Draft Three

25 / 05 / 2023

A working document to develop the ideas for the script of The Crowboy ... 


This piece can be performed by a single actor or various actors. Each monologue is a new character, or the same character at a different time and place.

This piece can be performed on an empty stage or with scenography.

As part of the preparation for this piece, various people should be interviewed about their feelings about crows and the symbolism of crows. The audio from these interviews is then used in the interludes between monologues.

This is up to the director.

The final movement sequence in Scene II should be devised by the cast and director. 





I don’t remember the first time I saw it ...

... them ...

in the tree outside my bedroom window. 

A familiar shape ... hunched and ragged between the branches. Black and tattered, fluttering ... in the sodium light of the street lamp. Dirty hands grasping. Dirty face. Bright eyes.

I knew that it wasn’t the first time. I knew I’d seen them before. Déjà-vu. It was like they had always been there, watching, even when I was in my cradle.

‘Ah,’ I thought. ‘They’re back.’

They didn’t come every night. Not even most nights, or most weeks. But as I got older, they came more often. Often enough that I waited for them.

I lay, curled on my left side with the curtains wide open, the sky a grainy expanse in a nameless colour. I stared at the empty outline of the tree until it burned onto my retina and my eyes blurred and swam. I tried to stay awake but eventually my thoughts turned strange, blurring into a dream. 

Mostly I would fall asleep, curled on my left side. The curtains wide open, the blinds pulled up. I would try to stay awake, stare at the empty outline of the tree, until my eyes burned and swam and my thoughts turned strange, blurring into a dream. 

Most nights, that was it. I woke in the morning on my back or my right side, the curtains still open, the tree still empty. Sunlight on my face. Or rain tapping on the glass. 

The tree was naked in summer and clothed in summer. My opposite. 

But some nights, I woke in the dark with a start to some unremembered sound. And there they were. I did not move even though my breath caught in my throat and my heart beat fast. I did not move.

We watched one another. 

I never remembered falling asleep, but I must have done. Every time. Because the next thing I knew, I was awake again, the sun was in the sky again, and the tree was empty again.




I don’t think it’s fair, no. I don’t think it’s fair to say we should have known, or that we must have know and should have done something. Should have stopped her. 

Kids say all sorts of things, don’t they? Sometimes you listen, but you can’t listen to everything. You can’t take every little thing seriously or it would be the end of the world every Wednesday lunchtime. Parents who say they listen to everything, I just don’t see how they can. And I don’t see that it’s good for anyone, to be honest.

You can’t sit with them and dry every tear. You can’t send out a search party every time they’re half an hour late back home. How could you?

Of course I wish I knew now. No one wants something like this to happen, do they? But it’s not fair to blame us. How can we have stopped her if she was that determined?

People have lives of their own and thoughts they don’t tell you about. Private things going on. Even people you see every day. Even your own kids. They think things you couldn’t even imagine. Keep secrets.  People surprise you, even the ones you think you know inside out. And I never knew what she was thinking. Not once. 

I also think it’s a bit rich that everyone seems to care so much now. After. They didn’t give a damn about her before. She didn’t fit in. Not at school. Not at home. Nothing was ever right. Nothing was ever quite good enough. I talked to her about it, told her she needed to make more of an effort, but she just looked at me, you know? We tried our best with her, I promise you that. We both did. I mean, we’ve had our differences, but we always put the kids first. No one could have tried harder than we did. But I just didn’t understand her, in the end. 

And now she’s gone ... and, look, I say this carefully, knowing it won’t go any further. Some people wouldn’t understand at all. But, I’m relieved ...

Of course I miss her. But ... well.




OK so this part is the truth. I  promise. I heard the story on television when I was a kid. It’s a long time ago now, so the details are hazy, but I will tell you everything I remember. I was watching daytime television, so I probably should have been at school, and there was an interview with an actress. I can’t remember which actress it was now, but it was a TV actress and she was famous enough that everyone would have known her name at the time. Jessica something, or, Jacqueline. No. Now I can’t even remember her face. 

