Category Archives: Plays

Breaking Point

The Literary Yard, (India) published my one act play, ‘Breaking Point’.

Breaking Point

(a one-act play)


Gary Beck


Scene 1            (The kitchen of the Rawlins, a blue-collar family struggling to make ends meet in the economic downturn. The apartment is low-income. Enter Fred, carrying laptop, logged onto a site. He starts to take out breakfast bowls, but is drawn back to the computer. He sits and continues to participate in a chat room. Enter his wife, Myra.)

 Myra:               Why isn’t breakfast ready? You know I have to get to the warehouse on time. I’m on first warning. You know what that means, don’t you? One more lateness and my job is at risk. They’ll fire me if there’s a third incident. Hundreds of people are desperate for work, eager to replace me, and the boss knows that. If we lose my income we won’t even be able to afford this place…. We already lost our home because you couldn’t find a job after being laid off at the factory….You’ve got to find something. Anything. Or we’ll be homeless. Then it’ll either be the streets or a shelter. (He hasn’t looked up from his screen.) Are you listening to me? (She goes to his computer, which he quickly shuts down.) Are you watching porn? I don’t know what you’re doing, but you could at least pretend you care about what happens to us and wait until we’re out of the house to look at that fifth…. I’m going to finish getting ready for work. Put out breakfast. (Exit Myra. Fred puts out bowls, utensils, cereal, milk. Enter daughter, Penny.)

 Penny:             Is this all there is to eat? Didn’t you go shopping? I know Mom left money for you to buy food. What happened to it? I know you don’t drink or use drugs. Did you blow it at a strip club? (He ignores her.) It would be real nice to have eggs for a change, if that’s not too much trouble. Even frozen waffles would do. (She looks at the cereal box.) You could at least get something that’s not all sugar and chemical junk. (Penny flounces out. He sits in front of the computer, but doesn’t turn it on. Enter son, Herbert. He inspects the table.) 

Herbert:           Did you ever think of cooking something like bacon, or sausages? You              could make toast and we could have it with butter and jam, if we had butter and jam…. Between school and the team I burn up a lot of energy. I need to eat good, solid food…. You don’t even listen anymore. (Herbert storms out. Fred sits staring at the blank screen. Enter Myra.)

Myra:               You could at least have poured out the cereal. It’s not as if you have anything else to do. (She stands there indecisively. Enter Penny.)

 Penny:             When my training period at the insurance company is over and I actually go on salary, I’ll pick up breakfast at McDonalds. That way I won’t have to go through this struggle to get something to eat every morning. 

Myra:               We’ll be able to afford it then. I’ll do it with you. (Enter Herbert.)

 Herbert:           Do what?

 Penny:             We just decided we’ll get breakfast at McDonalds every morning, just as soon as I start getting paid.

 Herbert:           Does that include me, sister dear?

 Penny:             Sure.  You’ll just have to be ready to go with us in the morning.

 Herbert:           I can do that. It’ll be fun to do something together…. Did you hear that, Dad? Like we’re a family. You seem to have forgotten that. 

Penny:             Don’t waste your time talking to him. He’s in another world and couldn’t care less about what we need. 

Herbert:           What do you think’s wrong with him, Mom?

 Myra:               How do I know. I’m not a psychiatrist. When the japs first built the factory he used to rave about how efficient they were.  As soon as they laid off all the workers and replaced them with robots, he went into his shell.

 Penny:             Don’t they need people anymore?

Herbert:           Not since robots became cheaper and more reliable. We just studied them in Economics 101. Robots don’t go on strike. They don’t need health plans and they don’t get pensions. The bosses make more money now that they don’t have to deal with a union. Humans are obsolete in a modern factory.

 Penny:             Didn’t they promise to keep all the workers employed when they first opened the factory?

 Herbert:           Yeah. But that was then, when they needed the support of the state and the community. Now that they’re established here, things are different. They modernized the factory and it’s completely automated. They probably only need one guy to press the start button. As long as they make money for their stock-holders they don’t care what happens to the workers. The economic downturn gave them an excuse to lay off the workers.

 Penny:             You’d think Dad’d be angry at the Japs and blame them for his problems, curse them out or something. But he just sits around like a vegetable.

 Herbert:           There’s a name for that in psychology…. But I forget what it is.

 Myra:               If you kids want a ride, get ready, cause I’ve got to leave.  You can continue your discussion about the man who isn’t there when we’re in     the car. (Exit Myra, Penny, Herbert. Fred sits quietly, as the others noisily get ready to leave. Penny, offstage, mockingly calls: ‘Goodbye, Mr. Turnip’. Door slams offstage. A moment later Fred turns on the computer. Starts to mumble.)

 Fred:                So they want me to go shopping and do things for them… I’ll do something special for them. First I’ll visit Myra at the warehouse and show her how I care. Then I’ll drop in on Herbert at school, just to be sure he’s got his nose in his books. I’ll save Penny for last and stop by and see her at the insurance company. (He gets up, goes to a cabinet, reaches inside, fumbles around, then takes out a box wrapped in paper. Goes back to the table. Unwraps box. Takes out a pistol and a box of ammunition. Sings.) This is my pistol. This is my friend. It’ll deliver the message I send. (He starts to load pistol.) One for Myra, my dear wife. One for Herbert, my respectful son. Two for my bad Penny, my appreciative daughter. (He cackles chillingly. Does a little dance.) Nobody needs pennies anymore. (Laughs. Starts to leave, turns back and takes box of ammo.) I may as well bring enough for their friends and co-workers. (Exit.)

