Z/Yen Panto

The Four Planners of the Budget Process 

A Panto in Six Acts

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Purpose: a tension-releasing skit for a planning or budgeting awayday to be performed in slapstick English pantomime fashion.

Setting: The Stop-Go Toy Company, somewhere, sometime, someplace.

Cast of Characters

  • War: a planner and boss. 
  • Death: a planner and boss. 
  • Famine: a planner and boss. 
  • Pestilence: a planner and boss. 
  • Simple: a divisional manager. 
  • Crafty: a divisional manager. 
  • Narrator: an overbearing, interfering sort full of opinionated comments.
  • Phoebe (Program for Holding On-line Entry of Budgetary Ephemera) is never seen!

I - INTRODUCTION

Narrator: Hello, boys and girls.

[Split room in half - usual warm-up practice with audience: "oh yes it is", "it's behind you", "hiss"]

Once upon a time, the year of the Turkey to be precise, it was the worst of times - it was budget time. Deep down in Le-go-land, in Arm-stop-city, was the famous Stop-Go Toy Company. In the previous year, the year of the Chicken, all sales revenues had been surpassed. Unfortunately, so had all the annual costs.

[Enter Simple and Crafty]

Now Simple and Crafty, two humble divisional managers, have to take this year's budget through the deep, dark hundred acre wood. And we have to help them. All that Simple and Crafty have to protect them is their budgetary review methodology.

[Hold up budgetary review methodology book]

And our finance director's braces. That should help them keep their peckers up.

[Snaps at Simple's braces. Simple does not look pleased]

But before Simple and Crafty can get to the beautiful Phoebe (that is, the Program for Holding On-line Entry of Budgetary Ephemera) they have to pass the Four Planners of the Apocalypse - War, Famine, Pestilence and Death!

Simple: Oh what a wonderful day, Crafty. If we're quick we can take our budget to the beautiful Phoebe by lunchtime and bring some delightful cakes back for our budget awayday next week.

Crafty: I don't know Simple. I hear some crashing and banging up ahead. I feel there's some trouble and strife around here somewhere.

II - WAR

[Enter War to the rear]

Narrator: Who's going to help them?

[Audience : "It's behind you"]

Narrator: Oh no it isn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it is"]

Narrator: (repeat isn't-is routine if appropriate) That's one of the baddies.

[Audience: "Hiss"]

War: Ho, ho, ho [rattles sabre]. What have we here? Two little divisional managers out in the hundred acre wood.

Crafty: Hello, Lord War. What a surprise to run into you. Well, we're just having a little stroll on this fine day. Nothing serious you realise.

Simple: That's right sir. We're just out taking our budgets to Phoebe.

War: Taking your budgets to Phoebe! Before I have approved them. Now you will answer me these questions three, before fine Phoebe you will see! Question 1 - which way go the revenues?

Simple: Um, up sir.

War: Excellent. Up, up, up. That's the way of all revenues. Market share, conquer, destroy, annihilate, obliterate... Let me tell you a story from one of my earlier campaigns...

Crafty: Ahem, sir.

War: Ah yes. Question 2 - which way go the costs?

Simple: Um, up sir?

War: Precisely! Damn the costs! Full speed ahead. War is war. Do what you need to do.

[War walks away]

Crafty: Ahem, sir.

War: Ah yes. Oh, yes. Question 3 - how can we conquer new revenue targets by using the same cost base?

Crafty: Well sir, that all depends.

War: Oh, no it doesn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it does"]

You'd better bring me a budget for battle - one that goes up, up, up. Or you'll be chopped into fodder for my morning six gun salute.

[Exit War]

Simple: Gosh Crafty, that was close.

Crafty: I don't know Simple. I sure could use something to eat. I feel there's more trouble and strife around here somewhere.

Narrator: Who's going to help them?

III - FAMINE

[Enter Famine to the rear]

[Audience : "It's behind you"]

Narrator: Oh no it isn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it is"]

Narrator: (repeat isn't-is routine if appropriate) That's one of the baddies.

