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Responsibility

© 2002, by Samuel M. Post. Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class — please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.

Characters
FATHER
DAUGHTER
MOTHER

Time….present
Setting…home

A chair. FATHER sits with a newspaper. Enter DAUGHTER.

FATHER: What do you want for your birthday?

DAUGHTER: A car.

FATHER: You can’t have a car.

DAUGHTER: That’s what I want.

FATHER: You can’t have it.

DAUGHTER: You asked me.

FATHER: What else do you want?

DAUGHTER: That’s all.

FATHER: You know I can’t afford that.

DAUGHTER: You asked what I wanted.

FATHER: How about a CD?

DAUGHTER: No thanks.

FATHER: You love CD’s. Just tell me what you want.

DAUGHTER: I don’t want you to get me a CD.

FATHER: You can pick out your own. I’ll get you a gift certificate.

DAUGHTER: Don’t want one.

FATHER: A gift card to Blockbuster?

DAUGHTER: No.

FATHER: You love to rent movies.

DAUGHTER: Not anymore. Who wants to sit around here and watch a video.

FATHER: I’ll get you a gift certificate to Belk’s.

DAUGHTER: I despise Belk’s.

FATHER: Where would you like a gift certificate to?

DAUGHTER: I hate gift certificates.

FATHER: How about a phone card?

DAUGHTER: No. I hate those. Too much trouble.

FATHER: I’ve been thinking for a while that you could use a cell phone. It’s an expense I was putting off, but what the heck.

DAUGHTER: I’m not wild about ’em.

FATHER: You always want to borrow mine.

DAUGHTER: I’d probably lose it.

FATHER: You’ve never lost mine. Listen, this takes the fun out of it. I’ll get you something – maybe a cell phone – and we’ll call it a surprise.

DAUGHTER: Don’t get a stupid cell phone. I’ll throw it in a dumpster.

FATHER: Then money. I’ll give you some cash and we’ll both be happy.

DAUGHTER: Money is capitalist filth. Don’t want it.

FATHER lowers the newspaper.

FATHER: Dammit! You want a car. How do you think people buy those?

sarcastic

DAUGHTER: I dunno. How?

FATHER: With money! A lot of it.

DAUGHTER: Cars are useful.

FATHER: Cars are a pain in the ass.

DAUGHTER: I don’t think so.

FATHER: You’ve never had one. They’re dangerous. They break. They require constant maintenance. Gas. It’s a huge responsibility to own a car.

DAUGHTER: Eh.

FATHER: I wish I could give you that.

DAUGHTER: Then give me one.

FATHER: Not a car. Responsibility.

DAUGHTER: I’ve already got it.

FATHER: That’s a crock.

DAUGHTER: I do.

FATHER: You don’t know what it is.

DAUGHTER: What is it?

FATHER: Tell you what it is?

DAUGHTER: Yeah. Explain it.

FATHER: Responsibility is…being…responsible. Having…being…able to respond.

DAUGHTER: I respond.

FATHER: Well, it’s more. It’s being re-spon-sive. It’s taking care of your own life. Being accountable. That’s it…accountable…for your life. Knowing that…what happens…you know…if it’s good…you take the credit. If it doesn’t turn out so well, it’s…

pause

…your own fault!

pause

Then you respond accordingly.

DAUGHTER: I’m responsible.

FATHER: You are not!

DAUGHTER: I am!

pause

I should be an A student, right?

FATHER: Right.

DAUGHTER: And I’m not. Right?

FATHER: Right. Exactly. You don’t work up to your potential. You aren’t responsible.

DAUGHTER: But I am. I know I’m a bad student. I choose to get B’s and C’s and D’s. I embrace them. I know the assignments and I respond accordingly. I’m even responsible for living with you, in this house, in this capitalistic, money-grubbing, time-impoverished society. If I wanted to, I could choose something different. I could…well…move somewhere – like the American Taliban did.

FATHER: The American Taliban!