Art is Long

Art is Long, a one-act play that had a staged reading at Sidewalks Theater.

Art Is Long

(An art gallery with modern masters and contemporaries.  A spring day.  The general atmosphere will intimidate the insecure.  Enter Tony and Evie Piscotta, who have recently inherited a large sum of money.  Evie is introducing them to culture.)

Tony:    You sure it’s all right to just walk in?

Evie:    Of course, silly.  It’s open to the public.

Tony:    There’s nobody else here.

Evie:    This is an exclusive gallery.  They don’t get lots of people.

Tony:    What if they don’t want us?

Evie:    Anybody can come in.

Tony:    Even a homeless guy off the street?

Evie:    That’s not what I meant and you know it.  Now don’t be difficult.

Tony:    I don’t see why I had to come here.  I don’t know shit from shingles about art.  I feel uncomfortable in this kind of place.

Evie:    There’s no need to be nervous.  I know what I’m doing.  This won’t take long and you promised to come with me.  If we’re going to buy paintings for the new house, it could cost lots of money.  I want you making all the decisions with me, so there’s no argument later.

Tony:    How many times did I tell you there won’t be any argument.

Evie:    That’s what you say now, but later it’ll be different, especially if you don’t like what I pick.  Anything we buy we’ll pick together.

Tony:    What if you like something and I don’t?

Evie:    We’ll discuss it.  I’m sure good taste will prevail.

Tony:    Did we have to come to this place?  There must be other galleries that aren’t as snooty.

Evie:    This gallery has an excellent reputation and that’s very important, because a lot of the galleries aren’t honest.

Tony:    What do you mean?

Evie:    Some of them sell fake paintings.

Tony:    So you sue them, or have them arrested.

Evie:    Do you want to spend the next three years in court, while the lawyers get rich at our expense?  Besides, what if you don’t know?

Tony:    Know what?

Evie:    That you bought a fake painting.

Tony:    Can’t you tell if it’s fake?

Evie:    Not always.

Tony:    So you take it to an expert.

Evie:    Sometimes they can’t tell.

Tony:    So you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  They’ll tell you if it’s fake or not.

Evie:    Even they don’t know sometimes.

Tony:    I don’t believe this.  You’re telling me that those longhairs at the Metropolitan Museum can’t tell the real thing from a phony?

Evie:    That’s right.

Tony:    Then who does?

Evie:    There’s no one who always knows.  But there’s one way to tell.

Tony:    How?

Evie:    If the painting has the right papers.

Tony:    You mean like a pedigreed dog?

Evie:    That’s right.  For a painting it’s called provenance.

Tony:    What?

Evie:    Provenance.

Tony:    Why can’t some sharp operators fake those?

Evie:    They do.  That’s why it’s so important to go to the right gallery, where they check all those things before they sell a painting.

Tony:    How do they know, if nobody knows for sure?

Evie:    That’s their business.  They check back all the way to when it was first painted, and they get proof where it was before they got it.

Tony:    You’re saying they trace it back to where it was till they got it?
Evie:    That’s right.

Tony:    How do you know somebody didn’t pull the old switcheroo, when it was supposed to be sitting in Lord Woodpecker’s castle?

Evie:    That’s what they check.

Tony:    But you just told me nobody could tell for sure if a painting was fake or not, right?

Evie:    Yes.

Tony:    So if some guy painted a fake Michelangelo and snuck in to the castle and switched it for the real one, how can you tell?

Evie:    It doesn’t happen that way.

Tony:    Why not?  If nobody knows the difference between the real stuff and the fake stuff, what stops them from selling fakes?

Evie:    That’s why you go to a reputable gallery.  Their business depends on being reliable.  If people thought they couldn’t be trusted, no one would buy anything from them.

Tony:    You’re telling me we should trust somebody we never met before to sell us a real painting, for a lot of money, and there’s no way we can be sure it’s real?

Evie:    You’re twisting everything I’m saying.  Now stop being difficult and lets look at paintings.  That’s what we came here for.

Tony:    I’m just trying to figure out how to protect our money.

Evie:    We’ll talk about it later, if we want to buy anything.  Look at this painting.  It’s by Chagall. . . .

Tony:    He must of been drunk when he made it.

Evie:    Why?

Tony:    The cow’s purple.  Nobody paints a purple cow if they’re sober.  And who ever saw a cow with wings, except in a fairy tale.

Evie:    He paints what he sees with his artistic vision.

Tony:    How much does this flying hamburger factory cost?

Evie:    I don’t know exactly, but I’d guess around a hundred and fifty thousand.

Tony:    A hundred and fifty thousand what?  Meat patties?

Evie:    Dollars.

Tony:     Are you out of your mind?

Evie:    Why?

Tony:    Do you think anyone with his lid screwed on would spend that kind of money on a purple cow, that looks like it was painted by my six year old nephew?

Evie:    I don’t expect you to understand everything about art right away, but I wish you’d refrain from those vulgar remarks.  They show your ignorance.

Tony:    I’m the same guy I was yesterday.

Evie:    That’s what I’m afraid of.

Tony:    What do you mean by that?

Evie:     You know.

Tony:     If I knew, why would I ask?

Evie:    I know you’d like to make me uncomfortable, so I’ll leave the gallery.

Tony:    I wouldn’t do that, honey.

Evie:    You’ve already done it at the Ballet, the opera, the Honneger Concert. . . .

