What’s In A Promise
What’s In A Promise – Script
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What’s In A Promise

A man makes a promise to his daughter, and when work gets in the way, he has to make a decision.

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What’s In A Promise

A man makes a promise to his daughter, and when work gets in the way, he has to make a decision.

Author:    Chip Tudor


On Christmas Eve morning, Ben Goode, president of Goody Goode candies, casually promises his daughter he will be home from work in time to attend a Christmas Eve service. Immediately afterward, his best customer calls and demands that an order of candy bars be delivered by the end of the day. Then things begin to go wrong.

First, a computer glitch delays the start of production. Next, a production line goes down. Ben gathers his team and they finish assembling the order just as the workday draws to a close. However, in the midst of celebrating their success, the trucking company calls to inform them that the truck sent to pick up and deliver the order is stalled in traffic.

Ben’s last alternative is to deliver the order using U-Haul trucks, but it means he won’t be home as he promised. So he’s faced with a hard decision. In a serendipitous moment he realizes that for God, Christmas also represented a difficult choice. And likewise, no matter what Ben decides, it will probably cost him something.

The play features a cast of memorable characters like Chuck and Eddie, two goofy custodians that don’t speak a word, yet delight the audience with slapstick comedy. There’s also Hank, a Barney Fife wannabe and Eugene, the annoying Christmas caroler. Together they all fill the experience with laughter in this entertaining story that takes a lighthearted look at what’s important in life.

What’s In A Promise

What’s In A Promise


Chip Tudor

What’s In A Promise

Copyright ©2006 by Chip Tudor

All Rights Reserved

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that WHAT’S IN A PROMISE is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved. 

The amateur live stage performance rights to WHAT’S IN A PROMISE are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation. 

PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended, dates of production, your seating capacity and the admission fee.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source, 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.

  Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.

Copying from this book in whole or in part is strictly forbidden by law, and the right of performance is not transferable.

Whenever the play is produced, the following notice must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play, “Produced by special arrangement with Drama Source.”

Due authorship credit must be given on all programs, printing and advertising for the play.

No one shall commit or authorize any act or omission by which the copyright or the rights to copyright of this play may be impaired.

No one shall make changes in this play for the purpose of production without written permission.

Publication of this play does not imply availability for performance.    Both amateurs and professionals considering a production are strongly advised in their own interests to apply to Drama Source for written permission before starting rehearsals, advertising, or booking a theatre.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, now known or yet to be invented, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, videotaping or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. 


Ben Goode—President of the company                                                                   

Gloria—Ben’s Administrative Assistant                                               

Geri—Production Manager                                                                     

Hank—Security Guard

Roger—Sales Representative

Del—IT expert

Eugene—Happy Go lucky Christmas Caroler

UPS Man—Package pick-up and delivery man

Donna—Maintains office plants.

Chuck—Sloppy custodian 

Eddie—Perfectionist custodian 

Act I, Scene 1—Main Office

(The corporate office of Goode Enterprises on the 7th floor of an office building. The main office area consists of the desk of Ben Goode, the desk of Gloria, his secretary, and the cubicles of Del and Roger. The cubicles are positioned so the audience can see Roger, but not Del. A window behind Ben’s desk reveals other office buildings in the background. Another window somewhere shows industrial buildings with smoke stacks. On the wall is the company name, Goode Enterprises.  There is also the company motto: We’re Goode At Always Giving Our Best Effort.)

