Back2School — A 90 minute play by Alan John Mayer

© 2014, Mirror Image Edutainment, Alan John Mayer                                                                   Note: this downloaded without page breaks.  At the end there is a link that may open correctly but I have invested more time in technology than necessary.  I prefer to invest my time in creative endeavors.  Nonetheless, this is a play worthy of production.

BACK 2 SCHOOL – A QUICK REVIEW
___________________________________
A Dramedy in Five Acts

by

Alan John Mayer

Copyright © 2014, 7520 Romaine Street Unit 1
by Alan John Mayer West Hollywood, Ca., 90046
Phone: (323) 474-4777
Email: AlanObermayer@gmail.com
Cast of Characters
Mr. Manleigh Götschkes: A male substitute teacher over 50.
Dr. Cora Baldwin-Sanchez: Principal of Hamilton High, 60.
Margie Petrahem: Art & Social Science teacher, 58.
Mr. Brian Gonzales: History Teacher, male 42.
Elsie Strickland: Administrative secretary, 48.
Mr. Eliazar Cordova: School custodian in his 60’s.
Annabelle Aguilar: Female student, 16.
Myrian Berrocal: Female student in her teens.
Angel Bustamante: Male student in his teens.
Monica Carajo: Female student in her teens.
Pamela Cisneros: Female student in her teens.
Rick Elizalde: Male student in his teens.
Igobeth Garcia: Female student, 16.
Hektor Garnica: Male student in his teens.
Abel Hernandez: Male student in his teens.
Angela Humenez: Female student in her teens.
Lo Houng: Male student, 16.
Lupita Jones: Female student, 16.
Maiko Ladrazzo: Male student, 19.
Rosa Lampillo: Female student, 17.
Lucas Macias: Male student, 16.
Rigoberto Menendez: Male student, 17.
Nick Messina: Male student in his teens.
Minerva Padilla: Female student in her teens.
Marta Quinonez: Female student in her teens.
Paul Quintana: Male student in his teens.
Jerry Schmidt: Male student in his teens.
Ron Silva: Male student in his teens.
Darry Tse: A male student in his teens.
Virginia Uribe: A female student in her teens.
Loc Van Nguyen: A male student in his teens.
Belinda Valdez: A female student in her teens.
Stephanie Vargas: A female student in her teens.
Naheem Washington: Black male student in his teens.
Martha Zuniga: A female student in her teens.
Note: Student parts are as of yet defined only in the mind of the playwright.

SCENE

A lower socio-economic inner-city high school photography classroom.

TIME

7:32 a.m., present day.
Act 1
Scene 1
SETTING: The audience enters the house to the chatter of hundreds of noisy teenagers. They are told all students are being asked to meet in the auditorium. As they settle in, various noises come to pass. A horn blows than a cell phone rings. Birds tweet, followed by a car alarm chirp. A siren races by followed by a truck and a horn.

BEFORE RISE: The spotlight shines on DR. CORABELLA BALDWIN-SANCHEZ. She is a sexy woman of sixty, five feet tall, wearing a tight size zero red mini dress with a slit up the back. Black and red six-inch heels complement the outfit. Her hair is piled high atop her head. She speaks eloquently.
DR. B.S.
Boys and girls, ahem, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our Back To School Night. We’re excited to see you here.
(She surveys the crowd, smiles, and waves at familiar faces.)
Some of you I know. Others I recognize. Hello, Maiko. For those of you who are new here at Hamilton High School, my name is Doctor Baldwin-Sanchez, and I am the Principal. (An audience plant yells out Dr. B.S.! She ignores it.)
At this time, I would like to invite everyone to turn off your cell phones, or what I like to do – is put it on vibrate.
(A fight brews in the schoolyard.)
(She raises her voice as the fight escalates.)
Anyway, if you will excuse me, I think I had better go out to the yard and see what the ruckus is all about.
(She exits.)

AT RISE: We recognize a Photography classroom. A poster depicting the parts of a camera hangs on one wall, a lighting chart on another. Shakespeare quotes and theatrical paraphernalia bring life to the otherwise drab, dilapidated classroom. Downstage, a double size green chalkboard dominates the wall. On either side, there is bulletin board with forty 8×10 glossies of the students stapled to it. They hang from the chalkboard frame as well. From the center, an 8×10 glossy of their teacher, MR. HANSEN, overlooks the classroom. There is a Mexican flag flat against the wall over the chalkboard. The American and the Californian flag fly on either side from sticks.
Stage left there is a door with a window in the center. Affixed to the wall is a pencil sharpener. Next to it, six feet off the ground, hangs a wall telephone, over which hangs an intercom box through which character thoughts are delivered as VOICE OVERS.
A 5’ cart sits stage right; on it a television set, and a DVD player. On the bottom shelf of the cart sits a box of DVDs.
There are eighteen different colored standard sudent desks. Stage right there is a blonde teacher’s desk with a wooden chair, next to it sits an army green trash receptacle.
The fourth wall is a horizontal half wall of windows set behind grating and bars. On the downstage wall hangs a Seth Thomas school clock. It is 7:32 a.m..
We hear music and chatter. Three short bells signal the custodian. From stage left, substitute teacher MANLY GOETSCHKES, (hereafter referred to as MR. G.), enters. He is carrying a large classroom register book, a folio of papers, and a ring of keys. He is wearing a brown leatherette jacket, clean, tailored rust colored Dockers, and new chamois colored work boots.
He is Swiss, speaks English with an indetectible accent, and occasionally speaks to himself in his native tongue. He stands outside the classroom door, fumbling with the keys while reading the lesson plan. As he does, he sings quietly to himself a Manhattan Transfer tune, Operator.
MR. G.
Operator, Information, get me Jesus on the line.
(He puts the key in the door, turns the handle, opens the door.),
Operator, I want to speak with a friend of mine.
(He crosses to the desk, sets his things down.)
Heaven is the Number, Jesus the Exchange
(He flicks on the light switch. The stage lights come on.)
And every time I call him He listens to me complain.
MR. G.
Na, wunderbar. Another babysitting assignment. Set the kiddies down before the television set.
(He studies the headshots.)
So, these are my students. They look harmless enough.
(He takes off his jacket, and hangs it on back of the chair. He is wearing a bright yellow shirt and a colorful tie. He pulls his wallet out of the inside pocket of his jacket, places it in a lower drawer, locks the drawer, and places the keys in the center drawer. As he bends down to tie his bootlace, he continues studying the headshots, begins singing another tune: It’s in Every One Of Us To Be Free. He crosses to the cart, picks up the box of DVDs, and places the box on the desk.)
MR. G.
Find your heart, open your eyes, and see. We can all be everything without ever knowing how. It’s in every one of us, here and now. It’s in every one of us. I just remembered. It’s like I’ve been sleeping for years. I’m not awake as I can be…
(He crosses back to the desk, and looks through the selection of DVDs.)
…but my seeing is better. I can see through the fear.
(He sets two DVDs on the desk, and returns the box to the cart. The classroom door opens to much noise. Startled, he jumps.
Enter MARGIE PETRAHEM, 58, 5’10” 200#, size 20, Caucasian, of pink complexion, with bright red nail laquer. She is dressed in a bright yellow and red mumu, and is wearing beach thongs. In her hair she wears a large Hibiscus flower.
In her right hand she is carrying a classroom register, and a folio of papers, and her keys. In her left she is balancing a large coffee mug while trying to keep her shoulder bag from sliding down her shoulder. She has Turret’s Syndrome and occasionally breaks out.)
MARGIE
(She extends her hand.)
Hi.
(Her purse slides down her shoulder. MR. G. comes to her aide.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Au weiah! Guck mal wie die zur Schule ankommt, — in Mumu und Beachwalkers!
MARGIE:
Thanks. You must be Eric’s sub. I’m MARGIE PETRAHEM.
MR. G.
How do you do, MS. PETRAHEM?
MARGIE
Nothing a good bottle and a little burp won’t cure. Call me Margie. As you can see, I’m just a bit stupid-stupid-stupid tangled up.
MR. G.
Can I give you a hand?
MARGIE
Pleased ta meetcha. Thanks. I can handle it. If you should need anything, I’m down the hall. Room 218. (She points.)
MR. G.
I love your daisy flip-flops, and your Hibiscus smells lovely.
MARGIE
i like to be comfortable.
(She smiles, extends her leg, and laughs.)
Doesn’t everybody?
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Yeah, aber die kommen doch nicht zur Arbeit looking like ein Clown.
MARGIE:
I like to be comfortable, no bra, walking on the beach, seashells-seasmells-she sellsseashellsbytheseashore. Four more years, and I can enjoy life. I spell relief (singing) Retirement! I’m sure you’ll love Eric’s students. They are so creative. Monkey farts.
(She sneezes. The folio slides out of her hand. MR. G. stoops to help.)
MARGIE
I’m so clumsy; Mrs. Touch and Drop. Donkey droppings, camel dung, monkey farts, and cotton candy.
(MR. G. hands her the papers.)
Thank you. I just love teaching, if only the kids wouldn’t get in the way of my paperwork.
MR. G.
(He smiles.)
I know what you mean.
(A second bell rings.)
MARGIE:
Young minds await. Truth is I’m just waiting for my retirement.
(She holds up four fingers.)
Only four more years.
MR. G.
Yes, so you said.
MARGIE:
Nice chatting with you. I’ll see you at lunch.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Hope-fendlich — nicht.
MARGIE
Well, I’m late; for a very important date. No time to stop and say good-burps. A toute a l’heure.
(She waves.)
MARGIE (VOICEOVER)
It’s hot already. I shoulda dressed more comfortably. Better check your insulin, Margie, before the kids jump you.
MR. G.
I think I’ll hide during lunch.
(He leaps onto the desk, assumes the lotus position, and starts to read the DVD box.)
This one looks interesting. This looks even more interesting.
(He crosses to open the windows, and sees DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ smoking in the yard. He crosses to the chalkboard, and proceeds to write his name on it.
The door opens; students enter single, in couples, in groups; chatting. To the sound of bells, cell phone ring tones, greetings, slamming lockers, plastic sacks, and yawns, they settle in. A cell phone rings; a conversation in Cantonese ensues.)
MR. G.
(Walking down the aisles)
Please turn your cell phones off. You can call your girlfriends and boyfriends after class.
(Vibrations from the earplugs of one student catch his attention. He pulls them out, and the student reacts.)
Give ‘em a rest.
MALE STUDENT
Hey!
(MR. G. pushes him gently back into his seat.)
MALE STUDENT (VOICEOVER)
(He sits up erect.)
Man, he’s strong. Wish he were my Dad.

(The 2nd bell rings. Students ignore it; continue chatting and goofing off.)

