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Dramatic Shorts: Volume One

Dramatic Shorts: Volume One

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Dramatic Shorts: Volume One

303 pagine
3 ore
Dec 3, 2014


Dramatic Shorts is a collection of new theatrical writing allowing new playwrights to showcase their creative talents. It includes various monologues, duologues and short plays from around the world.
Dec 3, 2014

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Dramatic Shorts - James Quince

I’m Backing Britain

Short Play by

Sean Lang


PAULINE Female, age 21, a typist at ‘Rika Heating Engineers’.

JACKIE Female, age 17, a typist at ‘Rika Heating Engineers’.

MR MOLYNEUX Male, forties, a manager at ‘Rika Heating Engineers’.

BRUCE FORSYTH Male, thirties, entertainer.

RON WILKS Male, forties/fifties, trade union shop steward.

ALEC DEXTER Male, age 40, shopkeeper.

MICKEY TANNER Male, thirties, a tabloid journalist.

SYLVIA Female, fifties, Pauline’s mum.

SANDRA Female, age 18, a typist at ‘Rika Heating Engineers’.

CAROL Female, age 18, a typist at ‘Rika Heating Engineers’.

BRUCE SCOTT Male, fifties, tabloid editor.

RAY AYRES Male, thirties, political radical.



The play takes place in Surbiton, 1968.

This is an ensemble piece. The action moves fluidly from one scene to another. Settings are suggested by lighting and minimal set.

BBC VOICE: There follows an address by the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Harold Wilson.

(Sound or projected image: Harold Wilson announcing the devaluation of the pound in 1967.)

HAROLD WILSON: Tonight we must face a new situation. First, what this means. From now on the pound abroad is worth fourteen per cent or so less in terms of other currencies. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the pound here in Britain, in your pocket or purse or in your bank, has been devalued. What it does mean is that we shall now be able to sell more goods abroad on a competitive basis.

(Sound: Music: The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour.)

MICKEY TANNER: You’ve got to have a story. Everyone loves a story. We’re all big kids at heart - ask Walt Disney. Take the telly: well you know - Peyton Place, Z Cars, The Forsyte Saga - all stories. Ah, but so is Grandstand, so is the Cup Final, so is the Nine o’Clock News. All of them: just stories. With a beginning, a middle and an end. Build it up, bring it down. And that’s what I do. I sell stories. Not in books; in the paper. It’s what buys my lunchtime pint. Stories. And have I got a story for you.

(Sound: Music gets louder. Projected images: Images of 1967: Beatles; Martin Luther King; Vietnam; Radio 1; Torrey Canyon; Mini Cooper; Miniskirts; Liverpool Catholic Cathedral; The Graduate; The Jungle Book; Bonnie and Clyde.)

MICKEY TANNER: We were getting ready to say goodbye to 1967. Looking forward to a brand new year.



BRUCE SCOTT: Tanner! Where’s my story? I want a story.


BRUCE SCOTT: Country’s going to the dogs, the economy’s through the floor, and the pound in my pocket’s not worth a used dollop of Wrigleys. I am not happy, Tanner. And I want to be happy. I want a story.

MICKEY TANNER: Got an MP in a brothel. The Dishonourable Member. Any good?

BRUCE SCOTT: It’s Christmas, you turdbrain. I want something uplifting. Something to help me look ahead with optimism and hope. I want to look forward to a great Sixty Eight.

MICKEY TANNER: If you’d run with my MP you could have looked back at a fine sixty-nine.

BRUCE SCOTT: I said uplifting, Tanner. Nice and uplifting. And when I say uplifting I mean uplifting for the spirits. Not skirts. And definitely not shirts. All right?

MICKEY TANNER: Leave it to me, boss. (To audience) So I had to find a story. Oh. You thought we go looking for them, didn’t you? Ah. Sweet. We don’t find our stories; we nick them.

(Group of journalists sitting at a table looking through newspapers.)

JOURNO 1: Well, strike me pink, this is no fable: Baby born in Yorkshire stable.

MICKEY TANNER: Born at Christmas? Mum called Mary?

JOURNO 1: May or August. Versions vary.


JOURNO 1: See? The baby’s sick.

MICKEY TANNER: The kid is stable. God, you’re thick.

JOURNO 2: Here’s a tale to warm the heart. Blind man sees; a brand new start.

MICKEY TANNER: Blind? Or just mislaid his specs?

JOURNO 1: Or blind from having too much sex?

JOURNO 2: Oh wait, he’s just a bit shortsighted, had a squint; now it’s been righted.

MICKEY TANNER: Find me something worth my time:

A criminal who’s turned from crime;

A long-lost hero of the Blitz;

A dolly bird with gorgeous tits;

A runner with a chance of gold;

The cure for the common cold.