Tony:    Was that the one where those guys were blowing whistles and banging on garbage cans?  It sounded like cats fighting in the tin man’s underwear.

Evie:    I didn’t think you’d understand atonal music, but you could at least try to appreciate the modern masters.

Tony:    That squeaking?  You gotta be kidding.

Evie:    You promised to try new cultural experiences.

Tony:    I thought you meant going to see “Phantom of the Opera” or “Cats.”

Evie:    I told you that some of the events would be a little difficult to get used to. . .

Tony:    That’s a laugh.  The Russians could brainwash anybody with those tortures.

Evie:    That’s not fair.  I was doing it for us. . .   So we could get more out of life. . . . and you turn it into something horrible, as if I wanted to punish you.

Tony:    Aw, come on, hon.

Evie:    I was trying to broaden your cultural horizons, so you’d be more confident when you meet new people. . . .

Tony:    I didn’t mean to upset you.  Take it easy.  If this is what makes you happy, I’ll go wherever you like.  Okay? …Now let’s look at some pictures.

Evie:    I never said that I wanted to buy that Chagall.  I just wanted to learn about it.  I know another gallery where we can get some really nice pictures for a few hundred dollars each.

Tony:    That sounds more like it.

Evie:    We’ll go tomorrow and buy enough pictures for the whole house.

Tony:    I always wanted some sports pictures, you know, like two football teams playing each other in the mud or snow.  Everybody cold, wet, filthy….

Evie:    I think we want something more elevated.

Tony:    Why don’t we talk about it over dinner?

Evie:    Alright, let’s go.  I know this nouveau cuisine restaurant that you’ll just adore.

Tony:    Uh, oh.  That means a plate of grass for forty bucks.

Evie:    Tony . . . .

Tony:    Can’t we get a hamburger somewhere?

Evie:    Definitely not.  Now come along.   (Exit)




“Caged,” a one-act play, was produced by Sidewalks Theater, and published by several literary Magazines.


A Play

 By Gary Beck

SCENE: An urban zoo, with an outdoor cage and a door leading to the indoor cage. 

 (Ambient zoo sounds throughout the play.  Zookeeper enters. Unlocks cage door and sweeps, whistles, does a short ‘broom dance’.  Visitor enters. Watches.)

 Visitor:                                    You look real happy in there.

Zookeeper:                             Well I’m used to it. This is my 3rd year in the big house. And
                                                I’ll be leaving soon.

Visitor:                                   That’s a funny thing to say.  The big house. It sounds like a 

Zookeeper:                             It is for them.

Visitor:                                    Don’t give me that. They got a roof over their heads, good 
                                               food, medical benefits. So what if they can’t go for a bus ride.
                                               They don’t get mugged.

Zookeeper:                             How would you like to be on public display eight hours a
                                                day? Everyone gaping at you. Yelling, cursing, spitting,
                                                throwing things, treating you like an animal. . . .

Visitor:                                    They are animals. You’ve got a real identity problem for a

Zookeeper:                              I’m not a guard! Except to protect them    from people just
                                                like you.

Visitor:                                    Me!

Zookeeper:                            Yeah. Don’t you talk to them? Give them  peanuts? Taunt
                                               them? Dare them to come out and go a few rounds with 

Visitor:                                    I don’t do anything like that!

Zookeeper:                             Well something else then…? Do you have fantasies about
                                               walking a wild beast on a leash and attracting beautiful

Visitor:                                    You’re a weirdo. I don’t think about things like that! Besides,
                                               what business is it of yours what I think?

Zookeeper:                              You started this conversation, not me.

Visitor:                                    That wasn’t an invitation to analyze me. And I’m not like that
                                               at all.

Zookeeper:                            Then why are you here?  It’s probably for something cruel or
                                               perverse. That’s why people come here. That’s why the
                                               animals are in cages.  So everyone can tease them and
                                               gloat how superior they are.

Visitor:                                    We are superior!  We’re people. That’s why we’re out here 
                                               and they’re in there.

Zookeeper:                             If we were superior, we wouldn’t torture these poor brutes
                                               with life imprisonment, just for our entertainment.  Especially
                                               when almost two million Americans are in prison for real
                                               crimes. We don’t make a sideshow out of them.

Visitor:                                    What are you talking about?  We’re not barbarians. That’s 
                                               why everyone’s against capital punishment. That proves 
                                               we’re more civilized then the animals.

Zookeeper:                             If we were civilized, we’d put these poor beasts out of their
                                               misery and show movies or television, instead of letting
                                               people gape through the bars. But no, people have to see
                                               what they really look like, live and miserable.

Visitor:                                    But zoos are building natural habitats, so the animals can
                                               live well. They’ll be happy and our children can learn about

Zookeeper:                             Why don’t you step into this habitat for a minute and see
                                                what it feels like.

Visitor:                                    No, thanks. I don’t want to get my clothes dirty, and I’ve got
                                               an appointment soon.

Zookeeper:                             Didn’t you ever wonder what it would be like, looking out at
                                               all those people? Hoping you could get your claws on
                                               them…. Losing hope as the years go by…. Fading away…. 
                                               Coughing…. Getting sick.

Visitor:                                    That wouldn’t happen to me!  I’d exercise regularly and eat
                                               the right way.

Zookeeper:                            It’s not like that for them.  They can’t ask to speak to the
                                              warden, or request library privileges.

