4 characters. 2M, 1F, 1 Either; 12 pages long. Approximately 10-15 minutes running time. A short drama about homelessness written by Bruce Karp.

Angels and Pastrami is a poignant play about kindness and homelessness. A boy and his mother stumble upon a homeless man on a Florida street. The mother is outraged and fearful but the boy is genuinely concerned for the man. He stays behind a few moments to speak with him and the relationship continues. This well-written short play is an excellent prompt for discussion with teens about the issue of homelessness and what they would do in a similar situation.

Bruce Karp is a native of New York City, currently dividing his time between South Florida and Northern New Jersey. He has written more than a dozen short plays, and is working on his fourth full-length. Several short plays and all three of his completed full-length plays have had readings in South Florida. Another short play, “The Spot,” will be performed this Summer at a short play theater festival in Nova Scotia. A musical version of the same play will be performed this fall at a short musical festival in Miami.

(Social Issues)

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

HOMELESS MAN – middle-aged, scruffy
MOTHER – well-dressed, age 35-40 years
CHILD – boy, well-dressed, age 12 years
ANGEL – dressed for business, but with wings (any age, gender neutral)

TIME:
The present

PLACE:
A park in South Florida

SCENE ONE

Late afternoon on a less-traveled city street in Florida. When the play begins, lights rise on HOMELESS MAN, sitting on the ground, “yoga-style,” in the center of the stage. His clothes are disheveled, he appears not to have bathed in some time, and a backpack is nearby, likely holding all his worldly goods. His eyes are closed, but he is holding a sign that says “Homeless. Hungry. Trying to buy back my yacht.” (If sound effects are available, sounds of cars passing and car horns honking would indicate an outdoor location.)

A MOTHER and her CHILD enter from stage right, and, after taking a few steps, see the HOMELESS MAN in their sights. The MOTHER stops walking, but the CHILD continues for a couple of steps. The MOTHER grabs the CHILD and pulls him back towards her.

MOTHER
Stop! Don’t move.

CHILD
What’s wrong, Mom?

MOTHER
Don’t you see that homeless man sitting there on the ground? Right over there. (She points)

CHILD
Yes. He’s just sitting there. He’s not doing anything wrong.

MOTHER
He shouldn’t be there! He is a filthy mess.

CHILD
I see, Mom, but he’s just sitting quietly. And, he’s hungry.

MOTHER
This is so disgusting. Right here in our neighborhood. Why don’t the police come and take him somewhere?

CHILD
Can’t you call someone to come and help him? You have your cell phone.

MOTHER
Me, call someone to help him? What good would that do?

CHILD
Well, for one thing, someone would come to help him. You know, take him to a shelter or something.

MOTHER
You don’t understand, son. These people don’t want to stay in shelters. They say they’re too dangerous. They’d rather be out on the streets, scaring people.

CHILD
I’m not scared.

MOTHER
Well, you should be scared. Who knows what he has in that God-awful back pack. A knife. Rocks to throw at people. I’ve seen stories on the news.

CHILD
He looks kind of calm to me.

MOTHER
He’s probably zonked out on drugs, that’s why he’s “calm.”

CHILD
Mom, come on. I feel sorry for him. Did you read his sign? At least he seems to have a sense of humor.

MOTHER
A sense of humor? What could be funny about any of this?

CHILD
Nothing, I suppose.

(At this point, HOMELESS MAN opens his eyes, stirs a bit, stretches out his legs, looks around and sees the WOMAN and CHILD)

HOMELESS MAN
Hey, can you spare some change, so I can get something to eat?

MOTHER
Come on, let’s go. Your father will be home soon, and I need to get dinner started.

HOMELESS MAN
Did ya hear me? I’m tryin’ to get something to eat.

CHILD
(To MOTHER) Mom, don’t you have some extra change?

MOTHER
I do, but I am not giving it to him. He needs to go to a shelter or get some other kind of help.
(She starts to walk off towards stage right, while CHILD stands still) Are you coming? (She exits stage right.)

(CHILD watches MOTHER leave, turns and checks his pockets, finds a few coins, and runs over to HOMELESS MAN, and hands him the coins)

CHILD
I’m sorry, it’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got.

HOMELESS MAN
Hey, thanks, kid. Bless you. (He pulls a plastic Ziploc-type bag from a pocket and drops the coins into a bag with several other coins.) I’m gettin’ close. I’m gonna have enough soon for a pastrami sandwich.

Why Subscribe?

kk-question box coloredInside Drama Notebook, you will find a huge collection of well-organized lesson plans, scripts for kids, drama activities, 50 drama games on video and more! Membership is only $9.95 a month. Join today and dramatically reduce your planning time while delivering fresh, innovative drama lessons to your students!

If you are new to teaching drama, this site will be a Godsend!

You will immediately feel confident about teaching drama like an expert. The site guides you step-by-step and provides you with materials that you can use right away with your students.

If you have been teaching for years, Drama Notebook will inspire you with a fresh new approach and innovative ideas!

The site is packed with original, innovative lessons and activities that you will not find anywhere else—and new materials are added monthly.