A Play

I was watching a play. It wasn’t a very good play. We were sat up in the rafters, looking down at the room below. It was set out like a school classroom – rows of grey desks, uncomfortable looking green chairs, a blackboard. A pupil, oversized in his chair, uncomfortable in his uniform, a pen gripped in his fist like a crucifix. And a teacher, standing, impassive, implacable, administering the punishment with no hint of pleasure, just blank indifferent duty.

An hour of near silence, of tedium, of watching this man, this boy, copying down the text from the blackboard, from a textbook, from the teachers recitals of poetry and history. An hour of growing unease, a slow and steady increase in the animosity of the teacher towards her pupil, verbal hectoring blossoming into physical violence, torture, finally excruciating bloody death for the schoolchild beneath the barrage of her blows.

I left hurriedly at the end, baffled by the enthusiasm of the crowd around me as they rose en masse to give the performers a standing ovation, baffled by what they could have found to appreciate in such an empty and unpleasant performance. As I reached the bottom of the stairs and began the long walk down the corridor towards the exit I heard a door open behind me, footsteps on the tiled floor. And a voice, loud, clear, condescending.

“Where do you think you’re going, young lady?”

And I stopped and turned and followed her into the classroom.



1. Written on 26th February, 2016


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