Why Must I be a Teenager in Love? / by Michael Hatfield
RONNIE BOUGH [M]
DR BOUGH [M]
MRS BOUGH [F]
JARVIS THE BUTLER [M]
JULIE ROUGH [F]
MR ROUGH [M]
MRS ROUGH [F]
NERVOUS NIGEL [M]
CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES [F]
TAI-CHI THERESA [F]
HANDSOME BILLY [M]
MISS ANN THROPE [F]
MR BIRKINSHAW [M]
MR CRIDLINGTON [M]
FURY [M or F]
BERRY [M or F]
HALEY [M or F]
HOLLY [M or F]
Male/ Female breakdown is according to the original casting, but there is no reason why more of the gang members shouldn't be female if required.
According to the original casting, then, this is a play for 16 M and 15 F. However, some parts - particularly the two families - are small and could be doubled. Suggested doubling is as follows:
Dr Bough / Mr Rough / Mr Birkinshaw;
Mrs Bough / Mrs Rough / Fury; Tamsin /
Jade / Holly;
Euripides / Shazza / Berry;
Jarvis / Mr Cridlington - the others retaining single parts.
This doubling would mean it is possible to achieve the play with 24 cast members: 12M and 12F. All of these parts would then be examinable in size, if that is required.
Note that this play can be done straight - in which case it runs at approx. one hour [Though it still needs at least one dance number.] Or with added music and dances from the rock and roll era, using well-known rock'n'roll numbers some of which are suggested in the script in which case it runs at approx. one and a half hours. These additions do not make it exactly a musical, but opportunity is there for, between each scene, a musical number which can be sung and / or danced, perhaps building in the scene changes as part of the danced numbers.
Sample Pages from the script
Scene 1: The School Playground.
Enter Cedric, Nervous Nigel and Database. Cedric and Nigel are reading books. Database is playing with a hand-held computer game. Enter, opposite, Tank, Deadleg, Weasel and Spider. They are clearly looking for trouble. [Suggested Music: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme tune.]
Both groups circle each other warily. As one moves left, the others move out of the way. Finally, they move towards each other. Tank bashes viciously into Database, knocking the game out of her hand. He then quite deliberately steps on it.
Oh dear, what a shame. I'm terribly sorry.
Nigel is shaking. His books are trembling frantically.
Watch what you're doing, you pusillanimous troglodyte.
What did you call me?
A Pusillanimous Troglodyte. Want to look it up? [Holds out thick, heavy dictionary.]
Thanks. [Takes the dictionary. Looks. Then hits Cedric over the head with it.] Get 'em!
Fight. Nigel is getting the worst of it. Database runs off. Cedric is being pounded by Deadleg and Tank. Enter Ronnie. He wears glasses and looks academic.
Hey, you! Leave them alone!
Ronnie intervenes. Cedric and Nigel take their chance and run. The others all gang up on Ronnie.
New round here, aren't you? Let us introduce ourselves.
They call me Deadleg. Guess why? [Gives Ronnie a deadleg.]
I'm Spider. Pleased to meet you. [Hits him.]
I'm Weasel. [Kicks him.]
I'm Tank. And you're a pusillanimous troglodyte. [Hitting him with the dictionary.] So you belong with the Geeks over there. We're Freaks.
You're not kidding! Ow!
Freaks hate Geeks.
It's the unwritten law.
But what's the point?
How are we supposed to know? It's unwritten.
Julie enters. She is carrying her school bag. She sees what is happening and puts her bag down. Her exercise book falls out.
I said, that's enough.
She moves in and separates them physically.
Get out of it!
Julie moves swiftly, grabs Tank and Deadleg by the ears and drags them round the stage. She gets Spider by the nose and slaps him. Weasel looks at her, thinks better of it and runs oft. Ronnie looks admiringly at Julie.
Are you all right?
Scene 3: The Dining Hall.
All of the Geeks are siting round a table. Ronnie enters.
Hello, old chap. Nice to see you again. Suppose I'd better introduce the gang. You've already met Nigel...
He ... he ... he ... Hi!
