After The Funeral / A One Act Play
Announcer :Typical dramatic radio announcer from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Seen, or as an unseen, deep voice from off stage.
George Burns :Early radio and movie, and later even a television celebrity. Straight man for his wife in comedy routines. Typically seen smoking a cigar.
Gracie Allen :Early radio and movie, and later also a television celebrity. Ditzy blonde who responds to her husband George Burns. She makes the silly and impossible sound almost reasonable.
Guide :A celestial bureaucrat impatiently trying to process a soul. Hooded monk like male in long robe, his face never clearly seen.
Old Woman :A soul in transit that refuses to choose her next destination. She was very satisfied with her last existence and refuses to leave this way station (purgatory?) and move on her soul journey. She is simply dressed in an old pink robe or nightgown.
(Upon curtain opening ( Lights on ) all we see is a darkened room with an old tall upright radio ( spotlighted on / with loud static ). In the background a brightly backlighted doorway with an illuminated red EXIT sign. An old woman in a robe is sitting on a sofa listening to an old radio program featuring George Burns and Gracie Allen. A hooded robed man ( face never shown ) is backlit in the doorway unseen by the old woman sitting on the sofa. Off to the side George and Gracie are performing in the shadows. A spotlight comes on to illuminate them at their large microphones.)
After The Funeral / Act One
“And now we return you to tonight’s radio broadcast of Burns and Allen Presents.”
“Oh Gracie, I see your back already from the funeral service.”
( enthusiastically )
“Yes George, it was a wonderful funeral service.”
“Where did you get the flowers Gracie ?”
“Silly you George, don’t you remember just before I left you said..... ‘Gracie don’t forget to take some flowers.’
So I took some flowers, there were so many nice ones to choose from.”
( looking resigned)
( The old woman laughs )
(The radio audience laughs in the background.)
(The monk like hooded man fully enters, walks in waving his hand over the radio, ( radio spotlight off ) turning off the audio / video machine. The spotlights over George and Gracie fade. The old woman is sitting on the sofa with tears running down her face. She looks up, a shrunken little old lady in her pink robe.)
“Oh, its you. You know people used to know how to be funny without being vulgar like they are now.”
(she wipes one eye with her hanker chief )
“I love that program”,
(she says looking up at him, wiping tears of joy from her face again)
“It brings me tears of joy, reminds me of when I was so happy.”
“I know............. But, I have heard this all before.”
( sitting down beside her )
“Are you ready to start again ?”
“Yes, but my answers will be the same.”
“But I have explained that ......”
( interrupting )
“I want to go back.”
“That, is not an option and you must .....”
( interrupting again, she says softly but firmly )
“I want to go back to the same place and time, with everything exactly the same.”
( He rises, walks around the sofa and then back to the original spot, standing. )
( Speaking calmly in a monotone. )
“I have explained at least a thousand times that it doesn’t work that way. You cannot go back, only forward into a new existence.”
GUIDE ( continued )
(Guide standing, arms crossed )
“You may make some basic choices such as your sex, and your relationships with some of the souls you have interacted with before. But you will not be allowed to go back. No one gets to go back. Your soul must evolve.”
( speaking inquisitively )
“You are my, umh, like a guardian angel right....., but will not help me......, go back, right ?”.
“I am a Guide here to help you but, if you refuse to choose, then you are left here in stasis until you decide to choose the proper path forward for yourself”.
( emphatically )
“I have chosen my proper path. Do you suffer from that selective male hearing my husband sometimes had ? Who can I appeal to for a review of my request ?”
“There are no reviews possible, this is how the system works and everyone accepts it as the best plan.”
“It’s not the best plan for me. My last position was the best and I can envision no better existence.”
( imploring )
“ Please, please help me ! I don’t see why I cannot just relive it all again as a wife and mother, since it was my best life experience. A wonderful caring mate and family, a full life, my community, friends, and oh it was so fulfilling. I don’t really want much and it is all so, so, um so logical.”
“While here you have been able to see and contemplate your last existence with the help of this audio / video memory device.”
“It is here to help you to evaluate that life, and see it in its totality, to help you grow and prepare for the next stage in your soul development. Not to just continually review your last position. It is time for you to return to the light.”
“But if I am to return to the light I only ask to repeat my last best experience. I have learned and now know that time is an illusion and all things happen everywhere all at once and so I could redo my past life experience. I am not asking you to change anything about it.”
“But then you would not evolve and reach the ultimate in your development, as I have explained to you, many times before.”
