Sample Play Script: Moral Decisions
One of the best ways to learn about the theatrical arts is through exposure to the medium. Students can do this by watching plays, reading scripts, and even writing scripts. However, scriptwriting requires specific formatting that is distant from standard academic formats . This sample play script provides a simple format example for writing scripts that students can follow.
Title: Moral Decisions
Scene 1 - Strangers in the Snow
Set: 3:00 pm Winter of 2026; Ambient Light - Yellow; Spotlight - On the two characters on the bench; Background Sound: None except for occasional car horns.
At Rise: Two men are sitting on a park bench as light snow sprinkles down the streets. The older man donning a rough beard, is Chris, a former military man. The other, much thinner and younger, is Adesh, a mysterious individual with no known background. There are no other people in the setting but occasionally, passersby would walk in front and behind the bench.
Adesh: Nice weather, is it not? (As he looks towards Chris)
Chris: Nice, huh? Could be better, I guess. (As he crossed his arms and lean back on the bench)
Adesh: Israel or Egypt?
Adesh: You are a military man, are you not? Where was your last tour?
Chris: Israel. (Looking confused but interested) What gave it away?
Adesh: Your complexion..your stature..and the fact that you are taking a walk at the height of winter.
Chris: (with a slight grin) That obvious, huh? You a military man yourself?
Adesh: Not really, no. I work for a much greater cause.
Chris: And what could that be? You a doctor? Government official?
Adesh: I cannot say.
Chris: Understood. Your business is yours, sir. (A little annoyed and preparing to stand up)
(The stage lights dim a little with brighter ones focusing on the bench and two characters)
Adesh: February 4, 2026. You shot a kid carrying an IED. (Interrupting Chris from leaving)
Chris: Wha..! How did you know that? (Aggressive tone and starting to get angry)
Adesh: Relax. I am just here to talk. Nothing else.
Chris: Who sent you? I told them I don’t need a shrink!
Adesh: I’m not a shrink, Chris. I assure you.
Chris: Ok. So what do you need from me? Be straight or I walk.
Adesh: What is life to you? How valuable is it?
Chris: What? What is this? What kind of question is that?
Adesh: Answer it.
(Chris released a heavy groan and stood up, ready to walk away)
Adesh: May 25, 2023. You bartered with the opposing side. Gave them money and guns, in exchange for one of your own.
Chris: That’s classified information. Tell me who you are or I’ll take you in, right now!
Adesh: You will know who I am soon enough. For now, tell me–what is life to you?
Chris: (annoyed but desperate for answers) Life is what we make of it. You can spend it drinking, washing away your worries. Or you can go out and make a difference. It's up to you.
Adesh: Your enemies. The people you shot; the ones you took down, how can they go out and make a difference when you have snuffed out their lights?
Chris: I had to do my job. I had to serve my country and protect my men. I have no regrets. I’ll do it all again if I have to…
Adesh: I see…
Scene 2 - Assessment
Set: 10:00 pm Fall 2026; Ambient Light - Blue; Spotlight - On the two characters on the rooftop; Background Sound: Car horns and occasional shouting pedestrians.
At Rise: The park and snow disappeared, and suddenly, Chris and Adesh are on a rooftop at the center of a city.
(The lights will turn off and the set will change. Once the light turns back on, the two characters are in a new setting)
Chris: What happened? Where are we? (looking around while confused)
Adesh: Look down. That man, the one holding a woman hostage. Does his life mean anything to you?
(Lights will open, lighting the other side of the stage. The audience will see a man holding a woman hostage)
Chris: What the…We have to help her!
Adesh: We have to? I do not think so. Just answer my question, Chris.
Chris: Are you crazy? She needs help!
Adesh: Here, go help her.
(Suddenly, Adesh pulls a sniper rifle from the side and handed it to Chris)
(Chris inspects the rifle and seeing that it is loaded, set his sights on the hostage-taker)
Adesh: So he does not matter? That man? He is doing something wrong and so he does not deserve life?
Chris: Shut up.
(Chris hesitates for a few seconds but then took a shot, hitting the hostage-taker and saving the woman)
Adesh: I see.
Scene 3 - Contemplation
Time: 3:30 pm Winter 2026; Ambient Light - Yellow; Spotlight - On the two characters on the bench; Background Sound: None except for occasional car horns.
At Rise: Chris and Adesh are now back on the snowy park bench. Everything was back to normal.
(Lights will again turn off as the set changes. Once the lights are on, the set is back to how it looked in Scene 1)
Chris: What was that? How are you doing this?
Adesh: (Ignoring Chris’ questions) What if the man was your brother? Or your father?
Adesh: Would you have shot him? If he was someone close to you?
Chris: I…I don’t know.
Adesh: Think about it. Give me an answer.
(Chris pauses. Still unsure of what was happening. He then releases a big sigh, surrendering to the situation)
Chris: If it was my brother or my father. I would not shoot unless I have a reason to.