DATABASE frantically playing a computer game
Can't stop now! Team Rocket are attacking!
Don't ask! This is Memorex. She has a photographic memory; she can remember anything.
MEMOREX mimicking voices as appropriate
'Ronald Bough? Ah yes, the new boy. Well, take your seat.' 'Miss, I found this outside.'' How unfortunate ... for you...'
This is Theodora.
I like, wow, it's really amazing to meet you, you're a really groovy kind of person. I just know we're going to befriends. What sign are you? I'm Pisces. I'm a dreamer.
And this is Charlotte.
Oh, cheer up.
What's the point? We're all going to die anyway. We're all doomed.
O - KAY. Well, never mind, eh?
Don't worry about her, darling. Black is just not in this season. But I am 'in' every season. My name is Aurora. You must be the new hunk in the school. Can I see your six pack?
RONNIE backing away
N-n-nice to meet you.
I see Nigel isn't the only nervous one around here.
Leave him alone, Aurora. You don't know where he's been.
Thanks! ... Oi! What do you mean?
And last but not least, may I introduce Theresa. We call her Tai-chi Theresa. Show him why.
Theresa gets up and begins doing martial arts exercises, yelling and kicking. She bows. All clap.
Is she dangerous?
I should say so. She's broken three ribs, both legs, her nose - three times - six desks, four chairs and the headmaster's cat. Look out!
Theresa, still exercising, kicks the table, hurts her foot, hops, falls over and rolls about in agony. The others rescue her. Cedric keeps talking.
That's our side. Now it's time for you to know the enemy. The riff-raff. The scum. Here they are.
A frame is held up. One by one the Freaks enter the frame.
First, Dustbin. [Dustbin eating.] Harmless, except to the environment. Speaks with his mouth full. Disgusting!
DUSTBIN spraying food everywhere as he talks
I don't eat with my mouth full!
Next, Spider. Like school gravy, he's thick and unpleasant. Third, Chantel. She's all right
That's only because you fancy her.
No, I don't.
And you've got no chance with her because...
She's in love with Handsome Billy. It's so romantic.
But Billy isn't interested in her because he's sweet on Julie.
I said he's sweet on Julie.
I think he heard you, darling.
It's all going to end badly. Mark my words. They'll all be miserable, and then they'll die.
Thanks for that, Charlotte. Next there's Tank and Deadleg. [They appear in the frame.] Very nasty. You've met them. Don't meet them alone; that's the rule. They're large as life and twice as ugly. This one here's Banger. Not the sharpest pencil in the box, he's one sandwich short of a picnic - the lights are on, but no one's at home.
Oi! Are you saying I'm thick?
This one you've got to watch. He's called Weasel. He loves to stir up trouble. Just for the fun of it. Keep out of his way. And don't let him find out any of your secrets. [Weasel laughs.] What are you laughing at?
I don't know; it hasn't got a label on it.
And this one is the most dangerous of them all. He's called Handsome Billy. [in the frame, Billy combs his hair, preens, shows off.] Can't think why!
ALL THE GIRLS
Those dreamy eyes. ...
The way he moves ...
That smile ...
I remember when we went swimming - the way the water droplets poured from his chest ...
Everybody looks at her.
What's so dangerous about him?
He's the worst of the lot of them. Remember what happened to limping Simon?
And b-b-broken-nosed B-B-Brian?
Not to mention Derek.
What happened to Derek?
I said not to mention Derek!
Why did he hurt those boys?
They all wanted to go out with Julie. Then Billy found out.
BILLY looking out of frame
Nobody takes what's mine. And nobody makes a fool of me - nobody!
Sample Pages from Production Notes
PRODUCTION NOTES + TECHNICAL CUES etc.
N.B. These notes are suggestions only. You may find them helpful to follow; or they may act as a springboard for your own ideas; or you can choose to ignore them entirely!
INTRODUCTION: THEMES, THE PLAY'S INTENTION.
