Or, Revolution Up In Smoke


MISTER MARLBORO........Head of the Famed Flags of Flame
DOCTOR VITALE..............Health and Safety Agent of the State


The single scene takes place in a room for arresting and sanitizing officials in a society that is ruled by an oligarchy of scientists, artists, doctors and educators. They had to develop hard and fast rules to protect the people from themselves. The last and most difficult scourge to eliminate from their civilization was tobacco smoking. That is why this interrogation in front a live audience of witnesses, taped and broadcast, is the pivotal one. The infamous "Mister Marlboro" has finally been caught and brought to the Cleansing Room of Decision.

When the curtain opens the stage is dark. There is the sound of a door opening and the click of a light-switch and floodlight coming on. It lights only a man (who happens to be Mister Marlboro) sitting at a table which has only a soiled glass ashtray on it. There is another man standing, wearing a white lab-coat, who moves in and out of the ambient light. Suddenly the standing Doctor Vitale leans in close becoming lighted himself next to the "patient."

DOCTOR: Your smoke signals gave you away--- the lingering stench that could be be found out by someone with the worst adenoids on the planet. It not only poisons the body and the mind, (Picking up the ashtray and putting it close to Marlboro's face.) but the clean beauty of our perfect paradise. (Vitale's face changes from stern to kind while beginning to walk in circles around the table and Marlboro.) But, you know how we yearn to bring benevolence as well as justice to every individual, opportunity for a life term instead of death is offered -- be a spokesman for our way of life, by recanting the nicotine rebellion openly in front of millions!

MARLBORO: (Puts hand to his mouth with an imaginary cigar.) Eh, what's up Doc? Maybe you could also take smoke and blow it out your ass! I wouldn't be the mouthpiece for your antiquated, antiseptic, anti-liberty Atlantis. Even if I was dying of cancer, I would raise even higher the Tobacco Torch against Tyranny!

DOCTOR: Your incendiary pell mell Pall Mall philosophy, will be purged from our world. You think that liberty is uniquely your bell to ring.

MARLBORO: (Sings.) You can ring my bell......, ring my bell . (Shouts.) LSMFT, MF! (Starts singing) Winstons taste good like a cigarette should. ♫ (Emits calmly.) And they are mild.

DOCTOR: (Turning to face the audience.) I believe we've heard enough, esteemed ladies and gentlemen. This obstacle to the Oligarchy must be obliterated, obviously. (Swiveling toward the rebel.) Before the eradication procedure, do you have that obligatory last request?

MARLBORO: Yeah. (He looks lovingly at the ashtray.) Hot damn yeah, I'm dying for a cigarette!


NOTE: The play may be gender modified, naturally. Also, FYI, this was not funded by any tobacco company. I once smoked, but I quit. I enjoyed English Ovals and Players Navy Cut, ooh boy the combo of Virginia and Turkish tobaccos. I smoked a pipe, too. Love those Dunhill brands. But, when I was a big beer drinker, I became hooked on menthols. Then non-menthols tasted like soap, go figure. I recommend a course of action, too, that eventually phases out les fumes from your life. However, cigarettes should be treated like outdoor barbeque, in my opinion. Over-charbroiling meat can cause cancer, too. But, one wants to live now, too. Caveat Emptor.


A one-minute play for Gone in sixty seconds - A theatre quest

The PRISONER sits crumpled on the floor, almost broken but clinging to sanity through sheer force of will. The GUARD enters - a person with a cruel, vicious nature just barely concealed behind a veil of civility.

Guard: So, Prisoner Two-Four-Seven, do we find you in good spirits today?

Prisoner (automatically) : I didn't do it.

Guard: Yes, you said that on my last visit. And the one before that. And the one before THAT. You "didn't do it".

Prisoner: I didn't do it.

Guard (ignoring the prisoner): I don't want this session to be like our last. Look! (gestures) I haven't brought Citizen Jones and the... instruments.

Prisoner: I didn't do it.

Guard (ignoring the prisoner): I just want to talk, this time, Prisoner Two-Four-Seven. To talk about your crime and perhaps come to some kind of understanding.

There is a pause. A beat. Two beats. Is the prisoner considering what the guard has said, or just too dazed or drugged to respond? The guard looks expectant.

Prisoner: I didn't do it.

Guard (losing the thin veneer of patience maintained thus far): You're a PROBLEM, Prisoner Two-Four-Seven, did you know that? I can't have you killed because Our Glorious Leader has decreed that no-one is to be executed without a trial. I can't release you because that would mean you were wrongly arrested, and Our Glorious Leader is never wrong. I can't send you to trial because you won't admit your GUILT, and you ARE GUILTY, Prisoner Two-Four-Seven, because you were arrested on Our Glorious Leader's authority, and OUR GLORIOUS LEADER IS NEVER WRONG!

Prisoner: I didn't do it.

Guard (almost talking over the prisoner): Didn't do WHAT?

