It’s a Job (a ten minute play)

October 16th, 2014

Characters: Chimpanzees. (The audience may not realize at first that they are chimps and not humans. Note: I visualize them in almost identical close fitting exercise pants and long sleeve knit shirts, all of a neutral color.)

Horace, played by young man. Has a macho attitude in spite of being ordered around by Vera.

Vera,  played by a young woman. She has rather uppity airs.

Stanley  played by a 6 to 12 year old. He has an attitude from the fact that he has only been living with humans and doesn’t realize there is any difference.

Uncle Humphrey is imposing as an elder who was once living in the wilds, was captured and has been transferred from research facilities to live out his life in a zoo. He is philosophical and serves as an oral historian.

Time: Late morning.Setting: The set pieces needed for this play are a long log and some simple exercise rings or a parallel bar hung from the ceiling. At Rise:  Vera, and Horace sit on a log and take turns grooming each other. They are aware of the audience and now and then acknowledge their presence. Perhaps a little clowning but subtle. They don’t get carried away as they are more involved in their own interactions.

VERA: Nice.


 VERA: Little higher.


VERA: Little lower.


VERA: Ah-h – ah-h


VERA: Oh yes! Yes!


VERA: Turn.

He turns.

She grooms his back.


VERA: There?


VERA: And here?


 VERA (She looks around)  Do you like this place?

HORACE: Umm – – – – -umm. Umm.

VERA: I mean this place. How long have you been here?


VERA: Wake up, Horace.


VERA: I heard you’ve been here at least a year. I know you were in San Diego for a while. Uncle Humphrey said he met you there just after one of his research assignments.

HORACE: Uncle Humphrey talks too much.

VERA: And what about the kid?

HORACE: I don’t mind being a family. Yeah, it’s okay.

VERA: I don’t want a kid.– (she nuzzles his neck.) Unless it’s my kid.

HORACE: Umm – – – – umm. (He nuzzles her neck).

VERA: Umm. 
       (For a few seconds some exploring and nuzzling goes on).
Not now, you big hunk.

 She gives him a big shove and he falls right off the log.

Horace picks himself up and slinks to far end of the log.

Vera watches him go then makes faces at the audience.

Stanley runs onto the stage followed by Uncle Humphrey.

Vera turns her back to him.

Horace stands up and carefully examines Stanley.

HORACE: Well, young fellow.

UNCLE HUMPHREY: Here, kid. Help me.

Stanley looks from one to the other.

Then he goes to Uncle Humphrey and helps him pull a large basket from off stage.

Uncle Humphrey reaches in and takes out an orange.

He tosses it to Stanley, who tosses it in the air.

STANLEY: They told me this is:
 (he very carefully says the word as the humans taught him to say it) 

 He tosses the orange back to Uncle Humphrey.

UNCLE HUMPHREY (tosses the orange to Horace as he says his name.)  Horace.

STANLEY (repeats)  Horace.

 Horace tosses it to Stanley.

Stanley tosses the orange back to Horace.

Uncle Humphrey takes a banana out of the basket.

UNCLE HUMPHREY: Did they teach you the word for this?

STANLEY (Carefully pronounces the name).  “Banana.”

Uncle Humphrey goes to Vera and gives her the banana.

UNCLE HUMPHREY (saying to Stanley as he indicates Vera).  Vera.


Vera turns away.

Uncle Humphrey holds up a mango.

STANLEY:  “Mango.”

Uncle Humphrey tosses the mango to Stanley.

Stanley puts it in the basket and takes out a hat.

STANLE: “Hat.” (Putting it on himself.)

 Stanley struts around the stage.

He stops in front of Horace as if wanting his approval.

HORACE (Points to himself)   Papa.

STANLEY (Points to himself)  Stanley.

HORACE (Going to Stanley and pointing to himself again).  Papa.

STANLEY (Looks at Horace). Papa?

HORACE: We can do some things together.

Horace takes Stanley’s hand and leads him to the rings.

He shows him how to do some tricks.

Uncle Humphrey sits next to Vera with his back to the audience. They watch Horace and Stanley.

UNCLE HUMPHREY: So it seems that the little fellow has escaped from research. Now he can learn who he is. We can help him be a chimp.

VERA: But he isn’t my kid. I want my own.

UNCLE HUMPHREY: Vera, (He reaches out to console her.) Family is more than having just your own little one. I learned the long history of Chimps. I was in too many research places to have my own family. Just when I made friends they whisked them away to another project. Or maybe it was me who was moved.

Uncle Humphrey stands up faces the audience, thumps his chest, lets out a roar and then he moons the audience.

VERA (Very annoyed)  That’s naughty.

UNCLE HUMPHREY: They expect it. It’s our job to amuse them. They feed us and want us to make them laugh.

VER: Oh. Are you sure?

UNCLE HUMPHREY: I learned a lot of things when they were testing me for this and that. They tested me but I learned from them. History has always been my passion. A long time ago some of our ancestors separated from the rest of us and developed into humans. (He sighs). I do believe it was a big mistake.

VERA: Are you sure?

UNCLE HUMPHREY: Oh yes. That’s what happened. I heard it from scientists. They know a lot. Oh yes, it’s a fact.

Horace is teaching Stanley a clapping game.

Vera leaves.

Horace looks at her as she goes and then he follows.

Stanley goes down front and balances on the log.

UNCLE HUMPHREY (He holds out his hand.)  Welcome to our family.

STANLEY: Oh, I have a family somewhere else but they – – – (starts to sob) – they didn’t say goodbye. I think they will come. We lived in a big house. We were in the garden when yesterday’s sun was dancing on the flowers. We were playing. My sister liked to hug me. I liked to hug her. She would squeal and then she would hug me. It was such a roly-poly feeling when I put my legs all tight around her and nuzzled her neck. Then our mother came out and screamed and pulled her away and I tried to run after them. (He tries to stop sobbing). A big man came in with a big cage. He brought me here.

UNCLE HUMPHREY (hugging Stanley)   That’s hard. I also had a family once in a long ago time in a wonderful place with tall trees. So many trees. We used to swing from branch to branch, chasing each other. (He sighs). But I was taken away. Not even a chance to nuzzle my mama. Well, little fellow, that’s just the way life is.

STANLEY: I don’t know where I am.  (He starts to sob.) Maybe they will take me back to my family.

UNCLE HUMPHREY: We’ll teach you the ways of our family. You are a chimp like us and we have a job here. You can do your part. Balance again on the log. That can be your trick.

Stanley walks on the log, wobbling to make it look difficult.

UNCLE HUMPHREY: Now make some faces at the people.

Stanley makes some faces.

Uncle Humphrey watches, then turns and moons.

Vera comes rushing in.

VERA: You dirty old chimp. What are you teaching this little one.  (She shoves Uncle Humphrey knocking him off the log.)  What are you doing? He’s my family now.

VERA: (Vera reaches to embrace Stanley.  And I’m your mama.

 Horace hurries in.

HORACE: Don’t leave me out.

Horace joins the hug.

Sitting down they all moon the audience.


©May, 2014