Just before i finished 8th grade, i auditioned for the specialty Performing Arts program at the high school i was hoping to attend. i was accepted to the program as a drama major. We had a performance night in the first term, and my teacher tasked me with writing a play that incorporated all 13 of my classmates. i didn’t know any of them very well at that point, so i wrote a play very loosely based on my initial impressions of their personalities. Here it is.
The Big Script
by Ryan “Crouton” Creighton
talented playwright and successful thespian
CAST OF CHARACTERS
note: the actors’ names were hand-written to the left of the characters’ names
(V.J.) Jack the Narrator- A Twilight Zone wanna-be who wears a cheap suit and an even cheaper toupee
(Debbie) The Teacher- an all-omnipotent voice which booms down from above,
(Nial) Eugene- the class geek who wears his pockets inside out with a vocabulary that could baffle a dictionary
(Steve) Jason- the gore-lover who overloads on horror movies every night
(Lani) Free- the spaced-out, lost hippie girl who wears John Lennon glasses, a headband and a tie-dyed T-shirt
(Melissa D.) Jennifer- the chronic liar
(Michelle) Penelope- the energetic chatter-box who never shuts… er… who talks just a little too much for her own good
(Rob) Zork- convinced he’s from another planet and is always waiting to join his alien comrades
(Melissa V.) Tifanny- ditzy valley girl who is always seen chewing gum and filing her nails
(Ryan) Anthony- the Hungarian transfer student who idolizes Arnold Swartznogger…. Shwatsenhugger… Swarzenheimer… you know, the Terminator
(Pui Yee) Missy- The bubbly optimist who always has a smile on her face and a good line for every bad situation
(Loni) Madison- the shy one who is always hiding in a corner or under a table
Njoroge- the forgetful, real-life student
(Melissa S) Sarah- a self-conscious worry-wart who always points out how something could go wrong
(Diana) Zoe- the only normal kid in the group, despite her strange name
At rise- The classroom is in an uproar. Paper airplanes and spit wads fly through the air as the grade nine drama majors start their day yelling, running around all over the place, pounding on a keyboard and making as much noise and commotion as possible. This goes on for a little bit…
Teacher- ( Backstage with a microphone, speaking in a loud, dominant tone ) Sit down!
( Nobody pays attention and the mayhem continues )
Teacher- ( Really loud ) SIT DOWN ! ! !
( Students immediately arrange themselves in a semi-circle facing the audience with their hands folded in their laps. Madison cowers in a corner, away from the rest of the group. Free sits cross-legged, meditating silently. Zork stares off into the distance… All freeze as Jack steps on to the stage with a microphone in his hand, while eerie music plays in the background. )
Jack- Imagine if you will one small group of students, gathering together in a bizarre semi-circle of illogical mysteriousness. The voice of their all-seeing, all-hearing teacher booms down upon them, barking out instructions that are to be followed to the letter. The whole group is made up of teenagers. Coincidence? I think not. It’s all just another day in… the Performing Arts Zone.
( Jack exits stage left and the characters become animate again. )
Teacher- (Cool, calm and collected.) As you already know, you will all be performing in your first presentation on Wednesday night during Grade Nine Performing Arts Night. Today, we will be deciding what we are going to do on that night. I have taken the liberty of putting you all into groups of two. I’m sure that none of you will complain.
( The students all groan unhappily )
Teacher- Here are the groups you will be in. Missy, you will go with Jason. Anthony, you are with Zork. Jennifer, you will be with Eugene. Madison, you will be paired up with Zoe. Penelope, I’ve put you with Free. And Tifanny, you’ll be with Njoroge. (Students look up as they hear their names claled, look at their partners and react accordingly.)
The students all get up and begin to assemble. They freeze in a crowd. Tifanny goes to center stage and turn her back to an imaginary person.
Tifanny – So, Njoroge, we’re like… in a group together, okay?
( Long pause as Tifanny waits for a reply, looks around and then realizes that he’s nowhere in sight.)
Tifanny – Njoroge? … like, Njoroge?!
( Njoroge, who has been sitting in the audience the whole time, calls from the back of the room. )
Tifanny- ( Shocked ) Njoroge… like, what are you doing in the audience? You’re supposed to be IN this play! You’re going to get in mondo trouble.