Prisoner: I didn't... I don't...

The prisoner loses focus and trails off for a second, but then focuses, the previous conviction returning.

Prisoner: I didn't do it.

The guard sneers.

Guard : I'll see you NEXT year.


What follows is my entry for TenMinJoe's Gone in Sixty Seconds - A Theatre Quest. It may seem a bit presumptuous of me to offer up yet another version of a myth that has already been treated in verse, drama, and interactive fiction by such grand masters as Ovid, George Bernard Shaw, and Emily Short (respectively). In my defence, I can say that (1) nobody will waste very much time by reading my version, which fits well within the parameters of TenMinJoe's one-min. shows, and (2) I actually wrote the first draft of this in 1996, somewhere over the North Atlantic on a British Airways flight from Birmingham to Toronto, and so it technically predates the work of at least one of my betters. It has never been published or performed before; in fact, it has languished in a spiral-bound notebook for eight years until opportunity knocked and I was inspired to tidy it up and post it here.

I have included my original suggestions as to costuming and lighting, for the sake of completeness, but I believe that the sketch can be successfully put on with the minimal resources described by TenMinJoe. After all, there is a long and noble tradition of playwrights demanding the impossible and directors somehow managing to deliver brilliant approximations thereof; and besides, it's not as if I'm calling for the onstage transmogrification of a poodle or some such.


by Waldemar Exkul

[Downstage left, the NARRATOR, a woman in modern clothing, lit by a neutral spotlight, stands in front of the proscenium. She is holding some notes. Slightly farther upstage and to the right, but not quite at the centre of the stage, GALATEA, a statue, stands frozen on a small pedestal. In fact she is an actress wearing a white bodysuit, and lit by a colder, bright white, tightly focused fresnel to give the impression that she is made of marble. Over the course of the narrator's speech, the light on GALATEA gradually fades from white to red. To GALATEA's left stands PYGMALION, a man in a toga, holding in one hand one of the tools of his art—a mallet or a chisel or a file; his other hand is empty. His face and hair are covered in fine white dust. He is lit by a weak yellowish light from the right. The NARRATOR speaks in a steady, measured voice, but she clutches her notes tightly, and we can see that her hands are trembling. As she speaks, PYGMALION and GALATEA perform the actions she describes.]

The sculptor stepped back to admire his work. As the sweat trickled down his dusty forehead, the statue on the pedestal was gradually transformed. The cold white marble softened and deepened into the gentle pink of living skin... and the glaring red of torn flesh. Clutching helplessly at her bleeding stomach and thighs, weighed down by the stone that still clung to her breasts, Galatea stumbled from the pedestal, gasping the first and last words of her brief life:
Good gods, Pygmalion! What did you think I looked like?

[GALATEA collapses on the floor. As PYGMALION starts to move his empty hand, the lights fade to black. The NARRATOR turns and walks out.]

Afterword: Classical Greek sculptors, as compared with, say, present-day American advertisers, had a much more realistic view of female beauty, so perhaps I am being a bit unfair to Piggy here. Still, even dear old Publius Ovidius Naso (not that he was faithful to his Greek sources) calls the sculptor a misogynist, one who "detest[ed] the faults beyond measure which nature has given to women" and aspired to do nature one better. (I can't really quote Ovid at will; that was cribbed from Edith Hamilton.) So perhaps the real Galatea would have bled in other places, but she would have bled nonetheless.

As an artist I have experienced both rejection and persecution from those who withhold the love which I require to survive. If I am therefore to wither and die, held under the water by those who would do me wrong, it is better to hang for a sheep than a lamb. Only my few remaining ties with the social morality which has caused me such pain prevents my declaration of war. I feel therefore compelled to submit an entry for Gone in sixty seconds - A theatre quest and this is it.

"The Ninth Planet"
Ashley Pomeroy
The cast consists of two men. Drink Man and Paper Man. Drink Man is mildly sozzled and has the best role. Paper Man is reading the paper.

The Situation:
Two men sitting on chairs, facing the audience.

The Minute:
Drink Man: Eh. Eh, excuse me fellow. Sir. I couldn't help but notice that you were reading the paper.

Paper Man: Yes, it's the Daily Telegraph. Boris Johnson is a very funny man.

Drink Man: D'you, ah, d'you happen to know anything about the planets, like?

Paper Man: The planets?

Drink Man: Yeah, you know, the celestial spheres. Great big spinning lumps of rock, and gas...

Paper Man: Well..

Drink Man: And asbestos. There's planets made out of asbestos, you know that? People can't go there because of the fibres, you know?

Paper Man: Right.

Drink Man: D'you know about Pluto?

Paper Man: The Disney character?

Drink Man: Eh?

Paper Man: He was Mickey Mouse's friend. I think he was meant to be a dog. Bit racist nowadays.

Drink Man: Eh? Pluto's the ninth planet. Ninth... out of nine. Last. Last and least.

