L CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS
by Gennifer Choldenko
Narrator Moose Piper
Classmate Classmate #2 Miss Bimp
Narrator: This reader’s theater is based on the historical novel Al Capone Does My
Shirts by Gennifer Chodenko. In 1935, twelve year-old Moose Flanagan has moved with his family to Alcatraz Island. Moose’s father has just become a guard and electrician at the prison and Moose must deal with a strange new world as well as life with his autistic sister. In this scene Moose has begun his first day of school with the conniving Piper, daughter of the warden of Alcatraz. Miss Bimp is his new teacher.
Miss Bimp: And you are?
Moose: Matthew Flanagan. But everybody calls me Moose
Miss Bimp: I’m Miss Bimp. Excuse me, Mr. Flanagan, but I don’t see your name here. Are you certain you have the right class? Seventh grade advanced English?
Moose: Yes ma’am.
Miss Bimp: This wouldn’t be your second time around in seventh grade would it?
Moose: (embarrassed) No ma’am.
Miss Bimp: That’s enough class. All right then, Mr. Flanagan. Take a seat there in the back so you don’t block anyone’s view of the board. This week we’re continuing our oral reports. Remember to give your speech a beginning, middle, and end. Keep it short. Moose have you written outlines before?
Moose: Yes, Ma’am.
Miss Bimp: Excellent. The topic for today’s speech is what I did over Christmas vacation. Piper, why don’t you go first.
Piper: I sang a solo for our convicts on Alcatraz. I sang “Silent Night” for Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Roy Gardner, and the others. There were tryouts in early December and I was given the only spot. We walked around the outside of the cell house caroling, so I didn’t actually see Capone this time, but I’m almost sure I heard him call out, “sweet as a songbird”!
Classmate: No kidding? The Al Capone?
Piper: The very same.
Classmate #2: How do you know it was him?
Piper: I recognized his voice.
Classmate: (muttered) You gotta be kidding.
Piper: Yeah, well, Moose Flanagan lives on Alcatraz too. Maybe he can tell you more in his report.
Moose: My dad is the electrician on Alcatraz. I moved there, I mean here, from Santa Monica and the most exciting thing that happened to me this vacation was my mom didn’t feel like cooking because our pans were still packed, so my dad brought home a plate of roast chicken, potatoes and cooked carrots… from the cell house kitchen. It was cooked by a kidnapper, a two-time murderer, and a postal robber too!
Classmate: Wow, were you scared?
Moose: No (scoffing noise).
Piper: He could have been killed!
Classmate #2: They tried to poison you?
Moose: No, but they could have!
Piper: Any of us could be poisoned any time!
Narrator: The bell rings and students leave the classroom.
Moose: Piper, I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about Alcatraz.
Piper: Why did you then?
Moose: (angry) Because you did!
Piper: Because I did? Isn’t that the sweetest thing? So, are you going to help with my
project or not?
Moose: What project?
Piper: Didn’t I tell you? We’re going to sell the Alcatraz laundry service to kids at school. You know, get your clothes cleaned by famous Alcatraz convicts like Al Capone. We’ll charge five cents a shirt. No IOUs. Money will be split four ways because Jimmy and Annie will help us put the laundry through in their family’s bags, so they each get a cut, plus you and I.
Moose: Does your dad know about this?
Piper: (scoffs) Not hardly.
Narrator: Piper quickly moves down the hall and ducks into a door. Moose tries to follow and is stopped by a girl at the door.
Moose: Hey, I didn’t say I’d help…
Classmate #2: Get out of here, you big baboon! This is the girls’ bathroom!