Armchair Anarchists by Anna Forsyth

Anna Forsyth is a London-based multi-award winning writer (including the BBC Playtime Award 2010), who is currently completing an MA in Scriptwriting at Goldsmiths. She has run her own theatre company Up In The Gods for the last few years, putting on two four-star productions at the Edinburgh Fringe (The Gay Geese 2010, The Mourning Party 2011).

Anna has submitted the below short script to our Writing competition – a comedic look at the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional anarchist group. What do you think? Let us know your thoughts by commenting on the article or tweeting us @LetsAllBeFree. Read Anna’s script. 

 

Scene 1; a basement

The room is lit dimly. The group sit on the floor or lean against the walls.

The group: de facto leader JOHN, eager TARA, wry SI, and the new kid EFF (could be male or female – has qualities of both).

 

ALL:

(In unison)

Take my name.

Take my rational thought.

Take my sense of calm.

Take my days.

Take my whole.

But –

Leave my nights.

Leave my grit.

Leave my youth.

And let me keep my health.

TARA:

Take my name.

Take my-

JOHN:

Tara, we’ve already done it three times.

TARA:

Sorry, I lost count.

JOHN:

Try not to.

TARA:

Yes, sorry.

JOHN pulls out a tablet/Smartphone.

JOHN:

So, any new business?

EFF:

Is it like this every week?

JOHN:

Sorry, members get a chance to speak later on.

EFF:
Like a fucking board meeting?

SI:

Yes.

EFF:

Jesus.

JOHN:
We’ll get on then. Welcome Eff, good to have you in the group. The fight against The Sacred Way and The Industry requires many soldiers. Long live the righteous free.

EFF:

Long live the righteous free. I guess.

JOHN:

Any new suggestions then?

EFF:

Well, I think the power of the holograph news bulletin hasn’t been properly exploited. Think about it. All we need is someone with the right hacking skills and boom! We get our message into people’s living room every night. Completely anonymous too.

A silence. The group stare.

EFF:

What? Are new members not allowed to speak?

JOHN:

It’s not that.

TARA:

He meant suggestions of new people to join.

EFF:
That’s what’s most important to you? That’s what comes first?

SI:

And last.

EFF:

This is the revolution? This is where it lives. And this is where it dies.

TARA:
I’ve been asking around at work, and I think a few people are really keen.

JOHN:

You’ve been-

SI:
Oh God.

EFF:

You’ve been pretty much handing out fliers at work for a secret society whose plan is supposedly to subvert and destroy the social fabric as we know it?

TARA:

Ooh, do we have fliers?

SI:

It gets worse. It gets so much worse.

JOHN:

It’ll be all round the Industry by tomorrow morning. Our heads will be on a platter by noon.

SI:
I think we’re supposed to call them salvers now, some reference to the times before. I don’t get it.

EFF:
You work at the Industry? Why haven’t you used that? Subverted and planned from the inside? Toppling it all from within, bringing it all down – ah, because you do things like this.

SI:
Because she does things like this.

TARA:

Oh, sorry. Sorry. I’ve done something rather silly.

SI:

All the time.

A silence.

EFF:

It wasn’t always as bad as this, and we didn’t always hurt this much. Indeed they were early days of sunshine when there was almost a kind of hope amongst us all.

JOHN:

No. Life has long been this hard.

EFF:
Perhaps. But is it helpful?

JOHN:

Helpful?

EFF:

To think like that.

TARA:

John knows what he’s talking about. You haven’t been here.

EFF:
No.

EFF exits abruptly.

A silence.

A door banging.

EFF:

(Offstage)

I think it’s locked.

TARA:

(Calling off)

It’s not locked.

JOHN:

(Incredulous)

It’s not locked?!?

SI:

Really, are you surprised?

TARA:

(Calling off)

Just… jiggle it.

The sound of the door opening and banging shut.

JOHN:

Right, second item on the agenda.

SI:

We’re just going to ignore that?

JOHN:

Second item on the agenda.

SI:

Fine.

TARA:

Wait, did you holo-mail the agenda round?

JOHN:

Yes, like always.

TARA:

Well, I didn’t get it.

SI:

Like always.

TARA snatches JOHN’s smart phone/tablet prods clumsily at it.

SI:

(Going to help her)

Is it in your Junk Holo-mail?

TARA:

My what?

SI:

(Examining the screen, and deftly flicking across it)

It’s in your Junk.

JOHN:

We did go through this last week, Tara.

TARA:

We did John, yeah.

JOHN:

Second item on the agenda is uniform. Should we get one? For solidarity. For identity.