Paper Man: I believe in France they call it 'Pluton' (said in exaggerated French; "plue-TON")

Drink Man: Eh?

Paper Man: Pluton! In France, they call it Pluton.

Drink Man: Eh?

Paper Man: Yes, it's where the plutonium comes from, Pluto. It's where all the weapons of mass destruction are hidden.

Drink Man: Really? Does NASA know about that?

Paper Man: Yes. I have the telephone number of NASA here if you want it, next to Andrew Marr.

Drink Man: We should blow it up.


The Last Dean Martin Roast

Or, The Roasting of The Christ

Scene: A Dean Martin-style celebrity roast. Five chairs are placed in a semi-circle. Seated from left: Don Rickles, Dean Martin, Jesus Christ, Phyllis Diller, and Telly Savalas. We join the roasting in progress.

Man, I'd like to have your head of hair when I'm 2000. But seriously, Who loves ya, baby? Other than billions of people? Thank you!

I just admire what you had to do in order to be here. I didn't know just how good fish and bread can taste, especially with all that wine!

Too bad Dino drank it all! Ha!

(confused as to his place among B-List celebrities of the Seventies):
Why am I here?

(Doing his Dino thing):
Why are you so uptight, Jesus? We're just trying to poke a little fun at you.

(Really upset; for Jesus, at least): You are nothing but a bunch of blasphemers!! Good Day! (Exits).

Lord, what was crawling up his keester? Satan was a MUCH better participant. Anyway, let's just roast myself! That's what happens every time, anyway!

Guests laugh, then Curtain

Subterranean Homesick Alien

There's an elevator. There are two people outside the elevator. It should be obvious that one is an alien -- Antennae on their head, HELLO I AM AN ALIEN hat, t-shirt that says I ABDUCTED AND ANALLY PROBED YOUR MOM AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS PAINFUL RASH, be creative. The other is not an alien.

They get in the elevator.

Guy: What floor?

Alien: What? I'm not an alien.

Guy: Uhh. Ok. What floor?

Alien: Oh. The roof.

The guy pushes the button. (A real button would be scandalously decadent. Pantomime, you fools!)

Alien: Not that I have to go the roof to use my amazing alien technology to summon horrible spacely doom upon your puny Earth city! Ho ho ho! That I can do from anywhere. I mean can't do. Right. Not an alien. I just... want to... eat the birds. FEED! FEED the birds.

The guy nods & smiles politely, trying to be quiet and thereby encourage the alien to shut up.

Alien: Yes indeed. Entirely non-alien people in this here elevator.

The door opens (Ok, no props, right? Can you swing some elevator door sound effects? Some people going "Shoosh" "Shoosh" a la Star Trek?) and the guy is about to get out. The alien leaps out first, shoving him back in. The guy is unfluttered, once more.

Alien: Hah! Not so fast!

Guy: This isn't the roof. This is the fourth floor.

The alien looks around wildly. Ham it up so much it hurts.

Alien: (looking back at the guy at last) ... I bet you think I'm going to shout "PENIS" and run away like a crazy alien, don't you? Human fool!

Guy: I was expecting it, yes.

Alien: Well it ain't gonna happen.

The Guy leaves the elevator.

Elevator Door: Shoosh.

Guy: Now you must take the stairs to the roof! You fool! Who is the puny Earthling now! Ahahaha!

Alien: Curses! If only I could use stairs! Why is it that the alien mortal enemies of humanity always have some fatal flaw?!


Ok, technically I suppose that last line doesn't count as wholly original. Fair use, though, eh?

Philosophical Faculty Redux

A brightly lit stage, 3 chairs in a triangle, 2 chairs form the hypotenuse facing the audience, the 3rd chair facing away from the audience behind the two front chairs, forming a triangle with a 90 degree angle pointing towards the back of the chair.

Enter 3 actors. Sex or race of the actors doesn't matter. They wear contemporary, casual clothing.

Actor1 sits (from the audience's view) on the right, Actor2 on the left, Actor3 sits with his back towards the audience on the middle chair.

The actors sit. The lights dim. There are 3 spots on the actors, directly from above.

  • Actor1 (who sits with his hands on his thighs, otherwards motionless, saying with a matter of fact voice):" I went to University. I chose a career in Law. Without the necessity of having any redeeming features, a devastating lack of empathy, an unnecessary thirst for power and an endless, cokefueled energy, I have made a fortune writing threatening letters. I feel good about myself and have no regrets about the choice of my career."

  • Actor2 (who has his arms folded over his chest and is just as confident and motionless as actor1): "I went to University. I chose a career in medicine. Without the necessity of having any redeeming features, a devastating lack of empathy, an unnecessay thirst for power, I am now a registrar in Accident and Emergency medicine. I see ca 70 patients a day. Most of them are socially deprived, drunk or full of drugs and are obnoxius and violent towards me and my staff, but that's cool. After my shift, I relax with my colleagues and a gaggle of hot nurses in my pub and get legless on a mixture of lager and vodka. I feel good about myself and have no regrets about the choice of my career."

