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O Henry's Jimmy Valentine Rewritten as a Play

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Poet, blogger, college professor, literature, and film enthusiast. Excited about critical and creative writing. Pursuing a Ph.D. in English.



Jimmy Valentine: Drama Adaptation


A Dramatic Rendering of the Short Story by O.Henry

Dramatis Personae:

Jimmy Valentine Alias Ralph D. Spencer , a notorious burglar

Annabel Adams : Jimmy’s fiancé

Mr Adams : Annabel’s father

Annabel’s sister

May: Annabel’s niece, aged nine

Agatha: Annabel’s niece, aged five

Ben Price, the detective

Mike Dolan: Jimmy’s friend and café-owner

Prison Warden

Cronin, the prison guard

Planters’ Hotel clerk

Bank’s Teller

Bank Clerk 1

Bank Clerk 2

Boy on the street

Customers of Elmore Bank.

Scene I Office of the Police Warden

Enter Jimmy, escorted by Cronin, the prison guard

Warden: Valentine 9762, you finally managed to get a pardon signed by the Governor himself.

Jimmy: (taking the letter from the warden) Thanks!

Warden: You have managed to get out only by serving ten months of the four year long sentence

I see!

Jimmy (giving him an innocent smile) : I thought to have gone out much before this Sir.

Warden: You’ll go out tomorrow morning. This is your chance. Brace up and make a man of

yourself. You’re not a bad fellow at heart. Stop breaking safes, and live straight.

Jimmy (looking genuinely surprised): Me! Why, I never broke open a safe in my life!

Warden: Oh, no! Never. Let’s see. How did you happen to get sent to prison for opening that

safe in Springfield? Was it because you didn’t want to tell where you really were? Perhaps because you were with some really important person, and you didn’t want to tell his name? Or was it because the judge didn’t like you? It is always one of these excuses for innocent victims like you. You never go to prison because you broke open a safe.

Jimmy: Me? I was never in Springfield in my life!

Warden: Take him away Cronin. Get him the clothes he needs for going outside. Bring him here

again at seven in the morning.

Cronin: Yes Sir.

Warden: Think about what I said, Valentine.

Jimmy exits with Cronin

Curtain falls

Scene II Mike Dolan’s Café

Mike is sitting at the counter. Enter Jimmy. Mike stands up seeing him. Both shake hands and sit.

Mike: Feeling all right pal?

Jimmy: On the top of the world. Thought I would get away much sooner though!

Mike: I’m sorry we couldn’t do it sooner, Jimmy my boy. But there was that protest

from Springfield, too and the Governor nearly balked. It wasn’t easy.

Jimmy: I need to go to my room upstairs. Do you mind giving me the keys Mike!

Mike: Of course not buddy, here you go. (Hands Jimmy his room’s key)

Jimmy exits and returns after a few minutes. He was now dressed in fashionable suit and was carrying a suitcase filled with his burglar’s tools.

Mike: Going out for something?

Jimmy: me? I don’t understand. I work for the New York Famous Bread and Cake Makers

Company. And I sell the best bread and cake in the country.

Mike: (bursting into laughter): Ah yes, that calls for a toast, what shall you drink man?

Jimmy: A Seltzer and Milk please. You know, I don’t touch had drinks.

Curtain falls

Scene III A Street in Elmore

Enter Jimmy carrying his suitcase.

Jimmy: Now let’s see what I can make of this place. Breaking safes in Richmond, Logansport

and Jefferson City was pretty easy. But I think I need to slow down a bit. Detective Ben is already trailing me. This town looks pretty remote. I guess I can make use of my talents to gain grounds.

A beautiful lady passes by and enters a nearby building.

Jimmy: (catching his breath) who could she be? Can it be true that a single face can make the

world stop spinning! Why is it then all my senses are rushing towards her! I think she noticed me, maybe she liked me too. God, I must know her, now, right now.

(A boy enters casually.)

Jimmy: Hello young man.

Boy: Who me?

Jimmy: Young man, will you tell me something about this place?

Boy: Yup, and what will I get in return?

Jimmy: I have a few dimes I can share.

Boy: Sounds fine, I want to buy a bulldog for myself.

Jimmy: Was that lady Poly Simpson?

Boy: (pointing in the direction the lady had gone) That? No way! That’s Annabel Adams. Her

Pa owns the Elmore bank.

Jimmy: hat building is her father’s bank?

Boy: Everyone knows that. Are you always this stupid? Got any more dimes?

Jimmy continues looking at the direction Annabel had disappeared.

Curtain falls

Scene IV Reception at Planter’s Hotel.

The clerk writing at the counter. Enter Jimmy with his luggage.

Clerk: (Aside) Now that’s what a well dressed fashionable man looks like! And look at me! I thought I was the best dressed man in town! (To Jimmy) Good Morning Sir!

Jimmy: I need a room here.

Clerk: Name please.

Jimmy: Ralph. Ralph D.Spencer.

Clerk: Right sir, and occupation?

Jimmy: Ah, now let me ask you that, my man. I was rather planning to set up a business here at


Clerk: Sure Sir! That will be such an honour to our town! You will find the people very friendly


Jimmy: Do you think there is a good opening for shoe business?

Clerk: Definitely. In Elmore, we don’t have any exclusive shoe store. Usually we buy shoes from

departmental or dry goods stores. You will be really successful. Market in all lines are fairly good!

Jimmy: get me a room then.

Clerk: I will call someone to carry your luggage then.

Jimmy: Not really needed. I will carry the suitcase myself. You see, I prefer not to bother others

with my load!

Jimmy exits with the key and his luggage.

Clerk: what an upright man!

Curtain falls

Scene V: A year later. A Room in Planter’s Hotel.

