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On the Waterfront: The Play

On the Waterfront: The Play

by Budd Schulberg, Stan Silverman (With)

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Budd Schulberg’s classic story of the New York waterfront and the kid who “coulda been a contender” is best known in its memorable movie version with Marlon Brando. But here, adapted for the stage by Mr. Schulberg and Stan Silverman, it remains a moving and powerful drama. This play script for On the Waterfront has been used in theatres large and


Budd Schulberg’s classic story of the New York waterfront and the kid who “coulda been a contender” is best known in its memorable movie version with Marlon Brando. But here, adapted for the stage by Mr. Schulberg and Stan Silverman, it remains a moving and powerful drama. This play script for On the Waterfront has been used in theatres large and small, throughout the country, to great success. It offers amateur and professional groups an opportunity to re-create Mr. Schulberg’s indelible characters and highly charged moments. Helpful stage suggestions are included, and the author introduces the script with a reminiscence that is both poignant and informative. As with all Plays for Performance books, this one is presented with production values uppermost in mind.

Product Details

Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
Plays for Performance Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.67(h) x 0.33(d)

Read an Excerpt

On the Waterfront

By Budd Schulberg, Stan Silverman


Copyright © 2001 Budd Schulberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-6181-1


Scene 1

A Riverfront Street

REPORTER: Did you know that only a few blocks west of here, just a short walk from Theater Row, you cross the boundary into another country, the New York waterfront—the greatest natural harbor in the world—host to the Cunard Line and the French luxury liners—and the hunting grounds of the pistol local—Four-forty-seven, The Skelly Mob. A no-man's land. The Wild East. Where hiring bosses are recruited in Sing Sing and Dannemora. Down there they tell you not to ask questions—if you want to stay healthy. But I'm a reporter. The docks are my beat. It's my job to ask questions. So I keep going down there looking for answers. OK, let's get to work. We're outside a rundown tenement, down the street from Johnny Friendly's Bar facing the piers. It's nightfall, in the mid 1950s.

(The cast files in. Terry Malloy enters last.)

MUTT: (wanders through muttering a mournful song) Tippi-tippi-tin, tippi-tin.... Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan....

TERRY: (entering, calling up from street) Hey Joey!

MUTT: Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan.... Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan....

TERRY: Hey Joey! Hey Joey!

JOEY: (calling down from rooftop) Hey Terry! What do you want?

MUTT: Tippi-tippi-tin, tippi-tin.... Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan....

TERRY: (reaching into windbreaker for live pigeon) Look—He's one o' yers. I c'd tell from the band.

JOEY: Yeah? Must be Danny Boy. I been lookin' for 'im. Lost 'im in the last race.

TERRY: He followed my birds into my coop. I figured you'd want 'im back.

JOEY: I sure do. He's one of my best.

TERRY: Yeah, he's a nice bird. Wanna come down 'n' get 'im?

JOEY: Well, I don't know. I'm in a little hot water right now. Gotta watch myself with certain people—I guess you know who.

TERRY: Look, ya want yer bird back or don't you?

JOEY: Sure, only I'm not comin' down to get 'im. I'm stayin' off the streets these days, know what I mean?

TERRY: OK, so why don't I bring 'im up to yer coop?

JOEY: Yeah, I been checkin' on the little buggers an' there's nobody around. Thanks, Terry. See ya up here!

MUTT: Tippi-tippi-tin, tippi-tin.... Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan....

TERRY: (running into Mutt) What the hell—

MUTT: Jus' me, pal—jus' old Mutt. Got a dime fer a one-armed member of the Four-forty-seven?

TERRY: Fuck off!

MUTT: A dime fer a cuppa coffee ...?

TERRY: Don't gimme that coffee, ya juice-head!

MUTT: Terry Malloy. I shoulda known. You 'n' Joey grew up together. Only he's aces and you're a bum. (exits) Ya hear me, Terry? A bum! Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan.... Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan....

REPORTER: (Charley, Truck, and Skins enter) Waiting for Terry outside Johnny Friendly's Bar are Charley (the Gent) Malloy and two enforcers, Truck and Barney.

CHARLEY: How did it go?

TERRY: Joey's up on the roof.

CHARLEY: The pigeon bit?

TERRY: Like you said, Charley—it worked. He's still up there.

CHARLEY: What did I tell ya? Nice goin', kid. Here's your saw buck.

TRUCK: Dat brudder o' yers—thinkin' alla time.

BARNEY: All the time.

(Joey screams offstage ending with the thud of a body hitting the ground. Tommy, Luke, Moose, and Jimmy enter. An actor also enters and plays the body. Tommy places a jacket over the body.)

TRUCK: Waddaya know? Somebody fell offa roof.