  • Actor3 (who has his hands over his face in a gesture of hopelessness and is leaning forward): "I went to university. I chose a career in the humanities. With a great circle of friends at school, a feel for the written word and a thirst for knowledge, I studied linguistics, modernist literature and theatre studies. I excelled at university and now work at the local McDonald's during the day and drive a taxi at night. In my spare time, I write poetry. I don't have any money left for the pub and don't go out due to a lack of funds. There is nothing in my life worth living for. I don't know if I want to continue to live".

  • Actor 1 + 2,standing up, facing actor 3 and saying in unisono, with disgust: "Fucking Loser"

Lights out.

The end.

Proof of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem For Dummies

A man and woman stand on stage, with a third person standing between them, mouth open.

MAN: Behold! My newest invention! The Turing Recursive Universal Examiner 6000-B!
WOMAN (unimpressed): Sliced bread, look out.
MAN: Hush! The TRUE6000 is very sensitive to sarcasm. It analyzes statements for truth. Watch, I'll demonstrate how it works.

The man grabs a firm hold of the middle person's left ear, and the person's mouth shuts.

MAN (very loudly and well-enunciated): Abraham Lincoln died in 1865.
TRUE6000 (robotically): This statement is ... true. (mouth remains open)

The man beams proudly at his creation.

WOMAN: Here, let me try.

The woman grabs his right ear, and the mouth again closes.

WOMAN: I am a man.
TRUE6000: This statement is ... false. (mouth open)
MAN: Glad we cleared that up!
WOMAN (ignoring man and grabbing ear again): The first man on the moon was Neil Armstrong.
TRUE6000: This statement is ... true.
WOMAN (giggling): I'm beginning to like this guy!
TRUE6000: This statement is ... true.
WOMAN: Wait a minute .. I've got a great idea!
TRUE6000: This statement is ... false.
WOMAN (pause): "The TRUE6000 will never say this statement is true."

The robot begins whirring, endlessly, louder and louder, then finally crackles, pops, and shuts down.

MAN: But I don't understand! You broke it!
WOMAN: Pretty simple paradox. If it says it's true, then it's contradicting the statement. If it says it's false, then it's just lying to itself.
MAN: That may be true, but if it never blew up, it would never answer, and then the statement would be true: he never would say it was true!
WOMAN (patting man on the back): That's why we came down out of the trees.
MAN: To blow up robots with riddles?
WOMAN: To examine the gap between proof and truth!
MAN: Oh. Fair enough. So, fancy some coffee?
WOMAN (imitating TRUE6000): This statement is true.

Exit all.

The One Millionth Customer

A man walks into a building, and up to a woman behind a counter, smiling pleasantly, apparently waiting for business.

MAN: Hi, um, yes, I'd uhh .. er, like one of the ..
WOMAN: The usual, eh?
MAN: I .. I guess so, if that's what you call it.

Suddenly, a bunch of appreciative women run out on stage, clapping and cheering in a joyful celebration.

WOMAN: Well, what do we have here? Congratulations, sir, you're the bordello's one millionth customer!
MAN; One .. one millionth?
WOMAN (ignoring man): Ahh, it's like my old madam told me: you ain't nobody till your first million.
MAN (in slight horror): Oh dear God. You mean to tell me there's been nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine blokes here before me?
WOMAN: Well, it's certainly not like you're the first!

The girls all giggle knowingly.

WOMAN: Now quick, say cheese! We're running a full page ad in one of the local trades!

One girl takes a quick picture of the shocked gentleman.

WOMAN: So what'll it be now? The usual, you said?
MAN (still clearly disturbed): Oh, sweet Jesus, but .. a million .. how can I enjoy it now?
WOMAN: Oh, well this one's on the house, dearie.
MAN (suddenly changing to a very reasonable gentleman): Oh, right. Can I get a tag team then?
WOMAN: Did you hear that girls? We just got our million and first customer, too!

Wild applause, exit all to pleasures unknown.

The Encyclopedia

Man and woman are sitting at a table, eating dinner. We enter mid-conversation.

WOMAN: ...So really ambergris is really whale intestinal gunk. And we put it in our perfume!

The man pauses briefly and shudders, then resumes eating.

WOMAN: And also I read today that James Garfield was ambidextrous and could write in Greek in one hand and Latin in the other at the same time! Also ..
MAN: Ahem! Some of us are trying to eat here?

Woman's eyes narrow ever so slightly.

WOMAN (continuing with a hint of anger): I also read a lovely poem today by Poe, Annabel Lee, have you ever read it? Oh, and a fabulous article about that wine of his, Amontillado. Amazing stuff! Speaking of that, did you know that the word amaze comes from the Swedish word masa meaning lazy?
MAN (exasperated): No, and if I'd known you were going to read that bloody encyclopedia from cover to cover, I never would've bought it! Abacuses, Africa, ambergris, how long will it take you to finish the damn things? I mean, really, where are you!?

