Student Submission: Encroaching on Sustainability: A Play in One Act


Adrian Thomson is a sophomore majoring in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. He strives to become an author of young adult science fiction, action adventure and fantasy literature, a goal he has pushed toward all his life. Adrian enjoys imagining alien and mythological worlds, drawing creatures to populate them, and creating interesting characters to bring them to life.


Act 1

(An alleyway between two on-campus housing centers at a university. The sun is about to set. Between the buildings, a large plastic cockroach sits on the ground at approximately center stage. KEITH and JOEY enter from stage right, chatting.)



I don’t know man, the team’s new hockey mascot really sucks. I mean, when you think hockey, do you immediately say to yourself “Let’s go Mosquitoes?”



No, not really. I guess they’ll drain the competition, huh? (laughs and slaps his knee for good measure)


(sighs and shakes his head)

Would you believe that that’s the actual theme they’re going with? (exasperated noise) They told me if I couldn’t think up a better name by Friday, it’s gonna be official.

Geez, that really sucks. (stifles a laugh) (does not register the joke)


Yeah. The thing I don’t get the most is— (looks down and notices cockroach on the ground) EYHW! (he jumps back, they both stop and stand at either side of it) Oh, man! Look at the size of that mother!


Yikes! It’s GIANT, biggest I’ve ever seen. It looks too fat to walk. In fact . . . (he bends over and examines it, much to JOEY’s disgust) it’s packin’.


(confused) Packin’?


Yeah, eggs. See the egg case at the back? She’s loaded. There could be ‘round fifty eggs in there. JOEY


Really? (gets a mischievous look on his face) Well, they’re gonna need fifty-one open spots in the obituary pages tomorrow. (raises foot very high in the air above the cockroach)


Woah, woah! (lunges and grabs JOEY’s boot, lifting it up and spinning him backwards onto the ground)


(gets to his feet, grunting)

What the actual heck, brah? Are you some type of mental case?


Dude, don’t you realize how important cockroaches are for the environment? Haven’t you heard of all the fascinating ways they give back to nature?


Do I look like a grasshopper groupie? I don’t stay up late reading nature mags like you. I’m into different types of mags. (laughs to himself, then stops) You know, hockey mags.



Joey, this is serious. (reaches out and touches his shoulder, then, in an exaggerated motion, turns his head directly toward the audience. As he speaks JOEY continually glances at him, confused as to what he is looking at) Sustainability is a very important role that everyone needs to practice, especially on a college campus. (grabs JOEY’s hand suddenly) We must all give back to the environment by renewing our resources; incorporating what we use back into the soil to create more. (lets go of JOEY and turns back to him) The cockroach is a big part of that process, bro.


Uh, yeah, but if I smash this thing it’s dead body’ll fertilize the dirt and crap and grow a tree, right? Same thing.

(shakes his head)

Whatever dude. Here, let me explain it for ya.


Keith: Long before the dinosaurs all dropped dead,

And long after the early humans first invented bread,

The good cockroach was hard at work, doing what it she does best,

Munching through the leaf litter better than all the rest,

Doing things that no one else would think to do again,

Including the crucial environment task of converting nitrogen!

(turns to JOEY, speaking) When I say converting you say nitrogen, alright?

(unwilling, speaking) Uh . . . yeah, sure.

Keith: Converting! (whispers) Converting.

Joey: Nitrogen.

Keith: (whispers) Ni-tro-gen. (goes into flying leap in his dance) Converting! (whispers) Converting.

Joey: Nitrogen. (whispers) Ni-tro-gen.

Keith: OH, when you see a steaming pile of discarded waste, Piling in the street and staring you in the face,

Do you expect that anything would actually want to eat

Old plant matter, garbage too, what once maybe was meat? But the cockroach sees it all, stuff that you’d find really gross, And takes it upon herself to digest lignocellulose.

Digest! (whispers) Digest.

Joey: Lignocellulose. (whispers) Lignocellulose.

Keith: Digest! (whispers) Digest.

Joey: Lignocellulose. (whispers) Lignocellulose.

Keith: Come on man, take a verse!

Joey: (much more into it now) Oh,

Have you ever noticed, how many living things

Like to snack on tiny bugs with tiny shells and wings?

Birds and rats and bats, other mammals too,

From time to time enjoy themselves an amazing cockroach stew.

On behalf of other creatures who just don’t got the gumption,

The good cockroach provides herself for immediate consumption!

Immediate! (whispers) Immediate.

Keith: Consumption! (whispers) Consumption.

Joey: Immediate! (whispers) Immediate.

Keith: Consumption! (whispers) Consumption.

Both: (speaking to audience) So next time you see a cockroach, just remember these words . . . Keith: Converting nitrogen!

Joey: Digest lignocellulose!

Both: Imm-e-di-ate con-sump-tion! (end)

JOEY Heck, I guess they ain’t that bad after all.


Just goes to show ya that every creature on earth does its part to recycle, even the grossest ones. Sheesh, especially the grossest ones. It only makes sense that we do, too. Ya know. Cause we’re gross.


Yeah. (looks down at cockroach, tentatively picks it up and sets it free behind the building. He and KEITH keep walking) Say, how about cockroaches as a hockey mascot?

KEITH Naw man, that’s stupid. How about spiders?


EWGH! I hate spiders. Spiders can die.

KEITH Actually, spiders incorporate SO MUCH to our daily lives . . .

JOEY (looks up at the sky and screams in exasperation)



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