Drama – The Lesson

The Lesson

 

Characters

 

Mr Lloyd       

An English teacher in a typical Scottish comprehensive school at the beginning of the 21st century.

 

Shaun           

Would-be football star, good-looking with athletic build. Given to wearing chunky gold bracelets and neck chains and latest sports gear. Likes drawing “menshies”, or monograms of individuals, an enthusiasm shared by Robyn.

 

Campbell     

Quiet, shy, reasonably hard-working boy. Rarely speaks unless invited. Hard to believe he is often in trouble in other subject departments.

           

Stephanie    

Small in stature, meticulously neat in appearance and in her work. Especially enthusiastic when talking about pets or animals in general, she is compassionate by nature and a regular champion of the underdog.

 

Iain                

Shy, earnest  pupil. Often shows insight when responding to questions but struggles to articulate his ideas.

           

Hugh             

 Extremely self-confident. Tenacious in pursuit of an argument even in the face of overwhelming odds. Believes that rules, whether of syntax or behaviour, are for other people.

 

Craig             

Likeable rogue. Plays ice-hockey in his spare time. Unlikely to underestimate his own ability.

 

Dwayne        

A year older than the others, he repeated a year in primary school. Physically strong and painfully aware of his own learning difficulties,aggression is often his self-defence.

 

Jenna                       

Petite, attractive girl. Extremely quiet, her proudest achievement to date is that she is going out with Dwayne.

                                               

Heather        

A physical awareness beyond her years. Dresses provocatively in low-cut t-shirts and short skirts. Good looks and endearing smile thinly disguise a ruthless self-interest.

 

Steven          

Referred to as “Hot”, due to the fact that he is tall and skinny with red hair, thereby resembling a match, and that he blushes easily.

 

Robyn          

A pleasant girl, relaxed and casual in attitude. Would rather draw than be asked to write. Like Shaun, keen on writing her name  and others in elaborate script.

 

Lisa               

Quietly self-assured. Continues to be conscientious and hard- working  despite the distractions of others. Would prefer to be left alone but can be relied on for a sensible contribution.

 

Zoe                

Rarely present, and usually confused. Extremely demanding of attention and prone to tantrums when ignored. Very unpopular with others.

 

Simon           

An enigma. Articulate of  thought and speech, he is very reluctant to complete written work, preferring to adopt the role of quiet rebel. Usually at least half-asleep after early-morning paper round

 

Henry            

Father owns local take-away. Cantonese is his first language. Henry is very conscientious. Will take out his books and be working as soon as he arrives in class. Is largely ignored by others, and does not  contribute unless asked.

 

           

The teacher is tidying up at the front of the room, putting away folders etc from a previous class, when 4F start coming in one or two at a time. They are not dressed uniformly. Some are wearing the odd item of school dress – white shirt, school tie, sweatshirt, grey trousers – but apart from Henry, no-one is wearing the whole ensemble. Many of the lines are spoken simultaneously, as individuals constantly interrupt each other.

 

 

Robyn            

What are we daein the day, Mr Lloyd?

Mr Lloyd        

Just wait till everyone’s here, Robyn.

Robyn            

Can we draw?

Mr Lloyd        

Just wait till everyone’s here.

Simon            

Can I borrow a pen?

Mr Lloyd        

Why don’t you have a pen?

Simon            

I had one, but it burst

Mr Lloyd        

What do you mean it burst? Pens don’t just burst. At least not in my experience.

Simon            

They dae in mine. Especially when Shaun stands on them.

Shaun            

Aye blame me!

Mr Lloyd        

Right, is everone here now. OK. Jackets off please. Books on the desk, bags on the floor. Make sure you aren’t eating. I’ll just do the register before we begin. Shaun?

Shaun            

Here. By the way, what do ye mean, sendin a letter hame to say I’m no workin?

Mr Lloyd        

Well, you aren’t working!

Shaun            

That’s no the point.

Mr Lloyd        

Well, what is the point, exactly?

Shaun            

I’m grounded. Ma mither was mad.

Heather         

 Shaun, pack it in. Ye wurnae the only wan that got a letter.

Mr Lloyd        

Campbell?

Campbell      

Here.

Mr Lloyd        

Stephanie?

Stephanie     

Here.

Mr Lloyd        

Hugh?

Hugh              

Here. Mr Lloyd, ma folder’s burst.

Mr Lloyd        

Later Hugh. Craig? Craig?

Craig             

What? Aye, here.

Mr Lloyd        

Take your jacket off, Craig. And empty your mouth. Dwayne?

Dwayne         

Here.

Mr Lloyd        

Don’t swing on your chair please, Dwayne. Steven?

Steven           

Here.

Mr Lloyd        

You were off, yesterday, Steven?

Shaun            

Aye, he was skivin’.

Steven           

Shut up you. I hurt ma fit in PE. Damaged ma ligaments.

Shaun            

You don’t even ken where yer ligaments ur, Hot.  

Mr Lloyd        

Craig, take off your jacket and empty your mouth please. Robyn?

Robyn            

Here. Mr Lloyd, can I draw on my folder?