The end of some long-running feud.

JOURNO 3: I’ve got Miss Norwich in the nude.

MICKEY TANNER: Check the locals, not the dailies.

Jumble sales and parish ceilidhs.

Human interest - that’s what sells.

JOURNO 1: There’s nothing on in Tunbridge Wells.

JOURNO 2: There’s nothing anywhere in Kent.

JOURNO 3: It’s dead in Walthamstow and Brent.

JOURNO 1: Nothing happens down in Selsey.

JOURNO 2: I tell you, news ain’t made in Chelsea.

MICKEY TANNER: There must be something. Hurry! Hurry!

JOURNO 3: Hey, wait. I’ve got one. Down in Surrey.

Bunch of girlies - lovely knockers -

Looks to me they’re off their rockers.

They’re going to help their company

By working overtime for free.

JOURNO 2: For free? You’re joking.

JOURNO 3: No: straight up.

JOURNO 1: And Luton Town might win the cup.

JOURNO 2: Are you quite sure you read that right?

JOURNO 3: Look, here it is, in black and white.

MICKEY TANNER: Land of Hope and bloody Glory -

Nice one, mate - you’ve found our story.

You see? There are stories all around us. We just have to open our eyes.

(Sound: Music: News programme titles.)

BBC REPORTER: It’s half past eight in the morning here at Rika Heating Engineering in Surbiton and the staff are already arriving for work. This is the birthplace of the movement that is sweeping the country. And there they are, the young women who started it all.

(PAULINE and JACKIE arrive for work but pause to do an improvised press interview.)

PAULINE: Just a few questions. We’ve got to get in to work.

JACKIE: Yeah, we have.

TV REPORTER: Tell us, ladies: why are you coming into work half an hour early?

PAULINE: Well. Mr Molyneux -

JACKIE: He’s our boss.

PAULINE: He heard Mr Wilson speaking on television so he sent round a memo for the New Year to everyone in the office.

JACKIE: Yes, he did.

PAULINE: Saying that if everyone worked just an extra half an hour every day -

JACKIE: For no pay, Pauline, don’t forget.

PAULINE: For no extra pay, the country would soon be out of the mess it’s in. And I just thought: my dad fought for this country in the war and now it’s our turn. So I had a word with some of the girls -

JACKIE: Yes, she did.

PAULINE: And they all said yes.

JACKIE: Yes, we did.

PAULINE: So - here we are, at half past eight. Ready for work. The whole firm’s behind it, aren’t they, Jackie?

JACKIE: Yes, we are.

BBC REPORTER: And now others are beginning to follow your example. How do you feel about that?

PAULINE: I think it’s wonderful. It shows what ordinary people can do if they put their minds to it. Doesn’t it, Jackie?

JACKIE: Yes, it does.

BBC REPORTER: Well, I must let you get on. And I’m sure we all wish you the very best of luck.

JACKIE: Ooh. Ta very much.

(BBC REPORTER goes, but as PAULINE and JACKIE try to go in to work, they are stopped by further questions.)

JOURNO 1: Hang on. What about the unions, Pauline? More work for no pay? They won’t like it.

PAULINE: Like I said, everyone’s behind it. Everyone. And it looks as if soon the whole country will be doing it. Doesn’t it, Jackie?

JACKIE: Yes, it does.

MICKEY TANNER: How long do you think you can keep it going, Pauline?

PAULINE: As long as it takes. Isn’t that right, Jackie?

JACKIE: Yes, it is.

PAULINE: Hey, look at the time - we’d better get in and start work or there’ll be no point coming in early. Thank you everyone.


JOURNO 2: Time for a quick photo?

PAULINE: We’ve got to get in. (But JACKIE poses) Jackie!

MICKEY TANNER: That was it. That was our story.

BRUCE SCOTT: Good one, Tanner. Now I want that story big.

(CAST move in, reading newspapers.)

NEWS 1: Sir - This is a splendid venture initiated by the five girls from Rika of Surbiton.


NEWS 2: Sir - Five young girls in a small suburban factory have expressed the feelings of the British people better than any of the political party leaders.


NEWS 3: Sir - Of all the dangerous rubbish talked at the moment of the solution to our economic difficulties, the most pernicious is the Back Britain effort of the Surbiton typists.

BRUCE SCOTT: (Pointing to one of the JOURNOS) You’re fired.

MICKEY TANNER: We needed a slogan.

BRUCE SCOTT: I want a slogan.

JOURNO 1: A longer day for no more pay.


JOURNO 2: We need you to do your bit because our country’s in the -


BRUCE SCOTT: No, no, no. This isn’t about working hours. This is about everyone helping our country. This is about supporting Britain.

MICKEY TANNER: Backing Britain.

