Canterbury Tales

by Gillette Elvgren
  • 90 Minutes
  • 3+ Males, 4+ Females, Max Cast 20+, Min Cast 8


This full-length play with music by Gillette Elvgren brings rapid-fire dialogue to an old classic.  With a flexible cast, it is ideal as a play for high school performances, college theaters, or community productions. This version of Chaucer’s famous tales captures the wonderful picaresque energy of the original in dramatic form and includes the Prologue, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale, The Man of Law’s Tale, the Pardoner’s Tale and The Nun’s Priests Tale.


Select Quantities Below

  • Review Script 11.00 Watermarked PDF Download
  • Hardcopy 13.00 Printed Copy Mailed to You
  • Class/Group Study Pack 75.00 Production Script PDF
  • Multi-Copy PDF 75.00 Printable Production Script PDF
  • Sheet Music 80.00

Performance Fee $70.00 A Production License Fee Per Performance (mandatory for all performances)

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Play Details


This version was devised to be done by an ensemble of only 7-8 actors thus featuring a heightened theatricality. This, combined with a musical score for a balladeer, makes for a visually exciting production. A large cast can extend the roles with ease. The music is optional and mostly performed by a Balladeer.

It should be also noted that though Chaucer never finished writing his Tales, the adapter has written an Epilogue which brings the Pilgrims to the steps of Canterbury Cathedral.

(Music lead sheets available.)

From the Play


The original cast of CANTERBURY TALES used: 3 Women/5 Men
As is evident, a great deal of doubling is required, even to the point of having men playing women’s parts and vice versa. The specific choices that you make will be up to the exigencies of your individual casting and the type and numbers of actors that you select. If you want to cast twenty actors, that’s up to you, but part of the fun of the production is seeing a smaller cast challenged in a variety of roles.

Gillette Elvgren

(The cast enters and begin reciting lines in Middle English from the opening of Chaucer’s THE CANTERBURY TALES. Music under. )

ACTOR #1: What that Aprille with his shoures sote,

ACTOR #2: The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,

ACTOR: And bathed every veyne in swich licour

ACTOR #3: Of which vertu engendered is the flour,
ACTOR #4: When Zephirus eek with his swete breeth,

ACTOR #5: Inspired hath in every holt and heeth,

ACTOR #6: Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne,

ACTOR #7: Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,

ACTOR #1: And smale foweles maken melodye. . .

HOST: Then people long to go on pilgrimages
To seek the stranger strands
Of far off Saints, hallowed in sundry lands, . . .

(The cast does a lively pole dance to a Medieval folk tune.)

At night there came into my hostelry
Some nine or twenty in a company
Of sundry folk happening then to fall
In fellowship, and they were pilgrims all,
That towards Canterbury meant to ride.

WIFE OF BATH: I’m a worthy woman from Bath City.
In Company I like to laugh and chat,
And I know the remedy for love’s mischances,
An art in which I know the oldest dances.

HOST: She’d had five husbands, all at the church door,
Apart from. . . uhem. . . other company at youth.
No need just now to speak of that, forsooth.

The Miller is a chap of sixteen stone. . .

MILLER: I have a master hand at steal. . . handlin’ grain.
I feel it, like this, with my thumb and thus I knew
It’s quality. . .

HOST: For he took three times his due.

MILLER: A thumb of gold, by God, to guage an oat.
You cast aspersions my way and I’ll smote
You here to kingdom come, ya ‘ear?

HOST: His nose displayed a wart on which there stood a tuft of hair,
Red as the bristles in an old sows ear.

And then there is the Pardoner,
With a brimful of pardons come from Rome.

PARDONER: And here a holy relic, from the catacombs
In an ancient glass filled with St. Peter’s bones.

ACTOR: A Knight there was

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