MR. G.
Okay, the last bell has rung. Time to settle down.
RICO
Who are you?
MR. G.
If you will give me a moment, I will introduce myself. Please put the hair brush away; you are beautiful as you are.
(The FEMALE STUDENT smirks. MR. G. crosses, pulls the cap off of a MALE STUDENT.)
MR. G.
Gentlemen take their caps off indoors.
LUCAS
I’m not a gentleman.
MR. G.
I know. Take – the – cap – off – any – way.
LUCAS
But I gotta wear my cap.
MR. G.
You don’t gotta do nothin’ but die and pay taxes.
ROSA
That means you gotta do what he says, LUCAS.
LUCAS
Teacher, I got a bad haircut.
MR. G.
(MR. G. pulls LUCAS’ cap off and hands it to him.)
This is my ship, and you will obey.
IGNACIO
Aye, que puto.
MR. G.
Enough of that, I won’t have you talking like that in my classroom. Un poco de respeto.
(IGNACIO places the cap between his legs, lays his head on the desk and covers himself.)
FEMALE STUDENT
Uh-oh, he speaks Spanish. You better watch your tongue.
MR. G.
Good idea. If you have to say anything, raise your hand or shut up.
(He turns to IGNACIO as he passes.)
That’s the way to handle it like a man, — hide.
FEMALE STUDENT #1
Where is MR. HANSEN?
MR. G.
For reasons unknown to me, MR. HANSEN is not here today. (BEAT) I am your Ersatz, MR. GöTSCHKES.
MALE STUDENT
Our what?
MR. G.
Your guardian for the day.
FEMALE STUDENT #3
Mr. What?
MR. G.
Mr. Who? — not What.
(The STUDENT gazes at him. He returns the gaze.)
I am a person, not an object.
MALE STUDENT
What’s your name?
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
C’mon kids, last weeks Kinder got it.
MR. G.
If Mr. Götschkes is too difficult for you to pronounce, you may call me MR. G..
FEMALE STUDENT
MR. G.?
MALE STUDENT
Like Mr. T?
MR. G.
Yes, like Mr. T.. (ASIDE) Remove the hoodie, please.
(Reluctantly, the student removes the hoodie.)
FEMALE STUDENT #2
How long are you going to be here?
MR. G.
That depends upon the Universe, — and you. But as long as we share a space, you will respect our classroom standards.
FEMALE STUDENT
Mr. HANSEN doesn’t make us follow standards.
MALE STUDENT
We don’t have any classroom standards.
MR. G.
And therein, dear student, lies the problem. Sit down please. (BEAT) I said sit down.)
MALE STUDENT
But I need to go to the bathroom.
MR. G.
You just had six minutes to drink and drain. Why didn’t you go then?
FEMALE STUDENT
Drink and drain, ha ha. I need to drink and drain.
MALE STUDENT
I went. I need to go again.
MR. G.
Go on. Five minutes, no more.
(The student exits.)
We expect you back in five minutes.
CLASS:
Uuuuuuh! MR. G., he just – never mind.
MR. G.
Now where were we?
FEMALE STUDENT
Standards.
MR. G.
Right, — the ever-lowering standards.
FEMALE STUDENT #1
Why do you say that?
MR. G.
It is so.
FEMALE STUDENT #2
That’s like baby school stuff.
MR. G.
Exactly. That’s why I am going to take you back there.
(He walks about the room.)
I am not interested in what Mr. HANSEN lets you do. For now, I am the captain of this ship, and you will follow my standards – or you will leave —
(Two students prepare to leave.)
MR. G.
Or you will leave for Principal BALDWIN’s office.
FEMALE STUDENT
Her name is DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ.
MR. G.
Forgive me. DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ’ office then.
STUDENTS
(Making faces)
Uuuuuh! DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ
FEMALE STUDENT
Dr. Corabella Baldwin-Sanchez, — I’m afraid.
MR. G.
You should be, — high school students acting as you do.
ANGELICA
How could anyone be afraid of Principal DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ? She’s like four foot tall.
ISA
She’s five foot four.
ANGELIKCA
How would you know?
ISA
Duh, I’m in Calculus, Dufus.
ANGELICA
My name is ANGELICA, not Dufus, — Dufus.
ROSE
Maybe she’s 5’4” on stilts, —
MALE STUDENT
with her yardstick.
(The students laugh.)
ANGELICA
And all that hair piled on top of her head. You think it’s real?
MR. G.
Nothing you see is real. It is all an illusion.
RICO
As long as her feet touch the ground, she’s tall enough, heh, heh.
MARTA
Very funny.
LUCAS
That yardstick she’s always carrying; what’s with that?
MARTA
She thinks it gives her power.
ISA
Well it does. Look at her.
MR. G.
Okay, girls, ladies, gentlemen. Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in her shoes, I mean heels. I’m sure DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ is a wonderful administrator.
MALE STUDENT
On stilts.
(The class laughs.)
Have you seen her shoes? They’re like ten inches tall.
MR. G.
Remember, when we point the finger four fingers and a thumb point back at us. Let’s move forward.
(He looks at the clock on the wall, then at his watch.)
We’ve already wasted — ten minutes. Your clock is slow.
FEMALE STUDENT
It’s broken.
MALE STUDENT
It’s been broken all week.
MR. G.
And no one has called it in to be fixed?
FEMALE STUDENT
We’ve had four different subs this month.
MALE STUDENT #1
Na, ah, five. You forgot the first one.
MALE STUDENT #2
Who cares any way? When the big bell in the sky rings, class is over.
(A MALE STUDENT makes a loud
gurgling noise.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Find something to like about this person.
MR. G.
You’re very talented. Now let’s move on.
(The students laugh, and the MALE
STUDENT does armpit farts.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Was fuer eine Zeitverschwendung. What a waste of time.
(Two female students giggle.)
MR. G.
Is there something you ladies would like to share with your classmates?
FEMALE STUDENTS
(They shake their heads, and hide beneath their long hair.)
No, pfffft! He he.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
(He takes a deep breath, looks at the clock, then at his watch.)
Two minutes. Und noch six Stunden. (BEAT) I’ll call the clock in later. Probably takes a work order and two weeks to get an approval before we have the correct time.
MR. G.
(He looks the group of students over.)
I feel very fortunate today to have the opportunity to spend time with you young people. It would be great to get to know you all better. To do so, I am going to call roll.
(He opens the big register book.)
ANGELICA
Oh, Jeeze. Not again. Do we gotta take role every day?
MR. G.
Do you have a problem with that, Miss — HUMENEZ?
ANGELICA
How’d you know my name?
ISA
He read it off of your headshot, Bimbo.
MR. G.
Let’s not resort to calling each other names. We call roll because your local school district is run like a business, and just like in any other business, if your head is not counted, the district gets no money. If the district gets no money, your school gets no money. If your school gets no money, you don’t get to have a prom. Now, if we may proceed. When I call your name, please raise your hand, and respond with ‘here’ or ‘present’.
(Two students pass notes. One reads messages under his desk and another reads a comic book. A girl checks her hand mirror; another has her face in her purse, while another does a quick juggling act with a pencil and a frisbee. The guy in the back is picking his nose. Another appears to be asleep. MR. G. includes names of supportive people known to be in the house.)
MR. G.
BERROCAL, MIRIAM.
MYRIAN
It’s MYRIAN, not Miriam.
MR. G.
Thank you, Myrian. You might ask the office to correct your transcript; BUSTAMANTE, ANGEL.
MYRIAN
I already have. Twice.
ANGEL:
It’s AN-GEL.
MR. G.
Persist, MYRIAN…Very well, AN-GEL … CAMACHO, ISABELLE.
ISABEL
It’s ISA. Nobody calls me Isabelle anymore.
MR. G.
My mistake. I gave up mindreading when I realized how inaccurate my predictions could be … CARAJO, MARCUS
MARCUS
(MARCUS raises his hand.)
Here.
MR. G.
It is MARCUS, not Mark or Marco?
MARCUS
It’s Marcus.
MR. G.
Thank you, MARCUS … CISNEROS, PAMELA?
ISA
She went to Disneyland.
MR. G.
What’s she doing at Disneyland when she should be in school?
MYRIAN
It’s her birthday.
MR. G.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t need to attend school.
ROSA
She got to go ‘cuz she raised her grades, so her parents said she could go.
MR. G.
Very well, so it is. ELIZALDE, RICHARD, — or is it Rick?
(There is no answer.)
RICHARD? Rick? Ricardo? No answer. Ab-sent. GARCIA, IGOBETH?
IGOBETH
(Raising her hand high)
Present.
MR. G.
What a lovely dress you have on.
IGOBETH
(Soto voce) Thank you. My mother brought it back for me from Tijuana.
MR. G.
(He listens intently.)
I’m sorry, dear, you will need to speak up.
IGOBETH
My mother brought it back for me from Tijuana.
MR. G.
Lovely. GARNICA, HEKTOR?
IGOBETH
(She is a tiny thing. Soto voce)
His Dad won the lottery. They moved to Beverly Hills.
MR. G.
(He leans in to hear her.)
I beg your pardon, my dear?
IGOBETH
I said his father —
MR. G.
My dear, you simply must speak up. How can anybody hear you? Stand please.
(She stands.)
MR. G.
(MR. G. takes her hand, helps her step onto her desk as the students ooh and aah. He backs up, places his hands on his solar plexis.)
Now, my dear, I want you to speak from your diaphragm.
IGOBETH
(She takes a deep breath, speaks so forcefully the audience in the back row can hear her.)
I said, HECTOR’s father won the lottery and they moved to Beverly Hills.
MR. G.
Good to hear it. Thank you, IGOBETH.
(The class applauds. MR. G. helps her down. She sits, and he returns to the front of the class.)
MR. G.
HERNANDEZ, ABEL?
ABEL
It’s A-BEL, not Abehl.
MR. G.
A simple ‘here’ would do fine. Boy, I’m really revealing my inadequacies here today, arent’ I, (BEAT) MISS HUMENEZ – ANGELICA? We’ve already met.
ANGELICA
It’s ANCHELICA, not Angelika; if you’ll look, you’ll see it’s with a ‘c’, not ‘ka’.
MR. G.
My fault again. I must work on my listening skills. I was thinking of my Swiss friend, Angelika, though you are much prettier than she.
ANGELICA
(She is engaged with a friend seated behind her, but she perks up, turns.)
She who?
MR. G.
Angelika, — I mean ANCHELIKA.
ANGELICA
Well my name is ANCHELICA, not An-gelika.
MR. G.
I know now and shall remember … Ibarra, Jesus? (BEAT) Thank you, Jesus. I was praying earlier you would show up today.
(The class chuckles.)
JIMENEZ, JOSE?
IGNACIO
Jose got expelled.
ISA
But he’s right here.
IGNACIO
He’s back. He’s right here.
MR. G.
Thank you.
(He marks the register.)
JONES, LUPITA?
FEMALE STUDENT
She’s having sex change surgery.
MR. G.
And we wish him well.
FEMALE STUDENT
Her.
MR. G.
Her. LADRAZZO, MAIKO.
MALE STUDENT #1
He’s not here.
MALE STUDENT #2
MAIKO’s here. I drove shotgun to school with him.
MALE STUDENT #3
He’s probably making out with his new girlfriend.
STUDENTS
Uuuuh!
MR. G.
All right, enough of that … LAMPILLO, ROSA?
ROSA
Here.
MR. G.
Where?
ROSA
Over here.
MR. G.
Oh that’s you. Aha. LO, HOUNG?
HOUNG
It’s HUNG. HUNG LO.
(The class laughs.)
MR. G.
All right, Nothing to laugh at.
RICO
Yes there is.
MR. G.
We are all grown-ups here.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Liar.
MR. G.
Welcome, HUNG. MACIAS, LUCAS?
(LUCAS raises his hand. A paper airplane flies overhead, unnoticed by the teacher. The MALE STUDENT continues his balancing act.)
MR. G.
MENENDEZ, RIGOBERTO.
RIGOBERTO.
(He raises his hand.)
That’s me, but the name’s RICO.
MR. G.
Fine, RICO. You might want to join MYRIAN, and ask administration to reflect the change on their register, so you can save your next substitute embarrassment … MESSINA, NICK?
(A boy in the back raises his hand with great effort.)
MR. G.
Are you Nick?
MALE STUDENT
No.
MR. G.
Then why did you raise your hand?
MALE STUDENT
His Dad got deported. He had to go back to Mexico.
MR. G.
(He marks the register.)
No NICK MESSINA.
ISA
He ain’t here.
MR. G.
Yes, thank you, ISA, we know that now. We’ve already covered that. PADILLA, MINERVA?
ISA
She dropped out.
MALE STUDENT
No she didn’t. She got pregnant.
ISA
She got pregnant then she dropped out, okay?
MR. G.
Let’s move on. QUINONEZ, MARTA?
(FEMALE STUDENT raises hand.)
Yes?
FEMALE STUDENT
It’s MAR-THA.
(MR. G. checks name off register.)
But she’s not here.
MR. G.
(Erasing)
Thank you for telling me, dear … QUINTANA, PAUL?
FEMALE STUDENT
He moved.
MR. G.
Thank you … SANDOVAL, IGNACIO?
(IGNACIO raises his hand then drops it with a plop.)
MR. G.
Did you eat breakfast, IGNACIO?
IGNACIO
Yeah, why?
MR. G.
It’s yes, why? Because it seems it took you a great deal of effort to raise your hand. I want you to know, I appreciate that.
(The class laughs.)
You may return to your nap, Mr. SANDOVAL. SCHMIDT, JERRY. JERRY SCHMIDT?
MARTA:
He ain’t here no more.
MR. G.
He isn’t here any more?
MARTA
He isn’t here.
MALE STUDENT
Why?
MR. G.
Why not?
MARCUS
His parents got divorced.
ISA
Na-ah. They just got separated.
MARCUS
What’s the diff? Either way, he had to move. They split up.
JOSE
His Dad got thrown in jail. They had to move.
MR. G.
All right, that’s unfortunate. Let us move forward. TSE, DARRY.
ROSA
He was too smart for our school.
ISA
He went off to some private Catholic school.
MR. G.
Good for him. A Catholic education is an advantage for life.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Is it?
MR. G.
URIBE, VIRGINIA?
VIRGINIA
It’s VIRJINIA, not Virginia.
MR. G.
My mistake again. VIRJINIA. VAN NUYEN, LOC?
ISA
He’s on the junior field trip. Count him absent.
MR. G.
I must have missed that on the bulletin. VALDEZ, BELINDA, —
FEMALE STUDENT
She went to Disneyland with Pam.
MR. G.
I guess they’re friends. VARGAS, STEPHANIE?
STEPHANIE
Present, MR. G.
MR. G.
Thank you, Stephanie. In a sea of boorishness, your polite manner is not only refreshing; it is appreciated … VAN HOUTEN, JOHN.
JOHN
(He holds his hand in the air.)
Present.
MR. G.
Thank you, JOHN.
(MR. G. marks the register.)
ZUNIGA, MARTA?
MARTHA
I’m Martha. MARTA’s absent.
MR. G.
Forgive me, MARTHA.
(He closes the register, jumps off the desk, and repeats the students’ names.)
ANCHEL, ISA, MARCUS, IGOBETH, A-BEL, AN-CHELI-CA, JESUS, ROSA, HOUNG, LUCAS, RICO, IGNACIO, VIR-JIN-IA, STEPHANIE, JOHN, AND MAR-THA.
(The class applauds.)
Minus the three missing Juniors, and only eleven absent, we have a manageable class. That’s gonna cost your school some money.
(JOHN raises his hand.)
Yes, JOHN?
JOHN
The Junior class went on a field trip. That’s why so many are absent.
MR. G.
Thank you, JOHN. (BEAT) Now, let’s see now what I can learn about you.
(The students sit up.)
