Sweeps by Donald Dewey

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

The stage is in darkness. Gradually, a spectral light illuminates the center of the stage. NINA stands in the light holding a microphone and speaking toward the audience as if addressing TV viewers.

NINA: This is Nina Norris. It’s that time of year again, Ladies. You know the time I mean. Any time when you look into the mirror and don’t like what stares back at you. You can’t wait to run down to the salon to change that image in the mirror. But be careful! We have it from the highest police sources that some of those innocent looking manicurists, pedicurists, and hair dressers represent the latest recruitment center for terrorist organizations in the Tristate area. You may walk into those salons confident of becoming younger and more attractive. But when you walk out again, you may have lost more than a few wrinkles on your face and gray streaks in your hair. You may have become an unwitting accomplice to terror! Stay tuned.

NINA goes off stage. The spectral lights is soon filled by LESTER, who also wields a mike. He has a control booth hookup in his ear.

LESTER: Lester Lewis here. Hey, bang the drums, ring the bells! For once we have a positive sports story. No steroids, no multi-million-dollar-contracts, no assaults on lap dancers, no wives going after straying husbands with baseball bats and golf clubs and lacrosse sticks and pool cues. This one is from the heart. You all know Lance Madison from his exploits on the playing field. But the other day I had the opportunity to accompany Lance on what he calls his “humility visit.” Run tape, guys.

There is a moment’s hesitation as a video is presumably being run. As soon as LESTER goes off camera, he pulls a script out of his pocket and begins reading what he has written.

LESTER: The site of Lance’s humility visit is the Children’s Hospital for Enigmatic Diseases. That’s a fancy way of describing illnesses that have defied research for causes and methods of treatment but still kill kids every day of the week. Your kids. My kids…………Excuse me. Not my kids.

He listens for a moment to off-camera instructions.

LESTER: All right, all right…………Your kids. My kids. Lance’s first visit is to Jenny, a patient at the hospital for almost a year. When Jenny was admitted, she weighed 135 pounds, already a red flag for a seven-year-old. But now Jenny weighs in at 321 pounds despite a strict diet of Rice Krispies and vegetable soup and the best pharmaceuticals available. As he has done before, Lance can only promise a home run for Jenny to her face, then walk away shaking his head…………

He drops his script, shaking his head dolefully. What follows is a lot of slapstick bumbling to get back to the place where he left off reading.

LESTER: This is Wally. Wally does nothing but kick people. You say “Hello, Wally” and you get one in the shins. You say “Happy Birthday, Wally” and you’ll be lucky to get kicked just in the shins. For Lance, though, it’s just another challenge, like standing in the batter’s box and trying to hit a 100-mile-an-hour fastball. There goes Wally………….and Lance just avoids that shot! He jumped
right out of the way at the last second and down Wally goes!……And now look. He bends over to pick Wally up. To reassure him. Wally listens. He wants to believe he’ll get better………….But boom! There’s another kick from Wally and Lance is down!

LESTER hastily re-pockets the script as the camera returns to him.

LESTER: As we were leaving the hospital this afternoon, Lance turned to me in agony. But he was still able to smile. “I want to do something concrete for these poor kids,” he told me. Lance Madison --- a real champion. On and off the field.

LESTER exits. His spot in the light is soon filled by WENDY.

WENDY: This is Wendy Williams. If you haven’t seen a ghost lately, you’re in the minority. A new poll says that 93.3 percent of Tristate area residents believe in ghosts and that more than 60 percent of those people have actually seen one. And that takes in all walks of life and educational levels………

WENDY hesitates, then gives the CUT signal to her invisible cameraman.

WENDY: That can’t be right.

She listens to an inaudible response.

WENDY: I’m sorry, I don’t believe it. Get Mike down here.

WENDY paces impatiently until LOWENSTEIN, wearing headphones, walks into the light with her. He is very familiar with her.

LOWENSTEIN: What’s the problem, love?

WENDY: Spook City, that’s the problem! 93.3 percent of the city says it’s seen a ghost?

LOWENSTEIN: Not 93.3 percent of the city. Of the Tristate area! And that’s the number that believes in ghosts, not actually saw one. The ones who saw one are only 60 percent of the 93.3 percent. What’s that come to? (to invisible crew) Anybody got a calculator?

WENDY: I don’t think that’s the point, Mike. All these numbers are incredible. What proof do we have of any of this?

LOWENSTEIN: Do you honestly think I’d stick you out in front of a camera without double-checking the research?

WENDY: Well,……………

LOWENSTEIN: Sales and Research have been over these numbers for days. I didn’t believe it, either, but there’s no mistake.

WENDY: You know how Sales gets during sweeps periods.

LOWENSTEIN: Why I triple-checked everything. Don’t worry about it. Go get a coffee. (inspects her eyes) And maybe a little less mascara.

WENDY: You’re sure?

LOWENSTEIN: Absolutely. You don’t want to look like a raccoon.

He kisses her on the head. She exits from the light. He sighs deeply to himself, then
addresses the invisible crew.

LOWENSTEIN: Where the hell are the pole dancers? Do I have to do everything around here myself? This is news, boys and girls. Now, now, and more now. You want to work on a reality show, go talk to the network.

The lights go down completely. There is a long moment of darkness on the stage. When the lights come up again, they do so weakly and are on a living room. LOWENSTEIN is sprawled out on the floor center stage.


A telephone rings twice, then clicks into a machine. The machine delivers a recorded message.

LOWENSTEIN: (OS) This is Mike. This better be an emergency

[End of Extract]

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