Njoroge- Oh, am I? I must have forgot. I’ll be right down. ( He joins Tifanny on the stage. Students thaw out and assemble themselves in their groups, sitting side by side. Sarah runs out and frantically waves her arms all over the place. )
Sarah- ( Extremely worried.) Oh, no! Oh, dear! This really isn’t good! I’m the only person in the class who doesn’t have a group! What am I going to do? It must be a sign! It’s doomsday! The end of the world is upon us! It’s the Seventh Sign! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE ! ! !
Teacher- Chill out, Sarah. Just join Jennifer and Eugene’s group.
( Slowly, getting herself together, Sarah sits down with the group.)
Teacher- I will give you all time in your groups to plan what each of you want to do. When you are finished, we will have a discussion. Then we can decide what to do. You have ten minutes.
( Everyone else stays frozen as each group goes.)
Jason- I don’t wanna do these STUPID group things. I’d rather be watching ” Bloodsucking Zombie Vampires on the Planet Morzon.”
Missy- Look on the bright side…. this will give us more experience working with our peers, an experience that will come in handy when we get out into the world and come in contact with our fellow workers.
Jason- I’m not going to HAVE any fellow workers. ( Enjoying the next line…) I’m going to work for the city ALONE scraping roadkills off the highways.
Missy- ( Just a bit disgusted ) Well, look on the bright side… I’m sure they’ll let you keep everything you scrape! So… what do you think we should do on Wednesday? I was thinking we could do a heartwarming tale about a family of cute fuzzy bunny rabbits.
Jason- ( Jumps up with sudden enthusiasm and mimes his actions.) Yeah It can be just like “Commando — Eighth Blood Part Sixteen, Volume Nine! ” Commando can come in with a semi-automatic 43 cylinder, 12 barrel uzi with repeat fire and blow away all the fuzzy bunnies in a violent frenzy, leaving the forest floor covered with their guts!
Missy- ( Covers her mouth and runs off stage.) EEEEEEEW ! ! !
Anthony- Hello. I am Anthony von Thwartzenheimer, und this is Zork, und we’re here to pump ( CLAP ) You up!
( Zork stares off into space.)
Anthony- What is the matter, you
flabby girly man flabby bowl of soggy oatmeal?
Zork- My android mind is not programmed to answer such a simple question asked by such a simple person. My makers would be displeased if they knew I was associating with you.
Anthony- … Yeah, whatever you said. Do you have any insignificant ideas for our performance night?
Zork- Under any other circumstances, I would be liable to submit data on the subject, but since my time here is so short, and my mission is almost completed, I would find it unwise to do so.
Anthony- I think you are a few eggs short of a chicken, but I will tell you my wonderful idea. ( Flexing ) I think we must have many close-ups of yours sincerely showing off my perfect body, bulging in all the right places and showing more flesh than a medical textbook. The rest of you would be backstage, admiring my gorgeous figure and cursing your parents for not giving you the perfect genes which I have inherited.
Zork- ( Staring up towards space ) My mother ship should be within range shortly. I would be quite tempted to take you on board as a specimin if I didn’t already have an Egotisticus Maximus in my collection.
( Zork leaves Anthony standing center stage. Anthony makes pondering faces as he tries to decipher what Zork meant, but he shrugs to the audience and exits behind the crowd.)
Jennifer- ( To others ) You know, you’re both lucky to be in my group, since I’m a… professional actress. Yeah! A professional actress who has starred in fifteen… no, sixteen films across the country… no, around the world. Yeah, that’s the ticket! I’m also a… um… personal friend of the Amazing Kreskin’s, so I can see into the future. I know exactly what we’re going to do Wednesday night.
Eugene- So do I. ( He pulls out a huge ball of computer paper. ) I had forseen the classic problem of “What to Do” many days in advance, so I wrote a ninety-minute script to suit the needs of our group as a whole. It’s all about the discussion between two doctors during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. They talk about the effects of bi-nuclear monogliceridlin formulae and their effects on tona humanis overidden with Argulein’s disease. It’s very informative.
