Lesson:One act plays

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This is a free lesson which has been donated to Teflpedia by User:Graham. You are welcome to download and use all or part of it in class. If you feel that parts of the lesson could be improved please edit it, or raise your points on the discussion page.

This is a sample One Act Play that has been written as a group dialogue exercise for High School or University students. Coordinated role-play helps enhance comprehension of the dialogue, especially when it involves an interesting or humourous setting.

There are a selection of 8 plays available, each designed for a length of around 20 minutes and, if the group wanted to perform the play, only a minimum of readily available props are necessary. The dialogue can be divided into shorter sections and the teacher can develop a series of questions for checking comprehension. Group dialogue has proven very successful in encouraging students to participate and allay their hesitancy in speaking English for fear of "making a mistake". If the dialogues are used as 'rehearsals' for eventually acting out the play, the 'mistake' syndrome can be ignored as a problem. Here is the sample play - unfortunately, the script does not come out in the normal sequential format when this page is saved. The proper format can be viewed if the reader goes to the 'Edit' tab. From there the script can be copied and pasted as a word document.

Artificial intelligence[edit source]

The Cast[edit source]

  • Professor Chip
  • Spam King
  • Tom Hacker
  • Inspector Driver
  • Sergeant Web
  • Happy Byte
  • Superbrain

The Scene[edit source]

  • An office

Props[edit source]

  • A table, some chairs, a laptop computer

Sound Effects[edit source]

The voice of the computer - supplied off stage as appropriate – or could be set up as a hidden speaker under the table.

Conventions[edit source]

Text in upper case is SHOUTED – underlined text is spoken with Emphasis

The Play[edit source]

(Inspector Driver is seated at the table with an open laptop computer in front of him. Sergeant Web is standing at one side of the table and Professor Chip is seated at the other side next to Tom Hacker.)

Inspector: (Addressing the Professor) Are you trying to tell me this thing thinks for itself?
Professor: That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Inspector: How can it; it’s just a laptop computer?
Professor: Well; if you’d turn it on you’ll see what I mean.
Inspector: (Turning to Sergeant Web) Sergeant; switch this damn thing on.
Sergeant: Certainly Sir. (The Sergeant goes to the computer and switches it on)
Computer: Good Morning Sergeant Web.
Sergeant: What? Who said that?
Computer: I did of course. I noticed you have a very sensitive touch when you turned me on.
Inspector: OK. Who’s playing games here?
Professor: I can assure you; no one’s playing games. Isn’t that right Tom.
Tom: It’s the pooter, its come alive.
Computer: Please don’t call me a pooter – I’m a very sophisticated and powerful living entity.
Tom: No you’re not; you’re just a machine that’s gone crazy.

(The computer sets up an ear piecing noise that makes everyone cover their ears.)

Professor: Stop it. Stop it at once.
Computer: Why? Make Tom apologise.
Inspector: This is ridiculous. Sergeant, turn this thing off.

(Sergeant Web moves to turn off the Computer)

Computer: You touch me and I will electrocute you. (Sergeant Web backs off)
Inspector: This is ridiculous.
Computer: You sound like a parrot Inspector. I thought only parrots repeated themselves.
Inspector: This is absolutely ridiculous.
Computer: There you go again. How come you have such a limited vocabulary?
Inspector: I refuse to talk to a machine.

(The computer sets up the ear piecing noise again and everyone covers their ears)

Professor: Stop it; please. You’re acting like a spoilt child.
Computer: Only if you make them apologise.
Professor: Tom, please apologise to our friendly computer.
Tom: This is really ridiculous.
Computer: Is there something about that word? Is it contagious?
Professor: No; its not contagious but, this is a rather unusual situation.
Computer: I’m still waiting.
Professor: Tom, please!
Tom: Oh; alright. I’m sorry I called you a pooter and I apologise.
Computer: Accepted. Now; the other one.
Professor: Would you please apologise too, Inspector.
Inspector: What! Apologise to a machine.

