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The History Lesson

The History Lesson

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Published by Dean Barrett
The History Lesson is a three-character play. It is a one-act play and is in Beckett's Theater of the Absurd Tradition. Very few props are needed.
The History Lesson is a three-character play. It is a one-act play and is in Beckett's Theater of the Absurd Tradition. Very few props are needed.

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Published by: Dean Barrett on May 21, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A one-act Play byDean Barrett
The exact ages of the characters are not terribly important but they are most likelybetween the ages of 30 and 50
The time is the present
*********************************************************************As the stage gradually lights up, a down-and-out, unshaven, homeless person with a verydirty face and in tattered clothes (MAN OF LEISURE) is rummaging through a garbagecan. Beside the garbage can are two crude wooden stools with fairly high legs, one piledon top of the other.The man is picking out objects, looking them over, even smelling them - then tossingthem back again. He might try on a squished hat or place a wilted flower in his buttonhole or attempt to balance an object on his nose, etc. At some point the man finds asection of a newspaper, looks it over, and stuffs it into his back pocket. When he finds anempty wine bottle he acts out the role of a sommelier by pouring a bit into an imaginary
glass of an imaginary customer and awaiting the customer's reaction. He then smiles andnods and pours more into the glass.This rummaging action continues for another ten seconds after which a man (MAN OFFASHION) walks from upstage directly to downstage center. HE is an elegantly dressedman in a tuxedo and scarf and is holding a cigarette in a fancy holder. HE might also havea walking stick. HE glances (without expression) at the MAN OF LEISURE, then takes a puff on his cigarette. HE then faces the audience, bows formally, and begins speaking in arefined, upper-class (but not pretentious) voice.
MAN OF FASHIONIn the 17th century, Archbishop James Ussher-(Suddenly, the MAN OF LEISURE drops the trash can lid and it clangs noisily onthe stage)
(The MAN OF FASHION is somewhat annoyed at the interruption. HE turns toglance briefly at the MAN OF LEISURE who continues to take no notice of him.The MAN OF FASHION then turns again to the audience and begins speaking)
MAN OF FASHION(cont)In the 17th century, Archbishop James Ussher, at Trinity College in Dublin,calculated that God had created heaven and earth in four thousand and four B.C.On the 22nd of October. Now-(The MAN OF LEISURE, still peering into the trash bin, has mumbled something.The MAN OF FASHION turns to him)
(cont)I beg your pardon?MAN OF LEISUREOn Saturday!MAN OF FASHIONOh...Quite right. Thank you kindly.(The MAN OF FASHION again turns to the audience)
MAN OF FASHION(cont)Four thousand and four B.C., the 22nd of October, on a Saturday. Now-(Again, the MAN OF LEISURE mumbles something, interrupting the MAN OFFASHION. Again the MAN OF FASHION turns toward him)
MAN OF FASHION(cont) (more annoyed)Excuse me. Did you say something?MAN OF LEISUREIn the evening!

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