(Lights On Full and Music Up:) 

Music–Dance of the Toy Flutes

(CHUCK & EDDIE, two custodians ENTER.  Chuck, a slob, vacuums in a careless manner, moving things around and leaving them in haphazard disarray.  Eddie, very meticulous, dusts and follows after Chuck, to carefully return everything to precise order.  Exasperated by Chuck’s disorganized methods, Eddie demonstrates how to make neat, orderly passes with the vacuum cleaner.  Under Eddie’s watchful gaze, Chuck follows Eddie’s instruction, but roguishly, and surreptitiously rebels when Eddie isn’t watching.  Eddie points to a spot Chuck missed and Chuck goes over the spot, but the cleaner doesn’t seem to work.  He picks it up, shakes it, and looks underneath to see what’s wrong.  Eddie points to the bag so Chuck opens up the cleaner and tries to remove the bag but can’t seem to figure out how. Annoyed, Eddie takes charge and opens the compartment to remove the bag. As Eddie frees it and peers in the end, Chuck leans in for a better look. His hand squeezes the bag and a cloud of dust spews in Eddie’s face. Chuck laughs, but stops when he sees Eddie’s angry face.  He EXITS running and Eddie chases after him as the song ends).

Music—Waltz of the Flowers 

(Music begins as DONNA, the plant lady, ENTERS.  She’s dressed in khaki pants, wears a green apron, and carries a water pitcher and container of flowers.  She waters the office plants and places new flowers in a vase on Ben’s desk and a new rose into the vase on Gloria’s desk.  She examines a floor plant, decides it doesn’t look right, picks it up, and carries it away).

(GLORIA ENTERS carrying a cup of coffee, dressed casually in Christmas attire. She sits at her desk and begins working.)

(DEL, a stereotypical computer nerd and IT expert ENTERS hugging his laptop in an important, protective manner. He glances around suspiciously and disappears in his cubicle.)

(A UPS MAN ENTERS. He carries in a box, sets it down and has Gloria sign his manifest. He begs a piece of chewing gum from her, and EXITS.)

 (The Music Fades:)

(ROGER, shuffles in sleepily. He yawns, falls into his cubicle and drops his head with a THUMP on his messy desk. Del pops up and frowns at Roger.)

Del:   Do you mind?

(Roger gazes at him sleepily).

Roger:  Not at all.

(Del sits and Roger goadingly SLAPS the desktop with his hand.  Del pops back up with a scowl. He watches Roger warily and sinks slowly behind the partition. Roger fakes hitting the desktop, but stops short. Del pops up, realizes he’s been had, and sits with an angry HUFF as Roger chuckles to himself.)

Del:  Salesmen!

Gloria:  Del.

(Del pops up.)

Del:  Yes, Gloria.

Gloria:  My computer is acting loopy again.

(Gloria gives the terminal a few hand smacks, trying to straighten it out.)

Del:  Loopy?

Gloria:  Yes, loopy.

(She graduates to shaking it, then picks up a large, decorative candy cane next to her desk and winds up for a swing. Del stops her just in time).

Del:  I’ll check the servers.

(He EXITS, the phone RINGS once, and Gloria transforms back into professional mode.)

Gloria:  Good morning, Goode Enterprises, home of the Goody Goode Bar.  Merry Christmas Eve, this is Gloria, may I help you?

(She holds the phone away as she listens to protect her ear from the yelling of an irate customer.)

Miz Baker:  (Over the phone) This is Miz Baker from Baker and Associates. I’d like to speak with Roger right now, because I want to know why the sales material he was supposed to send us a week ago isn’t here yet!

Gloria:  One moment please. Roger, are you in yet?

Roger:  (face still on the desk) Who wants to know?

Gloria:  Miz Baker from Baker and Associates. She’s asking about the sales material you promised her last week.

(Roger lifts his head. Stuck to the side of his face is a brochure.  He looks at it, realization dawning on his face. He leaps to his feet and rushes toward the door.)

Roger:  Gloria, you know I’m never in till after my third cup of coffee.

(As he EXITS, Gloria dutifully covers for him.)

Gloria:  I’m sorry Miz Baker, Roger just left in a big hurry. I think he has a meeting with Mr. Coffee.

(She listens again, holding the phone away as she writes on a piece of paper.)

Miz Baker:  (Over the phone) This is absolutely ridiculous! And you can tell that lazy, no good—

Gloria:  Do you mind if I paraphrase that? Okay, I’ll give him the message.

