Rubber Duckies in a Row


Rubber Duckies in a Row
by Alan David Perkins
Copyright © 1995


Full-length drama/fable.


Ray Ellis has been running the bill-painting department for Consolidated Duck for over ten years. The bill-painters have prided themselves in doing as little work as possible and drawing no attention to themselves. One day Ray decides that every bill-painter is going to work and work hard by quadrupling the daily quota, giving meaning to their mundane existences. Surprisingly, the bill-painters are willing to trust their boss and, though they now have a new pride in their work, the department causes an unpleasant imbalance in this smooth-running factory. All of a sudden the bill-painters are condemned by CEO Kathryn Saunders and her loud-mouthed Plant Supervisor, Albert Barrows, and are ultimately fired.


Click here for an excerpt (first act) in PDF format.


BILL MELVIN - Male, mid 30's. Bill painter. The "new kid" in the department. A little too corporate for a blue-collar job.
CALVIN NETTLES - Male, 40's. Overweight. Burned out bill painter.
RAY ELLIS - Male, 40's. Supervisor of the Bill Painting Department at Consolidated Duck. Strong, brash, hardened.
ALBERT BARROWS - Male, 40's. Supervisor of Consolidated Duck. As anal and forceful as they get. Very slick, very loud.
KATHRYN SAUNDERS - Female, 40's. CEO of Consolidated Duck. Motherly and kindly, though very shrewd and heartless underneath. Very attractive.
RONALDO SANTOS - Male, mid 30's. Hispanic. Overtly homosexual and quite obnoxious bill painter.
ISELA HERNANDEZ - Female, 30's or 40's. Hispanic. Quiet and mousey bill painter.
JUDY - Female, late 20's. New Age, flaky bill painter. Dresses loudly and carries a lot of bags.


115 - 135 minutes.


The Bill-Painting department of Consolidated Duck. The room is cramped and dismal, housing one desk and several long counters with stools. Present are pots of paint and jars of brushes. Rubber Ducks litter the room. By each desk there are boxes and boxes of ducks. There are shelves for the ducks to dry on. The only practical door is the entrance to the room. Next to the entrance is a rack with smocks in which the painters change into each morning. A large clock looms over the room. The time of day is always determined by the clock.

The play is in two Acts. Each Act is divided into multiple scenes that take place an undetermined amount of days from each other.


This play started as a comedy sketch. I based it on an experience I had when I worked for an Ad agency. One of the Account Execs was running around claiming there was a "crisis." I asked the Exec, "Will people die? Are lives in jeopardy?" to which she answered "no." "Well," I replied, "it isn't a real crisis then." She did NOT promptly strangle me.

While working in the word processing department of a law firm, I wanted desperately to write about them. Each and every one of them would get by doing as little work as possible and get treated as though they were heroes. Everyone expected them to do nothing and, when they did just that, they were appreciated for it. I tried to fit in but I wound up hating myself. After a while I noticed I was doing the work of five, and the other four were doing absolutely nothing.

I came up with the whole rubber duck and "ducks in a row" scenario and eventually the story fell into place. I find this play to be rather poignant. I definitely look at it as a fable.

At the crux of this play is the whole issue of losing one's perspective. In the original sketch, in which Albert was having a "crisis" and Kathryn hands him one of the rubber ducks and instructs him to figure out what it's for, Albert loses his perspective of what is truly important in life. The characters here do as well -- Ray, the supervisor, has lost perspective and has basically killed himself due to this. Kathryn has lost her perspective as well, insisting on a certain order despite what is actually right and good. Bill, who was once a respected Account Exec for an Ad Agency (I couldn't resist) has lost his perspective and has found it by painting duck bills.

In addition, this addresses those out there (you know who you are) who have the standard "check your brain at the door" job, and how it can eventually consume you. These people are all something, but they just show up and do the job so they can go back to their something. Sadly, they lose sight of what they've left behind. What's more, it's not like they're doing something that gives them a sense of accomplishment. They don't paint rubber ducks, they just paint the bills. That's GOT to be demoralizing.

I wrote "Type A" in the same year. I had such a good time with Albert and Kathryn that I decided to pair them up with characters from "The Virus."


The entire script of Rubber Duckies in a Row is available upon request from the playwright. No production of this play can take place without permission from the playwright.