The Imp

Topic: “Arlechino”                                                           Ron Campbell

                                                soarfeat@gmail.com

The Imp

 

SETTING:

An Office

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

The Boss……..Male, 50’s, surly

Arlechino…….…..An Imp, sprightly

 

       (Lights up on a well appointed office at a large company.  BOSS sits behind a large desk. He speaks into an intercom:)

 

BOSS

Ms. Columbina, you can send Mr. Arlechino in now. .. Why not? He’s What? He’s hanging from the fluorescents? Well get him down from there… I don’t know, use a broom handle, anything. But be careful. Don’t break the fluorescents… I know he hates the fluorescents but he can’t just- Why is he up there anyway? “To look down your blouse?”  Well isn’t that sexual harassment?  You don’t see it that way? Why not? He what? He thinks your breasts should be designated as national treasures? Well that’s ridiculous. What?… No, I don’t think your breasts are ridiculous, I just-  What am I saying? I shouldn’t even be talking about your breasts! Just tell him to stop hanging on the lighting fixtures and come in here. Please!

 (He hangs up, runs his hands through his hair.)

BOSS

(Mumbling to himself:)

 

Jesus. What did I get myself into?

(ARLECHINO enters. He is wearing a nice suit and a tie with a diamond pattern. He bows flamboyantly.)

ARLECHINO

You wanted to see me, boss?

BOSS

Yes, Arlechino. Sit down please.

ARLECHINO

You got it, boss.  What’s up?

BOSS

Well, as you know, the morale at this company was at an all time low when we hired you. Recent economic downturns and employment down sizing has badly impacted the general work environment.  You were hired because your services guaranteed a lift in inter-office relations and increased productivity.

ARLECHINO

That’s right, boss. I was working on some inter office relations when you called me in, sir.

BOSS

By hanging from a lighting fixture?!

ARLECHINO

As I said the day you hired me, boss, there are no lengths I will not go to raise the morale here at your company. Your secretary, Ms Columbina, was suffering from some Body Image Issues. I was simply trying to help her recognize her attributes. People like to feel appreciated, boss…

So how ‘bout a raise?

BOSS

A raise?! I called you in here to fire you!

ARLECHINO

Fire me? You can’t do that! I’d be out on the streets… lonely, desperate. No place to call my own, flitting down alleyways-

BOSS

Look.

It was an experiment.

We wanted to see if having a kind of Joker in the deck would create a “fun” atmosphere and thereby boost productivity. You offered your services as a Company Jester and we went with it. Well, ClownTime is over.

ARLECHINO

But boss, you haven’t gotten your money’s worth out of me yet. I’m just beginning on my campaign to bring a healthy sense of mirth and good cheer to this work place. I am the Instigator of  Bon hommie. The Master of  Revels! I am Coyote,  the Trickster and the Indians called me Kokopelli. I am the first card in your Tarot deck.and the last person you want to see at a funeral. I am the Class Clown and the Sacred Harlequin. I am Lear’s “all licenced Fool.”  I am all of these things for I am a Shape Shifter and all these pranks  and pratfalls are merely flashes of truth aimed through the funny bone to the heart.

(He does a little dance and bows again.)

 

BOSS

Flashes of truth?  What are you talking about?  You’ve done nothing but disrupt the day to day operation of  this company. For instance I understand last Friday you filled the water cooler with sangria.

ARLECHINO

I only wish you had been there sir! I must say there was some quite lively inter- departmental  communications going on. And into the wee hours. In fact, after he fell asleep, we saran-wrapped Dave from Marketing to his cubicle. He had to tear his way out Saturday morning with a staple remover.

BOSS

That’s just what I’m saying. It’s that kind of misappropriation of basic office supplies that is not conducive to a stable work environment

I’m going to have to let you go.

ARLECHINO

But you can’t, boss. You need me. I’ll prove it to you.

BOSS

Need you? What I need is to pay attention to the bottom line. And that means no frivolous expenditures, no silly experiments and no un-necessary employees doing things like hooking all my paper clips together so when I pull one out of the dispenser I get this long chain stretching halfway ‘cross my office!

ARLECHINO

That was a good one wasn’t it?

BOSS

No! You are an expendable nuisance and this business doesn’t need you mucking it up with your silly high jinks!

ARLECHINO

But boss, what if they’re not?

BOSS

What if they’re not what?

ARLECHINO

Silly. What if my high jinks are a necessary part of a healthy system?

BOSS

You’re crazy.

ARLECHINO

Perhaps. But what is madness but a high degree of independence? I’m here to foster the unusual, to promote the surprising, to derail the mundane. I am an agent of a very important committee.

BOSS

And what committee would that be?

ARLECHINO

The Committee to Relieve Usual Dullness. Or CRUD.