Visitor:                                   You’re blowing it out of proportion. They’re protected at least.
                                              What do you think would happen to them in Africa or Asia?
                                              Someone would be making them into rugs or coats.

Zookeeper:                            It might be better then this. Try it. (He beckons to the visitor.)

Visitor:                                   What are you, nuts?  (encouraged by the zookeeper, he 
                                              hesitantly enters and starts inspection.)  It may not be the
                                              Waldorf, but they got a roof over their heads and they get lots
                                              of attention…. (cage business.)

Zookeeper:                            Why don’t you jump up on that perch and see what it feels

Visitor:                                   That’s crazy (He starts to exit.)

Zookeeper:                            You’re here already and nobody’s watching. You’ll never get
                                              another chance like this.

Visitor:                                    I feel stupid.

Zookeeper:                            Try to imagine what you would feel like if you were a tiger,
                                               curled up there, watching, waiting, twitching your
                                               tail…. Springing down on the weak, helpless men…. (the
                                               visitor slowly mounts the perch, assuming a cat pose.)
                                               Sinking your teeth into them…. Tearing off a piece of meat….
                                               Padding off to a quiet, concealed place, to eat without
                                               anyone watching. (The zookeeper slowly goes to the cage
                                               door and slips out.)

Visitor:                                    What’re you doing? (He starts to get up.) I don’t want to stay 
                                               in here.

Zookeeper:                             Neither does the tiger.

Visitor:                                   He’s just an animal!

Zookeeper:                             I know. (He locks cage.)

Visitor:                                    This isn’t funny!

Zookeeper:                             I know.

Visitor:                                    Let me out!…. (The zookeeper starts to exit. The lights
                                               slowly fade.) Come back here!…. Help! Somebody get me
                                               out of here. Help! Where are you going?

Zookeeper:                             Inside. To see if the tiger wants to visit you. 


Clown Show

Clown Show, a one act play, had a staged reading at Sidewalks Theater, and was published by several literary magazines.

Clown Show  


Gary Beck

 (Two men in clown costumes are putting on white face. The boss enters)

Boss:                           Will you two hurry up. The kids are waiting. It’s bad enough that

                                    grown men should make fools of themselves, clowning around,

                                    but you’re late.

 2nd Clown:                   Circumstances beyond our control….

 Boss:                           I don’t care about any circumstances. Get ready and get out there,

                                    or you won’t get paid.

 2nd Clown:                   We have a contract.

 Boss:                           Then sue me. Now get moving, or else.

 2nd Clown:                   That’s not the state to put us in just before a show.

 Boss:                           Do you believe these guys? If you’re not ready in five minutes,

                                    I’ll put you in a state of shock. (exits)

 2nd Clown                    (to his back) That’s not the state I meant.

 1st Clown:                    What do you mean?

2nd Clown:                   A sovereign state, you fool.

1st Clown:                    Why, then?

2nd Clown:                   Because, I’m bounded on five sides by air and on one side

                                    by terrestrial matter.

1st Clown:                    I’m bewildered.

2nd Clown:                   (posing.) I’m a prince.

1st Clown:                    I mean you’ve bewildered me. Who makes you a prince?

2nd Clown:                   No one made me a prince.

1st Clown:                    You better explain yourself.

2nd Clown:                   You dare demand….Well, no matter. Do you attend, you fool?

1st Clown:                    All ears.

2nd Clown:                   Admit a little reason, then. I am, in front, back, both sides and

                                    on top, encased by air.

1st Clown:                    Ah.

2nd Clown:                   And my feet rest upon the earth.

1st Clown:                    Ah.

2nd Clown:                   Thus: I exist between aforementioned points, a principality.

1st Clown:                    Ah….Then you must always fear invasion.

2nd Clown:                   How so?

1st Clown:                    Well, neighbors being neighbors, will always….How shall I

                                    say it…. Poach?

2nd Clown:                   Ah.

1st Clown:                    Seek territorial expansion at the expense of others.

2nd Clown:                   A perspicuous comment.

1st Clown:                    What?

2nd Clown:                   I don’t fear my neighbors.

1st Clown:                    Who then?

2nd Clown:                   Rather say what then.

1st Clown:                    Well?

2nd Clown:                   Say it!

1st Clown:                    If you insist on being petty. (no answer) All right, all right.

                                    What then?

2nd Clown:                   Internal revolution. It crumbles the foundation of the state.

 1st Clown:                    Do you mean like a disease?

2nd Clown:                   Another perspicuous comment.

1st Clown:                    What does perspicuous mean?

2nd Clown:                   That you’re smarter than you look.

1st Clown:                    Ah. I always knew you recognized my intelligence (he does a brief

                                    smart song & dance.)

2nd Clown:                   But it doesn’t mean anything.

1st Clown:                    Why not?

2nd Clown:                   Because once again we’re being ordered around by a bully who

                                    doesn’t understand or appreciate us.

1st Clown:                    It’s only temporary.

2nd Clown:                   So is this life…. I’m so tired of disguising myself in order to hide

                                    from so many  horrors.

1st Clown:                    But we please so many people, especially children.

2nd Clown:                   Pleasure is fleeting. So is everything else, even the sidereal


 1st Clown:                    What’s that?

 2nd Clown:                   The past, present and future of all things.

 1st Clown:                    So what’s left?

 2nd Clown:                   Enduring until the end.

 1st Clown:                    That doesn’t sound very promising.

 2nd Clown:                   Promises are always broken.

