Saturday, 19 February 2011


On Tuesday was the monthly meeting of Script Cafe. This month was open mike night. Seven writers put forward scripts. The task was to write a five minute dialogue between two people. The setting could be at a bus stop, in a supermarket, or anywhere the writer fancied. Each script was read, feedback was given, and actors improvised exercises to help the writer flesh out sub text, inner conflict and character in their piece.  We are becoming better at giving constructive and critical feedback, but this is an area we wish to develop.
       Below is my little piece, set in a small plane. The characters, Jen, a middle-aged English woman and Mickey, a young New Zealander are harnessed together, about to do a skydive.

In Tandem

Two people, Mickey and Jen are harnessed together, one behind the other, in a small aeroplane, about to do a sky dive over Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

Jen                        I feel sick

Mickey                       That’s normal

Jen                         I’m not sure why I’ve signed up for this

Mickey                       Chill out, it’ll be a breeze

Jen                         It seemed like a good idea at the time.  That Macmillan nurse was so persuasive

Mickey                      You doing this for charity?

Jen                         Yes

Mickey                      Good for you

Jen                        There’s no way you’d get me jumping out of a plane for pleasure.

Mickey                       Just wait

Jen                        It’s the waiting that’s been the problem

Mickey                        Once you you’re out there, fast falling

Jen                        I haven’t slept for the past week

Mickey                         You feel the G force

Jen                        It was all Lee’s idea at first

Mickey                         Lee’s the Macmillan nurse, yeah?

Jen                        No. Lee’s my daughter

Mickey                         Ah!

Jen                        She’s fourteen. We were supposed to be doing this together

Mickey                        Did she back out?

Jen                        She said it would take my mind off things

Mickey                        It’s often the brave ones who freak out at the last minute

Jen                        About the cancer

Mickey                        Does she have cancer?

Jen                        Lord, no!  Well, not that we know of

Mickey                        That’s good. (pause) Hey, look out the window, you can see

Jen                        I’d rather not

Mickey                        Look, the pavillion. It looks tiny, doesn’t it?

Jen                        I’d rather not

Mickey                        Well, you’re missing great views of the lake

Jen                        I’m afraid of water

Mickey                        But you can swim?

Jen                        Well, if you can call doggy-paddle swimming.

Mickey                        Cos if we come down in water

Jen                        You’re a great help, Mickey

Mickey (laughs)  Just pulling your leg. We’re not going to come down in water.

Jen                        I certainly hope not

Mickey                        Look at the mountains then –aren’t they beautiful with the light on them?

Jen                        We seem very close

Mickey                        No worries. The pilot’s had his licence for at least (pause) a week

Jen                        A week! Your literature said your pilots were all very experienced

Mickey(laughs)You are uptight, aren’t you?

Jen                        You Kiwis have a strange sense of humour. If I could see your face

Mickey                        Yeah, this talking to the back of your head malarkey, isn’t the politest

Jen                        We’re a ‘carcinogenic’ family, you see

Mickey                        Sorry?

Jen                        My Dad had lung cancer

Mickey                        You doing it for him, then?

Jen                        He died some years ago

Mickey            (looking out the window)            Mmm

Jen                        My Mum and her sister, my aunty Cath, had breast cancer

Mickey                        That’s rotten luck

Jen                        And her daughter, my cousin Rachel

Mickey                        Is your Mum, er?

Jen                        No, it was caught in time. She’s had the all clear for nearly five years.

Mickey                        That’s good news

Jen                        Well, yes, I suppose. What's that noise?

Mickey                       It's the engine

Jen                        It is ok, isn't it? (pause) It's so loud. I can hardly hear my own voice

Mickey                        Come on, cheer up!

Jen                       What did you say? I didn't catch it

Mickey                       I SAID CHEER UP!

Jen                        Ah Yes, you’re right.  I need to remain positive. This is a once in a lifetime experience

Mickey                        Nah. Once you’ve done it, you’ll want to do it again and again

Jen                        I don’t think so

Mickey                        Need to start getting ready

Jen                        Ooh! I’ve got butterflies

Mickey                        So have I!

Jen                        What's that smell?

Mickey                       Sorry, Jen. I've been trying to hold it in, but

Jen                        But you’ve done this loads of times before, right?

MIckey                       when I'm a bit nervous, I get

Jen                         I know, flatulent. (pause) I've been praying I wouldn't embarress myself

Mickey                        I have done a number of skydives, yeah

Jen                        That’s not what I asked

Mickey                        I wasn’t going to tell you           

Jen                        Speak up! I can't hear you

Mickey                        I said, I WASN'T GOING TO TELL YOU

Jen                        This is another idea of a joke, yes?

Mickey                        Well, no actually, Jen

Jen                        Great!

Mickey                        You’ll be fine, don’t worry

Jen                        What about you?

Mickey            (gulps)            It’s my first as an instructor

Jen                        And you’re feeling nervous?

Mickey                        So, who is it you’re doing this for, Jen?

Jen                        Don’t avoid the question, Mickey

Mickey                        Come on, the pilot is motioning us to get near the door.   Not so fast!

Jen (mutters)         The noise. It's even worse. I'm shaking (Speaks up) It’s all right, Mickey

Mickey                        It was Nath’s first time when

Jen                        Maybe now’s not the right time to be thinking about

Mickey                        I know I shouldn’t be telling you this

Jen                        No, Mickey. Come on. It helps to focus on your breathing  (pause) Nice and slow now

Mickey                        The parachute didn’t open and

Jen                        We don’t have to do it. We can stop. In fact

Mickey                        No, we’re doing it.  Come on

(They slide together towards the open door.)

Jen                        Chin up, Mickey? Deep breath!

Mickey                        Just before they reached the ground he flipped himself over so he got the impact of the fall

Jen                        and saved his partner?

Mickey                        Yeah

Jen                        Look, Mickey, the sheep look like grains of rice

Mickey                        but he was my best mate and he died for

Jen                        You’re going to be fine.

Mickey                        But

Jen                        No buts. I saw how you checked and re-checked the equipment

Mickey                        Thanks, Jen

Jen                        Come on Mickey, that’s enough,  LET’S    DO     IT!

(Throws herself and Mickey out of the plane)

Mickey & Jen together     AAAAAAHHHH!

Janet Daniel
Jan 2011


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