BRUCE SCOTT: Backing Britain. That’s it.

MICKEY TANNER: I’m backing Britain.

CAST: We’re backing Britain!

(Sound: Music: Bruce Forsyth’s I’m Backing Britain. CAST sings the song, with BRUCE FORSYTH leading. As the song draws to a close, PAULINE and JACKIE come into the office, hang up their coats and settle to work, where they are met by MR MOLYNEUX.)

PAULINE: Morning Mr Molyneux. Happy New Year.

MR MOLYNEUX: There you are, Pauline. It’s mayhem this morning. The phones haven’t stopped ringing. The Daily Telegraph. The BBC. You realize you’re over all the front pages?

JACKIE: Ooh, let me see! Is that really how my hair looks?

MR MOLYNEUX: There are three huge bags of post for you downstairs. The post office had to send a van. Oh, and this came - you might want to open it first.

PAULINE: Jackie! It’s from Prince Philip!

PRINCE PHILIP: Your initiative is the most heartening news I have heard in 1967. If we all go into 1968 with that spirit we shall certainly lick all our other problems and put this country well on its feet again. Good luck and keep up the good work.

JACKIE: Do you think he’ll invite us to tea?

PAULINE: I’m going to frame it. Where do you think it should go?

BRUCE FORSYTH: Where are they? Where are they? Oh there you are. Listen, I can’t stay long: I’m doing Aladdin this afternoon at Wimbledon. (Tuts) Matinees. And the make-up; you wouldn’t believe it. I said we should have done Babes in the Wood. Now, you must be Pauline.

JACKIE: And I’m Jackie.

BRUCE FORSYTH: Nice to see you; to see you -

PAULINE: We love your record.

JACKIE: Yeah, we do.

BRUCE FORSYTH: Just as well. I’m taking a five per cent cut in royalties, you know. You might want to note that. Now, quick photo - smile...

(They pose for a PHOTOGRAPHER.)

BRUCE FORSYTH: And I must go. Ere, don’t quote me, but the word is the four mopheads want to do a record for you.

PAULINE: What? The Beatles?

BRUCE FORSYTH: I didn’t say a word.

PAULINE: Jackie - the Beatles!

JACKIE: The Beatles? I thought mopheads were motorbikes.

BRUCE FORSYTH: Well good luck, girls. Keep working! (To MR MOLYNEUX) Didn’t she do well?

BBC REPORTER: Mr Molyneux, how is the workforce responding to the girls’ initiative?

MR MOLYNEUX: The workforce is solidly behind the girls, both here in Surbiton and at our plant in Havant. There they’ve been adding the extra half hour at the end of the day instead of the beginning. It’s as broad as it’s long.

PAULINE: We’ve been getting so many calls from all across the country we’ve had to install ten extra telephone lines to deal with all the calls we’re getting.

MR MOLYNEUX: Since the girls started this action the company’s productivity has gone up by seven per cent. Seven! When did you say this was going out?

MICKEY TANNER: Now every story has a structure. You get the basic situation - extra half an hour, no pay. You get the broader situation - everyone getting behind it. And then you get your star. No question about who that was. Was there, Pauline?

(Sound: Music: Beatles - Mr Postman. PAULINE walking to work through a scrum of JOURNALISTS and PHOTOGRAPHERS. She looks uncomfortable with all the attention. Then a POSTMAN brings in a huge sack of mail and dumps it on PAULINE’s desk. PAULINE and JACKIE start to go through the letters.)

JACKIE: There must be hundreds. We’ll never read them all.

PAULINE: We must, Jackie. It’s only polite.

JACKIE: They’re all very nice, though, aren’t they? Well done. Congratulations. "At last someone’s taking the - what’s that say?

PAULINE: Initiative. It means starting something.

JACKIE: We have started something, haven’t we? Well, you have.

PAULINE: I couldn’t have done it without you.

JACKIE: No, you couldn’t. Fancy me being on the telly. I had all the girls round to watch it while mum was out. I was that excited. Were you excited, Pauline? Is that really how I look? My friend Karen - you know Karen? Dark hair, bad skin? Well anyway, she said I looked like Sandie Shaw.

PAULINE: She doesn’t wear shoes.

JACKIE: She’s very pretty, though. Look at this, Pauline - this letter’s come all the way from California. Can I keep the stamp? Billy’s collecting them for Blue Peter. They’re getting an ambulance for Kenya. Either that or a lifeboat. I didn’t know they had lifeboats in Kenya.

PAULINE: Course you can have it.

JACKIE: You know what I’ve liked best so far?

PAULINE: Being on telly?

JACKIE: No, better than that. Having tea at the House of Commons. It was so posh. I’ve never had clotted cream before. And wasn’t he nice, Mr Boyd Carpenter? I’ve never met an MP before. I’m going to vote for him. What party is he?