SI:

Solidarity? There’s – well, there’s now three of us. We don’t have an identity.

JOHN:

Exactly. That’s why we need a uniform.

TARA:

A uniform, yeah. It’s a good idea, I think. Will give us a uniform… identical… solidarity. Right?

SI:

Isn’t it a little… well, ‘Them?’ They have uniforms, right? They impose this order. We’re anarchists. Supposedly. We don’t have an order. That’s kind of the point.

JOHN:
We have to some sort of order, Si. Or everything would just fall apart.

 SI:

Right.

JOHN:

(Making a note)

Uniform: in favour.

SI:

Don’t put in favour.

JOHN:

Strongly in favour?

(SI glares at him)

Undecided then… But could be persuaded.

SI:

No uniform. This isn’t the Fourth Reich.

TARA:

I think Si might be right actually.

JOHN:

This isn’t a democracy. In the real world you don’t get your own say.

SI:
That is slightly the point of having a revolution.

JOHN:

Yes, yes, okay, fine.

There’s a knock at the door. Everyone starts.

JOHN:

(Indicating the door with his head)

Si.

SI:

John.

JOHN:

Fine, I’ll get it.

JOHN exits.

JOHN:

(Offstage)

Who is it?

EFF:

(Off)

The police. Open up.

SI and TARA panic.

EFF:

(Still off)

Just kidding. Long live the righteous free.

EFF and JOHN pile back onstage.

JOHN:

That wasn’t funny.

EFF:
It was quite funny. Bet you all shat yourselves.

TARA:

I did a bit actually.

JOHN:

You’ve come back to join the group, then. You want us all to forgive you I suppose.

EFF:

Actually I was wondering if I could borrow a pound for the bus. I’m short.

SI:

By how much?

EFF:
A pound.

SI and TARA check their pockets, nothing. JOHN pulls out a few coins.

JOHN:

An old pound or a new one?

SI, TARA and EFF scoff.

EFF:

(Muttered)

Bourgeois.

JOHN:

What was that?

EFF:

I said bourgeois.

TARA and SI audibly gasp.

JOHN:

Take that back.

EFF:

Shan’t.

JOHN launches for EFF and misses, EFF grabs him; a scuffle ensues. It is clear neither of them know how to fight.

TARA:

Si!

SI:

(Engrossed)

What?

TARA:

Do something.

SI:

What are you talking about? This is fucking great.

TARA:

Fine.

(Stands on a chair)

STOP!

EFF stops but JOHN does not, he punches out where EFF was standing, missing and falling on the floor.

SI:

Amazing.

SI starts to clap, TARA glares at him, he stops. EFF pulls JOHN up from the floor, he hands him back his tablet/smart phone.  JOHN dusts himself down. He clears his throat.

EFF:

Next order of business?

JOHN:

What?

EFF:

What’s next? Go on.

JOHN:

Right. Well. Yes. Third order of business, spreading the word.

SI and TARA stare at JOHN.

JOHN:

Spreading the word. Does anyone have any comments?

TARA:

Er…

SI:

(To EFF)

You’re staying are you?

EFF nods.

JOHN:

You had some ideas about a holograph news bulletin, didn’t you Eff? It seems like a good idea, I just don’t have the expertise for that. Do you know anyone who could be trusted with it?

EFF:

Yeah, I know people.

JOHN:

Good, good. Well, what do we think? We’ll put it to a vote, all in favour of the holograph news bulletin hijack, please raise your hand.

JOHN raises his hand, then EFF. TARA and SI slowly follow suit.

SI:

This is mad, this.

JOHN:

I know, Si. But if we don’t try anything different, we’ll never get anywhere.

EFF:
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

TARA:

Who said that?

JOHN:

I believe it was one Barack Hussein Obama.

EFF:

You’re right.

TARA:

Great name. Who was he?

EFF:
Judging by the photos, some kind of rock star.

JOHN:

So, Eff will be in charge of the holograph hijack. Can we move on?

EFF:

Yeah, let’s move on.

TARA:

John, aren’t you forgetting about something? Our bye-laws do state that we need to take a break now.

JOHN:

(Shrugs)

Rules are rules.

JOHN and TARA exit.

EFF:

Not sure that’s the best motto for an anarchist group.

SI:

Would normally agree with you but just you wait, Tara’s mum makes the most amazing cookies.

EFF:

Raisin or chocolate chip?

SI:

Both.

EFF:

No way.

SI:

Way. Come on.

SI exits. EFF waits behind a moment, smiles to himself then exits.

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