Roger ENTERS again quickly, passing by Gloria and snatching the message from her hand. He EXITS again as BEN GOODE ENTERS right behind him. Ben carries a briefcase and crosses to his desk.

Ben:  Good morning, Gloria, and Merry Christmas.

Gloria:  Good morning, Ben. Can I get you some coffee?

Ben:  Gloria, you’re not a dog who fetches for me, you’re my Administrative Assistant. I’ll get my own coffee in a couple of minutes. Was Roger sleeping on his desk again?

(She picks up the UPS box and starts to follow, remembers something else so she leaves it in the middle of the floor, and then grabs a handful of papers and messages that she takes to him.)

Gloria:  Only briefly. But I’m sure he’ll return for another nap after lunch.

Ben:  Would you mind handling whatever problem he’s dodging this time?

Gloria:  Okay. Are you sure you don’t want—

Ben:  Gloria, you’re my Administrative Assistant.

(She smiles with satisfaction.)

Gloria:  I know. I just like to hear you say it.

(Gloria starts to leave and pauses to look at the UPS box. She gives it a dismissive wave, then EXITS and Ben goes to work.)

(Lights Fade Out:) 

Scene 2—The Workroom

(The WORKROOM has a counter workspace, automatic drip coffee machine, office supply storage, small refrigerator, and a small table. On the wall is the logo of the Goody Goode Bar.)

(Lights On Full) 

(Roger sits at the table cradling a cup of coffee with his head down, sleeping as Gloria ENTERS. She gathers material from the cupboard and SLAMS it on the counter, which wakes him.)

Roger:  I see you’re efficiently on the job as usual, Gloria.

Gloria:  Someone has to do your work, Roger.

Roger:  I’m not a morning person. And who works on Christmas Eve anyway?  

(She gives him an annoyed look).

Oh, come on. Nothing really important happens at Christmas.

(She smirks and he becomes defensive.)

You know what I mean. Besides, they won’t need any of that material until the first of the year. So what’s the big deal?

Gloria:  Roger, most people are too focused on what’s urgent to see the things they really need. And what’s important…they usually miss.

Roger:  And of course, sales material tops the list of what’s important in life.

Gloria:  (shrugs) It’s not my job to decide the value of a promise. Only whether I’m going to keep the ones I make.

(She finishes and pauses on the way out.)

And clean your face.  You look ridiculous.

She EXITS and Roger turns so that “”Goody Goode”” is visible on his face.  He looks in a mirror and starts rubbing it off.  As he does, HANK, a security officer, ENTERS, grins mischievously, and imitates an arresting officer.

Hank:  Freeze! Get those hands in the air!

(Startled, Roger raises his hands and starts to turn, but Hank presses his finger against the back of Roger’s head.)

The last person who tried something ended up an airhead.

(Hank frisks Roger and backs away.)

Okay.  You’re clean.

(Roger adjusts his pants.)

Roger:  I was until recently.

(He turns and looks at Hank, suddenly exasperated.)

Man, Hank. What’s the big idea?

Hank:  Just a little holiday humor.

Roger:  Yeah, and how many people do you know with any humor during the holidays?

(Hank pours himself a cup of coffee and Roger returns to cleaning his face.)

Hank:  Good point. You know, there’s lots of talk about giving at Christmas. But did you know that both robbery and petty theft skyrocket during the Christmas season? Not that I have anything against give and take, as long as the giving is my idea. But don’t worry. I got security locked up so tight in this building even the cock roaches have to check in.

(He glances at the floor and stomps on a bug.)

Sorry, buddy, you weren’t cleared.

(examines Roger’s face)

You missed a spot there. And you ought to do something about those crows feet.

Roger:  I’m not old enough to have crows feet. I’m only…

(mentally calculates)

Two wrinkles short of a facelift.

Hank:  You just need to facecercise.

Roger:  If that has something to do with Richard Simmons I don’t want any part of it.

Hank:  No, man.


You see this profile? It’s because I facercise faithfully.

