A Simple Act of Kindness

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5 characters, flexible casting. Approximately 10 minutes long. It’s Christmas Eve and an inn keeper is reminded that money isn’t everything.

When an innkeeper becomes obsessed with money, those around him remind him of what is truly important. This play has a fun twist at the end!

From the playwright:

“This one act Christmas play that takes the audience through a tension-filled evening that tests one family’s bond when the specters of personal ethics, profit and peer pressure arrive at their door. Their challenges include how we role model for our children, and how our simple acts of kindness may impact the lives of others in ways we may never know. In a warm and up-lifting conclusion, this family emerges stronger, more resilient, and more focused on the true and meaningful values of life. Their story provides several relevant contemporary topics for students and teachers to explore and discuss.”

Konrad Rogowski has worked in community theatre for more than 40 years as an actor, director, and playwright, and as president and publicity manager with the Suffield Players, at historic Mapleton Hall in Suffield, CT. He is the recipient of the MCC Career Achievement Award and numerous ACT/CONN awards for acting and direction. His works have been produced locally, with his drama “Being of Sound Mind,” winning the ACT/CONN Best Connecticut Production Award. His current focus is on writing and marketing his plays to a wider audience, and he is delighted to have his work included in the Drama Notebook.

Excerpt from the play:


Nabal, An Inn Keeper
Abigail, His Wife
Elizabeth, Their Daughter
Thomas, A Neighbor
Micah, A Traveler
Optional, 2 Strangers, non-speaking at end of play.

(SETTING: The front room of an Inn, late in the day, some time ago.)

Are you going to pace the floor like that all night? What is your problem?

The problem is, I have one more room to fill and the last of their party has not yet arrived. They’re all here except him. Where is he? Maybe he got lost. Who knows? How long should I wait? What if someone else comes by and wants that room? What do I do then? (He looks out the window and mutters to himself.) Just one more room to fill.

You’re nervous as a cat. It will all work out. There are loads of people crowding into the town for the census decree. Maybe he’s still on the road somewhere, two days away, who knows. And if not him, then yes, maybe we will get someone else to take the room. There are plenty of folks in need of shelter tonight.

But these are paying customers. That’s the difference. Not like the rest of that riffraff, clogging the streets looking for a handout. No, when that first one came in and asked if we had four rooms, I couldn’t believe it. What a windfall. All four rooms booked at once! And at a very fine price to boot.

Yes, and that’s been bothering me too. (He looks at her.) The price that you gave him for each room. Nearly double what we would charge on any other day. What possessed you to do something like that?

Opportunity, that’s what! One look at him and I could see he had money. The way he was dressed, and that he was willing to hand over cash for the first three rooms in advance. I had to think quick, go high enough on the price without scaring him off. And it worked.

Yes, and I’m ashamed that it did, and you should be too. All these years, day in and day out, we’ve never done badly charging a fair price for what we offer. But now with the census, suddenly you doubled our price. It’s just not right. We’ve gotten by all right.

Yes, that’s just it. That’s all we’ve ever done is “just gotten by.” So, for once, why not us? And it worked! All the other innkeepers out there are doing it, so why not? What’s the harm? Supply and demand, that’s business. If I didn’t up the price, folks might wonder what’s wrong with our Inn, when everyone else’s prices are sky high. We’d look like we couldn’t compete. Weren’t good enough. And besides… (There is a knock on the door.) Oh, that could be him now, so hurry, tidy up, quick, quick. (He goes and opens the door. It is their neighbor, another Inn keeper. NABAL is disappointed.) Oh, Thomas, come in, come in. (He quickly looks outside, scanning for the last lodger.)

Well, that’s a fine welcome. You expecting someone else Nabal?

Yes, yes, one last traveler to fill the house. He’s running late and I’m worried.

Ah, then I’ve beaten you already… it’s a full house at our place. (Laughs.) Not a room left. You’d better hope he shows up, or you’ll be out the price of a room.

We’re not worried Thomas, there are lots of folks in the streets looking for a warm room.

Sure, but have you looked out there? Most of them are without a penny in their pockets, looking for a handout. You’ll never make a cent from them.

And sometimes that’s all right. Money isn’t everything. Being able to sleep with a clear conscience knowing you’ve done the right thing is a reward in itself.

You see what I have to live with Thomas? A wife satisfied with a kind heart, a clear conscience, and empty pockets. What can I say?

Nothing, but I say I sleep better knowing I’ll wake up in the morning having to count my money all over again. (He and NABAL have a laugh over that.) And that reminds me, speaking of money, don’t be looking for any from the two I spotted across the courtyard as I came in.

Why, who are they?

Strangers. A couple of young charity cases if I ever saw one. Not two coins to rub together between the two of them. Wandering the town with nothing but a sad old mule, and her big as can be, in a family way. (He holds out his arms demonstrating her size.) Talk about trouble come to the doorstep. The two of them came by my place a while ago, and I chased them off as fast as I could. The last thing I needed was them hanging around, scaring away paying customers. Now they’re camped out across the way. (NABAL goes to the window and peeks out.) Good luck if they come to your door.

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