The Former Basketball Champion & The Great Labor Day Classic


Israel Horovitz

Published by Dramatists Play Service

5 Male 3 Female

The Former One-on-One Basketball Champion ~ The scene is a city playground, where an undersized teenager is shooting baskets

An enormously tall man of middle age stops to watch; then to give pointers to the boy; and finally to challenge him to a one-on-one competition

As they play, it is quickly evident that the older man was once a professional and, in fact, the boy is aware of who he is and of what happened to his once promising career

It also develops that the father of the boy was killed by the son of the older man during a robbery - and now the man has come to atone for his son's crime. He wants to even the score, by letting the boy shoot him (as his father was shot), or, less drastically, by allowing the boy to win over him on the basketball court

But the boy rejects both alternatives - when he wins he wants to "win straight," and all he asks for is a rematch in ten years, when he will be taller, stronger, and more skilled, and able to go "one-on-one" without any concessions given (M2)

A provocative and revealing study of a young boy and an older man whose shared interest in basketball leads on to deeper, and often startling, revelations about other ways in which their lives have touched, for better or worse, without their intention

The Great Labor Day Classic ~ A group of runners, of various ages and backgrounds, are discovered midway in a marathon race. As they pull abreast of each other they chat amiably; renewing old friendships; introducing themselves to new participants; and discussing their lives beyond the world of racing

Some are young, some old; some veterans, some novices; some married, some single. As they jog on, signs pass by announcing the miles left to go until, at last, the finish line appears

All complete the course, and while the competitive spirit quickens as the end of the race nears, it is also clear that in their shared enthusiasm each is rooting for the others as much as for himself

It is how the race is run which matters most and, in the final essence, all who compete - and go the full distance - are winners, no matter when they cross the finish line (M3,F3)

A tour de force of style and originality by one of our theatre's most creative and distinctive writers. Following the progress of a group of entrants in a grueling marathon race, the play fits together their various personalities and observations into a mosaic which captures the special nature of those for whom running is an almost mystical experience

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