DAUGHTER: Yeah, the American Taliban.

FATHER: My God! You call that responsible?

DAUGHTER: C’mon, Dad. I just want a car. I’ll pay the insurance.

FATHER: How?

DAUGHTER: I’ll get a job.

FATHER: When you get one, ask me again.

DAUGHTER: Then it’s a deal.

FATHER: No. Even if you pay the insurance, whose gonna pay for the car?

DAUGHTER: I couldn’t pay for that!

FATHER: Neither can I. I think we’re very generous with letting you use our cars.

DAUGHTER: It’s not like having your own.

FATHER: You’re insane.

DAUGHTER: You are! You could afford a car for me if you wanted to. We took that vacation.

FATHER: That was our vacation.

DAUGHTER: It cost as much as a car!

FATHER: It did not!

DAUGHTER: It cost as much as the kind of car I would get.

FATHER: You couldn’t get any car for that.

DAUGHTER: Dad, you wasted a lot of money on that vacation.

FATHER: We did not.

DAUGHTER: You did! Who needs to go deep sea fishing?

FATHER: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do!

DAUGHTER: You didn’t catch much.

FATHER: I wanted to try it! We work. We deserve a vacation! If I want to see what it’s like to go deep sea fishing – at my age – I deserve to be able to.

DAUGHTER: I deserve a car.

FATHER: You do not.

DAUGHTER: I hate those vacations!

FATHER: You do not. You love the beach.

DAUGHTER: I hate going to the beach with you! I hate you!

Enter MOTHER

MOTHER: What’s going on in here?

FATHER: She hates vacations.

DAUGHTER: (to FATHER) And you.

MOTHER: That’s enough.

FATHER: She wants to be like the American Taliban.

MOTHER: Hey.

DAUGHTER: Not be a Taliban, really. But I sort of admire that guy.

FATHER: How can you admire him!

DAUGHTER: He had a philosophy.

FATHER: What?

DAUGHTER: The Taliban philosophy.

FATHER: What’s that?

DAUGHTER: I don’t know. But he followed his heart. He deserves credit for that.

FATHER: Bullshit. He took up arms against his country.

MOTHER: I don’t think that was his original intent.

FATHER: Of course not. He went crazy.

MOTHER: Certainly. The young man has mental problems.

DAUGHTER: He was just a guy who wanted to explore the world. I think he sort of got kidnapped. Why is everyone who disagrees with you always crazy?

FATHER: They aren’t.

DAUGHTER: They are too!

FATHER: Not everybody. I’m talking about the American Taliban! He is crazy!

DAUGHTER: Have you been inside his head? You might be the one who’s crazy.

MOTHER: Stop it!

DAUGHTER: Mom, I need a car.

MOTHER: Ask your father.

DAUGHTER: That’s what I just did.

MOTHER: What did he say?

DAUGHTER: You heard him. He says the American Taliban is crazy. He offered to give me cash – because he’s a cold, numb, corporate-centered capitalist.

FATHER: I’m not corporate. I’m a social worker.

DAUGHTER: It’s your mindset. Your whole generation is materialistic.

FATHER: So is yours.

DAUGHTER: I’m not. I’m a socialist.

FATHER: I thought the same thing when I was your age.

DAUGHTER: You were right. What happened to you?

FATHER: I took on some responsibility. That’s what.

MOTHER: A car’s not a bad idea.

FATHER: We’re not getting her a car for her birthday. Hell, I suggested a cell phone. That’s generous.

MOTHER: Ooooo. A cell phone. That’s nice. You want that.

DAUGHTER: Mom, I want a car.

MOTHER: (to FATHER)  Honey, it’s not a bad idea.

FATHER: We can’t afford that.

MOTHER: Maybe she could pay for it.

DAUGHTER: That’s what I was thinking.

FATHER: How?

MOTHER: She could get a loan.

FATHER: How would she pay it back?

MOTHER: She could get a job.