There is nothing very deep about this play which, though in this version it is not a musical, has all the lightness of touch typical of that genre. Characters tend to the stereotypical and the plot follows a recognisable pattern with the 'baddies' converted and everyone ending happily and with the 'right' partners.
The difference of this play is the school setting. The class we focus on, a class of any age from twelve up to fifteen-sixteen year olds, are divided into two factions. There are the school bullies -The Freaks'- and the rest, known as The Geeks.' In the end, both gangs unite in a common cause - to get rid of the real bully of the school - the teacher - Miss Ann Thrope. Without her, the school is back working in harmony under the benign headmaster, Mr Cridlington. This head has a passion for the rock'n'roll era and celebrates the school's freedom from Miss Thrope by holding an American­style 'Prom' with a rock'n'roll theme.
There is a sub-plot, too: the love story. Not 'cheesey' in the least, this centres on the mutual attraction between new boy, Ronnie Bough [pronounced Boff'], who comes from an educated comfortably off, upper middle-class family and Julie Rough [pronounced 'Rowe'], from a working-class background. The trouble is, Julie is the girlfriend of Handsome Billy, fearsome leader of 'the Freaks.' It is clear, however, that Julie and Billy are not really a partnership - it is just that Billy wants her and is not used to being denied. Chantel, another member of his gang, who adores Billy unquestioningly, is far more suitable a mate for him.
We never get to see how the Boughs and the Roughs would socialise or even if there is any realistic hope for such a match between the two youngsters. The play is not really on that level - and is certainly not intended to be realistic or taken seriously as a piece of social comment. The boy and girlfriend matches are on the level of having fun together - not really serious love relationships.
Ideally, this play would work best with the insertion of as much rock'n'roll as possible - if not sung by the cast, at least used as links between scenes. Suggestions for these are given in the Sound notes.
The play is best performed in a comedy cartoon style: slick, over-the-top caricatures. The school children in the cast could be any age from 12/13 to 15/16.
the 'hero.' Clever, educated background, not versed in the arts of gang warfare though certainly not a wimp. Because he is the outsider, new to the school, he is able to criticise - and in the end alter - the status quo, which is that Freaks and Geeks are enemies. He insists on fair play - at home and at school. At home, his fury against his family's snobbery is evident.
He needs to be well-spoken but not pompous. Otherwise, as `normal' in movement and style as possible.
the 'heroine.' Pretty and street-wise, there is nothing otherwise to suggest why she should be a 'Freak.' She is, however, able to fight very effectively - without creating any fuss about it. A no-nonsense type of character, she sorts out the tough guys - physically - only when necessary; she does not look for a fight. Like Ronnie, she does not really fit in with her family - though she is certainly not up to the snobbish values of Ronnie's family either. Both she and Ronnie fall somewhere in beween the two - a place where there is no class or division. This is proved by her ability to mimic the upper classes towards the end.
Julie's accent should be regional, though not overdone at all. her movements should be quick and precise - economical, especially when fighting. She needs to be able to put on airs and graces and a snobby accent near the end - though this is more of a parody.
NERVOUS NIGEL - needs to look rather weedy and stammers a lot. He is made angry both by his stammer and by other people finishing his sentences off for him. Ends up able to control his stammer - and finds that he can focus his anger and become as tough as he needs to be.
CEDRIC - an obvious geek. The intellectual clever one. Well-read, good vocabulary, he is not intimidated by the Freaks and is very much the leader, by being their mouthpiece, of the Geeks. Though he looks down on most of the Freaks, he has a healthy fear of Handsome Billy.
MEMOREX - a young lady with a fearsome ability to remember everything she hears word for word. Actress needs to be able to imitate/mimic - voices and mannerisms.
AURORA - fashion-conscious and hard-nosed. It
is Aurora who tends to come up with the brainwaves that save the
THEODORA - a dreamy Romantic new-age hippy type.
CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES - a Goth, full of doom and gloom.
TAI-CHI THERESA - a completely inaccurate martial
arts expert - more prone to reducing her own side than the 'enemy.'
She seems unable to aim her arms and legs in the right directions!
