Summary: ‘Training for Life’ endeavours to show that some want to live this life as if there were no Hereafter – explaining away life’s mysteries by science, or smothering them in the pursuit of wealth. Others believe that heaven can be gained by good works and church attendance. When Life’s journey is ended, philosophy and theory will mean nothing. God will either say ‘Depart from Me I never knew you’ or ‘Enter into the joy of the Lord’. Keywords: training, decisions, choices.
Style: lighthearted. Duration: 12-15 min.
(Chairs are set out in the manner of a row of train carriages. The passengers enter in the order that make it easiest for the conductor to address them as the play progresses. They take their seats as the loudspeaker announcement is made. The professor rushes on, just in time.)
(A loudspeaker announcement is made: ‘The train now standing on Platform One is the ‘Train of Life’ which will depart at 10:35am, calling at Scholar’s Swamp, for the circle Line.’ Yuppie-Square’and Extinction-Junction. Passengers are requested to embark immediately, as departure is imminent.’)
Professor: (panting slightly) Oh, hello bishop, may I join you?
Bishop: Please do! You have the advantage of me... is it Professor Smart?
Prof: Alec, please! (They shake hands) What’s that you’re reading?
Bishop: It’s the draft of my latest book on metaphysical concepts.
Prof: Oh, speculations about God, eh? However he or it may be defined!
Bishop: Well, of course, there’s nothing certain these days and I think my readers understand that...now.
Prof: Yes, thanks to you, Bishop. It’s a real achievement! Have you read MY latest book? Modern Philosophy Wrapped in Myth?
Bishop: Not yet, but it sounds like an important work. Thoughts without direction, describing something which may or may not have happened!
Prof: That’s very perceptive! Anything goes! It’s very comprehensive.
Bishop: Lots of theories which lead nowhere – wonderful! Do you know, circular arguments are a hobby of mine. I just love having doubts, trying to understand them, and sharing them with the general public through the printed word!
Prof: Though perhaps the man-in the-street has enough doubts of his own?
Bishop: Yes! But we get paid to make them think, and besides, any cleric with doubts gets plenty of prime-time TV opportunities. That’s why we hardly ever see those from the evangelical faith on TV! (They snigger)
Conductor: (shouts in the wings) All aboard! (Blows whistle, moves down the train to the front seat) Tickets please! (Prof and Bishop submit tickets) This will only take you as far as Scholar’s Swamp. From there you can take the Circle Line which goes from Liberal Square, Mensa, Intelligence Quota, Mastermind Maze, Krypton Factor, Halls of Academe, and round to Scholar’s Swamp again.
Bishop: That sound’s heavenly!
Prof: Do you mean we can go round in a circle for the rest of our life...ad infinitium?
Bishop: Or ad nauseam? (please with his little joke)
Prof: Well, if our heads start to spin, we can get off at Mastermind Maze, and go round that instead!
Bishop: Oh, rather! I do believe (to Prof) and I use the word advisedly – that the fog comes down regularly – obliterating everything – Oh, here we are, this is our station! (exeunt)
Conductor: All passengers for Scholars Swamp and the Circle Line! (To next couple) Tickets, please! (Toby and Miranda submit their tickets) These will take you to Yuppie Square, Belgravia.
Toby: That’s where we want to go, isn’t it, Miranda sweet?
Miranda: Oh, yes, Toby darling!
Conductor: How far have you come already?
Toby: Well, I have a beautiful wife, (aside) with rich parents, a BMW, a two-bedroomed semi in a nice area and a job in my father-in law’s company!
Conductor: What comes next?
Miranda: Oh Toby, I’d like a five-bedroomed house – detached – in Surbiton...
Toby: A Porsche...
Miranda: A second home in St Tropez...
Toby: My father-in-law’s job, not to mention his salary!
Conductor: What then?
Miranda: Three... no four nice children...
Toby: Good schools, the best universities.
Conductor: What then?
Toby: Well, we’d be little older, more mature.
Conductor: What then?
Toby: I’ll retire on a fat pension!
Conductor: What then?
Miranda: I suppose...
Conductor: Ah, but what then?
Toby: Is this our stop?
Conductor: It could be, but you do have a choice.
Miranda: (not really interested) Oh, yes? (gets ready to disembark)
Conductor: You could get the 11:27 back to the square one and start again.
Toby: (not listening) Porter! Get me a taxi! (starts to run down the aisle) Yuppie Square, driver, and quickly. Oh, after you precious...
Conductor: (to next couple, Henry and Alice) Tickets please!
Henry: These should get you to heaven.
Alice: Yes, we’ve paid for them by instalment for such a long time!
Henry: We paid the deposit when we were christened.
Alice: Don’t be silly, Henry, our parents did! Then small weekly instalments at Sunday school...
Henry: I was a choirboy for nine years!
Alice: ... and another big payment when we were confirmed. That’s enough to get us to heaven, surely?
Conductor: For some, the act of confirmation is enough, but...not in this case.
Alice: Oh, but I’ve kept up the payments every week! In church!
Henry: ...and Easter and Christmas for me!
Alice: Weddings and funerals!
Conductor: But I’m afraid it’s not enough!
Alice: Not enough! But my name's on the church role!
Conductor: Madam, it may be written on a toilet roll. It’s still not enough!
Alice: Well! There’s not need to be rude! If people like us haven’t paid enough, who has?
Conductor: The price has already been paid.
Alice and Henry: ( together) What?
Conductor: By Jesus! He knew that nobody could ever have paid enough for their ticket. So He paid for everyone Himself!
Alice: I don’t believe you!
Henry: It’s a con.
Alice: I’d rather continue to pay by weekly instalments, if you don’t mind! (to Henry) Never did trust these special offers!
Conductor: In that case, you’ll have to get off, here.
Alice: Just a minute, I’m not getting off here! It’s all dark!
Conductor: I’m sorry, Madam, your tickets have expired. (opens the door and gently pushes them out)
Alice: I can’t see anything! Henry! Henry!
Henry: Alice! Where’ve you gone now? Where’s the way out of here? Is anybody there? Alice! (they take different routes out, stumbling blindly)
Conductor: (to Sue and Brian) Tickets please!
Sue: I didn’t know we had to have tickets.
Brian: Nobody’s ever explained to us what we need to do, so we just thought we’d get on the train, and see what happens.
Sue: We’ve always wanted to go to heaven, you see, but Professor Smart said there wasn’t one and that it was all invented by well-meaning but misguided clergy.
Brian: And some Bishop on the telly said that it was a metaphysical concept, whatever that means! (to Sue) Why didn’t someone tell us how to get a ticket?
Debbie: I’ve got a ticket!
Conductor: I know, my dear. I’ve seen it. Yes, that’s the one. That will get you all the way to heaven!
Debbie: Dad? Could you let these people have a ticket? They really want one!
Conductor: OK love, you tell them how to get one.
Conductor: Yes, you! Explain how you got yours. Tell them how Jesus has paid for their tickets. All they have to do is read the brochure, do what it says, and claim the tickets. Show them!
(She mimes conversation- Freeze).
© Copyright Greg Walton, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.