 1st Clown:                    That’s not true. When I was six years old my Mom promised to

                                    take  me to the movies, if I was good.

 2nd Clown:                   And?

 1st Clown:                    I was. She did. That proves that promises aren’t always broken.

 2nd Clown:                   In the vast scheme of things, what is a simple promise kept

                                    to a child? Everything is collapsing around us, despite the

                                    promises of our leaders to make things better. Yet we still

                                    paint our faces and put on our costumes in our attempt to stem

                                    the tide of despair.

 1st Clown:                    It’s not that bad.

 2nd Clown:                   It is. It is. And it will only get worse. (enter Boss)

 Boss:                           I thought I told you clowns to stop fooling around and get ready.

 1st Clown:                    We’re almost done.

 Boss:                           If you’re not out there in two minutes, I’ll cancel the show and

                                    give you what’s coming to you.

 2nd Clown:                   I hope you get what’s coming to you.

 Boss:                           What did you mean by that?

 1st Clown:                    (To Boss) He hopes your efforts will be appreciated.

 Boss:                           Yeah. Now get going.

 1st Clown:                    We’ll be right out. (exit Boss.)

 2nd Clown:                   Will this suffering never end? But no matter what, we must go out

                                    there and be entertaining.

 1st Clown:                    It’s our job.

 2nd Clown:                   Then we should quit.

 1st Clown:                    We can’t do that.

 2nd Clown:                   Why not?

 1st Clown:                    Who would make people laugh?

2nd Clown:                   They’ll find somebody.

 1st Clown:                    What if they can’t?

 2nd Clown:                   They will.

 1st Clown:                    But what if they don’t?

 2nd Clown:                   Then they’ll get along without laughter.

 1st Clown:                    They couldn’t.

 2nd Clown:                   Of course they could. Laughter’s not that important.

 1st Clown:                    You don’t mean that.

 2nd Clown:                   I do.

 1st Clown:                    Well we couldn’t get along without people. We need them.

(enter Boss)

 Boss:                           This is your last warning.

 1st Clown:                    We’re ready. (exit Boss. Both clowns stand up, put on red

                                    noses and clown hats.) Let’s go. And remember….

 2nd Clown:                   I know. Laugh, clown, laugh. (exit.)          


The Chess Match

The Chess Match, a comico-serio one-act about man meets computer, was published in serveral literay magazines and received a stage reading at Sidewalks Theater.  

The Chess Match 

A Play 

By Gary Beck

Scene:  A chess club.  A man enters.


Man:      (to Proprietor)I’d like to play a strong player


Prop:     Nobody here right now.


Man:      (gesturing to the audience)What about them?


Prop:     You said you wanted a strong player.


Man:      Yeah. I’m an expert.


Prop:     Well, you could hang out til someone comes in,or you could play the house computer.


Man:      Computer?


Prop:     Yeah. He plays a pretty good game.


Man:      How good?


Prop:     Bobby’s an expert.


Man:      You’re sure there’s no one else?


Prop:     (gesturing to audience) They’re just spectators.


Man:      I really want to play.  What about you?


Prop:     I don’t play.  I just run the joint.  Try Bobby.  He’ll give you a game.


Man:      I only play speed chess.


Prop:     It’s not really gambling. Bobby likes a little incentive when he plays. He says it make the game more interesting.


Man:      Says? He talks?


Prop:     He speaks basic, with a 1500 word vocabulary.


Man:      You’re kidding.


Prop:     That’s more than the average college graduate. He even speaks some French. He likes his opponents to feel comfortable when they play.


Man:      Do I have to buy him coffee?


Prop:     There’s no need to be sarcastic. I’m just telling you what he likes.


Man:      Do I have to talk to him?


Prop:     That’s up to you, pal. But Bobby likes a little conversation when he plays. He says it makes the game more personal.


Man:      (to audience) At least they didn’t offer me a talking horse.(to Prop)  Alright, introduce me to…Bobby…. (They walk to the computer)


Prop:     Here he is. Everything’s set up to play five minutes a game. Once you punch the clock, that’s your move.  You can put the clock on either side, Bobby doesn’t care. Just plug it into the outlet.


Man:      Anything else?


Prop:     Nope, Bobby’s voice activated, so say hello when you’re ready. He always lets his opponent start with white.


Man:      I’ll take black.


Prop:     Tell him.(He walks to his desk).


Man:      Hello, Bobby. Uh, would you like to play?


Bobby:    Sure, fish. Sit down.  You take white


Man:      I’ll start with black.  And don’t call me fish.


Bobby:    It’s just a joke. It’s important to have a sense of humor in this life.


Man:      (To audience) Now I’m getting philosophy from a machine.(To Bobby) Look… I didn’t come here to discuss life with a computer. I just want to play chess.


Bobby:    Sure, fish. That’s what I’m here for.


Man:      I asked you not to call me that.


Bobby:    You’re sensitive. That’s what I like about humans. They take things personally.


Man:      We’re people. How do you expect us to take things?


Bobby:    A little detachment makes life less stressful.


Man:      Are you suggesting that we shouldn’t care about what happens?


Bobby:    Now you’re getting paranoid.


Man:      Paranoid?


Bobby:    A suspicion without cause; a dread of persecution.


Man:      I know what paranoid means.


Bobby:    You asked.


Man:      No, I didn’t.


Bobby:    You did.


Man:      I didn’t.


Bobby:    You did, you said: Paranoid?


Man:      That’s not what I meant.


Bobby:    What did you mean?


