The 13-Storey Treehouse: A play for young audiences

The 13-Storey Treehouse: A play for young audiences


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Adapted from Andy Griffiths' and Terry Denton's phenomenally successful Treehouse book series, Richard Tulloch's play - The 13-Storey Treehouse - is action-packed, full of laughs...with a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of man-eating sharks and a lemonade fountain!

Imagine living in a 13-storey treehouse that includes a secret underground laboratory, self-making beds, a vegetable vaporiser and a marshmallow machine that shoots marshmallows into your mouth? Well Andy and Terry are lucky enough to live in one, where they have a series of completely mad adventures.

And today Andy and Terry manage to get their dates all mixed up. They thought that they were going to rehearse their new play, The 13-Storey Treehouse, except they forgot to write it! And to make matters worse, they need to find flying cats, a mermaid, a sea monster, an invasion of monkeys, and a giant gorilla!

Despite not having any of these things, they do have a box of costumes and props, some pretty awesome technology and friends to help out!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781742236490
Publisher: UNSW Press
Publication date: 11/01/2019
Edition description: None
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 8 - 11 Years

About the Author

Richard Tulloch is an award-winning playwright, actor, director, author, and one of Australia’s most prolific and popular writers for young audiences. He has more than 60 children’s books to his credit, including The Book of Everything and Bananas in Pyjamas.

Read an Excerpt


Scene One – The Stage

As the audience settles, stage manager VAL is coming and going from the stage, apparently checking lights and other equipment, and giving orders to her Assistant Stage Managers. She should not look like an actor playing a stage manager; the audience should believe that she really is a Stage Manager preparing for the show. She wears a headset with microphone and a photo ID badge on a chain.

When all are seated, VAL gives a thumbs-up signal to a technician at the back of the auditorium, and presses a button on the onstage control panel. Lights come up on ...

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, you won't need your mobile phones in this theatre. You won't need your cameras or video recorders. You won't need your iPad, iPod, GameBoy, GameCube, Apple watch, PlayStation, X-Box or Nintendo Wii. Please switch them to 'theatre mode', which means turn them off. And most important, please remember that ...

SFX: Electrical fusing. The stage is plunged into darkness.

Val, what happened?

VAL: I don't know. [Calling to a technician in the auditorium] Marco?

TECHNICIAN: I didn't do anything. The power just dropped out.

VAL switches on a torch.

VAL: I'll have a look backstage. [To audience] Ladies and gentlemen, please just stay seated and we'll fix this problem as soon as we can.

She and the ANNOUNCER exit. At this point the audience should believe there really has been a technical problem with the show.

SFX: Huge crash backstage!

A torch shines, flicking around the set.

TERRY: Andy?

A second torch flickers on.

ANDY: Terry?

TERRY: Andy, where are you?

ANDY: Terry?

TERRY: Andy, I can't find the light ...

SFX: Another, even bigger, crash from the wings.


ANDY: Terry?

TERRY staggers on, a bucket on his foot, just visible in the light of ANDY's torch.

ANDY: Terry, what are you doing?

TERRY: I'm looking for the light switch.

ANDY removes the bucket from TERRY's foot.

Oh, thanks.

ANDY: You're welcome.

They shine torches around the stage, lighting up the large fish in the props box.

TERRY: Hey, this is a pretty cool theatre!

ANDY: Wait a minute ...

He shines his torch at the audience and peers into the auditorium.

There are people out there.

TERRY also checks out the audience.

TERRY: You said we were here for a rehearsal. I didn't know people would be watching.

ANDY: I'll send them away so we can practise in private. [To audience] Excuse me, what are you doing here?

['We've come to see the play.']

What play?

['The 13-Storey Treehouse.']

No, no, no, no. Our play is next week.

TERRY meanwhile has discovered the control panel.

TERRY: Andy, look at all these buttons.

ANDY: Terry – don't touch!

TERRY finds the sign by the control panel that reads: DO NOT TOUCH – VAL.

He presses a button. SFX: Loud fanfare.

TERRY: Cool!

ANDY is caught between trying to talk to the audience and stopping TERRY from causing any damage.

ANDY: Leave that alone! [To audience] I'm sorry – this week is our rehearsal, then next week you can come back and see the real performance.

TERRY presses another button. SFX: BIG FART.

TERRY: Andy, this is fun!

He makes the fart again.

ANDY: Terry! [To audience] I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience, and so does Terry.

Another fart from TERRY.

TERRY: This is my favourite one!

Another fart – huge and squelchy this time.