BARNEY: Asshole thought he was gonna sing f'r the Crime Commission.

TRUCK: Bye, bye, birdie.

TERRY: You said they was only goin' to talk to him!

CHARLEY: Maybe he gave them an argument.

TERRY: I figured the worst they'd do is jus' lean on 'im a little....

TRUCK: He's been givin' the boss a lot of trouble, kid.

TERRY: He wasn't a bad little fella, Joey.

CHARLEY: No, he wasn't.

TRUCK: Except for his mouth.

CHARLEY: Talkative.

TERRY: Wasn't a bad little fella....

TRUCK: Maybe he could sing, but he couldn't fly.

BARNEY: Definitely. (Barney and Truck exit)

CHARLEY: How about a shot, kid? I'm buyin'.

TERRY: In a minute.

CHARLEY: Come on, kid. (exits)

RUNTY: (entering) Who is it?

TOMMY: Joey. Real bad.

RUNTY: Joey Doyle?

LUKE: All smashed up.

(Pop Doyle enters)

TOMMY: Yeah, don't let Pop—

POP: What's goin' on?

MOOSE: Pop, you better go on home ...

RUNTY: (holding Pop back) Yeah, we'll take care o' things....

POP: Lemme go! (walks over to body) Oh, Joey, Joey—I kept tellin' 'im, Don't say nuthin', keep quiet, you'll live longer ...

RUNTY: Wasn't Joey's style, Pop. Never knuckled under to nobody.

MOOSE: We better get an ambulance—fast.

TOMMY: Ambulance ain't gonna help.

MOOSE: Kid, run down to Saint Tim's 'n' get one o' the priests. (Jimmy exits)

POP: If he oney lissened to me—stayed D 'n' D—He—he wouldn't be ... Joey ... Joey!

LUKE: Your boy had guts, Pop. Enough guts for a regiment.

RUNTY: A regular bravadeero. Strictly a stand-up guy.

POP: So put it on his tombstone! He gets a book in the pistol local and right away he's gonna be a hero! Gonna push the mob off the docks single-handed....

RUNTY: C'mon—let's go get a coupla shots in us.

POP: First I gotta call Edie, up at the school, (starts to exit) Edie an' Joey, they was like twins ... (exits)

FATHER BARRY: (enters followed by Joey) The kid says there's been an accident.

TOMMY: Accident? Who's kiddin' who?

LUKE: That's what they always call it: an "accident."

MOOSE: Some accident!

FATHER BARRY: (Father Barry kneels over the body and begins to administer Last Rites) Susepe Domine/Servum tuum/ancillam tuam/in locum sperandae sibi salvationis a misericordia tua/Amen.

Scene 2

Backroom of the Friendly Bar

(The boys are seated at a table and chairs, watching a fight on TV and shouting cheers and comments.)

BARNEY: Hey Terry—this ya gotta see!

TRUCK: Yeah, kid—Riley's makin' a bum outa Durazzo!

BARNEY: C'mon over and have a shot.

JOHNNY: (Johnny Friendly enters) Turn it off—them clowns can't fight. There's nobody tough anymore. (to Terry) Not like you, slugger. You coulda licked 'em both with one hand tied behind ya! How they hangin'? (crosses to Terry and picks him up off chair) Don't hit me now, don't hit me! (sits in chair)

MAC: Hey, boss—the cut from the shape-up. Skins turned it over t' me. Eight hunnert an' ninety-one men at three bucks a head makes twenty-six seventy-three.

JOHNNY: Not bad. (to Charley) Count it.

MAC: We get a banana boat tomorra. Pier Forty-six. If we pull a walkout, we might do very lovely with the shippers. I hear bananas go bad in a hurry.

JOHNNY: OK—ask ten G's. But make it look legit. Right, Charley?

CHARLEY: No problem. We tell the press we're just fighting for the rights of the men.

MAC: (sings mockingly) "Hold the fort, for we are coming—union men be strong ...!

JOHNNY: Shaddup! Where's Morgan? Where's that big banker o' mine?

MORGAN: (enters) Right here, boss.

JOHNNY: Well J.P., how's business?

MORGAN: Havin' trouble with Kelly again—he won't take no loans but Big Mac here puts him to work anyway.

MAC: He's my wife's nephew!

MORGAN: Screw it! He won't take no loans! How we gonna keep the men in line if you—

MAC: I got ta give 'im work! She'd moida me.

MORGAN: Tough tit! Here's the interest on the week, boss. Eighteen hunnert 'n' thirty-two.

JOHNNY: Hey Mac—count it. Oh, Skins—How'dja make out with the sheet metal?

SKINS: (entering) The new checker faked the receipt, an' two hours later the tin's sittin' in somebody's warehouse jus' like it belongs there.