Jimmy sitting at a desk putting a letter in an envelope

Jimmy: A year has passed like a moment. How lucky I feel to have Annabel as my fiancé! This,

and only this is the life I will always lead. I wonder what Billy will think on getting this letter! But he will surely be happy to get my tools. My tools, ah yes, why would I need them anymore! My shoe shop is a success, I have so many friends and above all, I have Annabel, the angel. Never will I touch a penny of another man. Jimmy is dead, I am Ralph, and will remain so forever. I must get this letter mailed. I have a breakfast invitation tomorrow morning at Annabel’s place. Oh Annabel, how lonely every moment feels that I spend without you!

Scene VI: Elmore Bank Chamber.

On one side there are the teller’s counters. Two clerks are busy calculating, some clients queue at the counter. On the other side there is a Vault with complex knobs. A transparent partition separates the two sections

Enter Jimmy carrying his suitcase, Annabel, Mr. Adams, Annabel’s sister, Annabel’s two nieces May and Agatha.

Annabel: Oh Ralph, why do you have to leave town now?

Jimmy: Anna, my angel, you know I am going to get my wedding suit. We have only a fortnight

left. And I want to get something really really nice for you.

Annabel: but I will miss you Ralph!

Jimmy puts his suitcase down and holds Annabel’s hand. Annabel puts on his hat and picks up his suitcase.

Annabel: My! Ralph, it’s so heavy! Have you filled it with gold bricks?

Jimmy: Only nickel plated shoe-horns. Thought I would return them myself. Saving express

charges dear.

Annabel: Aw! You are getting awfully economical!

Enter Ben Price . Ben stands at the teller’s counter hides behind the customers’ queue and observes the scene quietly.

Teller: You need something Sir?

Ben: Not really, I am waiting for a man I know.

Enter Mr. Adams, Annabel’s sister, Annabel’s two niece May and Agatha. Mr Adams escorts everyone towards the vault.

Adams: Now this is our new possession Spencer. A fine Vault and Safe. (handling the knobs)

Now see how we need to throw down all three steel bolts simultaneously and turn the combination and wound the time lock to close the doors!

Jimmy: (not looking very knowledgeable) : I guess that is very secure Sir.

Adams: Come on Ralph, see, the door is patented too!

Annabel: (pulling both of them upstage) Leave him alone Papa, he hasn’t understood a single

thing! Let the poor dear be.

Annabel’s sister: See Papa , our little Anna is already taking sides!

(All laugh heartily. Suddenly May screams from behind. Agatha is locked inside the vault. The clerks rush into the partition containing the vault)

Annabel’s sister: Oh my God! (rushing towards the vault) somebody open the door! Agatha Agatha! Oh Papa do something. Can’t you men do something!

Adams: (tugging at the vault handle): the combination was not set. The clock was not wound.

There is not a man nearer than Little rock who can open this door. Oh God! Ralph, what shall we do?

Clerk 1: But that will take much time!

Clerk 2: Can’t we use dynamite!

Adams: All quiet! Agatha, can you hear me baby?

(A faint scream from inside is heard . Annabel’s sister cried out hyaterically. She started beating the door with her hands)

Adams: Ralph, we must do something right now. That child- she can’t stand it in there for long!

There is little air left. Besides, she could go into convulsions from fright!

Annabel: Ralph, please do something, wont you? At least try! Please!

Jimmy (smiling strangely): give me the rose you are wearing sweetheart.

Annabel looks startled. She unpins the rose from her dress and gives it to Jimmy. Jimmy takes off his coat, opens his suitcase and takes out his tools. Whistling softly to himself he starts boring holes into the door of the vault. Moments later he opens the door and recovers Agatha.

Annabel’s sister: Oh my precious one! (Embraces her child and sobs in relief)

Jimmy puts on his coat crosses the partition and goes towards the exit. Annabel calls out but he pays no heed. He looks at Ben blocking his way.

Jimmy: (still smiling): Got around at last, have you detective! Well, let’s go. Not that it makes

much difference now.

Ben: I am Sorry Mr. Spencer, don’t think I understand you. You must have made a mistake you

see. Your horse carriage is waiting outside I guess Mr. Spencer.

Ben turns and exits. Annabel crosses the partition and comes towards Jimmy.

Annabel: What happened Ralph! Why are you leaving? Papa is so surprised that you have learnt

so many tricks in your shoemaking business too! You are an angel Ralph, what would we have done without you!

Jimmy: No Anna, you are my angel, what would I have done without you!

They embrace lovingly. Everyone applauds.

Curtain close.

Check Trivia

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What was O Henry's real name?
    • William S. Burroughs
    • William Sydney Porter
    • John Sidney Borroughs
  2. Who was locked in the vault?
    • Jimmy Valentine
    • Annabel's sister
    • Annabel's niece
  3. Where did Annabel's father work?
    • Prison
    • Bank
    • He was unemployed

Answer Key

  1. William Sydney Porter
  2. Annabel's niece
  3. Bank

Questions & Answers

Question: How can I use method and technique in the dramatization of a story?

Answer: There are a few pointers

1. Use dialogue to tell everything that needs to be known, remember you need to show the important plot elements.

2. Use short scenes for short stories. Try to limit character count.

3. Make use of props effectively.

4. Choose a story with more action and less narration. It will be easier to dramatize.

5. Experiment with plot. What begins the story need not be your beginning. You can begin in media res and progress both back and forth.

6.Break the story into manageable acts or scenes.

Question: How can we write a bibliography?

Answer: It depends. There are multiple styles. MLA, APA, CHICAGO formats are common. A bibliography or reference section should contain information about your source materials, books, journals, audiovisual stuff, websites, etc. For more details look up the formats on the internet. There is also citation software to help you with formatting.

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