BOSS

CRUD?

ARLECHINO

And you can be a member too. All you have to do is release yourself from the shackles of habit and routine and embrace the Imp that’s inside you.

BOSS

Imp? There’s no Imp inside me I assure you.

ARLECHINO

Oh yes there is. There’s an Inner Imp inside all of us. And if he’s not allowed to come out and play occasionally- he will whither and die. And you don’t want that, do you?

BOSS

Nobody’s dying around here.

ARLECHINO

                               (He presses his ear to BOSS’s stomach.)

Oh yes there is! And I can hear him. I can hear the little Imp inside you gasping for air, begging to be set free if even for a moment.

BOSS

Allright Arlechino I’ll play. Prove it. Prove that there’s an Imp living inside me and I’ll keep you on for another week.

ARLECHINO

Deal. Let’s start easy. Pick up your phone.

BOSS

…Okay.

ARLECHINO

Call Norman in Accounting. Go ahead. Dial the number… Now: when he answers, disguise your voice.

BOSS

This is absurd. I don’t want to-

ARLECHINO

Do it. Your Imp is dying in there. Screaming to be let free.

Now when he answers, ask for Max.

BOSS

Who’s Max? We don’t have a Max working here.

ARLECHINO

Exactly. Just do it!

BOSS

Okay, okay…

(In a funny high voice)

Hello? Is Max there?

ARLECHINO

Good. Excellent. Now hang up.

BOSS

I don’t see what this has to do with-

ARLECHINO

                                    (Taking the phone from him, hitting redial.)

My turn.

(In funny low voice.)

 

Hello. Is Max there?… No?
(He hangs up.)

 

Your turn again.


BOSS

Oh for God’s sake.

ARLECHINO

Ask the same thing- but use a different voice this time.

BOSS

(An even squeakier voice.)

Hello. Is Max there?

(He hangs up, a slight smile creasing his face.)

ARLECHINO

Bravo! Now for the kicker.

(Into phone)

Hello. This is Max. Have there been any calls for me?

(He hangs up as they both burst into giggles.)

You see? You hear yourself giggling? That’s the Imp leaking out of you.

BOSS

Wow. That was fun! Arlechino you’re a genius. But how does a silly crank call on company time to one of my own employees boost productivity around here?

ARLECHINO

Don’t you see? You created mischief. One of the fundamental ingredients of happiness. Mischief. You gave Norman a story to tell. You gave him a momentary respite from the mind numbing routine of number crunching and dry accounting and now he can get back to work with a little smile on his face knowing he has a story to tell his wife tonight at dinner. “The oddest thing happened today honey. There was this call for someone named Max.”

We may even have awakened Norman’s own stagnant Imp hibernating inside him. Now he will get back to work with vigor! Renewed and refreshed by the little Imp inside you!

BOSS

But my job is not to awaken dormant Imps lurking inside my employees. My job is to get them to stick their noses to the grindstone and focus on their work!

ARLECHINO

But don’t you see? Something’s got to change. All this focus and hunching over the grindstone has ground us down to nothing. It’s what got us into this mess in the first place. Our only hope is fostering a healthy dose of mischief. You just gave Norman a chance to lift his head briefly and wonder what the hell just happened. Your Imp is now alive. Now it’s up to you to let him fly!

BOSS

But what about Bottom Line? What about fiscal responsibilities and making hard choices?

ARLECHINO

You’ve tried that mode of thinking. Look where it got you. Bailouts and Bankruptcies. Time has come to let the Imp take a whack at it. It couldn’t be worse.

BOSS

Okay Arlechino I’ll do it.  I’ll let the Imp inside me make all the decisions.

ARLECHINO

Thatta boy!

BOSS

And the first decision I’ll make is this. You’re fired!

ARLECHINO

But boss-

BOSS

Just kidding. You see? Mischief!

                  (He does a little version of ARLECHINO’s dance.)

ARLECHINO

Good one, boss.

BOSS

                                                            (Chuckling.) 

It’s not bad once you get the hang of it.

ARLECHINO

I knew you had it in you.

BOSS

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got some work to get back to but yes, with a refreshed, renewed sense of vigor. You were right, Arlechino. Mischief is a muscle. You gotta work it out once and a while or it will atrophy.

ARLECHINO

That’s it! Congratulations! You are now a member of CRUD. The Committee to Relieve Usual Dullness welcomes you!

(A final triumphant bow.)

Now I’ll let you get back to work, boss.  And good luck!

(ARLECHINO  exits. BOSS sits for a moment, then picks up his phone.)

BOSS

Hello Ms, Columbina?

(He suppresses a giggle.)

Is Max there?

 

(Lights Fade to black.)

 

END OF PLAY

The IMP.doc
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