JOHNNY: Who says it don't—if the price is right?

SKINS: Definitely. Forty-five bills.

JOHNNY: Hey Terry—front 'n' center. Count this.

TERRY: AW, Johnny, ya know I don't like t' count. Gives me a headache.

JOHNNY: It's good for you. Develops your mind.

MAC: What mind?

TERRY: You're not so funny tonight, fat man. (Terry takes a step toward Mac and vice versa)

JOHNNY: Back up, Mac—I like the kid. Remember the night he took Farella at St. Nick's?

CHARLEY: We won a bundle.

JOHNNY: Real tough. A big try.

TERRY: Not a dent. Perfect.

JOHNNY: My favorite little cousin.

TERRY: Thirty-six—sev—ah, I lost the count.

JOHNNY: Skip it, Einstein. How come you never got no education like the rest of us?

MAC: Oney arithmetic he ever learned was hearin' the ref count over him—seven ... eight ... nine ... ten!

TERRY: OK, fat man! (Johnny stops them from fighting; Charley grabs Terry and pulls him back; and Mac backs up a few steps)

JOHNNY: Charley, what gives with your brother tonight? He ain't himself.

CHARLEY: The Joey Doyle thing. You know how it is. Things like that—he exaggerates them. Too much Marquees of Queensbury. It softens 'em up.

JOHNNY: Listen, kid, I'm a soft touch too. Ask any rummy on the docks if Johnny Friendly ain't good for a fin anytime they put the arm on 'im. But my old lady raised us kids—ten of us—on a stinkin' watchman's pension. When I was sixteen I hadda beg for work in the hold. I didn't work my way up outa there for nuthin'.

TERRY: I know, Johnny, I know....

JOHNNY: Takin' over this local, Four-forty-seven, it took a little doin'. Some pretty tough fellas were in the way—Fisheye Hennesy an' Turkey Smith. They left me with this (indicates scar on neck)—See it?—to remember 'em by.

CHARLEY: He was holding his throat to keep the blood in and he still chased 'em into the street. They thought it was a dead man coming after them.

TRUCK: They was the dead men. Only they didn't know it yet.

JOHNNY: I know what's eatin' ya, kid. But I got two thousand members in my local, payin' five bucks a month dues—that's a hunnert an' twenny thousand a year legitimate—and when each one of 'm puts in two, three buck a day on toppa that, to make sure they work steady—well, you figure it out. An' that's just for openers. We got the fattest piers in the fattest harbor in the world—right, Charley?

CHARLEY: Everything that moves in or out, we take our cut. But there's plenty of problems and responsibilities. Believe me, whatever we make, we're entitled to it.

JOHNNY: We ain't robbin' pennies from the blind, kid. We're cuttin' ourselves in for five, six million a year just on our half-dozen piers. Ya don't think I'm gonna let anybody screw us outa that kind of a deal, do you? A deal I sweated and bled for—on a counta one lousy little cheese-eater, that Doyle bum, who goes around agitatin' against us an squealin' on Johnny Friendly to that fuckin' Crime Commission. Do you? Well?

TERRY: Sure, Johnny, sure. He had his nerve, givin' ya all that trouble. I jus' thought I shoulda been told what was comin' ... I mean I jus ...

CHARLEY: Johnny—I make it twenty-six twenty-three from the shape. Skins shorted us half a bill.

JOHNNY: (to Skins) You shorted us! Gimme!

(Truck kicks Skins and pushes him to Johnny. Barney gets up and assists in the squeeze on Skins.)

SKINS: I—I musta counted wrong, boss. I—

JOHNNY: Gimme, schlagoom! (after Johnny gets money from Skins he chases him off) Cocksucker! You come from Greenpernt? Go back t' Greenpernt. You don't work here no more. Cocksucker! (to Terry) Here, kid—half a bill. Go get your load on.

TERRY: Thanks, Johnny—I don't want it. I—

JOHNNY: Go on—a little present from your Uncle Johnny. And Mac, tomorra mornin' when you shape the men, put Terry in the loft. Number One. Every day. Just check in an' goof off on the coffee bags. OK matooze?

TERRY: Thanks, Johnny ...

CHARLEY: Hundred bucks a week for doin nothin', kid. You got yaself a real friend here. Don't forget it. (Terry exits)

JOHNNY: Why should he forget it?

Scene 3

Doyle Parlor

The Doyle parlor consists of a few chairs.

(Edie enters, as does Runty with Moose, Tommy, and Pop singing in traditional "wake" fashion. They are carrying bottles and glasses. Pop sits morosely in a chair.)

