A Christmas Play

Interim Chairman Hannigan: runs the department with an iron fist
Assistant Professor Annie
Assistant Professor Molly
Assistant Professor Pepper
Assistant Professor Derek
Assistant Professor Oliver Twist
Sandy, a graduate student
Dean Grantbucks
Dr. Farrell, Daddy Grantbucks’ Assistant Dean

Note: Except when they are singing (in synchrony) or when they say “Yes, Chairman Hannigan” in synchrony, most of the lines for “Other Assistant Profs” or “All Assistant Profs” should be said like a crowd scene – i.e. not in synchrony, but overlapping and random, with different people speaking different lines all at once.)

Production note: Karaoke versions of all Annie songs are available on iTunes.

The Assistant Profs are sitting around working (writing, pipetting, etc.), a couple are talking quietly.

Chairman Hannigan: All right, all right, what’s going on in here? Nothing at all, eh! Every time I come in here you Assistant Professors are goofing off. Oh, how in the world did I come to be the Chair of a department with 22 Assistant Professors? That’s a ridiculous number of Assistant Professors! I should get voted babysitter of the year! Now, get to work you slackers! If you ever want to be promoted, that is. (Laughs maniacally).

All Assistant Profs: Yes, Chairman Hannigan!

Annie: Leapin’ Lizards, sometimes this place really makes me nuts.

Other Assistant Profs (quietly): Yeah. Me too. You can say that again. Sometimes this place is crazy.

Molly starts to cry.

Annie: Molly, Molly what’s the matter?

Molly: Do you ever think we’ll get a real Chairman, Annie?

Annie: I know Chairman Hannigan is the Interim Chairman, but he’s almost like a real Chairman.

Molly: But he’s so mean. Sometimes, I think about what it would be like to have a new Chairman. Or even a Chairwoman. You know, the perfect Chairperson.

All Assistant Profs: (Speaking on top of each other) What do you mean, Molly? What are you talking about? Don’t cry Molly. It’s okay Molly.

Molly: Don’t you ever think about the perfect Chairperson?

Annie: How do you mean, Molly?

Molly: (sings, a cappella, to the tune of “Maybe” )
Maybe far away
Or maybe real nearby
He may be pouring his coffee
She may be breeding a fly

Annie: (singing)
Maybe in a lab

Molly: (singing)
Or in a big med school

Annie: (singing)
She’s sitting giving out raises

Molly: (singing)
He’s cutting teaching in half

All Assistant Profs: (singing, quietly)
Betcha they’re fair
Betcha they’re wise
Bet they’re great mentors
Who give good advice —-

Betcha they’re good
Why shouldn’t they be?
But someone like that
Sure wouldn’t be free

Molly: (singing)
So maybe now it’s time —

Chairman Hannigan: Hey, hey, I thought I told you Assistant Profs to get to work. Do you all have federal grants yet? Huh? Do you any of you have a Science paper? Come on, come on, get off your butts.

All Assistant Profs: Yes Chairman Hannigan.

Oliver Twist: (approaches with a bowl held out) Please sir, I want some more.

Chairman Hannigan: I’m afraid you’ve got your stories mixed up son. I think you might want the Chemistry Department, next door.

The Assistant Profs go back to work, Chairman Hannigan walks around among them.

Chairman Hannigan: (sings, with music, to the tune of “Little Girls”)
Little Profs, Little Profs
Everywhere I turn
I can see them

Little Profs, Little Profs
Night and day
I eat, sleep and breathe them

I’m an ordinary Chairman
With duties
I scare my profs to cultivate their fear
But I’ll admit, it’s not legit
But they could use a swift kick in the rear

Little grants, little pubs,
Everything around me is little
If I wring little necks
Surely I will get an acquittal

Some Chairs are dripping with money
Some Chairs are dripping with space
Lucky me! Lucky me!
Look at what I’m dripping with

Little Profs!


(He exits. The Assistant Profs continue working. Annie pokes around behind some of the furniture.)

Annie: Hey everybody, look what I found. A graduate student.

Sandy: Arf!!

Pepper: Annie!! You’re going to get us all in trouble!

Annie: No, no. Sandy is a good graduate student. Aren’t you boy?

Sandy: Arf!

Annie: You’ll do experiments exactly the way I tell you to. And you’ll clean up after yourself, and you’ll keep up with the literature too – won’t you boy?

