May 13, 2006

A Play A Day #30

No Ask Alice

Ms. Trewing

Setting: Elementary school classroom. The students are listening to the teacher. Four students are all that are needed, but if you go for realism, set up more desks and bring in some extras to sit in them. It should be obvious exactly when Alice is raising her hand and to what extent she grapples for the teacher's attention.

Ms. Trewing: Yes, I know it's only the first day of school, but we need to get going on our geometry unit right away... State tests are only a month away; so let's get back to our example here. Now, we take the two sides and the two angles of an isoceles triangle and the third side's length is now based on those two things. So, if we know that the two equal sides are, say, three inches long and the matching angles are seventy degrees each, then we can figure out the third angle very simply... yes, Alice?

Alice: I knew that!

MT: Yes, o.k., thank you. And the third, ummm, angle can be found if we add up the two angles... which are seventy degrees each, so together they are (pause) Clementine?

Clementine: One hundred forty degrees?

MT: Yes, excellent! One hundred forty degrees, and then we have to subtract... Alice?

Alice: I knew that!

MT: Ummm.... o.k.... good... so, one hundred forty degrees which we must subtract from what to find the size of the third angle? Darnell?

Darnell: Ummm... is it (Bobby whispers something toward Darnell)....ummm... one hundred eighty?

MT: Yes, did you know that yourself, or was that Bobby's answer? (scolding motion toward Bobby)

Darnell: Uh... no... no... I already knew that, but I kinda forgot for a little bit...

MT: Well, good... Bobby, I think we can let other people answer for themselves, o.k.?

Alice: I knew that!

MT: (thrown) Good... I mean... wait... you, you knew what, Alice?

Alice: One hundred eighty!

MT: Well... yes. Ummm... moving on, we subtract the 140 from the 180, and then we have what left over?

Bobby: (blurted out) Forty!

MT: Right. Forty, but forty what, Bobby? Forty eggs? Forty pounds?

Bobby: (laughing) Forty degrees!

MT: Exactly! Forty de... Yes, Alice?

Alice: I knew that!

MT: And I knew that... So forty degress is the size of the third angle... Alice, what is it now?

Alice: I knew that!

MT: Soooo glad! Hey everyone, Alice knew that! (pulling back) Let's look at the triangle now. First, it has two equal sides; so it is a what triangle? (The other three kids have raised their hands, but teacher calls on Alice) Alice? (Bobby hand flies up; he is straining to be called upon. He will strain for a great while.)

Alice: What?

MT: It's what kind of triangle?

Alice: Which one?

MT: This one, this triangle here.

Alice: That one?

MT: Yes.

Alice: That's a triangle!

MT: Yes. What kind of triangle, is what I asked.

Alice: What?

MT: What kind of triangle is this one?

Alice: That one?

MT: Yes, this triangle.

Alice: I knew that!

MT: What?

Alice: That triangle.

MT: What about it?

Alice: I knew that!

MT: What about this triangle did you know?

Alice: Yep!

MT: Ummm... Alice. Is something wrong?

Alice: No!

MT: Because I'm worried about you not understanding my questions.

Alice: What?

MT: The questions I was just asking you.

Alice: What questions?

MT: About this triangle...

Alice: Oh! I knew that!

MT: You knew what?!

Alice: Questions.

MT: What questions?!

Alice: The questions you were just asking me!

MT: Right...

Alice: About this triangle.

MT: About this triangle, yes, and I wanted to know what the name of the triangle!

Alice: Really?

MT: Yes, Alice!! What do you call this triangle?!

Alice: Triangle.

MT: This triangle.

Alice: Yeah. Triangle.

MT: What... is... it... called...Alice!?

Alice: Joe?

MT: Joe?!

Alice: Joe the Triangle?

MT: The triangle?!

Alice: (whispering to MT) Or just "Joe".

MT: That's not right, Alice!

Alice: Well, why did you ask me?

MT: I'm a teacher, Alice!! I ask questions!

Alice: I knew that.

MT: You answer them!

Alice: I did.

MT: I know! But you didn't answer the question! Yes! Alice!?

Alice: What question?

MT: O.K. Alice. First, you don't need to raise your hand when you are already talking to me. Alice!!!

Alice: Yes?

MT: I just said don't DO THAT!

Alice: Don't raise my hand?

MT: No!

Alice: O.K. I won't.

(long pause)

Alice: (half raising her hand and then acting like she's not raising her hand at all) Ummm.... Ms. Trewing?

MT: What!!!?

Alice: I just wanted to say that I knew that.

MT: No, I don't think you do; because you're still doing it!

Alice: Yes. I knew that.