[Audience: "Hiss"]

Famine: Boy am I starving. What have we here? Two little divisional managers out in the hundred acre wood.

Crafty: Hello, Lord/Lady Famine. What a surprise to run into you. Well, we're just having a little stroll on this fine day. Nothing serious you realise.

Simple: That's right sir/ma'am. We're just out taking our budgets to Phoebe.

Famine: Taking your budgets to Phoebe! Before I have approved them. Now you will answer me these questions three, before fine Phoebe you will see! Question 1 - which way go the costs?

Simple: Um, down sir/ma'am.

Famine: Excellent. Down, down, down. That's the way of all costs. Halve the costs and the business prospers. Quarter the costs and the business thrives. Do you know the parable of the seven lean years and the seven impoverished years?

Crafty: Ahem, sir/ma'am.

Famine: Ah yes. Question 2 - which way go the revenues?

Simple: Um, about the same sir/ma'am?

Famine: Precisely! Damn the revenues! A lean business is a mean business. Do what you need to do - just keep those costs under control.

[Famine walks away]

Crafty: Ahem, sir/ma'am.

Famine: Ah yes. Oh, yes. Question 3 - would you spend our money on increasing sales or saving costs of the Stop-Go Toy Company?

Crafty: Well sir/ma'am, that all depends.

Famine: Oh no it doesn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it does"]

You'd better bring me a budget for starvation - one that goes down, down, down. Or you'll spend the next six months at an Ethiopian accountants conference.

[Exit Famine]

Simple: Gosh Crafty, that was close.

Crafty: I don't know Simple. Something really smells here. I feel there's more trouble and strife around here somewhere.

Narrator: Who's going to help them?

IV - PESTILENCE

[Enter Pestilence to the rear]

[Audience : "It's behind you"]

Narrator: Oh no it isn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it is"]

Narrator: (repeat isn't-is routine if appropriate) That's one of the baddies.

[Audience: "Hiss"]

Pestilence: Gosh am I in a foul mood. What have we here? Two little divisional managers out in the hundred acre wood.

Crafty: Hello, Lord/Lady Pestilence. What a surprise to run into you. Well, we're just having a little stroll on this fine day. Nothing serious you realise.

Simple: That's right sir/ma'am. We're just out taking our budgets to Phoebe.

Pestilence: Taking your budgets to Phoebe! Before I have approved them. Now you will answer me these questions three, before fine Phoebe you will see! Question 1 - which way go the revenues?

Simple: Um, up sir/ma'am.

Pestilence: Excellent. Up, up, up. You've got to really take risks. You've got to infest everything to succeed. Let me tell you a tale, business is like a virus...

Crafty: Ahem, sir/ma'am.

Pestilence: Ah yes. Question 2 - which way go the costs?

Simple: Um, hard to say sir/ma'am?

Pestilence: Precisely! Damn the costs! To make an omelette, you have to break some eggs. If you're not in you can't win. It could be you. And remember you catch more flies with expensive honey than cheap vinegar.

[Pestilence walks away]

Crafty: Ahem, sir/ma'am.

Pestilence: Ah yes. Oh, yes. Question 3 - what projects would you bet on for the Stop-Go Toy Company?

Crafty: Well sir/ma'am, that all depends.

Pestilence: Oh no it doesn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it does"]

You'd better bring me a budget for infestation - one that spreads everywhere. One that bets on everything. Expand, expand, expand. Or you'll spend the next six months on environmental awareness training in the bilges of the Exxon Valdez.

[Exit Pestilence]

Simple: Gosh Crafty, that was close.

Crafty: I don't know Simple. I just had a shiver as if someone walked over my grave. I feel there's more trouble and strife around here somewhere.

Narrator: Who's going to help them? 