Sandy: Arf!

Annie: See!! He’s a good student!

The other Assistant Profs approach Sandy to pet him. Chairman Hannigan enters.

Chairman Hannigan: Now what? Oh Great Gizzards, what’s a graduate student doing here? Get that thing out of here!

Sandy: Arf!!

Molly: How come we never get a graduate student?

Other Assistant Profs: Yeah! How come? We never get anything good.

Chairman Hannigan: Now, now, there are only so many students to go around. Show me the grant money and I’ll show you the students. (Goes over and gets Sandy) Come on now boy, it’s off to a more established lab with you!

Sandy: Arf!!

As Chairman Hannigan is leaving with Sandy, the Assistant Professors are talking to him and to themselves.

All Assistant Profs: It’s not fair. Annie found him. We need more grad students. We need technical support. We need more time. We need more money. We need more space. Etc.

(They sing, to music:)

All Assistant Profs: (sing)
It’s the hard-knock life for us.
It’s the hard-knock life for us.

Annie: (sings)
‘Stead of treated

All: (sing)
We get tricked

Annie: (sings)
‘Stead of students

All: (sing)
We get kicked
It’s the hard-knock life.

Got new labs to set up, so
It’s the hard-knock row we hoe

Molly: (sings)

All: (sing)
Instead of grads

Pepper: (sings)
Empty shelves

All: (sing)
Instead of full
It’s the hard-knock life!

Annie: (sings)
Don’t it feel like reviews are always scathing?

Molly: (sings)
Don’t it seem like nobody knows you’re right?

Derek: (sings)
Once a day, don’t you wanna throw the towel in?

Oliver and Derek: (sing)
It’s easier than puttin’ up a fight.

Pepper: (sings)
No one’s there when your glassware all needs cleaning

Derek: (sings)
No one cares if you grow, or if you shrink

Molly: (sings)
No one sees that your work is full of meaning

All: (sing)
From all the cryin’ you would think this place would sink
Empty cabinet life!
Rotten smelly life!
Overworking life!
No tomorrow life!

Molly: (sings)
Santa Claus we never see

Derek: (sings)
Santa Claus, what’s that?
Who’s he?

All: (sing)
No one cares for you a naught
When you’re an A Sis-tant Prof

Chairman Hannigan: (entering, shouts at them)
You’ll stay up till this dump shines like the Biology Department at Harvard!

All: (sing)
Yank the whiskers from his chin
Jab him with a safety pin
Make him drink a pint of gin
We love you Chairman Hannigan!

All: (sing)
It’s the hard-knock life for us
It’s the hard-knock life for us
No one cares for you a naught
When you’re an A Sis-tant Prof
It’s the hard-knock life
It’s the hard-knock life
It’s the hard-knock life

Dean Grantbucks and Dr. Farrell enter as the song ends.

Dean Grantbucks: Well, well, hello there, what have we here?

Chairman Hannigan: Oh, hello Dean Grantbucks. I was, um, I was just whipping these young professor’s into shape.

Daddy Carmen: (walking around)So I see, so I see.

Molly: (to Annie) Who’s that?

Annie: (to Molly) That’s Dean Grantbucks, the Dean of the College.

Dean Grantbucks: (to Annie) And who are you, young lady?

Annie: I’m Assistant Professor Annie, sir.

Dean Grantbucks: Assistant Professor Annie, huh? That’s very funny young lady.

Annie: What’s funny about it?

Dean Grantbucks: Well, I thought all Assistant Professors were boys.

Dr. Farrell whispers in Dean Grantbucks’s ear.

Dean Grantbucks: You are? You’re a Professor? We’ll that’s very interesting. Well young professors and professorettes, I’ve decided, in my capacity as the Dean, to grant you one wish for Christmas. But only one – and you’ve all got to share it.

All Assistant Profs: We know what we want! We know what we want!

Dean Grantbucks: How can you know what you want already? You haven’t even discussed it?

Annie: We want a new Chairperson!

Chairman Hannigan: Wha—- what? Well, I’m sure I don’t know what they’re talking about Dean Grantbucks. I’ve been nothing but the best Chairman in the world. But, to tell the truth, this job kind of sucks. It might be nice to get back to the lab. But I really like the extra salary. It would be hard to give that up.

