Homelessness play script-Angels and Pastrami

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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:


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)

The present

A park in South Florida


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.

Stop! Don’t move.

What’s wrong, Mom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

I’m not scared.

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.

He looks kind of calm to me.

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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.

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