ANDY: [To Terry] Terry, the sign says 'Do Not Touch!'

TERRY: It says 'Do Not Touch Val'. What's a 'Val'?

The lights suddenly come back on. VAL enters, very efficient, very officious and very angry.

VAL: I am Val!

ANDY & TERRY: Hello, Val.

VAL: I am the stage manager in charge of this theatre, and you two are trespassing, right before a performance! [She whips out a notebook] Okay. Names?

The boys are minor celebrities and expect VAL to be impressed when they introduce themselves.

ANDY: I'm Andy.

TERRY: And I'm Terry.

She's not impressed. Not even a bit.

VAL: You are Andy and Terry!!?? Where were you last week??

TERRY: Last week?

Other ASMs enter and stand around, looking accusingly at ANDY and TERRY.

VAL: My crew were all here in this theatre, precisely one week ago, waiting for you to do a full dress rehearsal. And you never showed up.

VAL's phone rings. She answers it.

ANDY: I'm getting a bad feeling about this.

VAL: [Into phone] Stage management, Val speaking ... Yes, Mr Big Nose ...

ANDY: We're in trouble, Terry.


ANDY: Don't you see? We mixed up the dates. This isn't a rehearsal – this is a real performance and people have come to see us do our play. Today! Right now!

TERRY: But we're not ready yet.

ANDY: Shh!

VAL: Certainly, Sir, I'll put them on. [To ANDY and TERRY] It's your publisher, Mr Big Nose.

ANDY: [To TERRY] You talk to him.

TERRY: No! He scares me.

VAL: You can both talk to him on the 3D video phone.

She presses a button on the control panel.

Scene Two – Mr Big Nose

An oversized smart phone is carried on by two ASMs.

MR BIG NOSE appears in the frame of the phone.

ANDY and TERRY are terrified, like naughty schoolboys sent to the school principal's office.

MR BIG NOSE: Hello, Andy and Terry.

ANDY & TERRY: Hello. Mr Big Nose.

MR BIG NOSE: [Smiling like a grey nurse shark] I'm calling to wish you luck for the play ...

ANDY & TERRY: Thanks Mr Big Nose.

MR BIG NOSE: ... the play I am paying for. You must be very excited ... and perhaps a little nervous.

ANDY & TERRY: That's right.

MR BIG NOSE: And you should be very nervous, Andy and Terry, because the future of Big Nose Books depends on you. If this play is not a huge success, I will be sacking people left, right and centre and you know where your next job will be.

ANDY & TERRY: The Monkey House?

MR BIG NOSE: [Sinister] Break a leg.

The 3D phone screen goes blank. The smart phone is carried off.

VAL: Well, isn't this all fine and dandy? You're doing a play but you haven't had a proper dress rehearsal. I hate working with amateurs! [She takes a deep breath and composes herself] But we are professionals here. We'll make your show work – just give me a copy of the script.

ANDY and TERRY look at her, look at each other ... and panic.

ANDY & TERRY: Aaarghhhh!

ANDY: We'll be back at the zoo, working in the Monkey House ...

TERRY: I hate monkeys! That was the worst job ever.

VAL: What are you talking about?

ANDY: Val, we don't have any scenery.

TERRY: We don't have any costumes.

ANDY: We haven't written the play yet.

ALL ASMs: They haven't written the play!

VAL: Why not?

TERRY: We got a bit behind schedule.

ANDY: When he says 'a bit behind schedule' he means a lot, lot, lot behind schedule. We were busy, you see ...

TERRY: ... playing in our treehouse.

ANDY elbows him in the ribs.

ANDY: ... making our wonderful, imaginative, creative books.

He hands VAL a copy of 'The 13-Storey Treehouse'.

VAL: [Reads] 'The 13-Storey Treehouse.'

ANDY: Mr Big Nose will just have to give people their money back. Come on, Terry, let's go to the Monkey House to beg for a job. [To audience] Sorry, everybody.

TERRY: [Shrugs] Thanks for coming.

They start to leave, arguing about the date mix-up ...

[To ANDY] You said you checked the date ...

ANDY: So? You said you double-checked it ...

VAL: [Booms] Hold it right there!

They stop.

She moves around the set, indicating the leftover costumes and props.

We had another play here last night – 'The Professor, the Thief, his Wife and her Fish'.

TERRY: Was it good?

VAL: [Apparently not] It was interesting. And they left these props and costumes behind.

TERRY: Cool!

VAL: This is a control panel ...

TERRY: Don't touch, Val!

VAL: ... my control panel. I use it to make sound and lighting effects.