There was another actress from around the same time called Rula Lenska. She was Polish. It definitely wasn’t her who was being interviewed, but she’s become a stand-in in my mind. Maybe just because she’s from the right era and she’s Polish. She doesn’t even look right, though. Rula had this bright red hair and impressive, hard beauty. The other actress was softer with brown curls. 


I don’t remember the whole interview, just the part where she talked about the Crowboy. It was a play she wanted to make and I think it was just some kind of supplementary question. I think the interview was really about a TV show she was already in. 

She said that the Crowboy was a Polish folktale about a child from a village who wasn’t a boy or a girl. The child had been driven out of its home by the village people, but it didn’t go far. It lived in a tree at the edge of the village and watched the villagers coming and going. Most of the villagers pretended they couldn’t see the child, but some of them left food. 

I imagined the Crowboy up the tree dressed in rags like feathers, a mask on its face, curly hair with bits of leaves and branches stuck into it. I don’t know how much of that comes from what the actress said, and how much I made up for myself. 

I thought about that story a lot.

Like, why was it called a crow boy when she said it wasn’t a boy or a girl? Why crow? Just because it sat in a tree and watched? And why did the villagers drive it away but not drive it any further? Why did they let it live in the tree? Why didn’t they drive it into the forest?

I tried to write a book about it once but I never finished it. I didn’t get further than a couple of chapters. I realised quickly that the story of the Crowboy I heard on TV wasn’t really a story. It was a scenario. A premise. I needed another character so I created a girl from the village who watched the Crowboy from her window in her mother’s house at the edge of the village every night before she went to sleep. By that time, the Crowboy wasn’t a child anymore but they were still small, weathered by wind and rain and malnourished. In the story, there was a fair in the town where all the townspeople dressed in fancy dress. On that evening, the Crowboy came down from their tree to find the girl and no one knew it was them. The Crowboy and the girl ran away somewhere together. I couldn’t work out what happened after that.  

Later, when the internet came around, I searched for the story of the Crowboy online. I did it every few years when I remembered it again, but I never found anything at all. There still isn’t anything, not even now, when the internet knows everything.

I can’t find the interview with the actress either, but that’s not so surprising given that I can’t remember her name. And I doubt anyone would digitise all those tens of thousands of hours of daytime television interviews with forgotten celebrities.

I suppose it’s possible that the folk story was forgotten, too. Or maybe the actress just made it up. 




I left bread and scraps that I could hide at mealtimes, sometimes sweets. Not every day, but often enough. I left it wrapped in a napkin at the bottom of the tree. I never saw them come down to eat it, but when I went back later, the napkin was carefully folded and the food was gone. We didn’t have much extra, but we always had enough — enough that a few bits and pieces weren’t noticed. 

My mum did it too. She must have known I did it, and she knew I knew she did it, but we never talked about it. The last time I caught her at it, she was serving out an extra, half-size portion of dinner into a little red plastic cat bowl. She mumbled something about having made too much and she’d put it in the coldstore for later. I knew not to ask about it again. When I did that, the first times, she just pretended not to know what I was talking about and then stared at me long and hard. 

I suppose other people did the same, too. They must have. The scraps we put out can’t have been enough. Or maybe it came down from the tree during the night and foraged, or found stuff in the trash. Maybe it hunted.  

People might have left clothes for it too. Shoes, maybe. Or blankets — even though it always seemed to be dressed in the same dark rags like feathers. Did it build itself a nest up there in the tree? On the other side where we couldn’t see it? I wanted to go and look up, but I was too afraid. 

I don’t think any of the men would have left it stuff. Not even scraps. They didn’t even see it anymore. You could tell by the way their necks got stiff as they approached the edge of the village where the Crowboy’s tree was. They were the ones who decided what we could see and what we couldn’t see, perhaps. That would mean that the women were the ones who decided what we could talk about and what we couldn’t talk about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being simple. It’s not something like all the women being soft and gentle and motherly, and all the men being stern and cold. But, there seemed to be a difference when it came to the Crowboy. 