FATHER: Shouldn’t she have the job already?

MOTHER: Maybe she needs a little encouragement.

FATHER: Maybe so.

DAUGHTER: I’ll never get that around here.

MOTHER: Give her some.

FATHER: How?

MOTHER: It doesn’t cost anything. Just say something encouraging.

FATHER: Get a job.

DAUGHTER: That’s not encouragement!

FATHER: What am I supposed to do!

MOTHER: Make some suggestions.

FATHER: Get a job bagging groceries.

DAUGHTER: That’s the pits.

FATHER: Jobs are the pits.

DAUGHTER: I will never bag groceries.

FATHER: Get a job waiting tables. Give me your tips. When it adds up to four thousand dollars, we’ll go look at cars.

DAUGHTER: That won’t work.

FATHER: Why not?

DAUGHTER: It’ll take forever.

FATHER: Cars don’t grow on trees.

DAUGHTER: Two thousand.

FATHER: Three.

DAUGHTER: One.

FATHER: Okay. Two.

DAUGHTER: Five hundred.

FATHER: One thousand.

DAUGHTER: Seven fifty.

FATHER: Uh.

MOTHER: (to FATHER):  Darling. You’re the one who made the suggestion.

DAUGHTER: Can I use my Bat Mitzvah money?

FATHER: No!

DAUGHTER: Why not?

MOTHER: Yeah. Why not?

FATHER: That’s college money.

DAUGHTER: If I have the car, I can drive to work and save money for college.

MOTHER: That’s a very responsible attitude.

FATHER: It is?

MOTHER: Yes.

FATHER: But she’s never shown any sign of wanting to work. She’s never worked at all.

DAUGHTER: It’s time to begin.

MOTHER: See how responsible she is?

FATHER: God.

DAUGHTER: Can I still have the cell phone for my birthday?

MOTHER: That’s a great idea.

to FATHER

We don’t want her to be in her car without a cell phone.

FATHER: (resigned)  Yeah. Good idea.

DAUGHTER: What about the cash?

FATHER: Those were alternate suggestions.

MOTHER: Let’s leave room for surprises. It’s her birthday.

As MOTHER and DAUGHTER exit, they whisper excitedly about their shopping plans. FATHER sits, defeated and distressed.

End of play

Notes about Dad:

He wants to get along with his daughter, and he wants her to grow up and assume responsibility — but not right away. Within a logical time frame.

In the opening exchange, he tries to remain calm, using reason and logic. His first mistake is losing his cool when she says, “Money is capitalist filth. Don’t want it.” He allows this to set him off. His second mistake is his reaction to her reference to the “American Taliban.” Perhaps this represents — to a parent — the ultimate in loss and disappointment and pain that an irresponsible child could potentially inflict. At this point, he comes down to her level and begins to argue with a teenager, acting like a teenager himself. She’s better at it because the conflict takes place on her level. Thus, the battle is really over and she has won. The rest is mopping up.

Notes about Daughter

She wants a car, but what she really wants is to become a responsible adult. The problem is, she wants to be an adult, and have what adults have, before — in the eyes of her father — she is doing the things that adults do. Also, she defines responsibility in a different way perhaps an equally legitimate view as her father’s. Although her methods are not necessarily mature — she’s disorganized, illogical, and testy — she does deserve a certain amount of credit for taking responsibility. She makes bad grades and embraces them. With her father, she sets a goal and works relentlessly to achieve it.

If she can get Dad to argue on her level, thereby taking him out of logic and into emotion — she wins. “Money is capitalist filth,” gets the ball rolling. The “American Taliban” remark is the turning point.

Notes about Mom

She wants Dad to be more understanding and let her grow. She wants the daughter to grow up, be nice, and have a car. Mostly, she wants them to get along so that she survives.