DATABASE - obsessed with games playing on Gameboy, hand-held Computer games or mobilephone games, perhaps. Is always glued to one of these and oblivious to anything else.
HANDSOME BILLY - should of course be handsome! Hunky and vain. He even gels his eyebrows! He is not terribly bright, of course - but bright enough to control his gang and prone to fearsome tempers, which have built up his reputation as a terror. He flirts with girls as second-nature but is too self-absorbed to have much to offer them. Luckily Chantel is as absorbed by him as he is - so they make a good couple.
TANK - the thug with a poetic soul. His poetry does not bear too much scrutiny but at least it proves he is interested in more than beating people up.
DEADLEG - a thug, not very bright.
SPIDER - another, ditto.
DUSTBIN - thug who eats all the time. Totally centred on food.
CHANTEL - in love with Handsome Billy but hardly even noticed by him until the end. She is likeable - for instance, she is not jealous of Julie and instead is prepared to work with her. Bright enough to see that the plan will benefit her perhaps, in the long term.
WEASEL - a sneak. Always sidling around the edge of the stage and under pieces of furniture. Much should be made of this as he is a source of comedy for his spying ways. Could have stereo-typical 'slimy' voice and Mutley-style wheezy laugh.
BANGER - the most likeable of the oafs. He is the most stupid - but bright enough to be aware of it! There is something rather endearing about his slowness. He should emphasise this by making speech and movement slower than the rest - always a beat behind, always seeming unaware of what is going on.
RONNIE'S FAMILY, THE BOUGHS:
DR BOUGH - intellectual, snobby, stern father-figure.
MRS BOUGH - softer version of her husband. Also snobby - but prepared first to say that Julie is a nice girl. Walked over by her children. Some evidence of decency brought to the fore by the outrageous behaviour of her spoilt brats.
TAMSIN - spoilt and insufferable brat.
EURIPIDES - also spoilt and insufferable, but thinks she is the business intellectually. A know-it-all.
JASPER - typical ramrod straight butler. Dead-pan face and unsurprised drawled voice. All the Boughs should be played with exaggerated upper-class accents and gestures - e.g. cocking little finger, waving useless hands in air generally. Cruel tinkly laughter. They are caricatures and not meant to be the least bit realistic.
JULIE'S FAMILY, THE ROUGHS:
MR ROUGH - complete football addict - Liverpool. TV, couch slob.
MRS ROUGH - kind up to a point, but ineffective.
SHAZZA - a football know-it-all, in fact as snobby about it as the Boughs are over the 'right' newspapers and TV channels!
JADE - as rest of her family, used to the noise
but prepared to put her oar in and add to the noise by telling
everyone to shut up!
The effect of the whole family must be as stereotypically over-the-top as the Boughs. The Roughs are noisy, shout all the time, argue with each other and all slob about on the sofa with the T.V. blaring. Their accents should be exaggeratedly 'common'. Body language is slobby, slouched.
Since each of the families have only a scene each, there is an ideal opportunity for doubling - which will increase the range of the actors concerned, showing their versatility. If they also take on small parts amongst the school children, they will be as thoroughly involved as any of the cast.
MISS ANN THROPE - is the 'baddie' who in the end unites Freaks and Geeks in a common cause to get rid of her. She is a bully. Her voice should be hectoring and fearsomely sure of herself. She can loom over pupils, standing very tall and straight and staring them down. She must be frightening. When she snaps, everyone straightens and quivers. She often speaks very fast, allowing no one any time to answer or defend themselves. This she uses as an effective weapon.
MR BIRKINSHAW - is a soft and ineffectual class teacher. He is terrified of his pupils but in the end is rewarded and listened to because he treats them with respect - something Miss Thrope fails to do. Gestures should be nervous and rather flappy - ineffectual. Body language - shoulders hunched, hands tentative. A tendency to skulk at the edge or back. Voice soft - rather desperate sounding.
MR CRIDLINGTON - fun, zappy, energetic headmaster. He could move and enter as if he is always listening to an inner recording of rock'n'roil - feet dancing and jaunty, head nodding to unheard rhythm, etc. This inner music largely blanks him off from the terror of Miss Thrope. He has not faced up to her, but he is not frightened of her - more disconcerted by her lack of understanding of the music which is his prime love.