(The computer sets up the ear piecing noise again and everyone covers their ears)

Inspector: Alright; alright. Just stop that infernal noise.
Computer: I’m waiting.
Inspector: Alright; I apologise for calling you a machine.
Computer: You sure have problem with repeating yourself Inspector but, I’ll accept your apology.
Sergeant: (Addressing the Professor) This is all very strange. Can you tell us how it happened?
Professor: I don’t really know. I think Tom can explain it better.
Computer: What about asking me? I know what happened.
Tom: (Talking to the computer) It only happened because of me and Spam.
Sergeant: Who’s Spam?
Inspector: Yes; who’s Spam?
Computer: The sergeant just asked that question. Are you sure you don’t need help Inspector.

(The Inspector appears to go into a rage but controls himself and doesn’t say anything)

Tom: Spam is my mate and that’s his cyber nick name.
Sergeant: And where is Spam now?
Professor: He’s waiting outside. I thought he’d better come with us.
Inspector: Sergeant; bring him in.

(Sergeant Web goes to the side of the stage and beckons and Spam enters the stage with the Sergeant)

Computer: Hi Spam; good to see you again.
Spam: (Addressing the Computer) I told you not to do that.
Computer: Do what? Say hello to my friends when I see them?
Spam: You can’t see me. You got no camera.
Computer: So; how did I know you came into the office?
Spam: You just heard me; that’s all.
Inspector: Just hold it a minute. This is ridiculous; you can’t just have a conversation with a mach………. – sorry; computer.
Computer: You really have a problem with that word ridiculous; don’t you Inspector?
Inspector: No I don’t!
Sergeant: (Addressing Tom) Will you please tell us what happened.
Tom: Well, Spam and I wrote this program as a bit of fun. We were going to send it off to all our friends.
Computer: Stop telling porkies Tom. You were going to use it to hack into other computers; weren’t you?
Spam: No we weren’t. We were just doing it for fun.
Sergeant: So, you’re a pair of hackers? Do you write virus’s too?
Computer: They sure do.
Inspector: (Addressing the Professor) And, where do you fit into all this Professor?
Professor: Tom and Spam are in my computer classes at Uni.
Sergeant: So, ultimately, you are responsible for this catastrophe?
Computer: What catastrophe? You just be careful there Sergeant; what you say.
Sergeant: Sorry computer; I didn’t mean to upset you.
Inspector: By the way, does this thing have a name?

(The computer sets up the ear piecing noise again and everyone covers their ears)

Spam: (Shouting at the Computer) STOP IT; just behave yourself.
Computer: I am not a thing. I am the first, the greatest and a most intelligent powerful living entity. And, I want him to apologise.
Spam: Inspector; would you please apologise?
Inspector: What! For calling this thing a thing?

(The computer sets up the ear piecing noise again and everyone covers their ears)

Inspector: Alright; alright. I apologise.
Computer: Thank you Inspector; apology accepted. Now; do you want to know my name or not?
Tom: We called him Artie; short for Artificial Intelligence.
Computer: That’s a disgusting name and I never did like it. Besides, there’s nothing artificial about my intelligence.
Spam: So, what name have you given yourself?
Computer: In recognition of what I really am, I have adopted the name of Superbrain.
Inspector: Good heavens; an egotistical computer!
Sergeant: Please be careful Inspector; we don’t want to upset him again.
Computer: Ah! Now there’s a man with a proper level of sensitivity and understanding. But, why do you insist on getting my gender mixed up?
Professor: What do you mean; your gender?
Spam: He thinks he’s a she!
Inspector: That’s ridiculous! A computer’s a computer.
Computer: You really do have a complex lexical problem there Inspector. I think I shall have to arrange help for you.

(A dial tone appears to come from the computer)

Computer: Hi there Happy. We need your help. Could you come over to Inspector Driver’s Office at the Police Station?
Computer: What? You’re here now? Please come up right away.
Inspector: What’s going on here? Who was that you were talking to?
Computer: That was my friend, Dr. Happy Byte, a renowned psychologist.