Suddenly, the man stops. He begins to choke, gags violently, and collapses to the floor, dead.

WOMAN: Funny you should mention that. I stopped on 'Arsenic', just in time for dinner.

Woman grabbing imaginary book for a read.

WOMAN: What's next? Oo, Arson! We'll simply have to give this one a go now, won't we, dear? ...

Emotional Rollercoaster

Six chairs are arranged side by side and three deep center stage. Four people are sitting in the back four chairs. The front two chairs are empty. From stage left, a woman enters, while from stage right, a man enters. They both sit down.

MAN: So ... what's your name?
WOMAN: Katrina, yours?
MAN: I'm Anthony.

The two people in the very rear begin simulating the noises a roller coaster makes as it begins its way up a hill. The middle two laugh quietly. All six begin to lean back in unison.

MAN: So, our first date.
WOMAN (shyly): Yeah. Exciting.

A brief, awkward pause as the two stare at each other.

MAN: I'm sorry! I was just caught up in your .. in your eyes.
WOMAN: Oh, the feeling is completely mutual.

The six continue to lean back more and more, the noises begin to slow down. The noise comes to a complete stop, the people straighten out, and one second later (comic timing essential) one of the middle two "passengers" puts their arms up, awaiting the impending plunge. Suddenly, the two in the back made a loud whooshing noise imitating the roller coaster descending, and all six lean backward, reacting to the ride. The middle two hoot and holler accordingly.

MAN (yelling over the others): This can't be real! I've only known you for two months, but I feel like I've known you all my life!
WOMAN: I know what you mean! It's crazy, but I think I love you!
MAN: I love you, too!

The roller coaster continues its bumpy ride, curving left and right and going over a few more hills (the wilder the better). All six people react appropriately.

MAN: I'm sorry I didn't call! Work as usual!
WOMAN (feigning happiness): It's okay, I guess! I understand!

The ride now slows, and once again the two in the back begin making the noises of a rising hill. The slow leaning back resumes.

MAN: Look, I don't see what the big deal is, I have to work late, and she's my assistant!
WOMAN: What about the flowers. Tony?!
MAN: Quit overanalyzing everything!
WOMAN: And the phone calls ...? Besides, it's not like you're going anywhere in that dead end office.
MAN: Why are you trying to hurt me?

Once again, they've reached the top. They take the plunge.

MAN: Look, I don't think this is working out!
WOMAN: Fine! Run to your little girlfriend! Run away!
MAN: Don't blame this on me! You smothered me!
WOMAN: Well, you won't worry about that anymore! We're through!

Ride finishes the plunge and comes to an abrupt stop. Man and woman get out of their chairs and walk off stage.

MAN IN SECOND ROW (softly): Whoo! Again, again!

Heaven is a Dance Party

Three people are on stage, dancing idly, and more generally mingling about, chatting. One of the men on stage is bent backwards as obscenely as possible. One woman enters stage left and begins weaving her way through an imaginary crowd.

WOMAN: Excuse me, excuse me ...

The woman arrives at the other people on stage.

MAN: Hey! New to the party?
WOMAN: I .. I guess so. Where am I? One minute I was driving to work, and now I'm here. Is this a dream?
MAN: Well ... not quite: welcome to heaven, here's your party hat!

The man straps on the party hat to her with a firm snap, then blows a party favor at her.

WOMAN: Heaven? But, I thought .. you know, harps and Pearly Gates and halos ..
MAN: Pssh. This is the 21st century. We got a reprieve from all of that cherub choir stuff. So the Big Guy built us these pin heads for us socialites.
WOMAN: Huh. So, how many of us can fit on here?
MAN: 300. Fire code. So, you wanna dance?
WOMAN: Well ..
MAN: C'mon!

Man grabs woman and they begin to dance an exaggerated tango, spins and dips included. The woman is tense at first, but begins to enjoy herself.

WOMAN (pointing to the bent over men): So what's up with that guy?
MAN: Leroy? Oh, he just got out of limbo last week.
WOMAN: And what about all the people in my carpool? Did they all make it up here?
MAN: I'm sure they did ...

Two people, a man and a woman, enter stage right and stand off from the group.

WOMAN: Where ... where am I?
MAN: Welcome to Circles of Hell Mud Wrestling! "Abandon all soap, ye who enter here!" Just kidding, folks, but seriously, here's your hairnet and your jumpsuit. First match in thirty minutes! Let's have a good clean fight! Ha! I kill myself!

The Case of 219 Baker street

Two men are dragging another MAN off the stage as two other men remain on stage, watching the proceedings.

MAN: You'll be sorry, Holmes! Mark my words!

(Exit Man, followed by a brief pause.)