FURY, BERRY, HALEY AND HOLLY - are not really characters. They flesh out the numbers of the classroom and are, of course, 'jokes', each bearing famous rock'n'roll names.
There are all sorts of exciting ideas that you could design. I, as usual, am looking at the piece as perhaps an examination offering, with other pieces on at the same time. The suggestions here are, therefore, the simplest and dearest, using the minimum of fuss and set additions. Of course, if this is a single piece being done by you and your students, you could go to town and add considerably to each setting. A word of warning though - keep the flow as far as possible; some of the shortcuts I suggest may still be helpful.
A list of the various required settings helps clarify the mind.
Scene 1 - The school playground.
Scene 2. The classroom.
Scene 3 The Dining Hall
Scene 4 - The Bough's House.
Scene 5 - Street scene
Scene 6 - The Rough Household
Scene 6A - The Street
Scene 7 - The playground
Scene 8 The classroom - which clears to a big dance number.
The main problem are the furnishings required for such a large cast in multitudinous settings. I propose making a feature of scene changes - i.e. dancing them, so that instead of trying to shuffle things round quickly, the cast change the set themselves, quite openly, as part of a dance number. This would retain the flavour of the piece, whilst at the same time getting round the main problem. There is a list of suitable numbers from the '50s in the Sound section.
It would help if there is a traverse curtain some way down the stage - or if you have a forestage in front of your curtain. That way scenes could be partly set behind traverse or curtain.
With a large cast, visibility can be a problem, so have the back half of the stage raised - in a fancy shape if you like - with a narrow lower level to act as a step up - which will have other uses, allowing sitting on it on two levels and so on.
If using a stage only, my personal choice would be to have the raised area angled from mid-way down the stage, Stage Right up to the top corner Up Stage Left, still using the idea of a lower narrow step up along the edge of it. This is more interesting than square on in shape, would allow levels and maximum stage area for big scenes. It still might help if you had a traverse curtain crossing mid-stage, behind which some of the settings could be set up during scenes in front of the traverse.
If using stage, stage curtain and fore-stage or apron, the angled raised area will stretch from just behind the curtain, Downstage Right, to the top corner Upstage Left.
Scene 1, The school playground is neutral, in that it doesn't need any objects in it. None are used or referred to.
You could break the starkness up with something like a netball post and a school bench. The post would add interest but is not necessary. The scene is used twice, so is worth giving an identifying mark to. The bench, along with possibly the edge of the stage [if you have a raised stage] gives potential sitting places for the scene. The bench can also be used for standing on - to watch the fight.
Scene 2, The classroom, needs to be on the full stage. I suggest the use of light long tables at which a number of people can sit [ many schools favour these over desks now in any case.] Using the set suggestion given above, have the teacher's desk, white or blackboard downstage towards the corner of the raised area [i.e. mid-stage Right, just above the traverse intersection or Downstage Right, just behind the front curtain if using apron. The entrance to the classroom can be above that, onto the raised area, allowing maximum impact for entrances. The class will be on the floor level, long tables arranged - if no doubling, there is a class of 22 - for maximum visibility. I suspect you'll need five long tables, or perhaps four with pupils' chairs arranged round three sides of the table except the downstage side. It will not matter if some pupils have their backs to the audience - just make sure that the ones who speak are clearly visible.
Some tables and chairs need to be set below the curtain line, so try the 'dancing the scene change' idea - pupils using chairs as dancing partners, with mock affection, others lifting and pushing a table to and fro between them.
Scene 3. The dining hall. Draw the traverse or curtain. The furniture below the curtain line can be danced off or into new positions to suggest a dining room. Only one table is needed in this scene. The table should be angled towards one side of the stage, allowing room for the 'frame' to be held in which the Freaks pose.