First, I would like you to know I will respect you, and you, in turn, will respect me. If we clash, it is not I who will have to face the consequences.
MALE STUDENT
He means we will have to face them.
FEMALE STUDENT
Uuuh! I’m scared of consequences.
MR. G.
You should be. If anyone breaks our trust, it will not be I. Does everyone understand? No language barriers?
(They nod.)
Let’s wake up. It’s morning, and you are all intelligent FEPPS.
FEMALE STUDENT
What’s a FEPP?
MR. G.
A FEPP is the district term for a Fluent English Proficient Person.
ISA
What’s a LEP? The ESL teacher told my aunt she was a LEP. She thought she’d better go to the hospital.
MR. G.
LEPP stands for Limited English proficient, and a NEPP is a person who is non-English proficient.
ISA
That’s my aunt all right!
MR. G.
Let’s get back to the subject at hand. I have been asked to show you a DVD. I have selected a documentary on –
(The door bursts open. MAIKO LADRAZZO enters. He is 19, 6’2”, wearing a black leather jacket.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
There’s trouble in every school.
MAIKO
Hey, guys, anyone seen my keys?
JOSE
MAIKO, where ya been?
ANGELICA
Come here, MAIKO. Gimme a kiss!
MR. G.
Excuse me.
MAIKO
Ayeeee. JOSE, you rode shotgun. Don’t you know what you did with my keys?
MR. G.
Excuse me.
JOSE
How’m I supposed to know, pendejo?
MAIKO
Cuz’ I gave ‘em to you, dude.
MR. G.
All right. Watch your tongue, JOSE.
MAIKO
Dude, you said you’d hold onto them for me.
MR. G.
All right. That’s enough.
(He walks over to MAIKO.)
Sit down.
(MAIKO stares him down.)
MR. G.
Sit down, please.
MAIKO
(He continues to stare.)
I’m lookin’ for my keys, pal.
MR. G.
I am not your pal. Now go sit down.
STUDENTS
Uuuuh!
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
I hope he doesn’t punch me, like that heavyweight fifth grader last week at Washington. Damn was she ever strong!
FEMALE STUDENT
Go look in the parking lot, MAIKO.
JOSE
Check the cafeteria.
(He checks a hole in his jacket.)
Maybe they dropped out of my pocket there.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Holy Spirit, take over.
MR. G.
Settle down now.
(He turns to MAIKO.)
I am not your pal, and I ask that you show your classmates some respect. You’ve interrupted class, and you’re wasting everyone’s time. Now take off the cap, and go sit down.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Holy Spirit, let him know I mean what I say.
MAIKO
(He takes off his cap, continues to stare MR. G. down.)
I need to find my keys.
MR. G.
(He takes a deep breath.)
You can find your keys after class. Go sit down.
(MAIKO laughs, then exits.)
STUDENTS
Uuuuh!
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
He may not have heard, but He is listening.
MR. G.
With that behind us, I have selected a documentary on –
DR. B.S.
(She blows into the intercom.)
Teachers, excuse the interruption, but the cafeteria will be closed again today until the plumbers have completed their work.
(A student pulls out a hairbrush and starts to brush her hair. MR. G. crosses, takes the brush out of her hand, and puts it in her purse.)
Box lunches will be provided at the register for four dollars and fifty cents, teachers: five-twenty-five.
(A girl applies eyeliner.)
Teachers, please be sure your lunch tickets are in numerical order, and color coordinated. As you may remember, last month we had a mess on our hands when the kitchen plumbing backed up during the lunch hour. We don’t want that again. Have a nice day.
MR. G.
Back to class, —
DR. B.S.
And again, teachers, forgive the interruption.
MR. G.
(Looking at the intercom)
Now, as I was about to say –
DR. B.S. (OVER INTERCOM)
Oh, I almost forgot. The girls’ track team will not be meeting after school today. Coach van Dyke is still out.
FEMALE STUDENT
Is she e-ver.
MR. G.
Hold your comments, please.
(He walks around with the DVD. JOHN raises his hand.)
Yes, JOHN.
JOHN
“It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln said that.
MR. G.
Indeed he did. And a very good point he had. If you have to say anything, shut up.
FEMALE STUDENT
(To JOHN)
How’d you know that?
JOHN
I keep my mouth shut and I pay attention.
IGNACIO
Good one.
MR. G.
Just don’t allow yourself get caught with stupid people. Life can be as easy as that. Now, I have chosen an award-winning documentary on —
(A siren passes. He stops, closes his eyes, waits for it to pass. As it does, he moves his mouth.)
As I said, I will not repeat this again, so if you really want to get excused from class, lend me your ears.
(The students perk up, eager to catch what they missed.)
ISA
That’s from Shakespeare.
MR. G.
It is.
(The documentary begins.)
Will the A.V. Assistant please connect the extension cord? Light monitor – lights, please.
ISA
Light monitor? This isn’t fifth grade, you know.
MR. G.
Forgive me. For a moment there I forgot where I was. Window monitors, blinds, please.
(The STUDENTS laugh. Two get up and lower the blinds.)
Maestro, the screen.
(A STUDENT pushes a button. A screen lowers perpendicular to the audience.)
Now since this is a photography class, I invite you to pay close attention to the techniques used in this award-winning documentary. Become aware of the camera movement, the direction, angels, the lighting. Listen to the voice of the commentator, the intonation, inflection, and pitch. Pay attention to the editing and you may find you actually learned something today. Maestro, rrroll ze film.
COMMENTATOR
(The documentary on the Taj Mahal begins; slow to soft eastern music.)
Long ago, in a far away land, there lived an Emperor, Mughal Shah Jahan, who was very much in love with his third wife. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as a pearl of Islam…
(Clicking heels approach. The door opens, and DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ, (hereafter referred to as DR. B.S.) enters followed by MAIKO LADRAZZO. She is wearing a bright red miniskirt, 5” black and red heels, and is carrying a yardstick. She flicks on the lights.)
DR. B.S.
Mr. GOOSHGES, why won’t you allow this student to go find his set of car keys?
MR. G.
(He pauses the DVD; approaches.)
It’s GOETSCHKES. My fault. We must have mis-communicated. It’s not that I was not going to allow this young man to go look for his keys.
DR. B.S.
So then you were.
MR. G.
No, I wasn’t.
DR. B.S.
You weren’t? I’m confused.
MR. G.
No, I wasn’t.
DR. B.S.
Were you or weren’t you?
(She turns, looks up at MAIKO.)
What kind of keys?
MAIKO
Ford, with a rabbit’s foot. There’s a reward –
DR. B.S.
Pssst! Callate.
MAIKO
Twenty bucks.
DR. B.S.
Sssssh! I said quiet.
(She turns to MR. G.)
So were you, or were you not, going to let him go look for his keys?
MR. G.
The misunderstanding is entirely my fault. I myself have misplaced my keys before, so I understand his concern. It was the attitude with which he interrupted the class that disturbed me. (BEAT) On top of that, he tried to intimidate me.
MAIKO
I did not.
DR. B.S.
Callate! Tu no tienes nada que decir aquí.
(She looks MAIKO in the eye.)
Did you try to intimidate your teacher?
MAIKO
No.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmm.
DR. B.S.
Don’t lie to me, MAIKO LADRAZZO. I know you. No what?
MAIKO
No, DR. BALDWIN.
DR. B.S.
(She mock twists his ear.)
It’s DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ.
MAIKO
DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ.
DR. B.S.
Don’t you forget it.
(She brushes his shoulder.)
MAIKO
You know me, DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ. I wouldn’t do that.
DR. B.S.
Exactly. I know you. That’s why I asked. Now go find your keys.
(MAIKO exits.)
DR. B.S.
All right, boys and girls, —
ANGELICA
We’re not boys and girls. We are ladies and gentlemen.
DR. B.S.
Then behave like it. No necessitamos input from the peanut gallery.
(She turns to ISA, applying make-up.)
¿Tu que estás haciendo? Véte con eso. Guardala. ¡Ahora!
(The girls put away their make-up. DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ reaches for the phone, steps onto the stool, and grabs the receiver.)
ELSIE (OVER INTERCOM)
Office. May I help you?
DR. B.S.
Elsie? Send a runner to room 212 with my stull book – and my reading glasses.
(Whispering) I want to stull this GOOSHKISS guy.
ELSIE
Your teacher evaluation book?
DR. B.S.
Yes, ELSIE, my stull book. And while you’re at it, put me on intercom. Let me know when you’re ready.
(She waits, patiently.)
ELSIE
Ready, ma’am.
DR. B.S.
Ehem, teachers, please forgive the interruption, but if anyone has seen a keychain with a set of Ford keys on it, and a rabbit’s foot, please return it to the office. There is a reward. Thank you.
(She starts to hang up then changes her mind.)
And teachers, please forgive the interruption.
(She steps from the stool, rolls it aside, and stands by the door. MR. G. waits for her to leave.)
You may proceed, MR. GOOSHKISS. I’m not leaving yet.
MR. G.
I will not allow the student back into class without an apology.
(He releases the pause button. DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ takes a seat in the back of the classroom.)
Light monitors, please.
(The lights go off, the documentary continues.)
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
I’m not so sure about this guy, but he’s sorta cute – for a substitute.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Eigentlich ist sie ganz geil. (She’s kinda hot.) And I like miniskirts.
(DR. B.S. adjusts her skirt, crosses her legs, and observes. A moment later, ELSIE enters, carrying a stull book, several colored pens, and a pair of red reading glasses. She is African American, 42, pleasingly plump; pleasant to the eyes and ears.)
ELSIE
Here you are, Ma’am. I thought you would need your reading glasses too.
DR. B.S.
Who’s minding the office, ELSIE?
ELSIE
I couldn’t find a runner. Here you are, Ma’am.
DR. B.S.
Thank you, ELSIE.
ELSIE
You’re welcome, Doctor.
(ELSIE opens the door, turns, and looks back.)
ELSIE (VOICE OVER)
I’ve never seen MR. HANSEN’s class so quiet.
(ELSIE exits. DR. B.S. puts on her reading glasses, opens the book.)
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
I wonder what kind of teacher he is.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
I wonder what kind of doctor she is.
IGNACIO (VOICE OVER)
I wonder what they’d be like together.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
I wonder if it has anything to do with Affirmative Action?
(The documentary credits roll. MR. G. approaches the cart.)
MR. G.
Light monitors please.
(The lights come on. A STUDENT gets up and opens the blinds.)
ISA (VOICE OVER)
He’s really weird.
RICO (VOICE OVER)
I wonder if he likes to smoke pot.
JOHN (VOICE OVER)
I wonder if he sucks dick.
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
Me pregúnto si le gusta fuerte, como Edmundo.
ANGELICA (VOICE OVER)
I hope I’m gonna have my period soon.
(She counts on her fingers.)
I’m already five days late.
ANGELICA
(Overlapping DR. B.S.’s VOICE OVER.)
Where’s the Taj Mahal?
MR. G.
The Taj Mahal is located on the bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra of Uttar in the state of Pradesh.
ROSA
What?
MR. G.
It’s outside Delhi, my dear.
FEMALE
How do you know that?
MR. G.
I watched the video before.
IGNACIO
Where’s Delhi?
MR. G.
Delhi is in India.
ANGEL
Where is India?
(DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ checks off various attributes in her book.)
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
He seems all right. I’ll surprise him with a good review. Exceeds expectations, exceeds expectations, exceeds, exceeds, exceeds. Check, check, check, and he’s cute to boot, — for a substitute.
(She checks off the last box on her sheet and closes her pen.)
MR. G.
India occupies the sub-continent of Asia.
ABEL
What’s a sub-continent?
STEPHANIE
Sub means below, as in sub-marine.
MR. G.
Very good, STEPHANIE.
STEPHANIE
India occupies the lower portion of Asia minor. Isn’t that right, Mr. Goochkes?
MR. G.
That’s right, STEPHANIE.
DR. B.S.
(She removes her glasses, and struggles with her skirt as she rises. She crosses over to the door, fanning herself with the stull book.)
¡Aye, que calor!
BELINDA
Dr. Baldwin-Sanchez, can’t you turn on the air conditioner?
DR. B.S.
It’s broken, my dear.
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
Just being in his presence makes me feel all warm inside. I’m going back to my air conditioned office, and put on my tennis. This “Walk Tall” crap is killing my feet.
DR. B.S.
We’ll put in an order for the a/c. Chao.
(She exits, and her heels click away down the hallway.)
MR. G.
Chao, and thank you for your visit, Doctor. Now, students, for homework, I would like you to –
IGNACIO
Homework? MR. HANSEN never gives us homework.
MR. G.
Well, as you can see, I am not MR. HANSEN.
(A girl is combing her hair. MR. G. approaches.)
Please put the brush away. This is not your private boudoir.
(She brushes three more strokes then puts the brush away.)
ANGEL
What’s a boudoir?
MR. G.
A boudoir is a woman’s private quarters. Thank you. Now, for homework–
STUDENTS
Oh, no! Homework? MR. HANSEN never gives us homework.
MR. G.
You’ve already told me that and I had no reason to doubt you the first time.
(A STUDENT sneezes.)
MR. G.
Gesundheit!
(The STUDENT sneezes again.)
Bless You. Now, I want you all to write a paragraph about what you learned today.
IGNACIO
In cursive?
MR. G.
I’ll leave that between you and –
(The STUDENT sneezes once again.)
God bless you, whatever you believe Him to be.
(The bell rings. STUDENTS rush to the door. As he leaves, IGNACIO makes loud flatulence sounds.)
MR. G.
What did we learn today?
ROSA
Taj Mahal.
MR. G.
What about the Taj Mahal?
ANGELICA
It’s in India.
ROSA
India occupies the subcontinent of Asia. Bye, Teacher.
JOSE
Good bye, Teacher.
MR. G.
Good-bye, JOSE.
JESUS
Take care, MR. G.
MR. G.
Thank you, — JESUS. Give care.
ANGELICA
(Strutting out on the heels of ISA and MYRIAN.)
Where’s Asia?
ANGELICA
It’s in Europe, stupid. Venga ya. (BEAT) You know what I heard about Dr. Baldwin-Snitch?
(They giggle.)
MR. G.
(Looking at the empty seats, he speaks to himself.)
Remember to drink and drain.
(He notices keys hanging from one of the chairs. He retrieves them, heads to the phone, and calls the discovery in.)
ELSIE
Office. This is ELSIE. Hold please.
CURTAIN

