By John McNeil
The parable of the Sower and the Seed in modern setting among the branch offices of a large corporation.
Corporation 2IC (male or female)
Office managers (the same person can take the part of the manager in each office visited)
Narrator: There was once a chairman of a multinational corporation who had an important message that he wanted to impress on all his employees. So important, that rather than memo them, circularise them, courier them, email them, fax them, vodaphone them, intranet them, or hire a jet plane and fly them all to Taupo for the weekend...he decided to send his trusted second in command round all the branches to personally deliver the message.
2IC: (Enters, looks at sign on door, reads) "Chairman and Son/Daughter - wholesalers, retailers, exporters, importers, and generally nice people to know." That's us!
(Enters office. Approaches the office manager, a cynical, world-weary dropout of the rat race, who doesn't look up from his desk.)
2IC: Good afternoon, you must be Mr Rhodes!
Manager: If it's deliveries, they go to the back entrance. If you're selling something, we only see salesmen on alternate Tuesdays between 3 and 3.30.
2IC: It's neither of those. I have...
Manager: Then could you please call my secretary for an appointment. Good day.
2IC: If you will please listen for a moment, I have something important to tell you.
Manager: Not another religious nutter! You're the second...
2IC: Mr Rhodes! Do you not know who I am?
Manager: (Looks the 2IC over with a bored "are you still here" look.)
2IC: I am the Son/Daughter ... the second in command ... of Chairman and Son/Daughter. To be precise, your employer!
Manager: Head Office never informed me that anyone was coming.
2IC: I am Head Office, and I am telling you now. I have an important message from the Chairman - he has asked me to deliver it personally. (Takes out envelope.) It is contained in this envelope. He wants you to read it and take immediate action. The future of this company and your position is at stake.
Manager: Pop it on my in tray, then, would you. I'll action it forthwith. (He returns to the work on his desk.)
2IC: Make sure that you do, Mr Rhodes. I have other branches to visit, but I will check back with you later. Goodbye. (Exits)
(Lights fade briefly)
(2IC enters, to meet Mr Peters, an effusive, unfocused individual, eager to please but who is forever starting and never finishing a project.)
2IC: Mr Peters!
Peters: My dear sir/madam. How nice to see you after all this time. We have awaited your arrival with such anticipation. This branch of Chairman and Son/Daughter is honoured to have you visit. Can I offer you some refreshment?
2IC: That's very kind of you, Mr Peters, but I don't have time to stop, I'm afraid...
Peters: (Face falls) Oh, that is so sad. I would so love to ... (perks up) but I'm sure it must be an important matter to bring you all this way.
2IC: It is, Mr Peters. My father, the Chairman, has a very important message (takes out envelope) and he has asked me to deliver it in person. (Hands it over.)
Peters: (In raptures) A personal message from the Chairman! And by your own hand. We are too honoured. May I read it now?
2IC: Please do.
Peters: (Scans quickly and mumble-reads. To 2IC) Oh yes, you are so right. This is important. Quite critical. How typical of our Chairman's incisive thinking. We will swing into immediate action, give it our most earnest attention.
2IC: My father... the chairman... will be pleased, Mr Peters. (Telephone rings). You answer that, and I will let myself out. Goodbye. (Exits)
Peters: (to phone) Mr Peters. Harold, we have a new directive from Head Office which requires our immediate ... what's that? We've not met our sales targets this month!? That's the third running! But we have this new directive... (Pause) I know the economy's slack, but Head Office ... (Pause) Well, if you say so. Guess I'll just have to memo them explaining why we can't make it this time round...
(Exits as lights fade briefly. Enter Mr Thorn with 2IC.)
Thorn: You simply have to try the Chateau Diamente '96. Nothing less would be fit for your palate. I brought it especially from my own cellar, in honour of the occasion.
2IC: I really don't have time to sample your ...(breaks off as s/he looks around the office.) My, you have this office beautifully furnished!
Thorn: A successful business has to look successful. This branch deals with top drawer clients. They expect us to look the part.
2IC: I don't recall seeing a Colin McCahon in the list of requisitions for the branch!
Thorn: On loan from my personal collection. Bought it when he was relatively unknown...
2IC: I think I would like a full inventory of all items in this office, Mr Thorn. Detail which are your own and which have been purchased by the company. You can send it together with your response to the message I have just brought to you. I have to leave now for our southern branch, but I look forward to an immediate reply. (Exits)
Thorn: (Goes to desk intercom) Claudine! Get my stock broker on the line, will you. I've heard a whisper that T&T are about to nosedive. And check with Masters when the next fine art auction is due. It might be a good time to quit the Hotere and the Woollaston. And why hasn't Gordon called about that case of cognac I ordered? You can't rely on anyone, these days....
(Lights fade briefly. Exit Manager. Enter 2IC and sits at desk. As lights come up, Mr Goodson enters. He is a self-effacing person; doesn't say much, but gets the job done.)
2IC: Mr Goodson.... It's a pleasure to see you again. (Gets up, goes round desk to shake his hand.) So glad you were able to make this special trip to Head Office.
Goodson: I'm sure it wasn't necessary to go to all this trouble just to talk to me.
2IC: Actually, we wanted to do more than just talk to you. (Picks up file from desk.) We've reviewed the performance of all our branches since I delivered the Chairman's message to them. Fascinating reading. Branch number one ... Mr Rhodes phoned three weeks later to say he'd mislaid the message, and could we resend it. Branch two ... Mr Peters decided not to implement the plan because of a feared economic downturn. Branch three... Mr Thorn sold most of the office furnishings and vanished to Australia.
Goodson: Oh dear.
2IC: And then we come to your figures.
Goodson: (Worried that he is next in the firing line.) Oh...
2IC: 100 per cent increase in sales in three months! Congratulations, Mr Goodson. You followed the plan exactly, and did even better than we hoped. We have organised a celebration dinner tonight to honour you.......and during the remainder of this afternoon I'd like to discuss with you our plans to restructure the corporation, with you as Operations Manager over all branches. Let's go and have coffee while we talk. I want to know just how you did it........ (exuent)
© John McNeil 1999
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 8024, New Zealand.