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          This is the first scene from my adaptation of the Dickens' classic.


  A CHRISTMAS CAROL

 


                                   A street in the business district of
                                   London.  The most prominent
                                   establishment: "Scrooge & Marley's
                                   Counting House."  Christmas Eve.  1843. 
                                   Approximately 2:00 p.m.

                                   The street is teeming with people, all
                                   in a holiday rush, greeting each other
                                   warmly.  In the distance, we hear a
                                   GROUP OF CAROLERS SINGING.  As the
                                   Carolers get closer to the street, the
                                   various pedestrians begin to pay
                                   attention to the caroling, and look
                                   down the street towards the sound.  (It
                                   is hoped that, when the children
                                   arrive, they can walk through the
                                   audience to the stage.)

                                   As the Carolers approach, NEDDY, a boy
                                   of 16 or so, races out of "Scrooge &
                                   Marley's Counting House" and leaps into
                                   the crowd.  Hot on his heels, out of
                                   the establishment, comes BOB CRATCHIT,
                                   who appears to be in a dither over
                                   Neddy's  abandonment.

                                   BOB
            Neddy!  Neddy, get back in here at once!  You know Mr.
            Scrooge won't allow any time off in the middle of a work day!

                                   NEDDY
            Work day, indeed, Bob Cratchit!
                          (to a group of revelers)
            Did you hear that, lads!  A work day, indeed!
                          (the lads laugh)

                                   BOB
                          (catches up with Neddy)
            Get back inside, Neddy!  If he catches you out here...

                                   NEDDY
            It's Christmas Eve, Bob!  Ever heard of the day?  Christmas
            Eve!  Tell 'im, my friends!  What day is it?

                                   ALL
            CHRISTMAS EVE!!!
                          (they laugh; the singing
                           children are getting closer)

                                   BOB
            Christmas Eve to Mr. Scrooge is no different from any other
            day!  You've only been working for him a few weeks, Neddy! 
            You don't know him as well as I do!

                                   NEDDY
            Well, I know him well enough to know he's off to Grovsner
            Square on business and won't be back this afternoon or this
            evenin'!

                                   BOB
            He told you that?

                                   NEDDY
            He did!  And he told me to tell you we should take the rest
            of the day off!

                                   BOB
            Mr. Scrooge said that?

                                   NEDDY
            That he did!

                                   BOB
            That's extremely strange...

                                   NEDDY
            So enjoy yourself, why don't you, Bob Cratchit!  You're
            always mopin' around with a frightened look on your mug!  Be
            cheerful!  

                                   BOB
            Cheerful?

                                   NEDDY
            Yes, Bob!  Cheerful!  You remember how to be cheerful don't
            ya?  Just make yourself feel happy...
                          (grabs passing girl, flings her
                           into Cratchit's arms)
            ...and then DO somethin' about it!
                          (he starts them dancing; Bob
                           smiles)

                                   WOMAN IN CROWD
            Here they come!

                                   The group of Carolers arrive in the
                                   street, reaching the culminating verses
                                   of the carol, which they complete to
                                   the delight of the gathered throng. 
                                   With the applause of the CROWD, a
                                   couple of STREET MUSICIANS BEGIN
                                   PLAYING A ROUSING TUNE, POLKA-TEMPO.   
                                   (The Street Musicians can simply mime
                                   to recorded music.)

                                   The Carolers sing and the crowd erupts
                                   into gleeful dancing.  Neddy swaths a
                                   path through the crowd, dragging Bob
                                   with him.  He hoists Bob up on a
                                   platform, and coaxes him to dance. 
                                   Eventually, Bob gives in and breaks
                                   into a lively solo dance atop the
                                   platform.  The crowd watches this and
                                   enjoys it thoroughly.

                                   Then, breaking his way through the
                                   crowd, SCROOGE enters, in a rage.  He
                                   tears through the people, knocking one
                                   or two folks to the ground in his haste
                                   and anger.  He waves his walking stick
                                   in protest and screams at the top of
                                   his lungs, attempting to quiet the
                                   festivities.