61 comments to Responsibility

  • nancy collins

    Can your plays be freely used as competition pieces for forensics tournaments? Students would give you full credit as the author of the play when they introduce it.
    N Collins
    Coach

  • Sam

    Nancy,

    That’s fine. I’d be honored. But I would like to know about it.

    Thanks,

    Sam

  • Aly

    PERFECT PRACTICE FOR MY AUDITION! THANK U SO MUCH!

  • Carmen

    Hello Sam from Brazil,…My name is Carmen and I am a teacher at an international school. I teach the Arts here,and work from an International curriculum, as well as developing a Drama curriculum for ESL learners. Most of the classes I guide students in writing their plays, or I write them, but I have one group that has me pulling taffy, so to speak. I found that your play Responsibility, would be a good one for them to do, and would like your permission to do it for their presentation Nov.26th. Let me know how you are with that.
    Thank you much, where you are
    carmen

    • Sam

      It would be my pleasure, Carmen. I’m Honored.

      If you have a chance to send me a note or a picture afterward — I’d love to hear how it goes..

      Break a leg with that taffy group.

  • Andrew

    Hi Sam.I was just wondering if i could use “Responsibility” in my 8th Grade Drama class. A lot of students in my school want to grow up and have everything from the latest cellphone to the latest video game. I think this might be a learning experience from them.

    Also, I might have to cut certain lines in the script because it might not be suitable in the eyes of the principal and assistant principals.

    Thanks for understanding! 🙂

    • Sam

      It would be my pleasure. As one who taught middle school for 15 years, once upon a time, I know a little about principals and assistant principals. Let me know how it goes.

      Sam

  • Amanda

    Hi Sam. I was wondering if I could use Responsibility for my high school drama competition in January.
    Thanks!

  • Amanda

    Thanks, will do!

  • Peter MacDonald

    I am teaching an energetic grade 6 class whom I love and want to turn them on to drama. This will be an a classroom project and possibly if done well at a school assembly.
    I am trying to empower and hope to bring some out of their shell.::—)
    Thanks in advance !
    Mr. Mac

  • Erin Rukes

    Hi, I wanted to know if I could have permission to use the script Responsibility in a high school drama class? I’ve been looking for relavent scenes/ scripts and think my kids would enjoy and relate to this one.
    Thanks,
    Erin

  • Daphne Marquez

    Sam,

    i just want to ask permission to use this script “Responsibility” for my Spanish class. In school, we were asked to look for an English play script which will be used to be translated in Spanish.

    I hope you will allow me. Your script will be such a great help for my studies.

    Thank you.

    Daphne

  • hi, i’m interested in using the responsibility script for my class competition, i’m teaching in st cecilia convent secondary school in sandakan sabah malaysia.how can i get the lyric

  • hi its me again. i forgot to submit my email.would u be kind enough to email me the script at saerintz@yahoo.com

  • cezean

    hey sam,
    can i use “responsibility” as one of my examples in my literature class?
    am a student..
    hoping for your approval.
    tnx..

  • Aisha

    Hi Sam,

    I’m a first year secondary school English teacher and have just started up Drama Club. I’ve been a bit stuck for ideas and then came across your website. Do you mind if i use your play? As i work in an all girls school, i reckon a lot of the girls could relate to arguing with their dad’s!

    Ms. Aisha 🙂

  • joshua

    Hi Sam. I was wondering if I could use Responsibility for my high school english class presentation and it would be great play that would be a help for alot of students.

    Thanks!

  • Diana

    Hello. I am a student from Barlad, Romania and I would like to play ”Responsibility” on Friday, when it is our school’s day. It is the most appropriate and interesting plays I found, so I hope you will agree.
    Thank you!

  • Renee Sanow

    Hi Sam,

    I teach at Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok Thailand and would like to use your “Responsibility” script with my 8th grade summer camp kids. It will mostly likely be performed for an audience of 45 middle schoolers.