Mr Lloyd        

No, this is an English class, Robyn, not an art class. Anyway, you shouldn’t be drawing on your folder.

Robyn            

How no?

Mr Lloyd       

Because it doesn’t look good. What if the headteacher comes in, or an inspector arrives to look at your work. Doesn’t create a very good impression, does it?

Robyn            

Naebody ever looks at oor work.

Mr Lloyd       

Right, come on. We’ve got a lot to get through today, and we haven’t even finished the register yet. Heather?

Heather         

Here. Mr Lloyd, can I go to the toilet?

Mr Lloyd       

Not just now, Heather, you just came in.

Heather         

But, Mr Lloyd, I’m burstin.

Mr Lloyd        

Well, if you must. But just wait and you can take the register slip to the office on your way.

Shaun            

That’s no fair. It was ma turn to take the register slip.

Craig             

No it isnae. You took it last time.

Mr Lloyd        

Look. Don’t argue about it . Does it matter? Heather’s taking the register slip, so no more arguing. There won’t be a register slip if we don’t  finish taking the register. Craig, take off your jacket and empty your mouth.

Simon            

Can I have a pen?

Mr Lloyd        

Let me finish this please, Simon. Robyn?

Robyn            

Here. Can I draw on my folder?

Mr Lloyd        

Lisa?

Lisa                

Here.

Mr Lloyd        

Zoe?

Heather         

She’s seein Mr Scott. A think she’s gettin suspendit.

Shaun            

She’s ayways suspendit. She’s no right in the heed.

Mr Lloyd        

O.K. That’s enough. Henry?

Henry             

Here.

Mr Lloyd        

Right. Thanks Heather. (passing her the register slip). Hand that in to the office please. And be as quick as you can. (Heather leaves the room.) Now then, last  time we were looking at some of the issues raised in the novel Kes, and today I want to hear what your responses were. First of all, I want you to put the desks in to the middle of the room to make a large table, and then I want you to put your chairs round it in a circle. Lift the chairs please, and don’t make a racket.

 

(There is an atmosphere of confusion as desks and chairs are moved around the room. For some it is an opportunity to avoid work and the operation takes much longer than necessary. Chairs are scraped along the floor, there is much playful pushing and shoving, and a general lack of order.)

 

 

Mr Lloyd        

Well, I must say, that was not impressive. I hope your discussion skills are better than your ability to follow simple instructions. And don’t  forget that part of your assessment in English is for your ability to talk, so think carefully before you speak, and make sure you listen to what other people have to say.

Hugh              

Does that mean we get marks fur talkin?

Craig             

You should get a hunner percent then ,Hugh, cause ye never shut up.

Hugh              

Aye right. You can talk!

Mr Lloyd        

Well it doesn’t quite work like that. It depends on the quality of what you have to say. You don’t simply improve your grade by speaking more often. If that was the case, some of you would have university degrees by now. But let’s get on. One of the issues you were considering yesterday was what features Billy and Kes had in common.

Hugh              

No much that I can see. I mean, Billy’s a boy and Kes is a burd.

Simon            

Oh well spotted, Hugh!

Mr Lloyd        

Thanks for that contribution, Hugh. But I’m sure we can come up with better than that.

Robyn            

Is it because Kes is a wild bird, and Billy’s kinda wild an all?

Steven           

Aye, that’s what Jud calls him. Billy the wild man of the woods.

Mr Lloyd        

 Well I suppose there is a wildness in Billy. What is it that makes him wild do you think?

Hugh              

 His big brother batters him.

Shaun            

Aye, if that was me man, I’d gie him a doin.

Stephanie     

And he kills his pet hawk. That’s a shame so it is. It never did anybody any harm.

Simon            

And the teachers don’t like him.

Heather         

And his mother’s a tart.

Shaun            

Aye, just like you, Heather.

Heather         

Fuck off ,Shaun. (The class are silenced for the first time.) Sorry, Mr Lloyd. But tell him tae quit it.

Mr Lloyd        

That’s enough, both of you. Heather, I don’t think that language is appropriate for the classroom . Just be more careful in future.

Shaun            

She should be suspendit for that!

Mr Lloyd        

Right, let’s get back to the point of the discussion. What Billy admires about the kestrel is its independence, the fact that it can’t be tamed, even although it can be trained.

Shaun            

You mean, just like Dwayne.

 

(Dwayne doesn’t speak, but reaches across to grab Shaun by the neck, and there is a scuffle as chairs and desks are knocked out of place.)

 

Mr Lloyd        

Right, that’s quite enough of that kind of behaviour. Dwayne, keep your hands to yourself please. And Shaun, don’t speak unless you’ve got something positive to say.

Steven           

Oh, I’ve just remembered. I’ve tae go for ma TB jag the morra at half nine.

Robyn            

Ah heard somebody fainted yesterday. And that was just their skin- test.

Heather         

Oh, that’s sair, that. They stick this big needle thing in yer airm.

Simon            

Naw they don’t. It’s just a wee prick in yer hand.

Shaun            

That should suit you then, Heather!