Man:      (To audience) Now he’s a psychiatrist.


Bobby:    I was trying to be helpful.


Man:      Don’t. Now let’s play.  It’s your move.


Bobby:    You sure you don’t want white?


Man:      Move! (they rapidly make c. 10-12 moves in 15-20  seconds) Damn!


Bobby:    That’s your queen.  Resign?


Man:      Yes. I meant to move the bishop.


Bobby:    That’s the way it goes.  You can put the money in my drawer. (man pays).


Man:      How about another game?  A dollar this time?


Bobby:    Sure, fish.


Man:      We’ll see who’s the fish. (they rapidly make 10-12 moves in 15-20 seconds).


Bobby:    Mate in two.


Man:      No, its not.


Bobby:    One, two, mate.


Man:      You’re right.


Bobby:    Of course I’m right. Pay me.(man puts money in the drawer).


Man:      Another. Five dollars, this time.(They play 12-15 moves) Shoot! (He puts money in drawer).Ten dollars.


Bobby:    There’s no need to keep raising the stakes. I don’t mind beating you for fifty cents.


Man:      You’re pretty fresh for a machine.


Bobby:    You’re upset because you lost.


Man:      I’m not upset.


Bobby:    You are.


Man:      That’s enough! You’re starting to sound like my wife.


Bobby:    Then you’re married?


Man:      If you have a wife, you’re married.


Bobby:    Now you’re being witty.  I like a sense of humor in a human. It makes you more personable.


Man:      This is the strangest conversation I ever had.


Bobby:    Are you uncomfortable talking to an advanced intelligence?


Man:      I don’t care what you are.  This time I’ll crush you for ten dollars.


Bobby:    It’s your money, fish.


Man:      That’s right. And I’ll get yours. Wait and see. (They play 12-15 moves)


Bobby:    Mate in two.


Man:      What are you talking about?


Bobby:    Queen takes pawn, check. Bishop takes queen.  Knight takes bishop, mate.


Man:      I confused my bishop with a pawn. I’m not used to these pieces yet.


Bobby:    We could play for fifty cents ‘til you’re ready.


Man:      I’m ready!… How’s your nerve, Bobby? Do you want to play for fifty dollars?


Bobby:    My nerve is well, thank you. I’ll play for fifty dollars.


Man:      (Looks in wallet) I don’t have enough cash. Can I use a charge card?


Bobby:    I don’t see why not. Ask my boss. (man goes to proprietor’s desk. He is self-conscious).


Man:      Do you take charge cards?


Prop:     Not for a dollar an hour.


Man:      It’s for much more than that.


Prop:     Do you want to buy equipment, or a gift?


Man:      (Blurts) I want to make a bet with Bobby.


Prop:     What?


Man:      We’re betting on the game, and I don’t have enough cash. Do you take American Express?


Prop:     Sure. But do you really want to bet that kind of money with him?


Man:      That’s between me and him.


Prop:     Alright. We can fill out a slip for each game and keep a running tally as you play. I think you might reconsider what you’re doing.


Man:      Don’t worry about it.  Besides, the money’ll go to you.


Prop:     I don’t take Bobby’s money. I spend it on his maintenance and energy costs.


Man:      That’s fine with me. If I win, can we shut him off for a few days?… Just joking.(Man goes back to Bobby). Ready? (They play 12-15 moves). I should have seen that. I’m not warmed-up yet.


Bobby:    Have you ever noticed that people always have an explanation for losing? They never just lose.


Man:      We like to analyze, so we can improve our performance level.


Bobby:    There’s always a reason. Thanks for the games.


Man:      Hey! It’s not over yet.  I’ve got a score to settle with you.


Bobby:    Do you really want to throw your money away?


Man:      It’s my money! Five hundred this time. Can you cover that?


Bobby:    If I can’t my boss will. (Man goes to Proprietor).


Man:      We’ve got a bet for five hundred. Will you honor it when Bobby loses?


Prop:     Sure. You haven’t won yet. If you want to give him your money, that’s your business.


Man:      That’s right! And I don’t need your comments. Is it a bet?


Prop:     Yes. (He prepares another charge slip that the man signs. The man goes back to Bobby. They play 12-15 moves).


Bobby:    You lost your queen again. Do you resign?


Man:      I resign. I resign! I resign!! (He slaps table loudly with his hand)… This time we’ll make it five thousand. Do you have the guts?


Bobby:    My interior is electronic, but I understand your statement. With that money, I could get a Mark IV chassis, and a new program core.


Man:      When I win this game, I’ll attach you to my toaster, and if the toast isn’t perfect, I’ll give you a short circuit… (The man goes to proprietor). Ready? Five big ones.


Prop:     That’s an awful lot of money for a chess game.


Man:      It’s not the money anymore. It’s that smug, supercilious, insufferable junkpile’s attitude when I lose.


Prop:     Why don’t you forget about it.  You played a few games.  Don’t blow things out of proportion. You don’t want to lose control.


Man:      I’m in control! Will you cover the bet, or not?


Prop:     I don’t have five thousand dollars to bet on Bobby.


Man:      I tell you what… If Bobby wins, he gets five thousand dollars. If I win,… I get Bobby. Is it a bet?


Prop:     You could buy this kind of a computer for half of that.


Man:      I want Bobby… Now, do we have a bet?


Prop:     It’s your funeral.


Man:      No. It’s his. (proprietor fills out a charge slip that the man signs. The man goes to Bobby, stretches, limbers, warms-up, then sits).  Ready, tin man?