All Assistant Profs: We want a new Chair! We want a Chairwoman. Replace the Chair. Get a new Chair. Time for a change.

Dean Grantbucks: Okay, okay, calm down now. Chairman Hannigan, would you mind leaving the room for a moment so I can speak openly with the Assistant Professors?

Chairman Hannigan: Fine. (he exits)

Dean Grantbucks: Now then. If I let Chairman Hannigan step down, who would we replace him with? Would we do a national search, or what?

Annie: Well, Leapin’ Lizards, How about Dr. Farrell?

Dean Grantbucks: This Dr. Farrell? (points at Dr. Farrell) My Assistant Dean? Hmm. Well, Dr. Farrell. What exactly would you do, if we made you Chair of this Department?

Dr. Farrell: Oh my. I hadn’t really thought about it, but, I guess I’d try to treat everyone with respect and dignity. I guess I’d treat them like they we’re human beings. Yes, that’s it, just as if they were real human beings.

All Assistant Profs: Yes, yes. Great choice. Dr. Farrell. Pick her, pick her. We want Farrell. Yes.

Chairman Hannigan enters in a wig. Everyone becomes quiet.

Dean Grantbucks: May we help you, Miss?

Chairman Hannigan: (speaking as a woman) I heard you were looking for a new Chairperson for the Department, and that there was a substantial salary raise involved. I’ve come to apply for the position.

Annie: (goes up to Chairman Hannigan and starts to “out” him) Hey, you’re —

Chairman Hannigan: (grabs Annie and covers her mouth) Yes – that’s right – I’m, um, I’m….. Dr. Hanna—um–Montana, yes, that’s it, and I’d like to apply for the Chairperson’s job.

Dean Grantbucks: Well, what are your qualifications for the job?

Chairman Hannigan: Here’s my CV. (He hands Dean Grantbucks a large stack of paper)

Dean Grantbucks: Well, this certainly does look impressive. Wouldn’t you say Dr. Farrell? I’m sorry Assistant Professors, but it looks like we have to pick this young woman as your Chairperson.

Annie manages to reach up and pull off Chairman Hannigan’s wig.

All Assistant Profs: It’s Dr. Hannigan!! It’s Dr. Hannigan! We want a new Chair! We want Dr. Farrell!

Dean Grantbucks: All right, all right, calm down everyone. Dr. Hannigan, you almost had us fooled there. But thanks to Annie, we now know things about you that we really didn’t want to know. Do you have anything to say for yourself?

Chairman Hannigan: Fine. I’ll step down from the Chairmanship. This job was driving me crazy anyway.

All Assistant Profs cheer.

Annie: Oh, Dr. Farrell, will you really treat us almost as if we really were human beings, and not just Assistant Professors?

Dr. Farrell: Of course I will, Annie.

Annie: ‘Cause sometimes I get so depressed, you know. It’s hard being an Assistant Professor these days, what with all the money for grants going to Iraq and Afghanistan and bailing out the economy. Some days it makes me very sad.

Dr. Farrell: I know Annie. I know. But when I was a young Assistant Professor, I had some bad days too. And do you know what I used to do?

Annie: What?

Dr. Farrell: I used to sing a song in lab. A very special song. To cheer me up. I think have a copy of it with me. (She reaches in her pocket and pulls out a piece of paper and gives it to Annie). I had it published in the Journal of Biological Kinetics. You can use it whenever you feel sad or blue, just don’t forget to reference it properly. Why don’t you go ahead and try it now?

Annie: Should I?

Dr. Farrell: Sure, Annie, sure. Sing the bloody song, I could use the citations.

Annie: (sings, with music)
I’m gonna get grants
Bet your bottom dollar
That Tomorrow
There’ll be funds

And plenty of pubs
All in big name journals
with color figures
there’ll be tons

When I’m stuck with a class
That’s crass
and ornery
I just stick out my chin
and grin
and say

Promotion will come
So ya gotta hang on
Till tomorrow
Come what may
Promotion, and tenure
I love ya
You’re only
a day
a way

All: (crowd around Annie and sing)
Promotion will come
So ya gotta hang on
Till tomorrow
Come what may
Promotion, and tenure
I love ya
You’re only
a day
a way

Promotion, and tenure
I love ya
You’re only
a day
a way