Killing-Death

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7+ characters. 5M, 2+ Either; Flexible casting; 10 pages in length. Approximately 10-15 minutes running time. A dark comedy about Death for teens written by Jack Helbig. (Contains some strong language.)

Killing Death is about three young desperadoes who upon witnessing a funeral procession, foolishly decide to kill Death so they can live forever. Along their search, they meet an old man and ask him where they may find Death. He directs them to a hollow tree and what they find there will set the wheels in motion to finally meet Death once and for all! This is a great dark comedy for teens to perform!

Jack Helbig is a journalist, playwright, and high school teacher; he has written about theatre for more years that he cares to remember for, among other publications, the Chicago Reader, the Daily Herald, American Theatre, the Sondheim Review, and many others. His plays and musicals have been produced around the United States and Australia. His one-act comic Snow White, who is also called Becky, no Rebecca, and the Frog Prince won an award at the 2013 Indie Boots Theatre Festival. His verse drama Thinking of Her Made Him Think of Her and won the Turner Cassity Award for verse drama in 2014, and was also produced at the 2014 Elgin Fringe Festival. His adaptations of popular fairy tales have been produced in Chicago by Pigeons with Teeth and in Houston, Texas, by the Express Children’s Theatre. He co-wrote a one woman show, Here Lies a Manic Pixie Dream Girl , with actor Melody Jefferies, who has performed it at fringe festivals in Elgin, Illinois; Chicago; Milwaukee; and, most recently, Boulder, Colorado, where the one act won an award for best writing. Jack Helbig currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife, his daughter, and his sweet, but always begging for food, dog.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Seth
Spike
Scar
Narrator/Old Man
Shop keeper
Apothecary

Optional: Funeral procession (four pallbearers carrying a coffin (or a mimed coffin), a religious figure in front, at least one weeping mourner behind).

(This play can be staged story theatre style, with a very minimal set and props: three chairs, mimed objects. Productions may, of course, add props and set pieces if they are wanted, but they are not essential.)

Narrator
Death. He’s a tricky one. You can’t fool death. He catches us all.  But when you are young, or foolish, or both, you think otherwise. You have your whole life ahead of you. You ever see those pictures of a highway going off into the desert and disappearing into the mountains. When you are young, death looks like a little speck on the road way off in the distance. Could be a rabbit. Or a piece of litter. Or a dead body thrown from a fast moving car. You don’t know. But Death does. And he will come for you sooner or later — probably sooner.

Once upon a time there were three foolish young desperadoes. They liked to drink. And eat. And gamble.

(Three desperadoes sit at a table drinking and playing at dice. I call them desperadoes because they do not have to be gender specific.)

(Sound of funeral bell tolling.)

SETH
You hear that?

(Funeral procession crosses the stage: four pallbearers carrying a coffin (or a mimed coffin), a religious figure in front, at least one weeping mourning behind. Note: This procession could be signified entirely by a tolling bell and the three desperadoes watching the imaginary procession pass. )

SCAR
There is another one killed by Death.

SPIKE
That dirty bastard.

SETH
To the death of death.

SPIKE
To the death of death.

SETH
We should do that.

SCAR
Do what?

SETH
Find that dirty Death and kill him.

SPIKE
Then we would live forever.

SCAR
Yes!

SPIKE
Let’s get him.

SCAR
Where will we find him?

SETH
I don’t know.

SPIKE
I don’t either.

SCAR
But he is out there!

SPIKE
Let him come, let him come. You want a piece of me, Death. Here I am, Death! Here I am!

SCAR
I have heard that you don’t find Death, he finds you.

SETH
Well, that’s fine by me.

Narrator
And the three young desperadoes ran out of the bar, determined to find Death and kill him on the spot.

(They run out and across the stage. They see an old man.)

SETH
There’s Death.

SPIKE
Kill him!

SCAR
Kill him!

SETH
We got you, Death. You are not going to get away.

Old Man
You think I am Death?

SETH
You aren’t?

SPIKE
Awww heck!

Old Man
I wish I was. Then my life would be over. I have been waiting for Death to come for me, but Death doesn’t like to be ordered around. He doesn’t come if you call him.

SETH
You know Death?

Old Man
Not well, but I do know him. He has taken a lot of friends of mine.

SPIKE
Do you know where we can find Death?

Old Man
Let me think. Yes, I know where you can find Death. There is a big oak tree outside of town. Near the crossroads. You know it?

SETH
Got a big old hollow trunk?

SPIKE
And branches that look like skeleton arms in the winter?

Old Man
Yes, that’s it. You will find Death hidden in the hollow trunk.

(The young desperadoes run to the tree.)

SETH
You see Death in there?

SPIKE
I don’t, but I see something.

SETH
What do you see?

SPIKE
It looks like a box of some kind…

(Spike pulls out the trunk and opens it.)

SETH
Gold coins!

SCAR
Gold coins!

SPIKE
Lots of gold coins!

SCAR
We’re rich!

SETH
Who needs to kill Death when we have so many gold coins?

SCAR
There is so much here.

SETH
We each get a third of this.

SCAR
We will still be soooo rich.

Seth
You know, it’s getting dark.

SPIKE
I’m hungry.

SETH
We should stay here and guard this until morning.

SPIKE
Then we can divide it up.

SETH
Go to town and get more food and wine.

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