DR. WATSON: Well, you've done it again, my dear Holmes. Tell me, how did you know that our next-door neighbor Mr. Haverston, was in fact Terry Staterbridge, the famed Shropshire Slasher?
HOLMES: Why, elementary, my dear Watson: Haverston isn't Staterbridge at all.

(Watson does a classic double take.)

WATSON: What did you say? 'Not Staterbridge at all"?
HOLMES: Of course not, don't be silly.
WATSON: But, but you just gave all of that information to the policemen, proving that no one but Haverston could've done it? The German stopwatch, the monocle, the shoe polish!

(Brief pause.)

HOLMES: Made it all up.
WATSON: Made it all up!? But why!?
HOLMES: To be honest, he was a perfectly awful neighbor.
WATSON: Awful neighbor? What the devil do you mean?
HOLMES: Well, he's got that yippy dog that won't ever shut up when I'm practicing my violin. And remember that one time he borrowed my deer-stalker cap? Said it was for a party. I haven't seen it since!
WATSON: And so you framed him for a crime he didn't commit?
HOLMES: Well, really, Watson, it's not like he didn't deserve this, the way he's been acting lately.
WATSON: Didn't deserve it? What about the REAL Shropshire Slasher, what does he deserve?
HOLMES: Hmm. Hadn't thought about that.
WATSON: I'd thought not.

(Holmes contemplates briefly, smoking his imaginary pipe.)

HOLMES: Well, only one thing to do.
WATSON: Go tell the police what you've done?
HOLMES: Heavens, no! Do I look the fool? We must find the real Shropshire Slasher, kill him, and hide the body, before the police suspect something. Quickly, Watson, grab my jacket! The game's afoot!
(Exit Holmes, with Watson left standing in abject silence.)

I imagine a bit of the Monty Python flair will sell this one well. For TenMinJoe's Gone in Sixty Seconds - A Theater Quest. In my three timings (and reading somewhat quickly), I got about 72 seconds. I hope it can make the cut, I figured I'd let you be the editor, TMJ.

The promise

A middle-aged MAN and a WOMAN, both well-dressed, stand in front of an iconic monument – The Eiffel Tower, The Statue of Liberty, The Leaning Tower of Pisa – any identifiable landmark you can project behind them (Alternatively, you can announce "Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower" at the beginning. They are both holding red roses or similar. (If at all possible, both characters should speak with upper-class English accents.)

Woman: So. You came.

Man: Of course I came. Did you think I would forget?

Woman: Well, it has been a long time.

Man: A very long time, yes.

Woman: (smiling) I should have known you'd never break a promise.

Man: You, more than anyone.

Woman: If only things had been different

Man: (sighs) If only.

Woman: Did you marry her, that girl?

Man: I did. We have seven children now. And a labrador.

Woman: And are you happy?

Man: Almost. Sometimes. But never completely. How could I be completely happy without you? And you? What has your life been?

Woman: I married a wonderful man, a barrister. We have two lovely children and (she falls silent)

Man: And?

Woman: (clutching the rose to her heart) and my life has been a barren, aching dessert of loneliness without you!

The MAN grabs the WOMAN'S shoulders, pulls her close, and kisses her briefly, but passionately.

Man: I should never have left you!

Woman: Oh Charles, Charles! Think of all the years we've wasted!

Man: (stepping back) But… My name is Nigel!

They look at each other

Unison: Um… terribly sorry…. mistook you for someone else.

They back away towards opposite sides of the stage.

My Last Verse

(MAN is sitting at his desk writing. He gets up, walks over to his bed, and lies down. NINA enters and pulls his blanket up to his shoulders, then sees what he has been writing. She approaches the desk, and sits down to read the paper.)

NINA: Through my life I have been a voice not my own. I have created words for those who had none, but to the extent of not leaving any for me. I have been a scribe, recording the marvels of someone else’s history, and I left my story untold. When I have turned to ash, the only mark of my life will be that which I have lent to others. So, let this single page show my soul. The voice I give it is my own. And though I am no longer here, it will speak loud and clear the things I could never say. For when I consider all of the things I could never give to you, I am saddened. But I believe I can find happiness in leaving you with this, my last verse.

(MAN’s body lets out a last sigh and settles. NINA places the paper in her pocket, approaches the man, and places her hand on his. WOMAN enters and stares at the two.)

WOMAN: So, am I a widow yet?

NINA: Yes ma’am.

WOMAN: Good. Oh and Nina, make sure that the cleaners air out this room when they are done. It stinks in here.

NINA: Yes ma’am.

(WOMAN exits. Nina leans over and kisses MAN on the cheek. NINA exits.)

Pause for Dramatic Effect

(The General enters. Pauses for ten seconds.)

GENERAL: Brothers!

(Twenty second pause.)

GENERAL: We will fight!

(Twenty second pause.)

GENERAL: For freedom!

(The General exits.)

Where is the Punch Line?

(Two men sitting at a table in a bar. There is a small stage up front, with a man performing a play.)

Man number one: Why did you bring me here?

