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Auditioning a Ghost

original story: Selecting a Ghost, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Choose well, I say. Choose well!

Excerpts from Daughter as Lead version
Excerpts from the Mother as Lead version
Synopsis & Theater Notice for Auditioning a Ghost
POSTER ART for this show
Contact the Author List of Scripts


Daughter as Lead Version -- very similar to the Mother as Lead version:

English sitting room, evening, fatherís armchair, fireplace, table. Father MONTAGUE sits with his pipe. Daughter or wife GLADYS has just spoken to JEFFERS. The father and daughter or wife wear evening clothes.

JEFFERS: (irked) I am most complimented, Miss Gladys, that you should care to extend my employment through all eternity but I must beg to decline. Master Montague, your newspaper. (Turns to exit.)

MONTAGUE: Thank you, Jeffers.
(after Jeffers EXITS ) Gladys, that was a tad rude.

GLADYS: Oh, Father, donít scold. Jeffers knows when Iím teasing.

MONTAGUE: Of course he knows youíre teasing, Gladdie. Heíd be out the door in an instant if he thought you were serious when you asked him if he wouldnít mind committing some fiendish murder, followed by a remorse stricken suicide, just so you could have a few ghosts to haunt the place.

GLADYS: (teasing, sulky) A real castle should have a ghost. And ghosts become ghosts from having died unnaturally, and tragicly.

MONTAGUE: Well the tragedy is, that all youíve accomplished so far, is to insure that weíll be haunted by a living, sulky butler.

GLADYS: Hmmmph.

MONTAGUE: (amusing himself) Maybe Jeffers would conduct his duties draped in a sheet and dragging a chain. And moaning painfully... but he already does that. Still, if he asks for an increase in wages for the extra services, itís coming out of your entertainment allowance.

GLADYS: (jealously) Might as well. Iím ashamed to host even a tea party with no story to tell. Cornelia Morgan tells how she nearly fainted when she heard footsteps passing right in front of her. And her mother saw a woman in a bonnet picking flowers in their garden. And then she stepped into a shadow and faded away. Chantelle Cannonís little brother wonít set foot in the upper story since he saw a severed head hovering behind him in the mirror. Gwyneth Von Chandlerís family canít keep a scullery maid employed for two weeks such are the whispers and cackling from her wine cellar! We must have the only castle in the province without a ghost!

MONTAGUE: Or without superstitious, in-bred, imaginative occupants.

GLADYS: Well Iíve tried to imagine. Iíve listened for weeping and voices in the wind or in the scraping of tree branches against the windows. Iíve looked deeply into dark corners to make out forlorn wispy figures. But no cold gust of wind seems unnatural. Every scrape, rustle and creak, I know instantly was made by a mouse or owl or a servant sneaking rum. When I was little, I feared the dark and cried for a lantern next to my bed. Do you remember? Now the dark is peaceful and comforting. Oh, Poppa, Iím so miserable.
(sits on arm of his chair, laying head on his shoulder)

MONTAGUE: (chuckling, comforting her) Oh, Gladys.

GLADYS: I want a ghost. Like the other castles.

MONTAGUE: (rising to walk and gesture) And I thought we were plunking your inheritance into this ancient, pile of rock and timber for the prestige of owning a castle, and having a wall size fireplace over which to hang our mail order coat of arms. You should have told me. We could have bought an RV and parked it over a few plots in the cemetary.

GLADYS: (with a little tantrum stomp) You donít understand. You donít believe in ghosts. You think I want the impossible. (plops into his chair, arms folded, mad)

MONTAGUE: (more to himself, as he figures out a solution) But you do believe in ghosts. With all your heart. And this castle has sufficient creaks, groans and chilly gusts, you just donít feel that one causes the other. Hmmmm... (idea!) Gladys! Letís approach this practically. My cousin runs a resource-locating business in town. She finds the right person for the job.

GLADYS: (skeptically) Your cousin has ghosts for clients?

MONTAGUE: (tipping her chair back making her squeal) No, silly goose. She has seancers and mediums as clients, along with banjo players and folks who retrieve ferrets from drain pipes. Think of all the (selecting the right words) unnatural, tragic deaths history holds. Certainly, some of those... tortured wandering souls could be ...umm.... invited to live here, by a ... gifted communicator with the dead.

GLADYS: (running to hug his waist) Oh, Poppy-kins, could she? Would you? ( jumping excitedly) Please pen her a letter this evening!

MONTAGUE: Better than that, cream puff. I was going into town tomorrow anyway. Iíll visit her and put her onto the job.

GLADYS: Oh, Poppy-loppy!

MONTAGUE: Oh, Gladdy-waddie!

(They do something goofy like rub noses or do a little dance.)

(JEFFERS appears in doorway with drinks on a tray.)

JEFFERS: (clears throat)

(MONTAGUE & GLADYS separate.)

JEFFERS: Miss, Sir, your night time hot chocolates. (Sets down tray. Will pour cocoa from teapot, add brandy to Montagueís cup, and is about to shake jar of ďcinnamonĒ at end of Montagueís line.)

MONTAGUE: Thank you, Jeffers. Youíll be pleased to know that Miss Gladys will be acquiring her ghost ... from an outside source.

JEFFERS: Oh! Very good, sir. (Puts down cinnamon, hands each their cup and again picks up ďcinnamonĒ)
(Gladys will start to blow and sip)
Then I wonít be needing to drop this umm.. ďcinnamonĒ into your chocolates, and I wonít need to fling myself off the tower afterwards.
(Gladys freezes, cup to her mouth)
Good night, Miss, Sir. (EXITS)

(pause as MONTAGUE & GLADYS look at their cups, she with a big chocolate milk moustache)

MONTAGUE: (bursts into laughter) Well, darling. You didnít tell him who to murder.


End of Scene 1.