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A Play in One Act

The other day, BeatnikPad pointed to a Dale Carnegie cheat sheet, a summary of techniques outlined in his 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I hadn’t thought of Dale Carnegie in years, but that page reminded me of my own Dale Carnegie experience years ago.

A friend urged me to try Dale Carnegie training back when I was free-lancing. He knew I was painfully shy, and he thought it would help me work more effectively with clients. The training is really meant for management types, not worker bees like myself; most of the people in my class were managers sent there by their companies. The class was very difficult for me—I even dropped out at one point—but I persevered. Eventually they worked their magic, which consists of getting students to do enough speaking in class that they finally relax and realize it’s not terrifying at all. By the end of the course, I was enjoying it.

As a team-building exercise, we had to put on a play based on a fragment of text we pulled out of a hat. The text was a little bit of nonsense about fleas, flies, flaws and flues. I volunteered to write the play and played one of the fleas. Here it is in its entirety (it’s very short).


Narrator: Valerie
Flea 1: Tony
Flea 2: Daniel
Fly 1: Carol
Fly 2: Dave


Narrator: (center stage) The Fleameister players are proud to present “Cooperation,” a play in one act.
(exit to offstage)
Once upon a time, there was a house.
And the owners of this house were very proud of their house.
And so they kept their house very, very, very clean.
But in spite of their diligence, this fortress of cleanliness was constantly under siege...

Flea 1: (enters jumping) Puhtoooi! Flea collars! I hate those things!

Flea 2: (enters jumping) Yecch! Me, too!

Flea 1: (still hopping) Why did we come here, anyway? We had it great at that house with the eighteen cats.

Flea 2: (still hopping) I was stifled there.

Flea 1: I know, I know. But I guess you’re right. It’s hard to stand out when you have 700 brothers and sisters. But Mom always liked you best.

Flea 2: Did not!

Flea 1: Did too!

Flea 2: Did not!

Flea 1: Did too! She was so impressed that you were always trying to improve yourself. Always taking courses. Anyway, we can’t stay here. Let’s get outta here.
(fleas hop over to the flue)

Flea 1: I see a flaw in the flue up there... (tries jumping as high as he can) ...but I can’t reach it.
(the fleas stand in the flue looking up at the flaw)

Narrator: The fleas were trapped in the clean house, and feeling sick from the flea collars. It looked hopeless. But this house was being invaded not only by disgruntled fleas. There were other intruders as well...
(both flies enter, flapping their wings)

Fly 1: I hate this place! Why did we come here?

Fly 2: Hey, I saw this house profiled in Martha Stewart Living. Who knew they were such good housekeepers.

Fly 1: You read Martha Stewart Living?

Fly 2: Nah, I can’t read. I’m a fly. I’ve got compound eyes. I just look at the pictures. And the food sure looked good!

Fly 1: Well, there’s no sign of any food around here. Not a crumb. Let’s get outta here.
(the flies fly over to the flue)

Fly 2: I’ll bet there’s a flaw in this flue somewhere. Every flue has a flaw, but I’ll be darned if I can see it. Curse these compound eyes.
(The fleas and flies are now together in the flue)

Flea 1: (looking up) Hey, look. Those flies are flying right past the flaw in the flue! I wish we could fly.

Flea 2: The flies can’t see the flaw in the flue. They have compound eyes.

Flea 1: I suppose you learned that in one of your courses. Now what do we do?

Narrator: The smart flea, who had taken Dale Carnegie training as one of his many courses, knew that teamwork would be their only hope.

Flea 2: Oh, flies! Excuse me! Hello! If we work together we can all escape this wretched place. We fleas can see that there’s a flaw in the flue, but it’s too high for us to jump to. If you will fly us up there, we can guide you through it.

Narrator: The flies quickly realized that they could all escape the clean house if they worked together with the fleas as a team. (flies look at each other, shrug shoulders and stop flapping their wings to land) So they took off with the fleas hanging onto their backs and flew through the flaw in the flue to freedom! (fleas hold onto flies’ shoulders and all exit through the flaw)
And they lived happily ever after. The End.

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