(He thrusts his chin out in a proud pose as Roger scrutinizes his face.)

Roger:  (With a hint of pity) Well, brother. If that’s the result of faith in action, you’d better change your religion.

Hank:  Let me show you what I mean. First, you assume a relaxed, neutral position.

(He demonstrates a relaxed face, which resembles a gaping mouth and dumb stare.)

Then you exercise your face muscles.

(Roger watches as Hank demonstrates making absurd faces.)

Roger:  Like this?

(Roger follows with a buffoonish imitation.)

Hank:  That’s a good start, but you have to stretch those muscles all the way.

(Hank manipulates Roger’s face and Roger speaks as his face is pinched between Hank’s hands.)

Roger:  I think I’m getting the feel for it.

Hank:  Now push it.  Push it so you feel the burn.

(Hank twists his face into exaggerated expressions and Roger joins him in ludicrous, facial contortions. Gloria ENTERS and watches, curiously amused, and clears her throat. They freeze and look at her with sheepish grins.)

Gloria:  I don’t even want to know.

(She EXITS and Roger and Hank shrug and go back to facercising.)

(Lights Out:)


Scene 3—Main Office 

(Lights On Full & Music Up)

Music– King’s Brass CD  “”Sleigh Ride”

(Chuck and Eddie haul in a Christmas tree. Eddie releases his hold on the tree to move the box that Gloria left in the middle of the floor. Chuck, straining on his own, swings the tree around out of control. Eddie stoops a couple of times in the process of moving the box.  Each time, Chuck just barely misses hitting him with the tree.  On the third pass, Eddie grabs the tree and helps Chuck bring it under control and set it down. Then Eddie has Chuck move the tree several times as he decides where he thinks it looks the best.  But then it’s too crooked and he keeps making Chuck lean it first one way and then the other. Finally, Chuck hands Eddie a level.  Eddie uses it to position the tree and nods satisfied. As they EXIT, Chuck kicks the box out of his way and into the path of Eddie who is backing up, still looking at the tree.  He trips backward over the box, but Chuck catches him in the nick of time.)


(Ben ENTERS with a donut and a cup of coffee and sits at his desk. He’s just about to take a bite from the donut when the phone RINGS once and he answers it.)

Ben:  Good morning, Goode Enterprises, home of the Goody Goode bar.  Ben Goode speaking, how may I help you? (his face softens) Hi Sweetheart.  Daddy’s working, that’s what he’s doing.  I’m putting food on the table and Christmas presents under the tree. (realizes his oops)  No, of course, Santa puts the presents there.  That was just a figure of speech.  Well, a figure of speech is–what’s your Mom doing anyway?  Getting ready for tonight.  No, I haven’t forgotten.  The Christmas Eve service starts at six-thirty.  And the family is coming over to our house after that.  I’ll be home by six.  Sweetheart, stop worrying.  I said I’d be home by six and I’ll be home by six.  Okay, okay…I promise.

(He hangs up as Gloria ENTERS carrying a package.)

Gloria:  The material for Baker and Associates is ready.  I called UPS for a pickup.

(The phone RINGS twice and she answers.)

Good morning, Goode Enterprises, home of the Goody Goode Bar.  Merry Christmas Eve, this is Gloria, may I help you?  One moment, please.

(she pushes hold button)

Ben, it’s Mr. Carter from Tillson and Carter.

Ben: (picks up the phone) Merry Christmas, John.  Oh, uh, yes…Happy Holidays to you too.  What can I do for you this morning?

(starts writing on paper)

Uh, huh.  That’s one hundred cartons of Goody Goode Bars shipped to your warehouse in Cincinnati.  We’ll get right on it the day after Christmas.  You want it by six o’clock tonight?  But John, it’s Christmas Eve.  Yes, you are my very best customer.  But–yes, I know what happens to my company if you take your business elsewhere.  But–yes, six o’clock tonight.

Gloria:  Problems?