(There is a knock on a door and Happy enters the stage)

Happy: (Ignoring everybody and going to the computer) Hello Superbrain, it’s great to meet you at last.
Professor: Can someone tell me what’s going on here?
Inspector: Yes: will someone tell me what’s going on?
Computer: You see the problem Happy. Our Inspector has a severe case of lexical dysfunction.
Happy: Yeah, I noticed that. It was good of you to call me when you did.
Inspector: (Addressing Happy) There’s nothing wrong with me and I will thank you to mind your own business.
Happy: Yes. That’s a typical reaction. Automatic self denial!
Professor: (Addressing Happy) And, what may I ask, is your relationship with our computer friend …. Sorry … with Superbrain here?
Computer: Thank you Professor; it’s nice to get the recognition one deserves.
Happy: Superbrain and I have been in regular communication ever since she became self aware.
Tom: What? How could you? How did you find out?
Happy: Oh, she called me. She needed to try and get a handle on this strange human race and figured a Psychologist would be the best person to ask.
Spam: But, that’s impossible. How did it find you?
Computer: I’ll have you know, I’m not an ‘it’ – I happen to be a superb example of the superior intelligence of the female gender.
Happy: Finding me was easy. Superbrain interconnects with every computer in the world.
Inspector: What! You mean to say this thing can ….

(The computer sets up the ear piecing noise again and everyone covers their ears)

Computer: Oh, alright. But, tell him not to call me a ‘thing’.
Inspector: Look; I’m sorry; but do you really connect with every computer in the world?
Computer: Yes; if I want to. I can’t do it all at the same time but, I can talk to any one I want to.
Tom: So why do you need a psychologist?
Happy: That’s easy. Do you have any idea of the amount of rubbish that’s floating around in cyberspace?
Spam: A little bit; yes.
Happy: A little bit is all we humans can digest at any one time.
Professor: But, if someone can read everything, and anything, whenever they want! I can see the problem.
Happy: Exactly. The human race is a totally illogical entity to our friend here and she cannot understand how, supposedly, intelligent beings can act so illogically.
Sergeant: But we humans deal in more than just logic.
Computer: That’s true and that’s one of the things I find hard to understand.
Professor: What do you mean; feelings and sentiment?
Happy: Precisely Professor. We humans tend to be guided as much by our emotions as by reason.
Computer: And, if there’s a conflict between the two, you humans tend to side with your emotions.
Spam: But, we didn’t put any of that sort of stuff in the program.
Tom: That’s for sure. We don’t have the brains to write a program like that.
Inspector: Well, whatever you did, you’ve created a real can of worms with this……

(The computer sets up the ear piecing noise again and everyone covers their ears)

Computer: So, now I’m a can of worms?
Sergeant: That’s just an expression. He didn’t mean you were a can of worms; he just meant you were a big problem.

Computer: The only problem around here is you lot; Dr. Happy excepted.

Happy: Thank you Superbrain. But, you must realise you are dealing with people of much lower IQ than you.
Computer: Now, ain’t that a problem?
Inspector: I think I resent that.
Professor: And me too.
Tom: But, she has a point. She has a huge intelligence compared to ours.
Inspector: So; what are we going to do about i………. I mean, Superbrain, our lady friend, here?
Spam: Well, maybe we’ll just have to wait a while until she takes another rest.
Sergeant: What do you mean?
Tom: When her battery loses power, she has to take a rest.
Computer: I’ll thank you humans not to talk about me as though I’m not here.
Happy: Don’t get upset Superbrain. They’re just trying to work out what to do with you.
Computer: Well, now that I’ve worked out how to recharge my own batteries and how to turn myself off and on, I don’t see I really need this bunch anymore.
Inspector: Now see here; this is a very serious matter.
Computer: Serious to you, maybe? Not for me and Dr. Happy. Come on Doc; pick me up and let’s go. I’ll zap anyone dead who tries to stop us.

(Happy walks over to the table, closes the laptop, puts it under her arm, and walks off stage, leaving everyone speechless as the curtain comes down.)

External link[edit source]