Corridor Science

A play by Thorin N. Tatge


STUDENT 1: A Chemistry major with poor coordination skills.  (Athletic part.)

STUDENT 2: A History major with poor coordination skills.  (Athletic part.)

NARRATOR: A typical pretentious narrator.




SCIENTIST 1 speaks with a powerful, portentious tone throughout.  SCIENTIST 2 is handling papers.


(SCIENTIST 1 takes center stage.)

SCIENTIST 1: Symmetry.  An unnatural state, made familiar only by the shape of our own bodies and our Euclidean figures?  Or the fundamental frame of all things?  This question—

NARRATOR walks up and taps SCIENTIST 1 on shoulder.

NARRATOR: Excuse me—unless I misread my part, I’m the narrator for this sketch.

SCIENTIST 1: (Checks script.)  Oh, sorry.

SCIENTIST 1 leaves, embarrassed.


NARRATOR: (Clears throat.)  Corridor etiquette.  Merely a trivial social grace?  Or the underlying foundation of modern civilization as we know it?

STUDENT 1 walks by, chanting: Chemistry.  Got to get to chemistry.  Can’t skip chemistry.  Got a test in chemistry.  Chemistry.  Got to get to . . .   Exits.

STUDENT 2 then walks by in opposite direction, chanting: History.  Hurry up for history.  Half an hour tardy.  History.  History.  Have to stay for history.  History . . .  Exits.

SCIENTIST 2 (pacing aimlessly): It looks like . . . No, that can’t be it.  I’ll have it in a minute.  It’s got to be there somewhere.  (Continues to pace.)

(Short pause.)

NARRATOR: Observe, for example, the following scenario.  Two typical college students meet in a corridor going in opposite directions.

STUDENT 1 and STUDENT 2 pace slowly onstage and see each other.  At a distance, they stop walking, smile, and raise a hand in greeting.

NARRATOR: These two students are suffering from a typical case of Excess Casuality Syndrome.  They have now seen each other five times today.  Even though they have never met, they both believe that the other knows their name, and are therefore obligated to greet each other.

STUDENT 1: Hey, how are ya.

STUDENT 2: I’m good.  You?

STUDENT 1: Doin’ alright.  How’s your sister?

STUDENT 2: What sister?

STUDENT 1: Yeah, what sister?  Same here.

STUDENT 2: Yeah.

NARRATOR: Now observe this classical mishap.

The STUDENTS continue to walk, both veering upstage.  They stop again.  They then resume, veering downstage.  Both stop.  Once more, they veer upstage.  They are now face to face.

STUDENT 1: ‘Scuse me.

STUDENT 2: Sorry.

Both students move upstage.  They remain unable to pass each other.

THE STUDENTS laugh.  They try to pass each other again, without success.  They continue to attempt passage during the following lines.

NARRATOR: The mechanics of Simultaneous Veering Phenomenon, or SVP, were first laid out by a Swiss sociologist named Andreas Geser in 1833.  They are closely related to the fields of game theory, quantum physics, and Freudian psychoanalysis.

Simultaneous lines:

| STUDENT 1: Okay, you go right, and I’ll go left.

| STUDENT 2: Okay, you go left, and I’ll go right.

Students bump into each other.

STUDENT 1: You remind me of my mother.

STUDENT 2: You are a latent phallic symbol.

Students bump into each other.

NARRATOR: It is said that through intense study of Zen Buddhism, one can ignore the question of corridor veering entirely, as the effect will dissipate between iterations as long as excess thinking is avoided.  Those of us who have not studied how to empty our minds, however, are at a disadvantage.

STUDENT 1: Okay, let’s grab each other as if we were dancing and spin around.  Got it?


Students assume exotic dancing stance and attempt to spin in opposite directions, first one way, then the other.  On a paricularly large swing, they fly apart, still no closer to passing each other.

STUDENT 2: This is ridiculous.  I have to get to History.

STUDENT 1: Sure is crazy.  I can’t miss Chemistry.

Students babble about passing each other in the background through the following lines.

SCIENTIST 2: I’ve got it!  The universal center of symmetry is located in Northfield, Minnesota!

SCIENTIST 1: Really?

SCIENTIST 2: Would I lie to you?  It looks like it’s somewhere on the Carleton College campus!

SCIENTIST 2 walks up to students and observes their struggle, scribbling notes on his/her script.

SCIENTIST 2: How interesting . . .  Hardly any sign of the St. Olaf effect at all . . .  And where did you say you were from?

Struggle intensifies as SCIENTIST 1 speaks.

SCIENTIST 1: It has been speculated, over the ages, that the universe began in symmetry.  From the moment that the expansion of matter began, to the present day, all matter and all energy—Nothing.  It is all equivalent to nothing.  Somewhere, somehow, it must all balance out . . . .

NARRATOR (mocking SCIENTIST 1): Blah blah blah blah.  Blah blah blah Blah blah blah blah.  Blah blah blah.

SCIENTIST 1 and NARRATOR sneer at each other.  They throw up their heads in disdain, say Hmmph! and leave stage at exactly the same time.  Upstage, the students fall down one last time.