Short Dramas and Plays
Arguing By the Numbers
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ARGUING BY THE NUMBERS
Copyright (c) 1997 by David Ian
Conflict resolution between people
Ephesians 4:26-27 "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."
Bare stage, neutral black costume, two chairs
Two characters have a conversation which leads to an argument which then leads to personal attacks. The two combatants must then decide which is more important: being right despite the emotional cost to the other, or coming to a peaceful compromise.
(As first performed by Unchained Productions on September 13th, 1997, for Women's AGLOW Leader's Conference at The Greenwood Inn, Beaverton, OR.)
MAN David Ian
WOMAN Deanna Hussman
In this script, what is said is not important; who is right is not the issue; who started the conflict is irrelevent; what is important is that both characters end up hurting the other for the purpose of furthering their argument and protecting their pride, and ultimately if they are willing to abandon what they've fought for to reach a healing resolution.
In order to focus upon the anatomy of the argument, the dialogue has been neutered with numbers. The give and take of conversation is reflected in a logical sequence of order -- 1,2,3,4. The first transgression happens when the number "7" is inadvertantly skipped in the sequence. The conflict begins when one feels it is more important to continue on with the sequence while the other feels the sequence must be interrupted to include "7". A power struggle begins in which the sequence no longer becomes give and take, but a battle of wills. Eventually, the sequence is no longer important but personal dignity becomes paramount at the expense of the other.
In the end, both characters agree to begin again, but now they must find a new starting point of nuetral ground.
Resolution is only tentative until both parties are in full agreement and can rest in the security that past differences have been left behind)
MAN: (pleasantly) One...
WOMAN: (pleasantly) Two...
MAN: (following) Three...
WOMAN: (rhythm established) Four...
MAN: (picking up speed) Five...
WOMAN: (keeping pace) Six...
MAN: (continuing) Eight...
WOMAN: (startled) Seven?
MAN: (irritated) Nine...
WOMAN: (insistant) Seven?
MAN: (forcefully leading) Ten...
WOMAN: (reluctantly) Eleven.
MAN: (pressing) Twelve...
WOMAN: (reluctantly) Thirteen
MAN: (attempting to establish rhythm) Fourteen...
WOMAN: (defiantly) Sixteen!
MAN: (confused) Sixteen?
WOMAN: (mocking forceful leading) Seventeen...
MAN: (questioning) Sixteen?
WOMAN: (mocking pressing sequence) Eighteen...
MAN: (irritated) Nineteen!
WOMAN: (exaggerating attempt to establish rhythm) Twenty...
MAN: (defiantly) Twenty-five!
WOMAN: (pressing the attempt at rhythm) Thirty...
MAN: (randomly) Fifty-one!
WOMAN: (parroting) Sixty-three!
MAN: (mocking parrot response) Eighty-five!
WOMAN: (Pause, then with significance) One hundred and seven
MAN: (mocking) One hundred twenty-seven
WOMAN: (frivolously) One hunred thirty-seven
MAN: (evenly) One hundred fifty-seven and a half
WOMAN: (raising voice) Two hundred seventy-seven and three quarters!
MAN: (matching voice) Three hundred ninety-nine and six sevenths
WOMAN: (shrieking, tearfully) Four hundred fifty-six point seven seven seven seven seven seven seven--
MAN: (thundering,over the top) Seven hundred seventy-seven and seventy-six seventy-sevenths!
(they both turn away)
WOMAN: (with venom) Seven.
MAN: (snidely) Sixteen.
WOMAN: (turning, offended) Negative sixteen!
MAN: (rounding quickly) Square root of negative seven!
(they both turn away again)
MAN: (turns, arrogantly) One thousand.
WOMAN: (tearfully) One thousand negative square root of seven.
MAN: (muttering) One thousand negative sixteen.
(WOMAN turns, pause)
WOMAN: (offering randomly) One thousand five hundred.
MAN: (confused) One thousand five hundred?
WOMAN: (offering alternative) One thousand six hundred--
MAN: (continuing sequence) One thousand seven hundred!
WOMAN: (irritated) One thousand nine hundred ninety-nine.
MAN: (offering sincerely) Five thousand?
WOMAN: (rejecting) Five thousnd and seven.
WOMAN: (offering) Seven thousand?
MAN: (alternate offer) Ten thousand.
WOMAN: (counter offer) Fifty thousand.
MAN: (rejecting) Fifty thousand and sixteen.
WOMAN: (gently) One hundred thousand?
MAN: (shakes head, then quietly) One million?
(pause, MAN and WOMAN look at each other)
WOMAN: (correcting for accuracy) One million-one.
MAN: (impatiently, but agreeing) One million-one.
WOMAN: (pause, then venturing) One million-two?
MAN: (pause, then responding) One million-three.
WOMAN: (beginning a tentative rhythm) One million-four
MAN: (cautiously following) One million-five
WOMAN: (keeping a careful, slow rhythm) one million-six
MAN: (keeping rhythm) one million-- (stops suddenly, reaches out a pleading hand)
WOMAN: (takes hand)...seven.
MAN & WOMAN: (with fatigued sigh) one million-seven.
MAN: (slightly frightened) One million-eight?
WOMAN: One million anything.
MAN: One million everything.
(Both actors go to a neutral dramatic posture, nod to each other, turn to the audience for a moment, and then EXIT)
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