V - DEATH

[Enter Death to the rear]

[Audience : "It's behind you"]

Narrator: Oh no it isn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it is"]

Narrator: (repeat isn't-is routine if appropriate) That's one of the baddies.

[Audience: "Hiss"]

Death: Oh, woe is me. My life is an eternity. What have we here? Two little divisional managers out in the hundred acre wood.

Crafty: Hello, Lord/Lady Death. What a surprise to run into you. Well, we're just having a little stroll on this fine day. Nothing serious you realise.

Simple: That's right sir/ma'am. We're just out taking our budgets to Phoebe.

Death: Taking your budgets to Phoebe! Before I have approved them. Now you will answer me these questions three, before fine Phoebe you will see! Question 1 - which way go the costs?

Simple: Um, down sir/ma'am.

Death: Excellent. Down, down, down. Slash the costs. All good things must come to an end. A time to be born and a time to die. To everything, turn, turn,...

Crafty: Ahem, sir/ma'am.

Death: Ah yes. Question 2 - which way go the revenues?

Simple: Um, a little bit down sir/ma'am?

Death: Precisely! Nothing lasts forever, just milk it while you can. Never commit too much. Know when to leave the party.

[Death walks away]

Crafty: Ahem, sir/ma'am.

Death: Ah yes. Oh, yes. Question 3 - how long do you think the Stop-Go Toy Company has left?

Crafty: Well sir/ma'am, that all depends.

Death: Oh no it doesn't.

[Audience: "Oh yes it does"]

You'd better bring me a budget for winding this sorry business up. Cut, cut, cut. Or you'll spend the next six months chatting up the other corpses in the dole queue.

[Exit Death]

VI - CONCLUSION

Simple: Gosh, Crafty, what shall we do? Where are all the best years of our careers?

[Audience: "Behind you"]

Narrator: Now that Simple and Crafty have had these long talks with War, Famine, Pestilence and Death, they have very, very little time left to input our budgets into Phoebe. And if they don't answer the 4 Budget Planners of the Apocalypse soon, they're going to be chopped, starved, poisoned and killed. Oh why did their mothers ever tell them to be boring divisional managers.

Crafty: Don't worry Simple. I'll think of something. Wait I have a cunning plan.

[Enter War, Famine, Pestilence and Death]

Narrator: Who's going to help them?

[Audience: "It's behind you"]

War: Well, where's my budget - revenues up, up, up? Or I chop you into little pieces.

Famine: Well, where's my budget - costs down, down, down? Or you starve in Ethiopia.

Pestilence: Well, where's my budget - expand, expand, expand? Or I poison you in a supertanker's bilges.

Death: Well, where's my budget - cut, cut, cut? Or you meet your Major on the dole queue.

Simple: Crafty, I think it's time for your cunning plan - or we're going to die.

Crafty: Look over there - a cunning plan!

Narrator: Where?

[Audience: "It's behind you"]

Narrator: Oh yes it is

[Audience: "Oh no it isn't]

Crafty: No, it isn't, I was just kidding - we're going to die after all.

Simple: Can I ask one question? According to the budgetary review methodology, a jolly sing-along can approve any budget.

Four Planners together: Ummmm, yes?

Simple and Crafty, and in time, Four Planners:

Always plan on the right side of the line (be-do, be-do be-do be-do) Always plan on the right side of the line (be-do, be-do be-do be-do)

Narrator: Plans are heaps of shit, when you all budg-it, But soon you hit the fan or bottom line; Costs you're now reviewing, soon you'll be accruing, But revenue will save you every time.

Always plan on the bright side of the line (be-do, be-do be-do be-do) Always plan on the bright side of the line (be-do, be-do be-do be-do)

[Exeunt Simple and Crafty]

Narrator: And so my dear boys and girls. Here in the hundred acre wood, two lone divisional managers proved that armed with just their budgetary review methodology they could defeat the combined forces of War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.

And it just goes to show that the moral is: You can lead a planner through a budgetary review methodology, but he'll still stink.

[CURTAIN]