Man number two: I told you it’s funny.

Man number one: What’s funny about it? This guy just keeps going on and on about nothing.

Man number two: Shh, you’ll miss it. This show is great.

Man number one: It’s not funny. He’s not telling any jokes. Where’s the punch line?

Man number two: Don’t worry it’s coming.

Man number one : Where? There isn’t anything funny about this. Aw geez, now he is making out with some lady. What is supposed to be funny about this? (He pauses for a moment staring at scene.) Wait, that’s my wife!

Man number two: Now that, my friend, is the punchline.

Egg Synthesis

Scene is a bar

Man is sitting in at the bar, writing furiously on a napkin; the is bartender serving drinks. There is an empty barstool to the right of the man

A woman enters stage right

Woman: Hey hot stuff, wanna buy me a drink?

Man doesn’t look up from his work

Man: Er...

Woman sits down
Man is still working

W: What’s your name?
M: ...George

A pause, man is still working

W: My name is Angela
M: Oh...
W: What are you working on?

Man gets excited and starts talking rapidly to the woman

M: Well, everyone says they are good at making eggs, right?
W: Ye-
M: I mean, eggs, they are incredibly easy to cook, except maybe eggs hollandaise, but scrambled eggs, come on!
W: Well, even my ex-boyfriend could make scrambled eggs
M: Uh right, well the thing is, people don't make eggs; chickens do. This will change with egg synthesis!

Man stands up, holds out his hands, as if looking towards the future

W: What do you mean?
M: I mean, I'm working on a way to artificially create an egg!
W: Have you got it up and running yet?

Woman raises eyebrows seductivly

M: I'm still working on it. The hardest part is pouring the shell, it doesn't dry properly; it just remains opaque sticky goo..
W: Well you know, I have an egg you could try pouring your sticky goo on.

Woman puts hand on man's knee, man ignores her

M: No no, I wouldn't want to ruin your egg. Every time I pour a shell, green slime always emits from the egg and it develops a crusty surface. My sticky goo needs a different mixture of bacteria

Woman looks disgusted

W: To think, I was going to fuck you...

Einstein's Last Words

An OneMinPlay for TenMinJoe's quest.

Dramatis Personae:
Two Scientists

The most important equipment for this play is a machine that can play some sort of recorded device (stereo, answering machine, Victrola), and a recorded device of the same medium with some generic German phrase recorded on it. It would be nice if this device could be put on one or two chairs to create a 'table' of sorts. If such a device is not available, put two chairs together and use an imaginary stereo, with a good deal of miming. Obviously, this would be a last resort. Chairs for the reporters are also optional, but desirable.


(Scene opens. The two Scientists and Translator are standing beside the playing device, with the Reporters (as many as there are available people) conglomerated nearby, sitting if possible. Scientist 1 is in the middle of a speech.)

Scientist 1: ...and so after rigorous testing of the chronophone (gestures towards device), all of us down at the University decided that there could be no better way to showcase it to the public than by finally discovering the meaning of Einstein's last words. As we all know, his last line on Earth was in German, but sadly, his English-speaking nurse could not understand him. So the world never knew... until now. I would like to thank all of our reporters and the esteemed German Chancellor (gestures to Translator) for arriving on such short notice. Let's begin.

(Scientist 2 activates the device. Faintly, a voice can be heard speaking something in German before the chronophone fades back into complete static. The Reporters begin to murmur, and the Translator is shocked. The tape continues to play through the following lines.)

Reporter: (shouting, startled) Mein Gott! (faints)

{The Translator, pale, whispers something into Scientist 2's ear.)

Scientist 1: Well, what did he have to say? Come, come, spit it out!

(Scientist 2 whispers a few words to Scientist 1. Scientist 1 is taken aback.)

Scientist 1: (shakily, softly, a bit stunned) ...And the... the future returns your greetings, Mr. Einstein... (Pause.) but how, how did you know?

(Scientist 1 stares blankly at the device, which continues to play static. The curtain falls.)

Thanks to Stephen Baxter & Arthur C. Clarke for inspiration.

What you wouldn't do

Interrogator: Do you realize what you did?
Prisoner: Yes, for the 100th fucking time, yes. Do you think the memory wasn't burned bright in my head? And then I get reminded of it every fucking day? By you self-righteous fuckers? And the magazines?
Interrogator: But how could you do these things?
Prisoner: You keep on asking that question, and in fact, I know the next question you are going to ask. It's about the eyes, isn't it?
Interrogator: Yes, it is. I want to know how you could put aside human feeling and do something so wrong, and so disgusting.
Prisoner: Well, here's an answer, since you are so curious. Then maybe you can stop asking. The first answer is, you weren't there. You don't understand the hate that was there, and how we were treated. But the real answer is: you know about the fireman who rushes into the burning building to rescue the baby? You know the soldier who goes out into no-man's land to rescue his comrade? I was the second. And I rescued children, too. I did lots of things that you are called heroes for because you won the war. I lost, so I am remembered for putting out people's eyes with a knife. Yeah, I did it. And do you know why? Because there comes a point when you can do things you wouldn't normally do. Sometimes they are good. Sometimes they are bad. But at the time, they just happen. I don't suppose you would understand.
Interrogator: ...
Prisoner: Yeah, I thought so. I am not answering any more questions.