Bobby:    Ready, fish.


Man:      I told you not to call me that. If you do it again, I’ll take a can opener to you.(They play 12-15 moves).


Bobby:    It’s mate in two, your game is through.(rap)


Man:      What? You’re out of your mind! No way!


Bobby:    Rook takes pawn, check.  Any move. Queen takes queen, mate.(sings – ‘My Fair Lady’ tune) I’ll get a body in the morning.


Man:      Not so fast, you Sony reject. Rook takes pawn check. Pawn takes rook.  that loses. Bishop to E6. That’s mate. God damn it. It’s mate! You win. (to audience). Did you ever see anything like this?  Losing to this stereo set!


Bobby:    You’re being witty again.


Man:      Shut up!  One last game. Fifty thousand dollars.


Bobby:    That’s a lot of lettuce, sport.


Man:      Don’t sport me, or I’ll take an axe to you!


Prop:     We don’t have that kind of money to wager.


Man:      Twenty five thousand.  (Prop. shakes his head no). Fifteen. (Prop. shakes no). I tell you what. I’ll bet my condo against your business.  My house is worth three hundred and fifty thousand.


Prop:     Take it easy, mister.  That’s crazy.


Man:      That’s not what you said on the other bets.


Prop:     Why don’t we forget the money you lost and you go home.


Man:      Don’t patronize me!


Prop:     I’m just trying to settle this in a nice way.


Man:      Nothing’s settled! It’s him or me! He’ll regret the day he made those smart-ass remarks!


Prop:     He didn’t mean anything.


Man:      He did! He did! He wants to destroy me!


Prop:     No, he doesn’t. You’re getting overwrought.


Man:      Overwrought! I’ll show you overwrought! (Man picks up chair and turns to computer.(Prop. stops him. Takes away the chair, and starts leading him out the door.)


Prop:     Now take it easy.  Everything’ll be alright. There’s nothing to worry about.


Man:      Stop treating me like a lunatic!


Prop:     It’s alright…


Man:      And stop soothing me!


Prop:     Why don’t you go home and relax, and tomorrow we’ll work everything out.


Man:      What about our last bet?


Prop:     We’ll talk about it tomorrow. (Proprietor gently pushes the man out the door. The man pops back in).


Man:      I’ll be back.


Prop:     I know. (He gently pushed him out again). (To Bobby) Was that really necessary?


Bobby:    He wanted to find out who was the better man…. (sings) I’ll get a body in the morning….


Culture Clash

Culture Clash


Gary Beck


Scene: The outdoor dining area of an East Village, New York City restaurant.

            Enter three men in their late 20’s. They sit at a table.

Characters:      Greg – White,

                        Reggie – Black

                        Edgardo – Hispanic

                        Jennifer – White

                        Nina – Hispanic


Greg:               I don’t mind losing. I just can’t stand the way they knock me around.


Edgardo:         Aw. Stop complaining, Greg. If you tried a little harder, we wouldn’t

                        get beat so bad.


Reggie:            That’s easy for you to say. You were an athlete in college. Greg and I

                        are techno-wizards. We shouldn’t even be playing basketball.


Greg:               That’s for sure. I don’t know why we let you talk us into this.


Edgardo:         You know why.  It gets us out of the IT department twice a week, with

                        a nice dinner paid for by the company, and a week’s paid

                        vacation at the end of the tournament.


Greg:               Alright. We know that.  But why basketball? You should have

                        picked a company sports league where at least we’d have a chance. We

 go home with aches and bruises every time.


Edgardo:         Mira. They don’t have badminton or lawn croquet, my feeble friends.

                        All you gotta do is learn to get out of their way when they have the ball.

When you have the ball, just run past them and shoot as quick as you can.


Reggie:            You better tell it to them. That asshole from legal kept hitting me with

                        his elbow whenever he was near me. Even when the play was over. I

                        think I  have a cracked rib.


Edgardo:         Don’t be such a wuss, Reggie.


Greg:               Is he a wuss because he doesn’t like being hurt?


Edgardo:         They hurt me too.


Reggie:            It doesn’t seem to bother you as much as it does us.


Edgardo:         It hurts me. I just don’t make as much of a fuss about it.


Greg:               Why can’t we have a video game league?


Reggie:            Yeah. We could really kick ass.


Edgardo:         That’s exactly why nobody else wants it. They know they wouldn’t

                        stand a chance.


Reggie:            We don’t have a chance in basketball. Is that fair?


Edgardo:         We entered for a reason. You seem to be forgetting that. Listen. I’m a

reasonable guy. You know what’s at stake. If you want to stop it’s okay with me. (Reggie and Greg reluctantly shake their heads no.)


Greg:               We’ll finish, Edgardo. We’re just tired of all their name-calling. That fat,

                        hairy slob of a lawyer kept elbowing me and calling me a faggot. I keep

                        trying to trip him, but he always avoids it, then elbows me hard.


Reggie:            He did that to me too, except he called me a black faggot. He doesn’t wear

                        a shirt and got his sweat all over me. We shouldn’t have to take that shit.


Edgardo:         Hey, guys. There are only two games left. Let’s be cool and get through

                        them. If you don’t want to do it next year, we won’t.


Greg:               I don’t know if I can take two more games.


Edgardo:         Don’t be a girlie-man, Greg. We don’t have to play against the Neanderthal

                        lawyer again. The last two games are with accounting and sales. The

                        accountants won’t be too physical. You guys can handle them.


