Thomas Thomas

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2 characters. Approximately 10 minutes running time. Short play about Thomas Jefferson renting his slaves to another slave owner.

Thomas Bell rents the slave Mary from Thomas Jefferson, her master. He is openly intimate with her, and wants to buy her in order to make her free and his wife. Thomas Jefferson is intimate with another of his slaves, Mary’s younger sister Sally, and is quite hush hush about it. The two good friends, meet and discuss the situation, the deal.

This play explores the dynamics of slavery and what happens when slave owners fall in love with those they have enslaved.

Leonard D Goodisman, Ph. D, writes plays which entertain, also, stimulate and inspire sociologically, psychologically, politically, and spiritually. He’s written about two dozen full length plays, many more one act plays, a number of which have won awards. As Development Director for the Eclectic Theater for a half dozen or so years, and Artistic Director at the Pocket, and in other incarnations, he has directed plays, been stage manager, actor, dramaturg, tech booth operator, sold goodies and enjoyed most of the roles one plays behind the scenes in theater.

Here are two more excellent plays by Leonard D. Goodsman:

Sally
The Census

Excerpt from the play:

CHARACTERS

Thomas Bell – a Virginia merchant
Thomas Jefferson – third President of the US

Setting: The setting is Thomas Bell’s store, where goods and food are sold, and coffee is served and sometimes entertainment is offered; and the two Thomas’s have a view of the customers and of Mary herself; Thomas Bell mentions that. So, they can be against a wall a bit apart from the customers, or at the end of the counter and of the way, listening to the “chit-chat” as the play says. You could imagine that the audience are the customers and when Jefferson, nipped at a bit by Bell, says “what do you know about me?” What he really means is “What does everyone know about me?” He could be looking at the audience when he says that.

BELL
Thomas. (Cheerful.)

JEFFERSON
Thomas. (Polite.)

BELL
Good to see you.

JEFFERSON
And you. Incredible activity in your store, everyone talking up a storm. Your place has become famous for all this chit chat.

BELL
Not chit chat, but important talk. Just ask these folks whether what they’re saying is important. They’re largely showing off for you. You’re a national figure, perhaps President of our grand new country one day. We all want to show you how clever we are, including me.

JEFFERSON
No need for you to show me anything. I know how clever you are.

BELL
(Laughs.) Thank you, maybe. President Thomas Jefferson. It sounds right to my ear.

JEFFERSON
Or President Thomas Bell. One aspect of democracy is that it always sounds right, no matter whose name goes there.

BELL
Yes, we’re all created equal; but maybe it’s the Thomas part that sounds so right for President. You show us the way. As for other names that might go in that place, there are people who have never voted, some who chose not to vote and some who weren’t allowed.

JEFFERSON
Then they wouldn’t make a very good President, would they?

BELL
Probably not. And thinking of other people who may never be President (laughs heartily), did you get my request about your Mary?

JEFFERSON
President Mary? Is that your implication; very aggressive.

BELL
(Laughs)

JEFFERSON
She’s right over there. What more could you request or want?

BELL
Now you’re teasing.

JEFFERSON
I am. Yes, I received your request and I’ve written my manager to work out the price. Your Mary’s a fine woman for any price.

BELL
My Mary? (Laughing) That’s the issue! She’s your Mary. But, “a fine woman?” That’s horse trader talk…praising what’s being sold as an extraordinary commodity in order to get a better
price.

JEFFERSON
But she is.

BELL
A horse?

JEFFERSON
A valuable commodity… certainly valuable for sale, to sell…

BELL
So, I should be talking her value down, as a commodity, to lower the price. She’s lazy, makes mistakes, can’t count. I won’t. (Laughs.) She’s the finest woman I know, brews delicious coffee, always has a kind word for the customers when they pay for a cup of coffee or when they buy anything. She’s good at numbers, the books, at organizing merchandise, deciding what to order, when and … well, everything.

JEFFERSON
Everything? Indeed. You’re positively smitten. I’ll have to raise the price way up then, won’t I?

BELL
I guess so. You raise it up and I’ll pay for her, whatever you charge.

JEFFERSON
Offering to pay more? You’re a generous man. Who would think you’re as fine a merchant as you are?

BELL
Thomas? (Disbelief.)

JEFFERSON
Thomas. It was a joke. Okay. No increase in price.

BELL
And I’ll be wanting to include her children in the sale.

JEFFERSON
The last two.

BELL
Excuse me.

JEFFERSON
You’ve rented Mary for two years now. Don’t look at me like that.

BELL
Is it an uncomfortable situation, slavery?

JEFFERSON
That’s the way slavery works.

BELL
You mean slavery is uncomfortable? (Laughs.) How about for the slaves?

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