“I don’t want more, to be more, do more, why do I have to become something I do not want to be ?”
“My purpose, my existence at that time and place was all I have ever wanted or needed. Why would I want to come back as someone else, somewhere else ?
(Sitting down again)
“Is it possible that your system here is not infallible ? I am not seeking perfection of my soul or deeper meaning in another existence. I believe I had them both until very recently.”
“It is for the common good.”
(angry, wringing hands)
“Damn the common good. What about free will? Are you my God ?”
(exasperated, quickly standing up yelling now)
“Are you ever really listening to me ?”
“New is not better, I was happy, I didn’t want or need more. How can I get you see I don’t want more than what I had ? Everyone doesn’t need more or new every time, I had reached my plateau, summit whatever you call it. My soul was satisfied and I was at peace with life. My life was meaningful and I was so very happy. I don’t want to evolve any further, just enjoy what I had, be where I belong, be where I was before I was sent to this place, to you.”
(Tears of frustration fall upon her robe, she sits down.)
“What you are presently seeing or hearing on this life review audio / video device isn’t always what actually happened, but what you think you remember happened. For example, on that radio program you love, Gracie actually returned from a hospital visit with the flowers not a funeral as you remember. You are not remembering exactly what happened.”
“You are trying to confuse me. I know that is what I saw and heard. It is as real as you are to me now. You want me to become something I don’t want to be and deny me my reality. So tell me what is real. Is existence what happens or what you believe happens ?”
“The nature of existence is too complex for you to comprehend at this stage of your soul journey.”
“Do you comprehend that I want to go back to the past, the existence I recently had.”
“Repeating your past you would have to relive the pain and anguish of events such as the death of your daughter in that car accident. Remember the pain ? Why would you want to repeat that ?”
“You are right it was painful, and I would not enjoy reliving such an awful painful event, but life in the light is not without such pain. Birth is not without pain, but a woman bears the pain to bring a child into the light. The Sun is so much brighter and lovely because the night can be so dark. You Guide, if anyone must know, it is the total experience of daily life, not individual moments, that make for a lifetime. The low points and high points are not divisible. I only know that my soul was at peace with the Universe in my last existence.”
“Madam why are you making this so hard ?”
“Maybe my expectations are just lower. I didn’t want to achieve more than be a good wife and mother. To leave the world a better place than I found it in very little ways. I don’t need to cure cancer or be the “first” anything. The smiles on my children’s faces when I gave them a homemade cookie was for me, enough reward.”
“Other souls need to use this space you currently occupy to sort out their reality and their destiny. Now it is time for you to move forward on your spiritual journey .”
“I can’t. I won’t give up my identity. When I looked down on my own funeral, I saw and knew that my life had been good and fulfilling. My family and neighbors, my friends, truly mourned my passing. I want to spend more time with them, too re-experience all the highs and yes the lows of living during that existence.”
“But that is just not possible. You will have to discover for yourself that you no longer have that identity.”
“In church, I was told “all things are possible with God”.
“True, God by definition, or as much as you are capable of understanding presently, is unlimited. However, there are procedures and protocols for the good of all.”
“I have told you from the beginning what I need and want.”
“You may continue to exercise your free will, but there are consequences for not choosing to continue your soul journey.”
(He turns to leave. As he walks out he waves his hand at the audio / video machine which starts again ..... (Spotlights on) George and Gracie reappear to the audience.)
“Oh Gracie, I see your back already from the funeral service ?”
( enthusiastically )
“Yes George, it was a wonderful funeral service.”
( The old woman claps her hands and laughs loudly to an empty room.)
(Lights dim and the Curtain slowly closes.)
After The Funeral, A One Act Play, is a look at someone who has died, witnessed their funeral, and who after reviewing their life is being forced to make an unhappy choice about what happens next on their soul journey.
Is reality what we believe it is, or what we want it to be ?
Where would you go next if you could choose ?
Who would you want in your new reincarnation as soul mates ?
Author's Final Thoughts
Picture sources are credited.
Thank you for taking the time to read and think about this.
If you enjoyed this One Act Play you may want to read another one found at :
A short story written by this same author can be found at :
All Rights Reserved
Written : Summer 2011
Hub Published : February 26, 2012
Hub Re-Visited : August 24, 2013
Hub Re-Visited : March 24, 2014
Hub Re-Visited : November 14, 2014
Hub Re-Visited : December 30, 2016
David J. Neuendorff
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