PAULINE: I liked the telegram from Prince Philip. I thought that was the best.

JACKIE: We are going to frame it, aren’t we?

(Sound: Phone rings. PAULINE picks up.)

PAULINE: (On phone) Rika Engineering... Yes, that’s right... Yes, that’s me. (Smiling) Oh, did you? You’re very kind... Sorry?... No, I’m sorry, it’s very kind of you, but we’re not accepting gifts of any kind... Yes, that goes for all the other girls, too... We’re not in this for ourselves, you see, we’re doing it to back our country... No, that’s quite all right. Goodbye (Puts phone down).

JACKIE: What were they offering this time?

PAULINE: An all expenses paid holiday to Benidorm.

JACKIE: Benidorm? Where’s that, then?

PAULINE: I think it’s in the Mediterranean.

JACKIE: Oh. Sounds like a bed company. Benidorm. Would have been nice, though. The Mediterranean.

PAULINE: Now, now. We’ve said no to everything, haven’t we? Those dresses. And the perfumes.

JACKIE: (Sighs) I know. Mind you, those dresses were horrible. I quite liked the perfume though.

PAULINE: I told you, Jackie: we don’t accept gifts, we don’t accept treats. We’re backing Britain, not trying to cadge freebies. You’d better get that invoice typed for Mr Molyneux. The whole idea is to get the company going again. He won’t be pleased if we spend all our time on the campaign and none on our actual work.

MICKEY TANNER: Very nice. Pretty girls making a stand - everyone loves that. Pretty girls making a stand in miniskirts - I have one very happy editor. And a lot of very happy readers. Right, that’s enough scene setting. Now it’s time to take this story outdoors. Come and meet the people.

(Projected images: Sixties Union Jack designs, especially with I’m Backing Britain written on them.)

JOURNO 1: Who’s backing Britain?

JOURNO 2: Who’s backing Britain?

JOURNO 3: Who’s backing Britain today?

BBC REPORTER: Mr Goodall, you have a barber’s shop in Kingston.

MR GOODALL: Yes, and I am cutting prices in my barber’s shop by five per cent for anyone wearing an I’m Backing Britain badge. I call upon all other traders in Kingston to do the same. I think most of them could afford it. If you go into a shop nowadays and ask for a discount for cash, you usually get it.

EXPRESS DAIRY: Here at Express Dairies we are freezing our prices until the end of March. We fully support the Surbiton typists and we’re backing Britain.

WIMPY BARS: Special discounts at Wimpy Bars. We’re backing Britain!

INDEPENDENT FOOD SERVICES: We at Independent Food Services are pegging our prices for the next six months as a gesture of support for the Surbiton girls and the Backing Britain movement.

MICKEY TANNER: Yeah, yeah. Never mind them. This is more like it. Hello darling.

DEE’S PLACE: Ere, mind your hands.

MICKEY TANNER: Are you backing Britain?

DEE’S PLACE: At Dee’s Place boutique we’re offering ten per cent off to anyone wearing an I’m Backing Britain badge.

MICKEY TANNER: Does it matter where they’re wearing their badge?

DEE’S PLACE: Yeah. It’s got to be in the shop.

BBC REPORTER: But what about Kingston’s biggest retail outlet? What is Bentall’s Department Store planning to do to enter into the spirit of things?

BENTALL’S: Bentall’s has no plans to cut prices as such, but we do make every effort to keep our prices competitive and to offer the very best value for money.

(PAULINE arriving home. Her mum, SYLVIA comes in, getting ready to go out.)

PAULINE: It’s only me.

SYLVIA: Are you in tonight? Only I must rush. I’ll be late for my bingo. There’s some fish fingers in the fridge.

PAULINE: I’m not going out.

SYLVIA: I saw Mrs Otley on the Broadway. She said she saw you on the telly again. And Mrs Enright from church. Oh, and the Surrey Comet phoned again. They want you to do some pictures. They left a number - it’s by the phone.

PAULINE: I don’t know what I’ve started, mum.

SYLVIA: They tried to sell me one of your stickers in Boots. Cheeky so-and-sos. I told them I ought to get one for free. Where’s my purse?

PAULINE: (Looking at a photograph of her father in wartime uniform) I wonder what dad would have made of all this. Would he have been proud, do you think? I’d like to think so.

SYLVIA: He was always proud of you. Remember when you won that art prize at school? Where did I leave it?

PAULINE: Have you looked in the kitchen?

SYLVIA: Here it is. Now, do you need anything?

PAULINE: I’ll be fine, mum. Honestly.

SYLVIA: I won’t be staying late.

PAULINE: I might be in bed when you come in.

SYLVIA: Ta-ra,

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