ACT I
SCENE 2

SETTING: The same photography classroom.

AT RISE: MR. G. stands at the classroom door, looking out into the hallway. He is still on hold with the office.
MR. G.
(Singing softly over hall noise.)
Love is but a song we sing. And fear’s the way we die. Know the dove is on the wing, and you may not know why.
(A couple of students enter.)
Some will come and some will go. We shall surely pass. When the one who left us here returns for us at last. We are but a moment’s sunlight, fading in the grass.
(One after another, students enter. They look at the chalkboard; try to pronounce his name. Some try to get his attention, pointing to headshots. Two male students enter arguing.)
MR. G.
You hold the key to love and fear, all in your trembling hand. C’mon, people now, smile on your brother.
(He looks both in the eye.)
Everybody get together, try to love one another right now, right now, right n-o-w-w-w-w.
(The bell rings. Students settle in. MR. G. hangs up the phone, tosses the keys into the teacher’s desk drawer.)
FEMALE STUDENT #1
What’s that from?
MR. G.
The Youngbloods.
FEMALE STUDENT #2
Who’s he?
Mr. G:
Please take your seats.
MALE STUDENT
Another sub? When’s MR. HANSEN coming back?
MR. G.
Ladies and gentlemen, settle in. I have canned the class, and must honestly say I’ve not seen such a good looking group of people in quite some time. Last period I was so excited to meet each and every one of you in person, but I’m over that. I have studied all of your photographs and I know you all by name.
MALE STUDENT
How can you?
MR. G.
It’s easy when you put your mind to it. Don’t test me. (BEAT) Instead of calling role, I would like you to take out a piece of paper, print your name on it, and indicate which row and column you are seated in.
FEMALE STUDENT
Can we sign it?
MR. G.
As long as I can read it. If your signature is not legible, please print.
FEMALE STUDENT
What’s the difference between a row and a column?
MR. G.
Good question. Can anyone offer her an answer?
MALE STUDENT
A column runs up and down, rows run parallel to one another.
MR. G.
That should explain it.
(A MALE STUDENT gets up.)
Where do you think you are going?
MALE STUDENT
I’m just changing seats. That one has gum stuck on it.
MR. G.
You could remove it with a tissue, you know.
MALE STUDENT
But it’s not mine.
MR. G.
Is this your school?
MALE STUDENT
Yeah.
MR. G.
Okay, then.
(He watches the students draw then snaps his fingers.)
Come on. I don’t need you to draw flowers and pictures. Just your name will do. Pass it forward.
(Students pass papers forward.)
Anybody I missed?
(MR. G. verifies the papers against the headshots on the board.)
I see there are only twelve heads, and I hold here thirteen pieces of paper. Someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes.
(He closes the register, sets the papers in the desk drawer.)
We’ll do this your way. I’ll take roll later. (BEAT) Since my documentary didn’t go over so well first period –
FEMALE STUDENT
You made a documentary?
MR. G.
No, what I meant to say was I thought we would try something other than a documentary I chose; just an error in semantics.
(He places hands over his forehead, and closes his eyes.)
For those of you with mental telepathy; here’s a quick joke.
(He extends his arms outward, opens his eyes. Some laugh.)
MR. G.
(To the class)
¡Fue una broma!
ELSIE (OVER INTERCOM)
Office, sorry you had to hold so long. Yes? Hello? Hello?
MR. G.
(He crosses to the intercom.)
Forgive me. I thought I had been forgotten. This is Mr. GOETSCHKES, subbing for MR. HANSEN.
ELSIE
Yes, Mr. GOOSCHKISS. I know who you are. What can I do for you?
ELSIE (VOICE OVER)
My girdle is killing me.
MR. G.
After DR. B.S. left, I found a keychain with a set of Ford keys, and a rabbit’s foot. I thought I had better report it.
ELSIE
Oh, for heaven sake. Did a student turn it in?
MR. G.
No. The student in question evidently gave his keys to one of his friends, and they must have fallen out of his pocket. They were hanging from one of the desks.
ELSIE
Aye, Dios mio.
MR. G.
Yes. (BEAT) O.M.G.. Anyway, he can claim the keys after school, with that apology.
ELSIE
Yes, well I’ll let DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ know. Thank you, MR. GOOSHKES.
DR. B.S.
Was that MR. GOODKISS?
(She thinks ELSIE cut off the mic.)
Ooh, there’s just something about that man that gets me all, whoowhoowhoo – wet. — O.M.G., ELSIE, you left the mic on!
ELSIE
I did? I did. Oh, I’m so —
(The students giggle.)
MR. G.
All right, settle down.
(They continue giggling.)
Excuse me, boys and girls, I thought I was among ladies and gentlemen. Rather than to bore you, I thought we’d hold a discussion.
FEMALE STUDENT #1
What about?
MALE STUDENT #1 (VOICE OVER)
Sex!
FEMALE STUDENT #2
What kind of discussion?
FEMALE STUDENT #3 (VOICE OVER)
French kissing!
MR. G. Any subject. You choose.
(He stares into a sea of blank faces. Two students exchange notes. One pulls a book out of a plastic sack. A siren passes. A cell phone rings.)
MR. G.
(He waits a beat before continuing.)
No ideas at all? Okay then, how about I suggest a topic?
(He closes his eyes, and brings his hands to his forehead.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
This topic ought to stimulate even the most bored of teens.
MALE STUDENT #2 (VOICE OVER)
Oral sex!
FEMALE STUDENT (VOICE OVER)
Masturbation!
FEMALE STUDENT #3 (VOICE OVER)
(Looking into her hand mirror)
Beauty college.
MALE STUDENT (VOICE OVER)
Les-bian-ism!
MR. G.
No one? Let me rephrase the question again. What can teachers and administrators do to make school a more rewarding experience for you?
(There is no response. A student plays with his cell phone aps. MR. G. crosses to stage center.)
Let me rephrase the question. What would make school more fun?
FEMALE STUDENT
For who?
MR. G.
For you. (BEAT. ANGELICA raises her hand.)
MR. G.
Yes, ANGELICA?
ANGELICA
If we didn’t have any homework to do.
STUDENTS
(Chiming in)
Yeah, no homework.
MR. G.
Let’s be realistic. Homework really has nothing to do with school. That’s why it’s called homework. If you weren’t assigned homework you would have more classwork, and your parents would give you more chores, so in essence, homework gets you out of housework. It sets you free.
FEMALE STUDENT
I never thought of it that way.
MR. G.
It sets you free.
MALE STUDENT
Boo!
MR. G.
Save that for Halloween.
(He crosses to a girl checking her make-up in a pocket mirror.)
Please put your mirror and brush away. This isn’t a beauty parlor.
FEMALE STUDENT
You’re mean. MR. HANSEN is more nicer than you.
MR. G.
I imagine you are right, but he isn’t here now, is he? Put the mirror and brush away.
FEMALE STUDENT
That’s not very nice to say she’s in a beauty parlor.
MR. G.
It’s not very nice to brush your hair in a group.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Holy Spirit, protect me. Let her know I say what I mean and I mean what I say.
(She puts mirror and brush away.)
MR. G.
Now, if we may continue…
(A group of noisy students pass in the hallway. Two lockers slam shut. MR. G. pokes his head out the door.)
Do you mind? There are some of us who still care to learn.
(He notices JOHN’s hand is up.)
MR. G.
Yes, JOHN?
JOHN
I wish you guys would shut up. You’ve already turned five teachers away. Listen to him. He’s trying to teach you something.
MR. G.
Thank you, JOHN, but I can defend myself. Other than wishing you guys would shut up, —
MALE STUDENT
You can’t tell us to shut up.
MR. G.
I didn’t but I am about to. Is there anyone else who has any ideas how teachers and administrators can make your school experience more interesting? (BEAT.) Is JOHN the only one here who can set his cognitive thinking skills into action? No ideas whatsoever? What are you people, dead?
STUDENTS
Uuuuh!
FEMALE STUDENT
He called us dead.
MR. G.
I didn’t mean that. Forgive me. It just seems you seem so disinterested. How can teachers make your life more fun if you won’t even make an effort to communicate? Attending school is a blessing. Many children don’t even have the opportunity to get an education. They have no teachers, no desks, no books, no classroom, but they are happy to walk miles in the dirt, barefoot, for the privilege of getting an education. (STERN) And you guys are just trapped in your electronic devices, each in your own separate different worlds. Value what you have.
(He switches off the light, and sits down at the teacher’s desk.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Om bhur bubba savaha tad savitur varenyam, vargo de vashna dimaji diyoyonat prashot dayat. Ommmmmmmm.
(The intercom comes on. DR. B.S. blows into it. The students laugh. A faint twinkle sparks MR. G.’s eye.)
DR. B.S. (BLOWING INTO THE INTERCOM)
DR. B.S. Teachers, please excuse the interruption. It looks like rain, so Mr. Sadler, our dedicated band leader, has cancelled this afternoon’s practice. The boy’s restrooms on the first floor will be closed today while the plumbers replace the old pipes. Forgive the mess. Of course, the upstairs boy’s restrooms will remain open through the week, as will the wheelchair accessible restrooms on the first floor. I’d also like to remind you, — next week we are holding our bake sale. Come hungry.
MR. G.
(Looking at the intercom for verification she is done.)
That will be the day when our schools have all the money they need and the U.S. military has to hold a bake sale to buy their bombers.
(A hand goes up.)
MR. G.
I don’t want to hear from anybody.
(The hand goes down.)
If this were Catholic School I would tell you all to pray. Then I’d slap you on the knuckles with a ruler. But it isn’t, is it? Lucky, arent’ you — or are you?
(A minute later, MR. G. is smiling.)
All right, let’s start over.
(JOHN raises his hand.)
JOHN
You’re different than our other subs. Where are you from?
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
(Hands to his forehead)
Never end a sentence with a preposition.
JOHN
From where are you from, MR. G?
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Aaaah, wie kann ich es ihm erklären, daß ich in Afrika geboren bin, in Europa zur Schule gegangen bin, und in Süd Amerika das Gymnasium beendet habe? Ach, das ist alles zu verwirrend.
MARTA
He’s like Danish or French.
FEMALE STUDENT #1
No, — Dutch.
FEMALE STUDENT #2
He’s not from this planet.
MR. G.
You’re right. I am not from this planet.
ISA
Auuu. You’re like my mom.
MR. G.
Weren’t you in my homeroom?
ISA
Yes. My mother says she’s from Venus.
MR. G.
I think I know your Mom.
JOHN
Where were you born?
MR. G.
In Zürich.
FEMALE STUDENT
Where’s that?
MALE STUDENT
Germany.
FEMALE STUDENT
No. Switzerland. It’s in Switzerland, Isn’t it MR. G.?
MR. G.
Jawohl, I’m a Sweetzamerican.
FEMALE STUDENT #2
Do they have cars in Switzerland?
JOHN
Of course they do. They in-ven-ted the car.
MR. G.
Actually, it was a German, Diamler Benz, who invented the automobile.
MALE STUDENT
You seen ‘em drive through the hood.
FEMALE STUDENT
What? The Germans?
MALE STUDENT #1
No pendeja, their cars.
MALE STUDENT #2