Greg:               Maybe. But those salesmen are animals. They must smoke crack, or take

                        something that makes them so aggressive.


Edgardo:         Enough for tonight. Let’s relax and change the subject.


Greg:               Hey.  Look at those two girls  coming this way.


Reggie:            They’re great looking chicks.


Edgardo:         Don’t get your hopes up. They’re probably N.Y.U. dykes.


Greg:               You’re crazy.  They’re beautiful.


Edgardo:         That doesn’t mean anything these days. They could be lipstick lezzies.


Greg:               What’s that?


Edgardo:         That’s when both girls are feminine.


Reggie:            What are N.Y.U. dykes?


Edgardo:         The school has a reputation because so many lesbians go there lately.


Reggie:            How do you know all that?


Edgardo:         If you take your head out of your Blackberry once in a while you’d know

                        what was going on…. I’m going to talk to them. (Enter Jennifer and Nina.)

                        Hey, girls. What’s happening? (They ignore him and start to walk by. He

leans over and stops them.) What’s the matter? Are you too good to talk to us?


Jennifer:          We’re not interested.


Edgardo:         We just want to talk. Don’t you like men?


Nina:               As a matter of fact, we don’t. Now fuck off.


Edgardo:         No need to cop an attitude. I was just being friendly.


Nina:               Save it for your asshole buddies.


Edgardo:         You got some mouth on you. Didn’t your momma ever teach you any



Nina:               Not as far as pigs are concerned.


Edgardo:         There’s no need to be so insulting.


Jennifer:          Then next time don’t stop us, asshole.


Edgardo:         You’re beginning to piss me off.


Reggie:            Take it easy, Edgardo. Let them go.


Nina:               That’s right, Edgardo. Listen to your sissy friend.


Reggie:            Why are you insulting me? I didn’t say anything to you. I just tried to

                        cool things.


Nina:               You’re with him, aren’t you? Pigs always hang together.


Greg:               (To Nina.) Don’t you think you’re over reacting? We’re not looking for

trouble. We just wanted to talk to a couple of good looking girls.


Jennifer:          Well we are a couple, but we don’t like low-life male come-ons.


Reggie:            How are we supposed to know? It’s not as if you’re wearing a sign  that

says women only.


Jennifer:          Then you should keep your mouth where you keep your brains, right

                        between your legs.


Edgardo:         It’s a waste of time trying to be polite to them. Keep moving, bitches.


Nina:               Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?


Edgardo:         A couple of dumb dykes. The same way they talked to us.


Jennifer:          Forget it, Nina. It’s not worth hassling with them. Let’s go.


Nina:               And just take their shit?


Edgardo:         (To Nina) Listen to your wife.


Nina:               (To Jennifer) I should kick his ass. (Edgardo laughs)


Reggie:            (To Nina.) Your friend is right. Let’s forget it.


Nina:               The dominant black man isn’t so tough now.


Greg:               He’s trying to apologize before things get out of hand.


Nina:               (Pointing to Edgardo.) Let him apologize.


Edgardo:         For what? Trying to talk to a girl who turned out to be a guy in drag?


Nina:               One more insult and I’ll punch you in the mouth.


Edgardo:         Beat it, butch, before you get hurt.


Jennifer:          (She tries to lead Nina away.) Come on, Nina. We don’t need this.


Nina:               The fuck we don’t. (She throws a punch at Edgardo, who ducks,

                        then mocks her.)


Edgardo:         Is that all you got, little boy? Try again.


Jennifer:          (She grabs Nina’s arm, who shrugs her off.) Don’t, Nina. Let’s go. (Nina moves closer to Edgardo and swings again. This time he blocks the punch, spins her around and boots her in the ass.)


Edgardo:         Now take off. Next time I won’t be such a gentlemen. (Jennifer tries to pull her away, but Nina yanks free and lunges toward Edgardo. She picks up a butter knife from the table and tries to stab him. He moves aside and she hits Reggie, who yells loudly.)


Reggie:            Ow! My arm! She stabbed me. Yow. That hurts.


Jennifer:          Let’s get out of here! (The girls run off. Reggie is moaning and holding

                        his arm.)


Edgardo:         Should I chase them?


Greg:               What for? To make a citizen’s arrest for assault?  Let’s help Reggie.  (Edgardo and Greg inspect the injury.)


Edgardo:         It didn’t even break the skin. She was right to call you a sissy.


Reggie:            Well it hurts. And I didn’t even do anything. It’s all your fault.


Edgardo:         All I did was say hello How was I to know they’d be vicious, fighting



Greg:               Maybe if you didn’t call them offensive names nothing would have 



Edgardo:         That nasty little bitch started it.


Reggie:            And I got hurt…. I don’t think I have to go to the emergency room, but

                        I’ll probably miss the next game.


Edgardo:         Don’t use this as an excuse. You’ll be alright by then.


Reggie:            Maybe. But promise me no more confrontations when we go out. This

                        could have become a nightmare.


Greg:               Yeah. What if she really cut Reggie?


Edgardo:         I get it. Don’t worry. I’ll be cool.


Reggie:            I hope so. We were lucky today. Another time things could spin out of control and someone might get killed. It’s happening all over these days.


Greg:               Yeah. People are getting shot for just looking at someone. And it’s not as

                        if they’re giving them the evil eye, or something. It’s just sick violence.


Edgardo:         Alright. I get the message. That’s enough. Let’s call it a day. (Exit.)