FICTION BLAST-OFF THEATER
by Richard Nathan
Before the lights come up, a voice announces the title of the story:
Lights come up on the lab of the mad scientist, DR. SCHRÖDINGER. (This is not the famous physicist Erwin Schrödinger, but another Dr. Schrödinger.) The DR. SCHRÖDINGER in this piece is sitting in back of a table, with a box on the table. Unseen by the audience is a hole in the back of the box which allows Schrödinger to operate a hand puppet of a cat inside the box. Alternatively, the puppet may be operated by an unseen performer behind or under the table.
Dr. Schrödinger is moving some dials and switches on the box, when in strides a GOVERNMENT AGENT, holding a gun aimed at Dr. Schrödinger!!!
Don’t make a move, Dr. Schrödinger!
Keep very still and tell me, what have you
done with the cat?
Cat? What cat?
The cat the government spent billions of
dollars on, the cat that holds the secret
to a universal flu vaccine, one that can
wipe out every conceivable type of
Oh, that cat. The beast with the human
Where is it?
Perhaps you didn’t hear President George
W. Bush’s 2006 State of the Union Address.
in which he pledged to end all human animal
That cat could save millions of human lives!
That cat is an abomination against God!!! Or
to be more precise, that cat is/was an
abomination against God!
What do you mean?
I mean the cat is now simultaneously alive
and dead. Its actual state will not be resolved
until we open this box and observe!
It's quite simple. Quantum physics tells us that at
the subatomic state, the observation of events
affects the events themselves. I have placed the cat
in this box, along with a device that may or may not
disperse a poison gas, depending upon whether
or not a single ionized atom decays. The chance
of the atom decaying is exactly fifty-fifty. The question
of whether or not the atom decays cannot be
resolved until the state of the atom is observed.
Thus, until we open the box and look inside it,
the cat is simultaneously alive and dead.
Don't you mean the cast is either alive or dead,
but we won’t know until we open the box?
No! The state of the atom is not resolved until
it is observed. That will not happen until we open
the box. Until we observe, the cat is both alive and
But isn’t the cat an observer?
No! I have put a piece of string into the box
with the cat! The cat will be too busy playing
with the string to observe if the atom decays!
What is the point of your fiendish scheme?
To honor my favorite quantum physicist, Dr.
Erwin Schrödinger. I took his name, you know.
My actual birth name was Hassendorf,
but I changed it to Dr. Schrödinger’s name to
honor him. And now I am demonstrating his
famous hypothetical experiment! Shall we
look in the box and see if the cat becomes
dead or alive?
At this point the HOST steps onto the stage with two identical envelopes. While the Host is on stage, the agent and Schrödinger freeze.
Okay now! We need a volunteer from the
audience to help us out here. I have two
identical envelopes. Inside one is a
message that says the cat lives – and
inside the other is a message that says the
cat dies. Who wants to choose an envelope?
The HOST chooses a member of the audience, who chooses one of the two envelopes.
What does the message say?
The audience member responds and the Host exits. The scene ends based on the message chosen by the audience member:
IF THE CAT LIVES, THE SCENE PLAYS OUT AS FOLLOWS:
Dr. Schrödinger opens the box. The cat puppet pops up and speaks! (The role of the cat may be performed either by the actor playing Schrödinger or by another actor hiding behind or under the table.)
Ah! The cat survived!
Not only did I survive I evolved. I
mutated and gained super intelligence!
While I was in that box, I invented a
vaccine to cure not just all influenza
viruses, but all known diseases. Yay!!!
Then you have doomed mankind. Over-
population will kill us all!
No, because I also invented new forms of
inexpensive, sustainable, natural, non-polluting
energy and fertilizer. And in case the earth
gets too crowded, I’ve invented a new method
of space travel. Mankind may colonize the stars!
The stars are rather hot for colonization.
I was speaking metaphorically! Don’t be
such a literalist. The real Dr. Schrödinger
wasn’t really in favor of killing cats, you
I did not realize that.
If what you say is true; this will be a golden age!
And we owe it all to you!
And that member of the audience for choosing the
The cat points to the volunteer in the audience who opened the envelope.
(to the audience volunteer)
How can we ever thank you enough!
IF THE CAT DIES, THE SCENE PLAYS OUT AS FOLLOWS:
Dr. Schrödinger opens the box. The cat puppet pops up and does a dramatic death scene and dies.
Ah! The cat survived longer than I expected,
but now it is dead!
You fool! Do you realize what you’ve done?
You’ve doomed mankind! A suicidal gang
of terrorists has developed a super influenza
virus, one powerful enough to wipe out all
civilization! Our scientists were using that
cat to develop a vaccine. They had nearly
succeeded when you stole the cat. Now
there is no time to develop the vaccine.
Every man, woman and child on earth will
die a horrible agonizing death, and it is all
No! Not my fault. I didn’t open the wrong
envelope. It’s his/her fault! He’s / She’s to
Dr. Schrödinger points to the member of the audience who selected the envelope.
Schrödinger’s right. It’s all your fault!
here to go to more
SCIENCE FICTION BLAST-OFF THEATER
science fiction scripts
© 2006 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use. No other use may be made without the author's permission. Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express permission.
Send e-mail to the author at .