(He slouches, plays with his cell phone aps under the desk.)
Mercedes. Beemers.
MALE STUDENT #1
On business.
MALE STUDENT #2
Audis
ISA
Audi is not German.
FEMALE STUDENT
Audi is French.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Was redden die denn für ein Quatsch?
MALE STUDENT #1
No, it’s not. It’s German, isn’t it, MR. G.?
MR. G.
Audi is manufactured in Ingolstadt.
MARTHA
Where’s that?
MR. G.
Ingolstadt is in Bavaria.
ISA
What’s Bavaria?
MR. G.
Bavaria is a state of Southern Germany.
FEMALE STUDENT
Is that where that big castle is?
MR. G.
Yes.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Neuschwanstein.)
FEMALE STUDENT #2
Where’s that?
MR. G.
It’s on the border between Germany and Switzerland.
FEMALE STUDENT
Do they have grass in Switzerland?
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
(He perks up.)
Cannabis?
MALE STUDENT
Medical marijuana. I know where to get some.
STUDENTS
Uuuuh!
MR. G.
Okay, settle down. What sort of grass are we talking about?
MALE STUDENT
The kind you smoke.
MR. G.
It’s just a blunder of semantics.
MALE STUDENT
Now he’s talking about Jews.
MR. G.
I said Semantics, not Semitics. Listen. (BEAT) Since the dawn of time, grasses of all nature have thrived on every continent. Can anyone name a strain of grass for me, — other than weed.
(MR. G. crosses to the chalkboard, erases his name, and writes their responses on the board.)
JOHN
Corn.
MALE STUDENT
Corn is a grass?
MR. G.
It certainly is. When you eat your corn flakes in the morning, you are eating a product of grass.
STUDENTS
Uuuuuh.
(IGOBETH raises her hand.)
MR. G.
Stand please, dear.
(She stands.)
Wheat.
MR. G.
Speak up, dear.
IGOBETH
(Loud and clear)
Wheat.
MR. G.
Very true! Corn, wheat … JOHN?
JOHN
Rye.
MR. G.
Rye.
JESUS
Barley?
MR. G.
Barley.
FEMALE STUDENT
I never knew barley was a grass.
MR. G.
That’s why it is always a good idea to come to school. Corn, wheat, barley, rye, anything else?
FEMALE STUDENT
Sugar
MR. G.
Sugar.
FEMALE STUDENT
Sugar isn’t grass.
MR. G.
You can correct me here if I am wrong or out of line, but sugar, my dear, grows in cane, and cane is a form of grass.
MALE STUDENT
So then is bamboo a sugar?
MR. G.
No, but it is a cane. Let’s move on. Sugar comes from sugar cane. That’s a grass, just like any other.
MALE STUDENT
Like mari-jua-na.
MR. G.
Like marijuana. It’s silly to think our government spends billions of dollars to create a war against a harmless plant that has been around millions of years longer than we have.
JOHN
It’s not only silly. It’s a waste. Marijuana is a healing drug, but people would rather support doctors pushing pills.
MR. G.
Hey, don’t knock pills. They can be fun.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
With mushrooms.
JOHN
For God’s sake, the father of our country was a cannabis farmer.
MALE STUDENT
Mr. Lincoln was a marijuana farmer?
ROSA
Washington, stupid!
JOHN
The U.S. Constitution is written on the very document that is banned and has our prisons overflowing with harmless “criminals.” There’s a reason medicinal marijuana doctors and clinics have sprung up on every corner.
MALE STUDENT
Yeah, mon-ey.
MR. G.
Amen. I said nothing. Listen only to my thoughts. Let’s get back to our discussion. What was our subject?
MARTA
(Bored)
How teachers and administrators can make school more interesting.
MR. G.
Right. New subject then.
ISA
Call in sick more often.
(The class laughs.)
MR. G.
The teachers or the students?
MALE STUDENT #1
The teachers.
MALE STUDENT #2
Yeah. This is kinda fun without MR. HANSEN here.
FEMALE STUDENT
Yeah, he’s kinda a stick in the mud.
MALE STUDENT
He is not. You just don’t like him ‘cuz he has a pretty wife.
FEMALE STUDENT
How would you know?
FEMALE STUDENT #2
She’s not that pretty.
FEMALE STUDENT #3
You’ve just jealous ‘cuz she’s got bigger gazongas then you.
FEMALE STUDENT #2
It’s not just her gazongas. She’s got legs for days.
(MR. G. crosses to the door, switches lights on and off eight times; and the banter stops. He crosses to the chalkboard, erases it, and sees JOHN looking at him.)
JOHN
(He laughs.
You’re funny.
MR. G.
Very funny. Something has to get your attention.
(He smiles.)
Es freut mich.
MARTHA
What?
FEMALE STUDENT
Was that French?
MALE STUDENT
Uuuh, French kissing.
RICO MENENDEZ
Are you a Nazi?
MR. G.
Okay, we have a new topic. How you bring two and two together and come up with five, I don’t know. You are only displaying your ignorance. Immaturity can be outgrown; drunkeness sobred. Ignorance can be educated, — but stupid stays stupid.
(MR. G. crosses to RICO’s seat.)
¿M’entiendez Menéndez — ó te lo explíco, Federíco?
(RICO slithers in his seat. The class is quiet.
MR. G.
And I will take this opportunity to remind you all, not only the Chinese, the Russians, the Italians, the Portuguese, even the Africans, and the Palestinians and the Jews amongst themselves, the Spanish cultures; all are guilty of human rights violations. Yes, even we Americans. This vast continent, which we call home once flourished in abundance among the Aztecs, Inca, and the Mayans, but they were all but wiped out in a bloody mass murder instigated by the Spanish. Had that not occurred, the Spanish language might not have been imposed upon the western hemisphere, and along with it, Catholicism may never have bloomed. We could be speaking Chinese.
HUNG
We already are, — at my parents’ restaurant — in Chinatown.
(The class laughs.)
MALE STUDENT
Or German, if Hitler had won the war.
MR. G.
Now you are thinking. God forbid. (BEAT) The Nazi era ended seventy years ago. It’s time you educate yourself, young man. Not everyone in Fascist Germany was a Nazi. Not every Mexican is lazy, and not every Jew is tacaño. Get over your stereotypes, and others will stop judging you. (BEAT) Human rights have been violated all around the world, and if you want to do something about it, you will Google AmericanValuesRestored.com to find answers of your own. And while you are at it, log onto YouTube, and check out Meck&Miao for some funny videos of my dog Pokey, and his two toilet-trained cats. AmericanValuesRestored can only be restored when you take an active part in your own education. You cannot leave it up to your teachers, or your parents. Look where listening to your parents has gotten you – locked up in a cement jungle behind gates and bars, padlocks and chains, — surrounded by a field of mud and weeds.
MALE STUDENT
Hey, this is our high school you’re talkin’ about.
MR. G.
Exactly.
MALE STUDENT
Why do we have to learn about history anyway?
MR. G.
Are you kidding? Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.
MARTHA
He’s got a point.
MR. G.
There is always a point, and there is never a point. It all ends there. Ich bin das A und O von allem. Cause and condition are identical. Unless you are the front dog, the view never changes.
ROSA
What does that mean?
MR. G.
You are the alpha and the omega.
JOSE
What’s the alpha and omega?
MR. G.
Can anyone refresh her memory?
(FEMALE STUDENT raises hand.)
MR. G.
Yes, Marta?
MARTHA
It’s MARTHA.
MR. G.
MAR-THA.
MARTHA
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, hence Alpha, and Omega is the last.
ISA
So what he’s saying is, you are the beginning and the end of your own experience?
JOHN
We all have to be responsible for our own lives.
IGOBETH
You are the Alpha and the Omega of your own life.
MR. G.
Bravo!
FEMALE STUDENT
That’s it?
MALE STUDENT
What more do you want? That’s it.
MR. G.
Our country is traveling down a road filled with potholes, and we’ve used our spare tire. We’re running out of gas, and are crippling along on our donut. (BEAT)
ISA
Your cats use the toilet?
MR. G.
They do.
ISA
How’d’je train ‘em to do that?
MR. G.
I quit my job in the entertainment industry and sat down on the toilet with them every morning. That’s why I’m substitute teaching now.
MALE STUDENT
Ha ha ha!
FEMALE STUDENT
Do they put the lid down?
MR. G.
No. And they don’t flush. Let’s get back to our discussion. We were talking about being responsible for our own lives. In the Course In Miracles it tells us, judge not lest we be judged.
MARTHA
What’s a Course In Miracles?
MR. G.
A Course In Miracles?
MARTHA
It’s like the Bible, only it tells you the way to be happy is to forgive everyone.
MR. G.
Very good, MARTHA. You appear to be light years ahead of your classmates.
(We hear the intercom come on.)
DR. B.S.
Forgive the interruption, MR. GOODKISS. ELSIE tells me you found MAIKO LADRAZZO’s Ford keys with the rabbit’s foot.
MR. G.
I did.
DR. B.S.
Oh, for Heaven sake. Where were they?
MR. G.
Right here in the classroom.
DR. B.S.
MR. GOODKISS, I have MAIKO here now. He would like to know if he can come get his keys now?
MR. G.
You mean he’s still not in class? No. I won’t have him interrupt class again. He can pick them up after the final bell.
DR. B.S.
Of course.
MR. G.
With an apology.
DR. B.S.
Of course. Thank you, ahem, MR. GOODKISS. Again, excuse the interruption.
(She hangs up.)
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
I need a cigarette. This man gets me all hot ‘n bothered. I need some fresh air. I’m going down to the basement, and smoke by the vent.
(The bell rings. DR. B.S. is in the schoolyard, smoking.)
MR. G.
It has been a delight sharing the atmosphere with all of you this morning. Carpe diem; seize the day.
(Students exit. Some say good-bye. MR. G. stands at the door, looking into the hall, offering an occasional smile and a HELLO.)
MARGIE PETRAHEM
Hello!
MR. G. Oh, hi!
MARGIE
It’s MARGIE PETRAHEM, from down the hall, remember?
MR. G.
Yes, I do.
MARGIE
So how’s your day going? Aren’t his students wonderful?
MR. G.
Yes, well we have had a couple of incidents –
MARGIE
Well yeah, that can be expected. There are always a couple of bad apples in the bunch, but no shootings, no killings. Ha ha! You know, I’m diabetic, and I have to check my insulin levels regularly, so I’ve leaned to take life one moment at a time. Haah! I don’t even cook anymore. I told my husband, I said, George, that’s his name, I said George, if you don’t take me out to dinner tonight, I’m gonna starve! Anyway, Eric’s a good teacher, — dedicated. It’s just that unfortunate thing. He’s had five subs this month.
MR. G.
Unfortunate thing? What unfortunate thing?
MARGIE
Yeah, such a shame. Third period is his best class. Fourth is your planning period, and fifth you’re free so you can kick back.
MR. G.
Wow, you really know his schedule.
MARGIE
We team taught last year. We got close.
MR. G.
You say I’m free fifth?
MARGIE
Yeah. Your students are all juniors, and they’ve gone on a field trip.
MR. G.
What unfortunate thing happened?
(The bell rings.)
MARGIE
I gotta go. I’ll tell you later in the lounge. A toute a l’heure.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Five subs this past month? What sort of unfortunate thing is she talking about?
(DR. B.S. extinguishes cigarette, pulls a breath freshener from her purse, sprays herself all over, including her underarms. Meanwhile, students enter. The second bell rings; students settle.)
MR. G.
Give me the gum.
(BLACKOUT)
(END OF SCENE)