Ben:  Last year Tillson and Carter pulled their account from plenty good candies and now they’re plenty gone.  If I had any nerve I’d give that guy a piece of my mind.

Gloria:  But you don’t.  So you can’t.

Ben:  And what’s left of my mind, I can’t afford to lose.

(He pauses, frustrated and struggling for words to express rising emotions.)

You know, we live in a dog eat dog world and I’m wearing Kibbles and Bits underwear.

(hands her the paper)

Key it in.  Christmas Eve is going to be just another day.

(Gloria keys in the order, giving her terminal a few smacks to help it along.  Donna ENTERS carrying a new plant.  She begins arranging and watering it.  EUGENE ENTERS.  He blows a note on his pitch pipe.)

Eugene:  Hark the herald, angels sing glory to the newborn king…

Ben:  Eugene.

Eugene:  Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled.

Ben:  Eugene.

Eugene:  Joyful all ye nations rise—

Ben:  Eugene!

Eugene:  Merry Christmas, Ben.  Isn’t this a wonderful time of year?  A time to celebrate the fruits of God’s love.

Ben:  Yes, it’s just peachy.  Would you mind telling me what you’re doing?

Eugene:  Christmas caroling.  Spreading the message of joy and peace on earth, goodwill toward men.  I’m singing to every office in this building, one floor at a time.

Ben:  Don’t you have any work to do?

Eugene:  Not really.

(leans in like sharing a secret)

It’s Christmas Eve.

(blows a note)

Hark the herald angels sing—

Ben:  Eugene!  Do me a favor would you?

(he indicates up)

Take it to the next level.

Eugene:  Sure, Ben

(blows a higher pitch)

Hark the herald angels sing—

Ben:  Eugene!  I mean the next floor, level.

Eugene:  (in realization) Oh.

(he looks around the office)

Christmas caroling is moving up to the next level.

(As he blows a note, Donna joins him and they sing as they leave.)

Eugene & Donna:  Hark the herald angels sing glory to the newborn king…

(Gloria shrugs at Ben’s obvious frustration.)

Gloria:  At least he wasn’t singing the twelve days of Christmas.

Ben:  Right.

(Lights Black Out:)

Scene 4–Workroom 


(Lights slowly rise)

(Hank ENTERS and pours himself a cup of coffee.  Seeing no one else around, he tries a few quick draws and a Dirty Harry imitation.)

Hank:  Go ahead, Punk.  Make my day.

(Geri, the tough, tomboy production manager, ENTERS.)

Geri: Yo, Barney Fife!  What’s happening?

Hank:  Hey, Geri.  Just practicing my piece keeping.

(He blows imaginary smoke from the gun and sticks it in his holster.)

How’s it going across the street in production?

Geri:  Industrially.  Man and machine, working in harmony to produce…

(shows a candy bar)

A cavity producer.

Hank:  Is this a great country or what?

Geri:  And there’s nothing like the melody of gears grinding.

Hank:  The smooth feel of well-oiled hardware.

Geri:  The spicy aroma of a greased axle.

Hank:  Crowd control.

Geri:  Raw sweat.

Hank & Geri:  (With shared pride)Ar, ar, ar, ar…

(Geri opens a soft drink and straddles a chair.)

Geri:  You know, I’m pretty much a here and now kind of person.  But every so often I get this feeling there really is more to life.  That maybe I’m missing something.  And a gnawing sense of emptiness wells up inside like this ache in the very center of my being.

Hank:  Yeah, then what?

(She takes a swig and lets out a huge belch.)

Geri:  That usually takes care of it.

(Ben ENTERS and pours himself coffee.)

Ben:  Geri.  How’s that order coming?

Geri:  What order is that, BG?

Ben:  The one for Tillson and Carter.

(Geri looks at him blankly.)

I was standing there when Gloria keyed it in this morning.

Geri:  It never came up on my production terminal.

(reacts to Ben’s look of worry)

We’ve got a problem don’t we?

Ben:  We’ve got a problem is right.

(Lights Black Out:)

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What’s In A Promise

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