 

(Heather manages to keep quiet, but looks at Shaun in a way which clearly signals her intention to kill him later.)

 

Craig             

Mr Lloyd, is it true that if yer skin test swells up, ye don’t get yer jag?

Mr Lloyd        

This is all very interesting, but I don’t think it has much to do with the book, which is what we were supposed to be discussing. Now then,  Lisa, why is it, do you think, that the kestrel is so important to Billy?

Craig             

Are we gone tae huv tae write an essay about this?

Mr Lloyd        

Craig, would you let Lisa speak, please!

 

(At this point the classroom door opens and Zoe enters)

 

Zoe                

Whit are we daein here?

Mr Lloyd        

Just sit down, Zoe, and I’ll tell you what we’re doing in a minute.

Shaun            

Are you gettin suspendit, Zoe?

Zoe                

A huvnae got a book.

Mr Lloyd        

You don’t need a book right now. We’re discussing the character of Billy from the novel.

Zoe                

A missed the endo the story. Does the burd get kilt? Can a take a book hame and read it at hame?

Mr Lloyd        

We’ll discuss that later, Zoe. Now, Lisa was just about to tell us about the significance of the kestrel in Billy’s life. Lisa.

Lisa                

 Well, ………

 

(Before Lisa is able to begin her answer, they are interrupted by the ringing of a mobile phone. They all look around accusingly before Craig realises it is his phone, retrieves it from his bag, and looks at it to reveal the caller’s name.)

 

Craig             

Hot Mobile!

 

(All turn to look at Steven who is blushing profusely)

 

Steven           

What?

Craig             

Aye right, Hot. It’s no as if ye can deny it. Sittin’ there wi a massive beamer.

Mr Lloyd        

Steven you know the rules about mobile phones. It should be switched off in class at all times.

Simon            

Mr Lloyd, do you think it’s right that a teacher should be allowed to take yer phone aff ye just because it rings in the cless? Mr Sanderson telt me the next time ah phoned somebody he was gonnae compensate ma phone. THAT WILL BE RIGHT. That phone cost ma mither a hunner and twenty pound. Ma faither would be up here like a shot man.

Mr Lloyd        

I think you’re missing the point slightly there. The phone is a serious disruption to the lesson. And anyway, there’s no need for you to be phoning anyone.

Hugh              

But what about an emergency or if something serious happens?

Craig             

 You mean like when I seriously attempt to murder you?

Mr Lloyd        

 Well Steven, I think that proves the point about the phone causing a distraction. Now let’s get back to the original question.

Shaun            

Mr Lloyd, have you ever been to Australia?

Mr Lloyd        

Not recently Shaun, I must say. However, don’t tell me. OK, the lesson’s almost gone anyway. Let’s hear it.

Shaun            

They Australians are pure mental by the way. They just drink aw the time.

Craig             

Aye, just like me. See the last time a went on a hockey trip tae Czechoslovakia wi ma team…

Shaun            

Shut it you, ah’m talkin.

Stephanie     

Did ye see any o them cola bears? They’re lovely them.

Shaun            

Naw, but a saw hunners o’ kangaroos. They’re everywhere man; on golf courses, in yer gairden, on the road.

Dwayne         

What size are they? Are they as big as this room?

Shaun            

Naw, maist o’ them are about the size o’ Robyn there when they sit up.

Robyn            

Aw, that’s cute!

Shaun            

They sit up and balance on their tails so that they can fight each other wi’ their big feet  as weel as their hands. Ye should see them knockin’ lumps outae each other.

Craig             

Must remember that on Saturday night. There’s a guy fae Mosside gonnae batter me.

Shaun            

And, Mr Lloyd, dae ye know how tae escape fae a crocodile if it starts chasin ye? They can run at thirty miles an hour.

Mr Lloyd        

Do tell us.

Shaun            

Well, ye start tae run fae side tae side, in a kinda zig-zag, cause the crocodile cannae turn very easily, so it gets fed up and just walks away.

Mr Lloyd        

Well that could come in handy one of these days if somebody in my third year foundation class turns nasty. Thanks for that Shaun.        

Craig             

What’s the time, Henry?

Henry             

Bell go in two minute.

Mr Lloyd        

Right,  before you put the furniture back. Your homework for tomorrow is to complete this sentence in your jotter, giving it an appropriate ending. “ Billy’s formal education has not prepared him well for life after school because……………..”     

 

(As the bell rings, the class rush for the door without waiting to be dismissed, knocking each other over in the process, leaving the desks in a circle, and the teacher scratching his head.)           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Drama – The Lesson

  1. Nice one Bill.

    Danny Boyle is probably taking a breather right now, but would do a good job of filming it. He needs a few good scripts;-

    Seriously though, what next?

    Will you flesh it out as a longer piece, submit it as a short radio/tv play, get a school to shoot it as part of a class project?

    M

  2. Thanks Mike. I didn’t really have any plans for it. I simply wanted to capture the characters and some of the dialogue from that particular group. The conversations are real, although they didn’t all take place in the same lesson!
    One day i might use it as the basis for something more substantial.

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