ALL: (singing) And freely as we lift our heads, we vow our blood to shed, once and forever more to raise, the green above the red.

And freely as we lift our heads, we vow our blood to shed, once and forever more to raise, the green above the red.

TOMMY: Aah, how Joey loved that song!

RUNTY: And why not? 'Tis a fine, brave song. An' he was the bravest of the brave, God rest 'im.

MOOSE: Lord've mercy on 'im ...

RUNTY: Well, here's to God, Ireland, and the present company.... And mud in the eye o' Johnny Friendly!

MOOSE: An' the big boys on toppa him!

EDIE: (suddenly, turning toward them) Who'd want to kill Joey?

POP: Edie!

EDIE: The best kid in the neighborhood. Not because I'm his sister—everybody loved him. Are you all deaf? Who'd want to kill Joey?

POP: Pray for 'im, Edie, but don't ask no questions. Fer yer own good. Because you won't get no answers.

EDIE: Who did it?

TOMMY: You know how many murders we get down here every year, Edie? Ten or twelve—every year.

POP: Yes, Edie—an' you know how many that makes since you was born? An' how many got solved?

RUNTY: Just two, girl—in eighteen years.

MOOSE: They find a fella in the river—they say he was drunk an' fell off the string piece....

POP: Or a high-low backs into 'im ... or a sling slips.

LUKE: There's a dozen different ways.

POP: There's more accidents on the docks than anywhere else in the country.

RUNTY: So the pistoleros help the accidents along a little bit.

EDIE: But the police—why don't they do something? Isn't it their job?

POP: Oh, sure it is—in the books you read up there in college. Try 'n' change it, an' all you'll get is a snootful of trouble.

EDIE: Trouble? Can there be any worse trouble? Joey is dead. He's dead ...!

POP: (to Edie) I know—I know. I never told you, but I was like him once. That's how I got this (pointing to old wound on leg)—n' I learned me lesson. Not Joey, rest his soul. He wouldn't listen. God's will Edie. Ya can't fight God's will.

EDIE: God's will? God's will? Are you telling me God wanted Joey dead? (exits)

POP: Edie! (the boys stop Pop from leaving, sit him in chair, and start singing again)

ALL: And freely as we lift our heads, we vow our blood to shed, once and forever more to raise, the green above the red.

Scene 4

On Stoop Outside Doyle Tenement

(Edie enters. After a few moments Father Barry enters.)

FATHER BARRY: Edie. I've come to say the Rosary for Joey. It's rough—he was the best. Always there for six o'clock Mass. We're all gonna miss him. How's your pa takin' it?

EDIE: He's taking it. Better than I am. He's more old-fashioned about it. He's thinking that before too long, he'll be seeing him in Heaven. But I—I have to live all these years without him. Maybe that's selfish, but—but ... Pop is sad but I'm mad, Father. I won't take it! I won't!

FATHER BARRY: Child, I know, I know....

EDIE: Joey—he called me every week ... Joey and I, all we had was each other.... He didn't fall off that roof—he must have been pushed! You know that, don't you? Well, if you don't, you should! No offense, Father, but you should. You should!

FATHER BARRY: Easy, Edie. Easy now. It's a bad day for all of us. I can't give you the easy answers. But time and faith ... time and faith are great healers.

EDIE: Time and faith! My brother's dead, murdered by beasts who spit in the face of God. And all you stand here talking about is "time and faith"!

FATHER BARRY: Edie! It may not be enough, but I do what I can.

EDIE: Are you sure, Father? Isn't there more you could do?

FATHER BARRY: I wish there were. All I can do is help the family. Pray with you ... and try to ease the loss.

EDIE: Only God has the power to give life ... or the right to take it away. Isn't that true, Father?

FATHER BARRY: Of course—I preach that every day.

EDIE: So if—if those animals take Joey's life, and the police and everybody else just turn their backs on it, isn't it up to you to do something about it? Not just preach about it?

FATHER BARRY: Edie ... I feel for you ... it's hard to find the words ... but they're waiting for me upstairs. Look, why don't we talk later? I'm in the church whenever you need me.

EDIE: "In the church when I need you." Look at St. Paul—Ignatius—Francis Xavier. You think they hid in the church? Was there ever a saint who hid in the church?

(Father Barry pauses a moment, then exits)

EDIE: (continuing) Oh, Mother, Mother of God, help me!


Excerpted from On the Waterfront by Budd Schulberg, Stan Silverman. Copyright © 2001 Budd Schulberg. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Budd Schulberg, who wrote the original screenplay for the film On the Waterfront, is also the author of What Makes Sammy Run?, The Harder They Fall, Sparring with Hemingway, and Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince, among many other books. He lives on Long Island, New York.

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