ACT II
SCENE I

SETTING: The same photography classroom

AT RISE: The students are situating themselves.
MR. G.
(To MALE STUDENT)
I said, give me the gum!
(He extends his hand; the student spits the gum into it. MR. G. crosses to the trashcan, tosses the gum, and takes a seat on the desk, Indian style.)
Very well. Let’s come together now. Since we are all adults here, I thought I would allow you to decide how we would spend the hour.
FEMALE STUDENT
It’s not an hour. It’s fifty minutes.
MALE STUDENT
No it’s not. It’s forty-eight minutes.
MALE STUDENT
Let’s talk.
FEMALE STUDENT
Yeah, let’s talk.
MR. G.
Okay, what would you like to talk about?
MALE STUDENT #1
Motorcycles.
MALE STUDENT #2
I want to talk about Nazis.
MR. G.
What about Nazis?
MALE STUDENT
My friend is in your homeroom, and said you’re from Switzerland.
MR. G.
So what of it? How does Sweetzerland relate to Nazis?
MALE STUDENT
Do they still have Nazis in Switzerland?
MR. G.
I don’t know that they ever did.
JOHN
We have Nazis here in our own country we need to be aware of.
FEMALE STUDENT
No we don’t. Nazis are German.
JOHN
You guys are all fools. Just by opening your mouth, you show your ignorance.
(The students laugh.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
MR. G.
You must stand for something or you are libel to fall for anything. Germany is a wonderful country, with wonderful people, but if you go through life with a closed mind, you’re liable to not recognize happiness when it shows up at your doorstep. JOHN?
ABEL
Lincoln said, “Thank God for fools but if not for them the rest of us would not seem so intelligent.
MR. G.
Well put, A-BEL. Thank you. That applies to travel everywhere, including astral, and eventually, if you travel far enough, the Universe will disappear.
(The bell rings; students gather their things.)
MR. G.
Don’t forget to drink and drain.
(The students chat as they shuffle out. MR. G. grabs his hands over his head in a yoga asana, then sits down in the teacher’s chair. He loosens his tie, and drops his face into his palms.)
JOHN
MR. GOETSCHKES?
MR. G.
JOHN! You startled me. I thought everyone had left. Yes, JOHN?
JOHN
May I come see you after school?
MR. G.
Certainly. I will be here.
(JOHN exits, and closes the door.)
Finally, my planning period, with nothing to plan. I think I’ll report the clock, and go get my lunch.
(He gets up, crosses, turns off the off the lights, and locks the door.)
ELSIE (VOICE OVER)
You’ll need to fill out form J325. Here, let me get one for you.
(She gets up, crosses to the cabinet, pulls out a notebook, and a form.)
Here you are, J325.
MR. G.
(He checks the form to verify.)
Thank you, Ms. Strickland.
(He exits, retrieves his sack lunch from the teacher’s lounge, and exits.)
FEMALE STUDENT
Nice buns!
(She whistles. Students giggle.)

ACT II

SCENE II

SETTING: MR. HANSEN’s Photography classroom.

AT RISE: MR. G. unlocks the classroom door, switches on the light, pulls out a sandwich, and studies the students’ headshots. He crosses to the desk, and sits down with a Coke. Outside a truck passes, birds sing, a horn sounds. An occasional noise passes down the hall. We hear the sound of a locker slamming. The bell rings, and MR. G. finishes his lunch.

SETTING: The Photography Classroom.