                                   SCROOGE
            STOP!  CEASE!  STOP THIS, I TELL YOU!  STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY! 
            STOP!
                          (he lifts himself up onto the
                           platform where Bob is dancing
                           oblivious to the interruption)
            I SAY STOOOOOOOPPPPPP!!!!

                                   The noise of the crowd ceases
                                   instantly.  Bob, lost in his joy, keeps
                                   dancing away.  Everything has stopped-
                                   the singing, the music, the cheer.  But
                                   Bob keeps dancing and singing. 
                                   Finally, after a moment, Bob turns in
                                   his dance, and ends up face to face
                                   with Scrooge.

                                   SCROOGE (CONT'D)
                          (after a beat staring Bob down)
            Enjoying yourself, are you, Bob?

                                   BOB
                          (frozen in panic)
            Yes, sir.  No, sir.  Maybe, sir.  Well, sir...

                                   SCROOGE
            QUIET!  Quiet, Bob Cratchit before I lose control of my good
            nature!  Who put you up to this?

                                   BOB
            Well, Mr. Scrooge, I can't really say that I...

                                   SCROOGE
            Don't lie to me, Cratchit, you don't have the intestinal
            fortitude to participate in such an exercise in stupidity as
            this without some kind of provocation!  It was that new
            apprentice, wasn't it?  Ned Percival!  Why, I curse the day I
            was talked into hiring him.  Where is he?
                          (beat; Neddy attempts to sneak
                           away)
            Come, speak up, Cratchit!  Where is that ridiculous boy?
                          (sees Neddy)
            PERCIVAL!!!
                          (Neddy stops)
            Percival, put your weasly little face in front of mine this
            instant!
                          (Neddy makes his way to the
                           platform)
            Now!  Tell me the truth!  Was it you who put Cratchit up to
            this?

                                   BOB
            Please, sir, Neddy had nothing to do...

                                   SCROOGE
            Quiet, Cratchit, I'm addressing his weasly face, not yours!
                          (to Neddy)
            Well, Percival?

                                   NEDDY
            Yes, sir.  I lied to him.  I told Bob you'd be away for the
            afternoon and that you'd told us to take the rest of the day
            off!

                                   SCROOGE
                          (beat; smiles)
            Well, then...I understand.  I appreciate your telling me the
            truth, Neddy.

                                   NEDDY
            You do, sir?

                                   SCROOGE
            Of course, I do.  And as a display of my appreciation, I am
            officially giving you the rest of the day off!

                                   NEDDY
            Why, thank you, sir!

                                   SCROOGE
            And while you're at it, take tomorrow off!  And the next day! 
            And the next!
                          (incensed)
            In fact, take the rest of your life off!  Consider yourself
            discharged!
                          (Neddy, runs off; the crowd
                           reacts negatively)
            And as for the rest of you, I advise you to remove your
            sweating, frivolous carcasses from the front of my place of
            business!  If you remain here one second longer, I shall
            summon the constabulary!  Off with you now!  Go!  Go!!!

                                   Grumbling, the crowd disperses. 
                                   Scrooge steps off the platform and goes
                                   to the door of his office.  Bob crawls
                                   off the platform and begins to walk
                                   away.

                                   SCROOGE (cont'd)
            And where do you think you're going?

                                   BOB
            Why, Mr. Scrooge, I assumed...I was...I assumed you would...

                                   SCROOGE
            Oh, you assumed, did you?  Well, let me tell you what you can
            assume from now on, Bob Cratchit.  You can assume that I
            expect you to stay at your post one extra hour every day for
            the next six months with no increase of salary.  You can
            assume that I will not stand for any further display of
            insubordination or malingering from you from this day
            forward!  And to use the word in a different but equally
            viable context, you can assume the office duties of one Mr.
            Neddy Percival, apprentice, no longer affiliated with this
            business establishment.
                          (opens door)
            Now, get to work!

                                   BOB
            Yes, sir!
                          (rushes to door)
            Thank you, Mr. Scrooge!  Thank you so very...

                                   SCROOGE
            TO WORK!!!

                                   BOB
            Yes, sir!
                          (he runs inside)

                                   SCROOGE
                          (scowls at bare street)
            Humbug.
                          (goes inside and closes door)