She presses a button. Lightning flashes.

SFX: Thunder clap.

ANDY: Wow!

VAL leads them to the 2D/3D Converter, a wardrobe-sized box covered with dials and lights.

VAL: We also have the world's most expensive piece of theatre machinery – a 2D/3D Converter.

TERRY: What's a 2D/3D Converter?

VAL: Show them, Penelope.

Two ASMs (PENELOPE and NEVILLE) step forward and operate the machine.

PENELOPE: [Demonstrates] We feed a 2D drawing in here [the paper shredder if there is one, otherwise just a hole in the side of the box ...]

NEVILLE: We set the dial to '3D' ...

He does this.

PENELOPE: Turn it on ...

She does so. Lights flash. SFX: The machine whirrs, then a bell, like that on a microwave oven, pings.

PENELOPE & NEVILLE: ... and out comes the real thing.

TERRY: Amazing!

ANDY: Val, why are you showing us all this?

VAL: We theatre professionals have a saying.

She motions to the ASMs who respond ...

ASMs: 'The show must go on.'

ANDY: But we don't have a show.

VAL: [Getting very firm indeed] Now you listen to me, Andy and Terry. [She takes the book and flips through it.] You have a story – a silly story, but that's not my problem. You have a theatre. You have a highly professional crew. [Indicating the ASMs] And most important – you have an audience. You will do a show for these people. You will do it well and you will do it now! Is that clear?

ANDY: Crystal clear.

VAL: We will help as best we can.

ASMs: Break a leg!

ASMs exit.

ANDY: Thanks, Val.

TERRY: Why does everybody say, 'Break a leg'?

VAL glances at the book with disdain.

VAL: Amateurs!

She strides towards the side of the stage, pressing a button on the control panel.

SFX: Fanfare. The ANNOUNCER appears again ...

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Big Nose Books proudly presents The 13-Storey Treehouse. Would you please welcome to the stage ... Andy and Terry!

ANNOUNCER leaves. ANDY and TERRY run around in panic, then freeze, pinned in spotlights like terrified rabbits.

Scene Three – The Show Begins

A very hesitant ANDY and TERRY gather themselves.

ANDY: Hello, I'm Andy.

TERRY: Hello, I'm Terry.

ANDY: Hello, Terry.

TERRY gives a tentative wave.

TERRY: We live in a tree.

ANDY: When we say 'tree', we mean treehouse.

TERRY: [With growing confidence and enthusiasm] And when we say 'treehouse' we don't mean any old treehouse – we mean a totally amazing 13-storey treehouse. It's got a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of man-eating sharks, a lemonade fountain, a marshmallow machine ...

ANDY: ... and Terry was supposed to make them for the play, but he forgot.

TERRY: I didn't forget.

ANDY: Then where are they?

TERRY: It's easy for you, you're an author. Authors can just write things like, 'The spaceship burst open and out came a dancing pink giraffe'. It's a lot harder for the person who has to make those things happen.

ANDY: Okay, but we don't need a pink giraffe for this play.

TERRY: No, we need thirteen flying cats, a mermaid, a sea monster, a giant gorilla ...

ANDY: We'll worry about them later. First we need a treehouse.

TERRY has a moment of inspiration.

TERRY: Leave it to me!

He runs off stage and comes back holding up a plastic shrub in a pot.

TERRY: [Fanfare] Ta-ra!

ANDY wants to be encouraging but is not quite convinced.

ANDY: Good ... but not quite ...

TERRY: We have to use our imagination. Andy, that's the magic of theatre. [To audience] Right, everybody just imagine this is our totally amazing 13-storey imaginary treehouse.

ANDY: And then ...?

TERRY: ... and then you go up to your imaginary bedroom, and we can start the story.

Scene Four – The Flying Cat

ANDY: All right, the story!

ANDY takes up his starting position.

It all started one morning ...

Morning music tinkles out. TERRY starts rummaging through the props box.

Hey, great music! Thanks, Val.

VAL gives him a wave.

ANDY: ... when I went down to get some imaginary breakfast. Terry was already in the imaginary kitchen.

TERRY: I was painting a cat.

ANDY: Terry wasn't painting a picture of a cat – he was using bright yellow paint ...

TERRY reaches into the props box and pulls out a yellow paintbrush.

... to paint an actual cat.

TERRY pulls a teddy bear from the box.

TERRY: [To audience] You have to imagine this is an actual real cat. And I'm painting him yellow.

He mimes painting the teddy.


ANDY: [To TERRY] This might be a stupid question, Terry, but why are you painting that cat bright yellow?