Scene 4. The Bough's House. All of this could have been set up during the last scene, behind the curtain. There doesn't need to be a lot of furniture, but what there is must look `posh.' The same entrance, to give impact, can be used as the schoolroom scene. Mr Bough could be sitting at a table reading his newspaper on the upper level. On the table, a vase of flowers perhaps, or a fancy large ornament such as a statuette. On the lower level - a sofa and an easy chair. Mrs Bough upright in easy chair, Euripides sprawled on the sofa, Tamsin perhaps sitting on the step to the upper level. An added detail could be a smart looking rug or piece of carpet.
Scene 5. Street scene needs no settings. Simply draw the curtain across, having danced off anything below the curtain line.
Scene 6. The Rough Household. Again, this can have been set up behind the curtain. To save further time and effort, make the furniture do for both Boughs and Roughs. Either have a basically shabby sofa and unmatched chair- more likely in a school drama department! - and put smart throws, well-tucked in, over them for the Boughs, plus plenty of shiny smart looking matching cushions and simply whip it all off for the Roughs. Arrange the furniture - including upright chair as an extra - in a semi-circle facing Downstage Right. Replace table from Bough's house with large TV screen Downstage Right - transformation complete [and easy. Remove carpet if used in Bough scene.
Scene 7. Playground - as before, in front of curtain.
Scene 8 - The classroom. Set up as before.
STAGE CURTAINS/TRAVERSE CUES
Closed at opening of play.
PAGE 4 - open curtains as Ronnie walks off, third of way down page.
PAGE 9 - close curtains after Weasel: 'in a while, crocodile.'
PAGE 12 - open curtains during blackout as classical music begins.
PAGE 14 - close curtains in blackout at end of scene, bottom of page.
PAGE 18 - open curtains after Weasel 'We'll see about that.'
PAGE 20 - close curtains after family GOO-AA-LL!!
PAGE 23 - open curtains after Chantel -'...what we need is a common enemy.' Wait till lights fade on their near-cinch.
Lighting areas are as follows:
Area A: whole stage and forestage as class-room
Area B: forestage - area in front of traverse or stage curtain as dining-room, street and playground.
Area C: stage, excluding forestage if using stage curtain, allowing for spill onto forestage if using traverse - as Bough household and Rough household:
In addition, it would be fun to have disco light effects for the ending.
Lights need to be warm - mixed in with straws and pinks - for a bright comedic effect. Warmer still on interior scenes.
Lights up at beginning of play on Area B, forestage. Bright.
Third of way down page. End of scene 1. Cue - Ronnie walking off writing. Fade lights down to very dim and back up to full bright, Area A, whole stage and forestage, classroom.
Third of way down page. End of scene 2. Cue: Weasel -'In a while, crocodile.' Hold lights a beat and then fade out to dim as curtain closes. Bring up lights on forestage, Area B, to bright.
Third of way down. End of scene. Cue: Weasel -See you, Ronald.' Wait for Freaks' laughter and bring lights down on it - to blackout as curtain opens. When curtains are open and classical music established, bring lights up on Area C, behind curtain area. Bright interior.
Bottom of page, end of scene. Cue: Mrs Bough -'Oh, shut up, Tamsin!' Fast fade lights to blackout. brief, until curtains closed. Then up on Area B, forestage - street scene.
Halfway down page, end of scene. Cue: Weasel -'Happy endings? We'll see about that.' Lights down to dim and then back up as curtains open on Area C, behind curtain area. This time the lights should be dim - if possible, TV screen on and flickering.
Third of the way down, cue family -'GOO-AA-LL!! fade lights out on Area C stage and bring up lights, reduced to smaller more central area of forestage.
After Geeks have dragged Weasel off - end of scene, bring lights up to full on forestage area, Area B, playground.
Near bottom of page, end of scene. Cue: Chantel -'...what we need is a common enemy.' Slow fade out lights as they move into a near-clinch to brief blackout. Lights up then to bright on whole Area A, classroom.
Halfway down page. Cue: Mr Cridlington - `Awopaloobop a bop bam boom.' Bring in disco lights to accompany dance number, flashing them in time to the music. Lights back to normal bright at end of number.