The stage is set for a theatre of the absurd

22nd June 2018 at 00:00
We’re weeks away from performing the school play, but judging by our prep, it seems like a lifetime, writes Michael Tidd

Right – everyone line up quietly. We’re going to make our way down to the hall to…err, I think I said quietly! We need to walk quietly past the other classes who are still working hard so we can rehearse on the stage.

No, Jacob, you don’t need your costume, we’re weeks away from dress rehearsals.

Emily, can you pick up the CD player, please? And remember to bring the CD this time, too.

Max, you can bring the swords but I don’t want to see you swinging them around your head as we pass the infants.

No, Connor, you may not carry the shield. Not after last time.

Now, I’d like to see everyone in their starting positions, chorus on either side, actors ready to come on stage…and with less noise than that, please!

I should see everyone ready to start.

Nathan why are you sitting next to Oliver?

No…I did not tell you to sit there last time; I wouldn’t be so foolish.

Take yourself back to the other side.

Now, where is Katie?

Katie – why are you sitting there?

I said starting positions: you should all be ready to come on stage.

What do you mean you can’t remember where?

We only went through this – Max, put that sword down – we only went through this yesterday afternoon.

Get up on stage ready to start, please.

Right, let’s have everybody quiet. I mean everybody.

No, Mollie, that’s not quiet – and yes I can see you talking, just as everybody in the audience will see you. And hiding behind your hand only draws attention to the fact that you’re talking.

In fact, move away from Lizzie completely.

Now, let’s see everyone in the starting positions, and…music, maestro!

What’s this? Why am I hearing All Things Bright and Beautiful?

Where is the soundtrack CD? What did I say to you, Emily? Yes, please do get the right disc to put in – and we’ll have track one, please.

OK, everybody smile…let’s go. Press play, please, Emily.

I should see everybody singing – yes, even you, Harvey.

Come on everyone, put a bit of gusto into it: this is our opening number, we want the audience to be amazed, excited – this is the song that sets the tone for the whole show (god help us!)

And…enter villagers!

Why have I got an odd number of villagers? Lucy, who’s your partner? Well, where is he?

Oh come on, Ethan – are you going to go to the toilet at the start of the real performance?

Get yourself back up on stage where you should be.

I don’t want to see nine villagers starting the show.

Your parents don’t want to see nine villagers!

Chorus, I can’t hear you. Come on, there’s 50 of you and so far it sounds like half of you have fallen asleep!

Stephen, I can barely see your mouth moving.

And…Big finish…And lights off!

Right, now, villagers, as soon as the lights go off, you need to get yourselves back into the chorus – without treading on each other, please – and we’re ready for scene one.

So let’s have scene one, please.

Reuben, why have you got your script in your hand?

No! We’re performing in a fortnight, you’ve had weeks to learn your lines.

Goodness me, even I know your lines and I’m not even in the wretched play.

Go home and get practising tonight, please – it’s not too late to give your part to somebody else, you know.

And where is your sword? Max, why doesn’t Reuben have his sword?

In fact…someone bring me a sword!


Michael Tidd is headteacher at Medmerry Primary School in West Sussex. He tweets @MichaelT1979

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