Paul was different, of course. I can imagine Paul giving it food. Or maybe not, actually. Maybe he would be too worried they’d drive him out too. Maybe he was one of the sternest ones, you know, just to let people know that he was different from the Crowboy. He wasn’t the same. 

There are so many things, that when I think about it now, I don’t understand. Where did it go when it wasn’t in the tree? Who was it? Why didn’t it just leave? Why that tree next to our house? When you are a child, you just accept thingsl. Yes, you ask questions. All kids do. But they’re often not the right questions. 

The Crowboy lives in a tree at the edge of town. No one looks at them, no one talks to them, no one talks about them. That’s the way it is. 




I know it was a crazy idea. I know it wasn’t good enough. But it was something. It was something when, for a while, it looked like there wasn’t going to be anything at all. Nothing I could do at all. 

But we made a bargain. Perhaps it was selfish, to want to keep them close. Perhaps it would have been better if I had let them go completely. But ... at least like this, I can still see them. Even if we couldn’t talk. 

It was something.

But now, now, this has happened. And it’s all wrong. It’s worse than ever before. They tell me to appreciate what I have, that I have so much. But it feels like I have nothing at all.

I don’t see how things can ever be right again. 




I knew something bad was going to happen. Before, I mean, when we were all getting ready. I was having a good time and then there was just this feeling in my stomach and then all of a sudden, I was just going through the motions.

You know?

One minute, I was with my friends getting ready for the big party and then, the next, I was on the outside watching, the volume turned down, everything in slow motion. It was like I couldn’t quite catch my breath. 

Palms sweating, the thread of the conversation lost, so I floundered in a sea of words. Everyone else was laughing but I didn’t know what the joke was anymore. 

That kind of feeling doesn’t usually last long. Know what I mean? It’s there and then gone again, almost before you know it, just leaving you unsettled with the memory of it. It’s usually so fleeting that other people don’t notice, or, if they do, you can laugh it off because the feeling has gone already. 

‘Are you OK? You look like you saw a ghost!’ they say.

‘Someone must have walked over my grave!’ That’s what you’re supposed to reply. 

But this feeling stayed with for the whole evening. I danced, but I felt like I was somewhere else. Underwater. When my boyfriend tried to kiss me, it felt wrong so I pushed him away. In the end, I locked myself in the toilet and sat there, head in my hands, until someone banged on the door and asked if I was OK.

I was relieved when the night was finally over. Dad was early to come and pick me up but as soon as I saw his car outside, I went and got in. He looked worried but he didn’t ask. He would tell me my mum and then she’d come and ask me. That’s how it worked. 

‘Your dad was worried about you. He said you were quiet. Did you have a fight with Daren?’

I fell into bed and slept easily. No dreams. When I woke, the feeling had gone. I felt elated. The sun was shining. But when I ran downstairs, mum was sitting at the kitchen table crying. She wouldn’t tell me what had happened for a long time and then when she did, she pulled me into her arms.

I walked past the tree at the edge of town later that day. I couldn’t help it. I had to see it for myself. Other people must have had the same idea. They just stood there, gazing up at it. It was empty of course. There was nothing to see.

They felled it the same week and sawed it up for firewood. 




Crows gather. 

They gather to forage and feed. To fight and to play. To roost and to sleep.

When I first saw the crowboy, I already knew we would gather ourselves to one another ... I think I knew they were waiting and I was waiting too.

We were both waiting. 


This scene consists of a prolonged movement sequence where the performer or performers transform into the Crowboy. This can be interpreted in any way the director or ensemble decide. 

As a guide, this movement sequence should last approximately 50 % the length of Scene I, so if Scene I lasts for 40 minutes, Scene II should last for 20 minutes.