AT RISE: MR. G. is sitting at the desk, reading.
(The bell rings. To the sounds of chatter, slamming lockers, cell phone ring tones, the students pour into the classroom for seventh period.)
MR. G.
Willkommen.
(Two students try to peak his interest in their headshots. He acknowledges.)
Bienvenue.
(The STUDENTS sit down. MR. G. acknowledges the students.)
Welcome.
(The late bell rings. MR. G. closes the door, and crosses to the desk.)
MR. G.
Fremde.
(He tightens his tie, and sings softly as he walks about the room.)
Etrangers.
(He compares the STUDENTS’ faces to their headshots.)
Strangers.
(The bell rings three times.)
FEMALE STUDENT
That’s to summon the janitor.
MR. G.
Glücklich zu sehen.
MALE STUDENT
He’s not a janitor. He’s a custodian.
MR. G.
Je suis enchanté.
FEMALE STUDENT
You’re both wrong. He’s a sanitary engineer.
MR. G.
(Still walking about the classroom, singing softly.)
Happy to see you. Bleibe. Reste. Stay.
FEMALE STUDENT
That’s from Cabaret.
MR. G.
It is.
FEMALE STUDENT
Who are you?
MR. G.
In a previous lifetime I was a nightclub emcee, but just for today, I am going to be your teacher, MR. G..
MALE STUDENT
Substitute teacher.
MG. G.
Trust me, I am no substitute for anyone.
FEMALE STUDENT
You’re our fifth sub this month.
MR. G.
Really? Isn’t that interesting. Now that we have taken roll, thanks to MR. HANSEN’s very explicit seating chart, –“
FEMALE STUDENT
That’s not accurate. He changed it.
MALE STUDENT
He made Carlos sit on the other side of the room.
STEPHANIE
He kept putting the moves on Monica.
FEMALE STUDENT
Na-aah. Monica was putting the moves on him.
MR. G.
All right. Let’s proceed with our day.
MALE STUDENT
Who are you?
MR. G.
If you were listening you would know. If you will settle down, I will introduce myself.
(He stops at a girl, texting.)
Push ‘send’ and put your cell phone away.
STUDENT
But it’s my mother.
MR. G.
I don’t care if it’s (Mrs.) Santa Clause. You just had six minutes in which to handle your communications. Put – the phone – away.
FEMALE STUDENT
All right, already!
STUDENTS
Uuuuh!
FEMALE STUDENT
Who are you?
MR. G.
My name is MR. G..
MALE STUDENT
Just G, like that?
MR. G.
My name is MR. GOETSCHKES. You may call me MR. G.
FEMALE STUDENT
MR. GOETSCHKES, What’s your first name?
MR. G.
Good pronounciation. MAENNLIEH.
FEMALE STUDENT
Menli? My father’s name is Menhi. He’s from Iran.
MR. G.
How interesting.
MALE STUDENT
What’s your first name?
MR. G.
MAENNLIEH, like Man-ly.
MALE STUDENT
Cool.
MR. G.
I know you’re all anxious to get back to your boyfriends and girlfriends, (BEAT) Put the Coke away.
MALE STUDENT
But I just opened it.
MR. G.
That’s unfortunate.
(The door opens, a pretty girl enters, and stops at the door, stunned.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Isn’t that the girl who whistled at me at lunch? I imagine she didn’t suspect I was a teacher.
FEMALE STUDENT (VOICE OVER)
O.M.G.!
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
It is.
MR. G.
Hello. Come in. Take a seat. Relax. Converse. School hasn’t always look this bad. I’m sure it’s looked worse.
(He turns to a STUDENT with a Coke.)
Drink up, and go pour the rest down the water fountain.
(THE STUDENT finishes the Coke, and disappears out the door.)
I want you back in class in two minutes.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
(He closes his eyes, takes deep breath.)
I can’t wait to get home to my beer and joint.
(The door opens. MR. G. opens his eyes. The STUDENT who just left re-enters.)
Now, if we can get on with our lesson. Since this is a Photography class, I thought we would talk about photography.
FEMALE STUDENT
How appropriate.
MR. G.
Now I am not a professional photographer, but—
MALE STUDENT
Then why are you teaching us?
MR. G.
Excuse me. Are you a jerk?
MALE STUDENT
No.
MR. G.
Then why are you acting like one?
STUDENTS
Uuuuh! You called him a jerk.
MR. G.
I did not.
FEMALE STUDENT
He asked him if he was a jerk.
(The students banter.)
FEMALE STUDENT
(Looking into MR. G.’s eyes.)
MR. G., what does the world look like through blue eyes?
MR. G.
Just what do you mean? Color makes no difference to me. Everything I see is blue. (BEAT)
STUDENT
We know he is not a jerk.
MR. G.
And no one accuses him of such. Let us proceed with our discussion.
MR. G.
I know who all of you are.
(He brings his hands up to his forehead and closes his eyes.)
I have had four periods to memorize your faces, so don’t mess with me. I want you all to take out a sheet of paper.
(The students do as they are told with much noise and talking.)
Silently, please. Print, then write your name on it, and pass it to the front. Thank you. Thank you. Danke schoen. Gracias. Thank you, so many absences.
MALE STUDENT
That’s because the junior class went on a field trip today.
FEMALE STUDENT
Where’d they go?
MALE STUDENT
I don’t know. As long as they didn’t go to Sea World.
FEMALE STUDENT
Yeah, the Abusement Park.
MR. G.
You know about Tillikum?
STUDENTS
We did a DVD study on him. Show him.
(Four students get up, and scramble through the cabinets.)
MR. G.
All right. I believe two is enough.
MALE STUDENT
Check the DVD box.
MR. G.
It’s not in there. I checked.
MALE STUDENT
He must have locket it away. Anyway, anyone you can learn more by logging onto Tillikum.com.
FEMALE STUDENT
No, it’s Blackfish.com.
(The door opens, and the school custodian, MR. CORDOVA enters. He carries a ladder and a clock.)
MR. CORDOVA
I’ve been instructed to replace your clock.
MR. G.
Go right ahead. We won’t get in your way.
MR. CORDOVA
Union rules state I cannot perform major maintenance tasks when children are present.
FEMALE STUDENT
But we’re not children.
MR. G.
That’s debatable.
(He turns to MR. CORDOVA.)
But MR. CORDOVA, replacing the clock is not a major maintenance task.
MR. CORDOVA
Speak to the Union. I don’t make the rules. I only enforce them.
(The intercom comes on. DR. B.S. interrupts.)
DR. B.S.
Mr. GOODKISS, this is DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ.
MR. G.
Yes, doctor, I recognize your voice from our last conversation.
DR. B.S.
MR. GOODKISS, you called in a broken clock?
MR. G.
I did.
DR. B.S.
We are aware of the problem. It’s just that we ran out of form J128, and had to wait for the district office to replenish our supply. We received the form, and MR. CORDOVA is ready to replace the broken clock.
MR. G.
I see. He’s here now.
DR. B.S.
Union regulations do not allow major maintenance while students are present. You are going to have to take your students to the auditorium. We have a film set up there on teenage suicide prevention.
MR. G.
We will be there as soon as I find someone to show me where the auditorium is.
DR. B.S.
Thank you, MR. GOODKISS.
MR. G.
All right, guys. You heard it from God. Line up, single file.
MALE STUDENT
I’m first.
(He runs for the head of the line.)
MR. G.
First shall be last and last shall be first.
MR. G.
Single file please. No shoving. Leave her hair alone. Give me the scissors. Light monitors! Quietly, please.
(He switches off the lights, locks the classroom door. From stage left, the students walk around behind the stage then emerge stage right.)
Quietly, please. Take your seats.
(MARGIE PETRAHEM suddenly appears.)
MARGIE PETRAHEM
Hi! Missed you at lunch.
MR. G.
Oh, I had a few personal things I had to take care of.
MARGIE PETRAHEM
So how’s your day going, day going, day going, day going?
MR. G.
I’m hanging in there.
MARGIE PETRAHEM
Well, I’d better see to it my class sits down and behaves. I’ll talk to you later.
(She crosses the house, instructs students to sit quietly. MR. G.’s class takes their seats in the orchestra pit to watch the five-minute film. DR. B.S. is directing students with dialogue, as if they were traffic. The curtain closes on the classroom, and a screen drops from the ceiling.)
Indian Style, please. Where are you going?
MALE STUDENT
I have to pee.
MR. G.
Go and come right back.
MR. GONZALES
How do you do. I see you’re ERIC’s sub. I saw you this morning but I didn’t get a chance to say hello all day. It’s been wild with the juniors gone.
MR. G.
Yeah.
MR. GONZALES
So how’s your day been?
(He talks aside to his class.)
Settle down, class. Take your seats.
MARGIE PETRAHEM
(Yelling)
Sit down I said! ¡Búscame! ¡Bus-ca-me!
MR. GONZALES
Take your seat, Mr. Chukowski. Yes. Now settle down. If you are going to talk, please use American Sign Language.
(He signs “quiet” and crosses his heart, smiles. The lights dim. The film begins.)
COMMENTATOR
The purpose of this film to heighten awareness of teenage suicide, and to inspire the individual to ask questions, and learn to keep an eye open for the telltale signs of suicide.
(The commentary continues. MR. GONZALES speaks with MR. G. over the film, making his points between commentator’s comments.)
MR. G.
(To MR. BRIAN GONZALES)
MRS. PETRAHEM was telling me about an “unfortunate” event involving MR. HANSEN’s class. What were you talking about?
BRIAN GONZALES
You’re the fifth sub this month.
MR. G.
I know. The students told me. Why?
BRIAN GONZALES
Well, let me tell you the story. The district has a case against Eric. Three of the kids ganged up on him because he’s white, and they don’t like him. Good kids called the district office. “Ain’t nothin’ happenin’ round here,” they said. Well, they called him into the District Office. “Well who is it making this accusation against me?” asked Eric. “I haven’t touched anyone.”
MR. G.
Trouble is, these kids need to be touched, but if you even give them a pat on the back they can twist it against you.
BRIAN GONZALES
Listen. It gets better, — or worse. “It’ll take me a couple of days to get you that information,” the District Super said. “A couple of days? What do you mean? You have the accusation before you. You know who the kid is. Tell me,” he said.
MR. G.
Un-be-lieve-able!
BRIAN GONZALES
Listen! So he says, “You have a case against me, involving me, accusing me of improper conduct and you won’t even tell me who my accuser is?” So he had to go to court. Some of the students appeared as witnesses. Eric brought his own witnesses who attested to the fact that they were in the presence of the teacher when the allegations allegedly happened, and that they didn’t observe anything unusual. When the student who made the accusation saw some of his classmates were going to appear as witnesses, he broke down on the stand. It was so obvious he way lying, but BALDWIN stood behind the STUDENT. She would not believe MR. HANSEN.
MR. G.
They won’t believe the teacher who is dedicated to several hundred students every year; believe the troubled youth who comes from the broken home with the father who is in jail and the mother who turns tricks for booze. I’ve seen it all over the district.
BRIAN GONZALES
I sometimes wonder if she isn’t messing around with some of these young boys. I don’t want to judge, but the way it looks. The problem is over population. We can’t need anymore teachers; the classrooms are full.
MR. G.
My solution to over population is gentlemen; keep your zippers in the upright locked position, and ladies; keep your legs crossed.
BRIAN GONZALES
(He laughs.)
So Eric’s sitting downtown in the district office, just passing the time away until his contract is out.
MR. G.
What do they have him doing there?
BRIAN GONZALES
Nothing. Ab-so-lute-ly nothing.
MR. G.
Seems like he doesn’t stand a chance.
BRIAN GONZALES
BALDWIN steps on the teachers; treats them like untrustworthy pigeons, steps on them just so long as the district superintendent is impressed with what she is doing.
MR. G.
She’s a little tyrant.
BRIAN GONZALES
The operative word being little, thought tryant fits perfectly.
(He laughs.) So after thirty-six years of dedicated service to the community, Eric sits in the district office waiting for them to get rid of him. And this, just before his retirement.
MR. G.
Un-be-lieve-able.
BRIAN GONZALES
And all the sick leave he has accumulated since 1976 has accumulated at the value of the salaries of the time; twenty-two dollars a day in 1976 dollars.
MR. G.
So what happens next?
BRIAN GONZALES
They’ll just keep him in the district office till the end of the school year. Then they’ll send him a letter of apology and tell him they have elected not to renew his contract, and that’s it.
MR. G.
They figure he’ll cool down, and won’t bring any charges against the district. Everyone knows they have billions of dollars appropriated toward their legal defense.
BRIAN GONZALES
Money that should be spent in the classroom on monkeys, I mean students.
MR. G.
Won’t the Teacher’s Union help him?
BRIAN GONZALES
Are you kidding? The only thing they do is cover their asses. I’ve seen it over and again. Nope. He’s on his own here.
MR. G.
I can’t believe this! I’ve heard to be an administrator you need to pass a class in “Cover Your Ass.”
(BRIAN GONZALES smiles. The film comes to an end. The lights come on, and the students stretch. Again, DR. B.S. makes comments as she directs students.)
Seventh period is almost over, and HANSEN is off Study Hall duty for six more weeks, so you’re free now. Hey, it’s been nice chatting with you. I hope I’ll see you tomorrow. You never know. Every time they hold a sub over they have to pay a stipend. It’s ridiculous. Anyway, nice to have you on our faculty today.
MR. G.
Nice to be had.
(He turns to the class.)
All right class, let us return to our classroom. Single file, please.
(The bell rings.)
Well, class dismissed, — I guess.
STEPHANIE
Thank you, MR. GOETSCHKES. I think you are a wonderful teacher.
MR. G.
Thank you, Student Number 42, STEPHANIE. You are Number 1!”
(The students enter stage right and walk behind the set to their lockers. They chat, phone, slam lockers, and laugh. MR. G. returns to the classroom. He looks frazzled. His tie is loose. His shoe is untied. A siren approaches.)