MT: Anyway! The second thing is that you still haven't answered my question!

Alice: (raising her hand; MT literally slaps her hand out of the air) What... owww... question?

MT: The name of that triangle!!

Alice: (raising her other hand, which also gets slapped, harder) I... owww... I did.

MT: No! You didn't!

Alice: I named it "Joe". Remember?

(long pause)

Alice: Remember? Joe the Triangle?

MT: Alice, logically, the name of that triangle can not be Joe!

Alice: It can't?

MT: NO!!

Alice: (raising hand again) Why not, Ms. Trewing?

MT: Because we are not talking about "Joe", or anyone else! We are talking about geometry here! (indicating triangle with a flourish)

Alice: I knew that.

MT: I'm sure you did!

Alice: (raising her hand) Then I know the name of that triangle, Ms. Trewing!

MT: (just the slightest glimmer of hope over her anger and sarcasm) Really... we'd all be thrilled to hear it!

Alice: Really?

MT: (falsely sweet) Yes, honey, please tell us. I'm sure Bobby's arms will feel much better when the question has been answered, and he realizes (turning on Bobby and snapping) that I won't be calling on him! (Bobby's arm stays up, MT turns away, toward Alice, then snaps back at Bobby, like a wolf) Ever!! (He puts his arm down. It is very sore. MT is falsely sweet again) So; please, tell us what it is, Alice.

Alice: What?

MT: (incredulous pause) What?

Alice: Yes?

MT: No!

Alice: O.K.

MT: What?

Alice: O.K.

MT: No!!

Alice: Right.

MT: Wrong!!

Alice: Really?

MT: What?!

Alice: Yes.

MT: What!!?

Alice: O.K.

MT: NO!!!

Alice: Really?

MT: YES!!!

Alice: O.K.

(long "pause", while MT literally starts pulling out her own hair, crumpling over, tearing up, etc...)

Alice: (raising her hand) Are you alright, Ms. Trewing?

(more wild motions and tears from MT, then finally)

MT: I've been a teacher a long time, Alice, and I like to believe that I'm pretty good at it. But, guess what, I'm very stubborn. When I ask a question, I will get an answer! So, what you said was that you now, somehow, now, you know the name of that triangle. Remember? And it's not Joe or Chris or Dan.

Alice: Right! You told me the name!

MT: Yes, a long, long time ago, back when poor Bobby still had arms, I told everyone in the class the name of that triangle.

Alice: I knew that!

MT: YES! And the name of that triangle is...

Alice: Geometry!

MT: What!

Alice: Geometry!

MT: Geometry? That's... that's...

Alice: The name of that triangle!

MT: (this is less a mantra and more arhythmic and delusional) No... Alice... Alice... Alice... Alice... Alice... no... no... no...

Alice: (over ending part of MT's line) No... you said (imitating MT's voice and actions, including the flourish), "We're not talk about Joe or anyone else; we're talking about geometry here"

MT: (with Alice's line, continues delusional denial) No... no... no... the first (chokes up) day... no... no... vacation...

Alice: (over top of MT's line) Sure, you even pointed like that (does the flourish again) at the triangle.

MT: (with Alice's line) Can't... can't ... be... real... fifteen years... this isn't real... a dream... not real... (Clementine and Darnell wander over to window of classroom which overlooks the audience) no... it's... I'm asleep... and it will all be gone... sleeping... not really here... (she walks Zombie-like toward Alice, reaches down and starts trying to strangle her, Alice struggles)

Clementine: Look at the big, white rabbit on the playground!

Darnell: It's huge!

Clementine: For a rabbit, yeah!

Darnell: It's... It's wearing a hat!

Clementine: Weird!

Bobby: Where is it?

Darnell: It's headed for that big tree!

(Bobby has joined them; they are all pointing and laughing out the window. Bobby's not able to point much since he still can't feel his arms. Behind them, we see Alice running around, and MT pursuing her with all the ferocity and single-mindedness of the living dead. Lights fade as Alice makes a break for it through the audience with MT in slow-blooded pursuit.)


1 comment:

Brendon Etter said...

This play started out as "I Knew That" But having picked "Alice" as a name (Character names are usually A,B,C,D... when I have multiple characters.), my focused shifted. Instead of making a play on words with "I Knew That" (in the past) as opposed to "I Know That" (currently), I elected to highlight Alice in Wonderland, by playing up her dimness. I've always thought Alice was a fairly dumb kid. Here she is. Think of it as an alternate opening to "Through The Looking Glass", taking the place of the more idyllic Lewis Carroll setting. My apologies to the estate and heirs of Mr. Carroll.