Sarah- ( Snataching the script and speed-reading the first page ) Oh, no! I have the biggest part in the entire script! How am I gonna learn this by Wednesday? I’ll have to stop eating! I’ll have to stop BREATHING! ( Glances down at the script again and starts running around frantically.) I don’t even know how to pronounce these words! ( She runs into the audience and approaches a member.) Excuse me Sir!!! What’s this word, here?! Is that even in English?! Is that a swear word?! I’ll get arrested for saying that! They’ll lock me up for life! They’ll give me the chamber! THEY’LL GIVE ME THE CHAIR !!!
Jennifer- Don’t worry, Sarah. The chair doesn’t hurt one bit. It… uh… tickles! Yeah, that’s it. It tickles your feet, mostly. In fact, some people even ASK for the chair so that they can die happily. It’s true! You can ask my dad, Ben Franklin! He’ll tell you.
Eugene- ( Holds a lightbulb over his head.) I’ve got it! All this time, I’ve been trying to do my science experiment, ” The Effects of Powerful Radiation Signals on Frantic Nervosis”, on laboratory rats. Now I see the light. Oh, Sarah! Could I see you for a moment?
Penelope- ( Talking faster than the Micro-Machines Man) Teacher told us to get into groups of two and she put me with you and here we are except I don’t really think you’re normal because you wear that headband and meditate all day and you look like someone I saw on a re-run of the Mod Squad at 1:00 in the morning when I slept in at Gina’s and we ate pizza and did our hair and talked about boys.
Free- ( Meditating in a Purple Haze) Like, wow. You’re sending some really weird vibes my way, man. You know, if you don’t stop talking so fast, I think your head could explode, like a watermelon being dropped from the top of the Greenpeace building. I’ve seen it happen. But we’re here to talk about Performing Arts Night. I think we should do a story of a girl who’s like — “At One” with nature, you know? The trees are her friends, right?
Penelope- I once saw this horror movie over at Gina’s where this girl turned into a tree and she had bark and roots and everything. I don’t think she was too happy about it, though because she had leaves growing out of her ears and none of the guys at school thought she was pretty and then this dog came along…
Free- Alright, alright. I get the picture. Maybe the tree isn’t such a great idea. Maybe your parents “getting together” wasn’t such a good idea, either.
Tifanny- ( Still angry.) You know, I like can’t believe you did that. You have such a majorly bad memory, okay?
Njoroge- I know, I know.
Tifanny- Imagine, like forgetting your own play. ( With an exhasperated sigh. ) So, let’s like, hear your ideas for the performance night.
Njoroge- I had this really cool idea for a play. It had enough parts in it for all of us, and it was really funny, and it had really neat characters, and the costume design was easy, and the set would be beautiful, and our parents would have loved it !!
Tifanny- ( Excisted ) Well? Out with it Njoroge! What’s this fantastic idea of yours?
Njoroge- ( Pausing ) … I… um… well, you see… I forgot.
Tifanny – ( Aggrivated ) Njoroge !! You are like — such a major bonehead, you know ?! We could have had a really good performance night and you, like, totally forgot your idea. I bet you’d like, forget your head if it wasn’t attached to your shoulders!
Njoroge- ( Embarassed ) I… uh…. I did THAT this morning!
Zoe – ( Trying to pull Madison out of the corner.) Come on, Maddy. It’s not so bad being on stage.
Madison- No! I can’t go out there!
Zoe- Come ON! ( Points to the audience ) These people are waiting for you.
Madison- But Zoe… I just can’t I DIE in front of audiences! Ever since the audience laughed at me when I lost my caboose playing the Little Engine that Could in the first grade, I’ve been absolutely terrified to say a speech in front of the class, or even to sit with a group of my friends!
Zoe- I find that just a little hard to believe. You MUST be talented to have been accepted into the program. You had to audition, right?
Zoe- See! You’ve performed for an audience before! Now tell me what you did for your audition.
Madison- I did a monologue from ” The Shy Girl from Idaho”. I hid under a table through the whole thing. They said I played the part really well, and they let me in.
Zoe- Oh. That doesn’t help much, does it? Well I’m going to get you over this irrational fear. ( Takes her hand.) Come on. Come and introduce yourself to the audience.
Madison- No !!