Scene IV
SETTING: MR. HANSEN’s Photography Classroom

AT RISE: The classroom is empty. MR. G. unlocks the door, switches on the light, and looks at the Seth Thomas lock, displaying the correct time: 2:32. MR. G. takes a seat at the desk, and gathers his thoughts
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Was für eine Lage. What a situation.
(He shakes his head.)
By the time my next paycheck comes it will already have been spent. Always more month at the end of my money. That’s not a good affirmation.
(He retrieves his wallet, opens it, pulls out seven one dollar bills.)
MR. G.
And this is a good month. And vacation’s coming up; another opportunity to sub.
(He reaches into the desk for the students’ signed papers, transfers the information into the register book, while humming a tune.)
Ich Zähle Täglich Meine Sorgen, wenn ich Sorgen zähl, wenn ich denk Du liebst mich nicht, lieb’ ich Dich um so mehr.
(The intercom comes on.)
DR. B.S.
Teachers, forgive the interruption. Our film was a triumphant success, — no problems. Once again, you made me proud. (BEAT) You may have seen the paramedics in the south hall. No cause for alarm. It’s just our very own MARGIE PETRAHEM has had another spell, and is on her way to the hospital. She should be back on Monday. No cause for worry.
(The classroom door opens. MR. G. tucks his wallet back into his jacket. MAIKO LADRAZZO enters.)
MAIKO
(Humbly)
Can I have my keys now, Teacher?
MR. G.
(He gets up.)
Hey there. My name is Mr. GOETSCHKES.
MAIKO
Can I have my keys now, MR. GOETSCHKIS?
MR. G.
What have you learned since last we met?
MAIKO
I dunno.
MR. G.
It’s May I have my keys, and the answer is yes, — after you apologize for this morning’s behavior.
(He opens the desk drawer.)
MAIKO
Do I have to?
MR. G.
It’s either that, or I get to keep your Ford.
(He pulls out the keychain.)
I hope it’s a nice one.
MAIKO
I’m sorry.
MR. G.
What for?
MAIKO
For interrupting your class.
MR. G.
It wasn’t my class you interrupted. It was your class, and your friends’ class. And you did it with a foul attitude that I don’t appreciate.
MAIKO
I’m sorry.
MR. G.
I wouldn’t want you to have to muster up too much courage to say so. Give it another try, this time with some gumption!
MAIKO
Gumption? Hmmm. I’m sorry.
MR. G.
Now it sounds like you mean it.
(He hands the keys to MAIKO.)
That’s the way a man comes clean with his conscience.
MAIKO
I’m sorry. It’s just, I’ve been having problems at home.
MR. G.
You need to talk about it?
MAIKO
No. It’s all pretty well settled. My parents are splitting up. I’m dropping out anyway.
MR. G.
Oh, you don’t want to do that. Stay in school, MAIKO. (BEAT) You have the potential of becoming a leader.
MAIKO
I do?
MR. G.
You have within you the power to demand respect from your friends.
MAIKO
Really?
MR. G.
Really. The Holy Spirit awaits you. You need only respond. Now get out of here.
MAIKO
Thank you.
MR. G.
Wait. I want my twenty dollar reward.
(MAIKO looks puzzled.)
I’m kidding. I have been more than rewarded today. I will remember this lesson, MAIKO. I hope you will too.
MAIKO
Yes, Sir. Thank you.
MR. G.
(MAIKO gives him a hug.)
Woah, chico! Vaya con Dios.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)I
I can’t believe he’s hugging me.
MAIKO (VOICE OVER)
I can’t believe he’s letting me hug him.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Never be first to let go. Oops, I gotta think positive. ALWAYS be the one to hold on. That’s better. But that’s co-dependent thinking, MAENNLIEH, na bist Du auch. No more. Co-dependent no longer. Ach halt doch’s Maul, Du Arsch. Just shut up and listen, you fool.
(MAIKO releases the hug.)
MR. G.
Now get out of my classroom. I can’t afford to have you here.
(MAIKO leaves, and MR. G. begins filling out evaluation form #J-128. MR. HANSEN’s VOICE OVERS play back in his head.)
1st, 3rd periods, watched videos. 2nd, 4th, and 5th, held a discussion. I read from my book during your planning period, and watched a film in the auditorium during 6th. Overall, it was a delightful day. No shootings. No killings. Thank you for being absent. Hope you are well. Männlieh MR. G.. Happy face in the ö.
(He closes pen, puts on his jacket, reviews headshots one last time.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
I sure hope I didn’t let any student down today.
(He turns off lights and opens the door. JOHN VAN HOUTEN appears; enters.)
JOHN:
MR. G., I’m glad I caught you.
MR. G.
(Turning the lights on again.)
Hello, JOHN.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
After a day with wild hyenas, I’d almost forgotten him.
JOHN
Miss Dyer asked if I would carry some books into the stockroom for her. I couldn’t turn her down. Next to you she’s my favorite teacher.
MR. G.
Why thank you, John. She’ pretty, huh?
JOHN
(Googley-eyed.)
Oh, yeah!
MR. G.
I think I met her earlier. How is the day treating you, JOHN?
(MR. G. sits down. JOHN takes a seat opposite him.)
JOHN
Okay.
MR. G.
What have you learned since last we met?
JOHN (VOICE OVER)
Tell him about Uncle Regis, stupid.
JOHN
It’s been nice having you here, MR. GOETSCHKES.
MR. G.
Thank you, JOHN. It’s nice having been had. You will have other teachers.
JOHN
I know, we’ve already had five this year. You’re our sixth. Can I talk with you?
MR. G.
I thought we were talking.
JOHN
I mean outside of school.
MR. G.
I’m afraid I can’t be seen with you off the school premises.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
I don’t want to share Mr. Hansen’s fate. I need to check out. If you would like to accompany me to the office, we can talk along the way.
JOHN
Sure. Maybe you can tell me more about Switzerland.
MR. G.
I don’t know what else I can tell you.
(He locks the door. The stage lights come on. The set turns, and they are walking toward the office down a long hallway lined with lockers.)
MR. G.
Why the heightened interest in Europe?
JOHN M
My grandfather was from Germany.
MR. G.
He was, was he?
JOHN
Yeah, he was from a little town called Oberschöneweide.
MR. G.
The outskirts of Berlin.
JOHN
You know Oberschöneweide?
MR. G.
No, but I know Berlin?
JOHN
What are the people like in Berlin?
MR. G.
People are people around the world. We’re all One. But if I had to be specific, I would say the women are strong, and the men are pretty.
JOHN
I was just wondering.
MR. G.
About?
JOHN
About you, where you’re from. Are you married?
MR. G.
No. I am not.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
This kid has cojones.
MR. G.
No kids of my own. Only you.
JOHN
you know, sometimes I feel like I’m never at home on this planet.
MR. G.
That’s a good sign, JOHN. I’m not from this planet.
(He stops, looks JOHN in the eye.)
And neither are you. We are only visitors, living in this world, but not of it.
(He reaches for the office door.)
Wait here. I’ll be right back. You can walk me to my car if you like, and we can continue our talk.
JOHN
Sure. Maybe you will give me a ride home and tell me more about the Disappearance of the Universe.
MR. G.
You can Google it, JOHN.
(As written, the curtain rises in the classroom, but this office set might be successfully spun into the morning sequence, as MR. G. arrives at school.)
MR. G. enters the office. The downstage chalkboard wall turns into a wall with a trophy case filled with trophies and certificates. Inside the case, in large letters, are the words, HAMILTON HIGH SCHOOL – Go Get ‘em Tigers. Above it, the creedo: Hamilton High is the Name of Our School. We love it as our Golden Rule. We fight for the right with all our might. We strive to do as we are told.
Two photographs, framed in gold with engraved names don the wall. One is a white woman; the district superintendant. The other is a black suit; President of the Credentialing Committee. Above them hangs a portrait of Barack Obama. Four flags fly overhead; the American, the Californian, the Mexican, and flag of proud sponsor: McDonalds.
There is a counter, four foot six inches off the ground. On the counter sits a large vase of flowers. Next to it sits a round footstool. There is a swinging half door. Behind it is a wall of cubbies filled to the brim with papers; solicitations. An accurate clock behind Secretary ELSIE STRICKLAND’s desk reveals it is 2:52. On her desk sits a telephone, a computer, a Rolex, an in and out box, a message pad, a pencil receptacle, a pencil sharpener, and several notes..
Behind her is a credenza filled with books on district protocol, a framed photo of her with her husband, a photo of them fishing, and a photo of them with their grandchildren. In the corner hangs a dying Philodendron.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
I sense there is something else going on beneath JOHN’s sudden interest in Switzerland. I can’t risk this, but I want to make myself available to JOHN. Oh, what a sick society we live in. What was it they said in the film on Suicide Awareness? Seventy percent of students who commit suicide mention their intentions to an adult before they take their lives. I cannot run the risk of carrying on my conscience the thought that I did not find the time to listen.
MR. G.
(To ELSIE)
Here are my keys.
(ELSIE approaches the counter.)
And the register. I filled out the evaluation form J-162, in triplicate.
ELSIE
Very well.
MR. G.
I left a copy in MR. HANSEN’s desk.
DR. B.S.
Is that MR. GOODKISS’ voice I hear?
(She puts on her heels, wiggles in from her office in her miniskirt, rolls the stool to the counter, reaches over the counter for the form.)
That’s it; J-162.
(MR. G. hands her the form.)
And how was your day, Mr. GOODKISS?
MR. G.
It’s GOETSCHKES.
(She checks him out of register.)
MR. G and DR. B.S. TOGETHER
Interesting.
DR. B.S.
Did MAIKO LADRAZZO pick up his keys?
MR. G.
He did.
DR. B.S.
He’s a good kid. Just gone a little astray.
MR. G.
Haven’t we all. I think we all learned something today.
DR. B.S.
Always a reason to get out of bed. (LOOKS UP, BEAT) Me and my Mexican pronunciation, — is it GOODKISS or GOOSCHKES? ELSIE here says it’s GOOSCHKES. Have I been mispronouncing your name all day?
MR. G.
I’m used to it. I just tell people call me MR. G.. Seems to work.
DR. B.S.
I’m sorry.
MR. G.
I’m sorry. The phrase doesn’t exist in my native tongue.
DR. B.S.
Oh? I thought you were a native. What is your native tongue?
MR. G.
German.
DR. B.S.
Oh, for Heaven sakes.
MR. G.
Swiss German.
DR. B.S.
Well for Heaven sake. I would never have known. ELSIE, would you have ever suspected?
ELSIE
No, never.
DR. B.S.
I’m sorry I didn’t recognize that on my own.
MR. G.
No need to be sorry. In my country there is no way to say I’m sorry. One can only say “it does me pain”.
DR. B.S.
Languages can be so interesting.
(MR. G. drops his book, and bends down to retrieve it. When he rises, DR. B.S. has disappeared.)
MR. G.
El libro se me cayo.
(DR. B.S. reappears.)
DR. B.S.
I dropped my pen. Se me cayo mi pluma.
MR. G.
Se le cayo su pluma.
(DR. B.S. laughs.)
The Spanish language is reflexive, you see. The book fell with respect to me. No fue mi culpa. It wasn’t my fault.
DR. B.S.
Oh, you are refreshing.
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
Here comes another one of those hot flashes.
(She fans herself, stops when she realizes MR. G. is watching her.)
MR. G.
I’m so sorry about MRS. PETRAHEM. I hope she will be all right.
DR. B.S.
Oh, it’s nothing to be alarmed about. She faints every other month. She’s diabetic and forgets to take her insulin.
(She leans in.)
In addition, the poor woman suffers from Turrets Syndrome. I often have to remind her to check her sugar levels. ELSIE, did you hear from Mrs. Sandoval?
ELSIE
No ma’am. Not yet.
DR. B.S.
Well let me know as soon as she calls.
MR. G.
That must be rather inconvenient.
DR. B.S.
What?
MR. G.
Coddeling teachers.
DR. B.S.
Oh, it is. We’ll keep you on the list. I have a feeling MARGIE will be back on Monday. If not, we’ll call you. You will have to forgive me, MR. GOOETSCHSKISS, I just have such a hard time with names. Oh, by the way, almost forgot. MR. HANSEN won’t be back tomorrow afterall. Will you return? We’d love to have you.
MR. G.
I’d love to be had — again.
(A scuffle begins outside.)
DR. B.S.
Well, I guess I’d better get out to the year and see what kind of trouble the students in this time. Chao.
MR. G.
Tschüß. Aufwiedersehen.
DR. B.S. (VOICE OVER)
Tomorrow I’m wearing that sexy emerald green number with the slit up the back. And Edgar’s diamond haircombs. I hope he doesn’t leave me again for that bimbo secretary of his.
ELSIE (VOICE OVER)
My girdle is killing me.
ELSIE
Well, MR. G.?
(In a crabby voice)
MR. G.
Yes?
ELSIE
I see you are checking out early.
MR. G.
The bell rang. The students are gone. What is there to stick around for?
ELSIE
Well, unless you would like to file these index cards, you will be docked twenty minutes, until 3:15. Your contract states your teaching day ends at 3:15. We must adhere to the rules.
MR. G.
Index cards? Who uses index cards anymore? Besides, I’m a teacher, not an index card filer. And to boot; I have no contract.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
Last month they docked me for showing up late and they didn’t even call me until 9:50.
ELSIE
Do you wish to file, MR. G. — or be docked?
MR. G.
ELSIE, dear, my professional day has come to a close.
(MR. G. reaches over the counter and takes ELSIE’s hand.)
I prefer being docked. In the end, experience triumphs over youthful enthusiasm.
(ELSIE looks at him, puzzled.)
I’m going home to smoke my troubles away, and to thank God I am not an alcoholic. Good-bye.
(He exits the office. JOHN is waiting outside the door.)
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
He’s waiting, faithful as a puppy.
MR. G.
Come on, JOHN, let’s go outside.
MR. G. (VOICE OVER)
I will return tomorrow, but only for JOHN and to feed this addiction I have called eating.
(Lights slowly fade.)
I pray I have not let down a fellow traveler.
CURTAIN
(The students enter, take a stand on the desks. MR. CORDOVA enters from stage right, pushing a broom and a large trash barrel across the stage. MR. HANSEN enters, takes a bow. MR. G. enters, takes a bow, and takes a stand behind the teacher’s desk.)
MR. G.
Light monitors.
(The lights flick on/off eight times. DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ enters, curtseys. They approach the desk. MR. G. offers a hand up. MAIKO enters, kicks the footstool over, places DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ on it, and hoists her up onto the desk. MR. G. steadies her. ELSIE enters, rolling MARGIE PETRAHEM across the stage in an ambulance gurney.)
MARGIE
(Waving)
False alarm! Just needed an extra day of rest. Back on Monday.
(DR. B.S. straightens her hose, falls off the desk into the arms of MAIKO. Enter all cast to take a bow: crew, stage hands, craft services, family members.)
CURTAIN.
DR. BALDWIN-SANCHEZ
Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to take an active part in restoring America to it’s riches, check out AmericanValuesRestored.com to see what you can do. If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle, become an active part in your child’s education. Attend Back to School Night; get involved. Thank you for your generous support and may the Holy Spirit guide us all back Home.
FINAL CURTAIN.
Playwrite’s notes:
The names need to be specified.
More conflict?
Jackhammering in the school yard?
A Firedrill?
Making one of the students deaf, adding an ASL teacher’s aide to sign everything would add much to the production.
A student (or a teacher) enters with a loaded gun and (attempts to) takes the class hostage.
A hurricane blows the classroom to Saskatchewan, and without food or water, the classmates have to find their way back home.
This playnotwrite is open to any and all constructive suggestions.

BACK TO SCHOOL — A PLAY

About AmericanValuesRestored

"Glad to have you, Alan," said the A.D. The purpose of this blog, AmericanValuesRestored.com, is to provide thoughtful writing, and direct the reader to spiritually inspired videos on how to teach your cat to use the toilet, how to train your dog to make you heel, and references to the state of Abundance, as introduced in book I of my seven book series, 'A Boy Alone,' 'Obsessed.' Take a step into Consciousness. Check it out on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. For a good laugh, go to YouTube, and check out Meck&Miao, and Pokey. Some cute short videos under a minute include: 'Tonight's Entertainment.' 'Meck takes the stairs,' 'Meck and Miao examine the new puppy,' 'Happy together,' 'Afternoon Delight,' 'Pokey and Miao fight it out,' 'Meck and Miao attack,' and 'National Boxing Day." Meck&Miao and Pokey.
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