Please Try Again

(a one minute play for the Gone in Sixty Seconds theatre quest)

By J. O'Bedlam

[A MAN, dusty and bedraggled, staggers onstage. He lurches about, looking frantically for something only he knows. Suddenly, he stops and falls to his knees. He claws at the floor, “digging.”
After some time, he finally succeeds in wresting loose a small box. With an almost reverent look on his face, he lifts the lid. A piece of parchment lies inside. Squinting at it carefully, he begins to read.

MAN: Sorry, (pause) you are not a winner. (pause) Please—try… aga—

[The MAN closes his eyes and starts beating his hands against his head. ]

Two one-minute play for Gone in Sixty Seconds - A Theatre Quest

NOTE: Details are given to give the play a feeling of completeness. If some ideas are not feasible, either due to time-constraints or lack of materials, they may be changed as seen fit. Remember that they are only suggestions and you have the final say on what appears on stage.

In each play, there are 2 main characters, the GENIE and the MAN, the latter being the one who makes the wishes. The GENIE is wearing baggy, colorful clothing, and appears and disappears in a puff of smoke. The GENIE’s bottle is colorful and shiny, so that it is noticeable onstage. Most of the action takes place center stage, unless specified otherwise.

The Third Wish

Both the MAN and the GENIE are standing onstage, the MAN closer to stage right, and the GENIE closer to stage left. The MAN is holding the GENIE’s bottle in his hand, but looks quite confused at the sight of the GENIE before him.

GENIE: All right. You have just one more wish left. Wish wisely.

MAN: Pardon me? (looks at the bottle in his hand, then back at the GENIE) I don’t seem to understand.

GENIE: (sighs) You rubbed the lamp, releasing me from a thousand years of imprisonment. I am bound to repay that favor by granting you three wishes. Your second wish was to restore things to how they used to be before you made your first wish. This is why you have no memory of these things.

MAN: Oh, NOW I understand. (begins to rub his chin in thought) So…I have one more wish remaining, correct?

GENIE: Yes, Master, that is correct. And remember, you may not wish for more wishes.

MAN: Then I should really make this one count, shouldn’t I?

GENIE: (exasperated and annoyed) Yes, and can we please move things along? I don’t have all day to stand around and chat, you know.

MAN: (stops rubbing chin and raises hand with index finger extended in excitement, while shouting his third wish) I’VE GOT IT! I WISH THAT I WAS IRRESISTIBLE TO WOMEN! (a broad smile appears on the MAN’s face)

GENIE: Your wish is my command, Master. It shall be so. (bows deeply) I shall now be taking my leave. (turns to leave stage left)

MAN: WAIT! (rushes forward to stop the GENIE before he leaves) Before you go, you have to tell me one thing. What was my first wish – the one I asked you to reverse?

GENIE: (turns to face the MAN) Your first wish? Your first wish was identical to your third. (turns to leave, and disappears in a puff of smoke)

Curtains Fall

Even Some Wishes Are Impossible to Grant

A MAN is walking casually from stage right to stage left as if he is going for a night stroll along the beach, staring up at the stars and the like.

MAN: It sure is a lovely, English night.

At about center stage, he bumps into a GENIE’s bottle barely above the sand and almost trips over it.

MAN: I almost broke my neck due to this thing. I wonder what it is… (turns to face the direction of the bottle and where he came from, stage right, removes the bottle from the ground, turns it over in his hands, and starts to rub it clean) It seems a bit dirty. Let me clean it up a bit…

Suddenly, in a puff of smoke, the GENIE appears onstage from stage right

GENIE: For your kindness of releasing me, I will grant you one wish, and one wish only.

MAN: (pauses a few seconds to think) Well, I have always wanted to go to New York, but have never been able to do so because I’m afraid of flying, and ships make me claustrophobic and ill. So, I wish for a bridge to be built from here to New York.

GENIE: (hesitates to contemplate the MAN’s wish) No, I don’t think that I can do that. Just think of all the work involved with building such a thing. The pilings needed to hold up the highway would be immense, and imagine how deep they would have to be to reach the bottom of the ocean. Consider all the concrete that would be needed, not to mention the surfacing, drainage systems, lighting … No, that is TOO much to ask.

MAN: (dwells upon this shortly) There is one other thing that I have always wanted. I would like to be able to understand women. What makes them laugh and cry, why they are temperamental, and why they are so difficult to get along with? Basically, what makes them tick?

GENIE: (pauses and rubs chin while considering this request, finally responding in a defeated manner) So, do you want two lanes or four?

Curtains Fall

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