as fairies were said to have power over inmates of a house where the hearth or threshold had been sullied.

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