  • Evangeline

    Hi Sam,

    I’m a first-year student currently attending Arcadia High School in California. The Theater Arts/Drama group in my school will be holding an audition in a week and I would like to use your script “Respondsibility” for the audition.
    I would greatly appreciate it, and thank you so much in advance.

    Best Regards,
    Evangeline

  • Francesca

    Hi,
    I love your scripts, I’ve been looking for two years for something suitable for my students. I teach English in a high school with technical disciplines, in Romania, Slatina, our students are facing with difficulties early enough, they learn English as much as they can, but they love it and they like playing drama more than everything. It was always a challenge for me to find attractive, not too long scripts for them. Now, I feel like having discovered a treasure. May I have your permission to play Responsibility, on September 26th (European Day of Languages)?

    With deep respect,
    Francesca Diaconu

  • Francesca

    It would be my pleasure.
    Thank you, Sam

  • surya

    i really liked this play… id like to perform it on stage… let me plzzzz

  • Rhoda Catalano

    I was looking for one-act plays for a small drama group about responsibility. I found your play and thought I might be able to use this with the students. It has a plethora of information to discuss on many levels. Thanks.

  • David

    Hi Sam,

    I’m a beginning teacher and would really appreciate being allowed to use this play with my Grade 8 students for drama class. It’s exactly what i’m looking for!

  • dee

    Hye Sam
    what a good topic for my students and for me=)
    I’m a new teacher and I would like to to use this drama in my class.
    Need your approval.TQ

    • Sam

      Hi Dee,

      Sure — you can use it and I hope you find value for you and your class. What school? Where? Good luck with teaching. I admire your devotion to raising the next generation. I was a teacher myself for many years.

      Sam

  • lakshmi

    I am from ernakulam, kochi – india. we staged dis on art day competition. thankyou sir !

    on coming children’s day we have another topic for street play. can you help me ?
    the topic is is punishing child gud or bad?

  • Michelle Dinh

    Hi, I am a 10 year old girl and would like to do this. I think it will be great for an audition. Please, I would like to know if I could use this. I think this will be amazing. I am not sure though. I am trying out for Catching Fire. I don’t know if I should use this, because to me it is more of comedy. I would LOVE it if you could suggest anything for that movie. Please reply, and I would love it if you could please help me!!

    • Sam

      Hello Michelle,

      You are welcome to use this script. However, I’m completely unqualified to help you choose what to use for your audition. Do you have a drama teacher you can talk to?

      Thanks for your comment and for reading my play. Be bold. Break a leg!

      Sam

  • Fraser Heu

    Hello Sam,

    I am a student from Malaysia, now 16, and I’m interested to use this script as my team and I are required to make a play in class. I searched through the Internet, but I can’t find one that suits me until I see this. This script is hilarious with some humor in it.. However, my teacher find this play a bit too long, so I’m planning to modify it and shorten it. I hope you can grant me the permission to use this script. I believe, it will be a success when we perform it in class

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Fraser Heu

  • Karis George

    I would like to produce this play for an upcoming production under the theme “Chasing Happiness.” Credit will be given for your work.

  • Melanie

    Hello. My name is Melanie and I am in a theatre class over the summer. we are putting together a show case and I found this skit and wanted to perform Responsibility with my older sister and a friend. Our teacher, Ms. Hinz-Radue is putting together a program so credit will be given to you. I hope you grant permission but as you said above, I know you will. Thank you.

  • Esther

    hello Sam!

    I love the play actually! I was planning to use it as my performance in a class. But will it be too long for a 10 minutes play?

  • grace

    Hi Sam, Im doing a school project for a theater survey class would you please let me know if I can use the play responsible for it?

  • parimita

    Hello. May I use this play for a special assembly in my school please?

  • Joshua Myers

    Hi Sam,

    I was wondering if you would be willing to grant me permission to direct this for my school’s 10-Minute Play Festival on December 7th?
    I go to Malone University and it is per my Directing course I must direct a 10-minute play, and yours caught my eye.

    Thanks!
    Joshua Myers

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