Zoe- ( Gently ) Come on, they won’t bite. Unless you show them some red meat.
( Madison giggles a bit. She lets Zoe lead her out into the open, where they stand facing the audience.)
Madison- Zoe, my legs are frozen. I can’t move!
Zoe- You can do it. Show them no fear. Now introduce yourself.
Madison- ( Very nervously ) H… hi, everybody. M.. my name is M… M.. Madison. I’m in the drama major. ( Waits a bit, then smiles. ) Zoe! They didn’t laugh at me! I did it!
Zoe- You sure did.
Madison- Thanks, Zoe. I really have a friend in you. You’re just about the only normal kid around here.
Zoe- Oh, I wouldn’t say that.
( Just then, Missy runs across the stage, shrieking with her hands over her mouth with Jason close at her heels.)
Jason- And then, I took this really big chainsaw and fired ‘er up…
( The two run all the way across the stage an exit.)
Zoe- Okay, maybe I WOULD say that!
( The kids unfreeze and do some miming of their ideas for a sec. )
Teacher- Sit down in a semi-circle, everyone. ( They do. ) It is now time to decide. What do you want to do on Wednesday night?
Missy- Fuzzy bunnies!
Jason- Disgusting gore!
Free- Flowers and trees!
Anthony- Pumping up!
Eugene- The Effects of Powerful Radiation Signals on Frantic Nervosis!
Sarah- The effects of a straight jacket on the class geek!
Penelope- I wanna do something about going over to Gina’s and eating pizza and talking on the phone and stuff!
Madison- ( Standing up ) Hi, my name’s Madison. ( Sits down.)
Zoe- Let’s do group therapy!
Jennifer- Let’s do a scene from Dances With Wolves! I starred in it, you know!
Tifanny- Let’s do something about shopping, okay?
Njoroge- Let’s do something about amnesia patients!
( All get into a huge argument, totally loud.)
Zork- ( Yelling ) ENOUGH ! ! ! ( He drops a script into the center of the semi-circle. Zoe gets up and studies it.)
Zoe- It’s a script! It has parts for all of us.
( More and more get up to see it.)
Free- I play a hippie! Could you imagine?
( Ooohs and aaahs abound as the class admires the script.)
Zoe- ( Starting to leave ) Come on everybody, let’s go to practice it for Wednesday night!
( All leave except for Sarah. Zork remains offstage. )
Sarah- Wait! It could be dangerous! ( She leaves. )
( All lights go out. A spotlight is put on Zork, center stage.)
Teacher- ( In a more alien voice. ) Good work, Zork. You have done well.
Zork- May I go home now?
Zork- Excellent. Beam me up.
( Light goes out and then comes back on. Jack runs out wearing a bald cap. Realizing he forgot something, he runs backstage, comes back on the stage and puts a piece of shag carpet on his head or something. Eerie music plays.)
Jack- Teacher or martian leader? Student or alien? Script work or real life? ( Points to his head ) Real, or a hair replacement? All these questions will never be answered. For once, nobody has learned a valuable lesson. It’s just another normal day in… the Performing Arts Zone.
– THE END –
Present-day Ryan Says…
When i dug this out of the suitcase, i was delighted to see it! i didn’t remember a thing about it, but as i started transcribing it, it all started coming back to me, down to the ways in which the kids delivered their lines. i remember that Melissa S. stole the show, and i can very clearly remember her delivering her “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” line, because her voice echoed in the auditorium and there was a big long pause after it. i remember Debbie being upset that she didn’t have any on-stage time as the voice of the teacher, and V.J. felt a little ripped off for similar reasons. But whatever. YOU create something.
My idea of humour at this stage was lame sitcom style setup/punch stuff, and completely ripping off Saturday Night Live sketches and characters that had been described to me by other people, but that i myself had not seen. “Anthony” was obviously Hans and Franz from SNL. Our rabidly progressive drama teacher made me change the “girly man” line because she said it was unkind to gay men. Hokay. The habitual liar was based on Jon Lovitz’s liar character (“Yyyeah… that’s the ticket!”) who i had never seen in my entire life, until i transcribed this play and decided to look up the source.
Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.
…Terrible 14-year-old artists also steal.