TERRY: Because I'm turning it into a canary.

ANDY: You can't turn a cat into a canary just by painting it yellow.

TERRY: Oh yes, I can.

ANDY: Oh no, you can't.

TERRY: Oh yes, I can.

He dunks the teddy and paintbrush into the props box and, like a magician, pulls out a yellow teddy with wings made from flapping gardening gloves.

Fly away, Canary!

He 'flies' it off stage by throwing it into the wings.

SFX: Flying cat disappearing into the distance.

ANDY: Wow! It worked!

Scene Five – The Missing Cat

SFX: The doorbell rings.

TERRY: Hey Andy, that sounds like the doorbell.

ANDY: That will be our neighbour, Jill.

TERRY: Uh-oh! She's probably looking for her cat.

ANDY: Don't tell me it was Silky you just turned into a canary.

TERRY: Okay, I won't tell you. [A beat] But it was.

ANDY: Terry! Silky is Jill's favourite pet. She's going to be really mad when she finds out what you've done.

TERRY: Maybe we shouldn't tell her.

ANDY: Good idea. Let's pretend we're not at home.

SFX: Doorbell rings again.

ANDY and TERRY hide behind the props box.

TERRY: [Calls] There's nobody home, Jill. Andy and Terry have gone out.

Pause. ANDY and TERRY pop up again.

[To ANDY] Now what do we do?

ANDY: We need somebody to play the part of Jill.

TERRY: Well, I can't do it. I'm already in this scene.

ANDY: So am I.


VAL: Why has the play stopped?

ANDY: Could you play the part of our neighbour Jill?

VAL: Certainly not. Stage managers can only take the place of an actor if there's been an accident or serious illness.

ANDY: Well ... as a matter of fact ... that's exactly what happened, isn't it, Terry?

TERRY: Exactly. A seriously accidental illness.

ANDY: We had a really fantastic actress booked to play Jill.

TERRYhas another moment of inspiration.

TERRY: Cate Blanchett!

ANDY: Yes, um, Cate Blanchett. But Cate ... got the flu ... and she's lost her voice.

TERRY: In London.

VAL looks sceptical. ANDY pulls out his mobile phone.

ANDY: You can ask her yourself if you don't believe me. [Into phone] Siri-call-Cate-Blanchett.

He hands VAL the phone.

VAL: Hello, this is Val from the Sydney Opera House [or wherever]. Is that Cate Blanchett I'm speaking to? Hello? Hello? [To ANDY] I can't hear anything.

ANDY: [Sadly] I told you. Cate's voice is completely gone.

VAL hands back the phone.

VAL: All right. Just this once. [Calls] Sophia!

ASM SOPHIA rushes on. [NOTE: In a smaller cast version, VAL could play this role (and any of the upcoming parts) herself.]

SOPHIA: Yes, Val?

VAL: You're playing Jill.

SOPHIA: Me? I'm not an actor ...

TERRY finds a Jill costume on the rack, and dresses SOPHIA as

ANDY pushes the book into her hand.

TERRY: It's an emergency, Sophia. We've got a lovely costume for you.

He starts to dress her.

ANDY: Thanks, Sophia. Everything you have to say is in the book. [Slipping into director mode] Oh, and Jill is a very kind, warm character, though when her favourite pets are painted yellow and fly away she gets a little ... emotional. And ... action!

VAL rings the doorbell again. ANDY and TERRY hide again.

SOPHIA/JILL: [Reading from the book, rather stiffly] Andy and Terry. Are you up there?

TERRY: [Calls] There's nobody home, Jill. Andy and Terry have gone out ...

ANDY: [Calls] ... abseiling. In Peru.

TERRY: [Calls] And they won't be coming back for a really long time.

SOPHIA/JILL: It is no use hiding. I can hear you. And I can see you behind the props box.

They come out from cover.

TERRY: Oh, hello Jill. We just got back.

ANDY: That abseiling was great, wasn't it, Terry?

TERRY: Epic! So was Prue.

ANDY: Pe-ru.

SOPHIA/JILL: My cat Silky has gone missing and I wondered if you had seen her.

ANDY: I cannot tell a lie ... Silky is ... not here.

SOPHIA/JILL: Oh dear! Well, I have made a missing cat poster. Can I put one on your tree?

ANDY: Sure, Jill. It's the least we can do.

SOPHIA/JILL: [She shows it] Missing Cat. Silky. Big reward!


Excerpted from "The 13-Storey Treehouse"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Richard Tulloch.
Excerpted by permission of University of New South Wales Press Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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