Adesh: What if you cannot? What if they have changed? What if the difference between them and the man you shot was just their face? Their values, experiences, and motivations are the same.
Chris: Then I’ll do my job–serve my country and the people.
Adesh: And the woman… What if she was your mother? Would you hesitate or shoot the first chance you get?
(Chris leans back on the bench, preparing to answer)
Chris: I would shoot the first chance I get. No hesitation. Same way as if a man is pointing a gun at me. Either they miss or I take them down.
Adesh: So evil does not deserve life but innocence does? Is that what you believe in?
Chris: In simple terms, yes. You act to harm others and you deserve what is coming at you. You live a peaceful life and you have nothing to be afraid of.
(The lights turn off, preparing for the next scene)
Scene 4 - The Choice
Set: 8:00 am Spring 1897; Ambient Light - White; Spotlight - On the two characters in front of the school; Background Sound: Children playing and hooves of carriage horses.
At Rise: Chris and Adesh are in the 19th century, right in front of a school. They will be facing the audience sideways, looking at the school’s structure.
Chris: Where are we? (Surprised but is slowly getting used to the strange events)
Adesh: We are in 1897. And that (points to a boy) is the eight-year-old Adolf Hitler, making his way to a singing class.
(The spotlight will highlight the young boy for a few seconds and will then go back to the Adesh and Chris)
Chris: I don’t know how you’re doing this, but what is the point?
Adesh: Anything you do here affects the future. You could stop a genocide or do nothing. What will it be?
Chris: What are you saying?
Adesh: It is simple. Do something now and save lives; serve your country and perhaps the world. Or stay still and let it happen as it should.
(Chris pauses for a few seconds, shocked by the decision in front of him)
Chris: This is not a choice. It already happened. And he’s just a kid. You can’t expect me to…
Adesh: Actually, I expect you to. That kid will hold the world hostage a few decades from now. If you do not do something right now, he will pull the trigger, again and again. So what will it be?
(Adesh hands the same sniper rifle to Chris, the one that Chris used against the hostage-taker)
Chris: This is not right. I won’t. I can’t. Right now, he is innocent.
Adesh: Right now, yes. I think he plans to be a priest. An interesting choice for a kid.
Chris: If you say I can affect the future...Maybe I can talk to him.
Adesh: No. I am giving you a choice. To take up arms or do nothing. No compromises.
Chris: I won’t do it. It is not my place. I do not have the right to make this decision. Let’s get out of here.
Adesh: I do not believe that. You have every right to do so. That kid will destroy families and generations. He will leave the scars of World War II that would last for centuries. Now you have the chance to make that right. And you are walking away?
(Chris pauses for a long while. Thinking hard on what he should do)
Chris: I’m not doing it. He’s just a kid. It’s not fair.
Adesh: Tell that to the millions of souls lost…
(Stage lights turn off, preparing for the next scene)
Scene 5 - Revelation
Set: 3:50 pm Winter 2026; Ambient Light - Yellow; Spotlight - On the two characters on the bench; Background Sound: None.
At Rise: Chris and Adesh are now back on the bench.
Adesh: You really did not do it? You could save millions of lives. Change history. Perhaps allow civilization to advance a few years.
Chris: How is this possible? How are doing these things? (Chris stares blankly on the ground, dumbfounded)
Adesh: (Ignoring Chris) You said evil does not deserve life. And that kid…He was malice personified. The things he would do. Things that the world will never forget…
Chris: It’s not my place. You couldn’t expect me to do that!
Adesh: (Still ignoring Chris) Selfishness. Prestige. That is all life is to you, humans. You claim to possess moral responsibilities. But what you really have is self-righteousness. You saved that hostage because it was heroic. You would shoot down the people you love because it is heroic. You would not hesitate to save the ones you love because they are the things that mattered to you. But in the end; all that posturing, all your claims of morality; merely guise the inevitable truth. That all the decisions you make, moral or immoral, are made to make you feel better. They are there to…
(The sound of whistling wind will interrupt Adesh. The lights will flicker and then will focus on a particular part of the stage. Adesh and Chris are still under the light, but now in dimmer lighting)
Azrail: That is enough Adesh. Begone!
(Adesh disappears into the blackness of the stage)
Azrail: Forgive me for that. That child fancies playing with the newcomers.
Chris: What do you mean “newcomers”.
Azrail: Adesh did not tell you, did he?
Chris: Tell me what?
Azrail: I am here to take you to the lands beyond. To where you will know lasting peace.
Chris: I don’t understand.
Azrail: When you stopped that child holding an infernal device, you failed to mind an attack from another direction.
(Chris looks confused and trying to process the revelation)
Azrail: You never left that road, Chris. You never made it out of the war…
(The lights turn off after Azrail’s last words. The play ends)
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