There are 14 parts in this play:
We envisage the stage will have a raised platform at one end which is the vantage point from which the Gods oversee the game. At certain points they press the ‘pause’ button, which freezes the action, and with the rest of the cast motionless they descend from this and address the audience directly
(The four bullies and Joanne are walking slowly home from school)
BULLY 1: Are we going bowling then?
BULLY 4: I can’t tonight. Got my guitar lesson.
JOANNE: What about tomorrow?
BULLY 4: Yeah, tomorrow’s cool.
BULLY 3: I can’t really. I’m skint.
JOANNE: I’ll sub you.
BULLY 3: I still owe you for last time, Joanne.
JOANNE: Oh yeah I’d forgotten
BULLY 3: I’ll end up owing you a fortune.
JOANNE: Well I’m not really counting. One day it might be the other way round, and I’ll need to borrow off you.
(They walk on for a bit in silence)
JOANNE: Who watched Strictly the other night?
BULLY 1: What! That is the saddest programme ever.
JOANNE: I like the costumes.
BULLY 4: All I hear is “Nice to see you, to see you nice”.
BULLY 3: I bet he’s been doing that for yonks.
BULLY 4: Since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
BULLY 1: “Darling, you were simply divine”
JOANNE: I will admit though, Vanessa is a big lump.
BULLY 1: My granddad watches it.
BULLY 4: That’s probably because he fancies Vanessa.
BULLY 3: Vanessa? Is she the one that goes like that. (A silly movement)
BULLY 4: No that’s Sophie Ellis-Bextor. (Another silly movement)
BULLY 1: No- o-o that’s Abbey, right. Sophie goes like this (Another silly movement)
JOANNE: Yeah right. You watch it – in secret.
BULLY 1: No I don’t.
JOANNE: How else do you know Sophie goes like this then? (repeat Sophie silly movement)
BULLY 1: Er, er….
ALL: (laughing) You watch Strictly. You watch Strictly.
JOANNE: It’s all right. Your secret is safe with us.
BULLY 3: We won’t grass on you.
BULLY 4: (makes a suitable gesture) Our lips are sealed.
JOANNE: For eternity.
(They laugh and the Gods press the pause button. The 4 bullies and Joanne freeze and the
Gods walk on to the stage. They are carrying Games controllers)
CG: (Addresses the audience directly) So, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. A happy scene – carefree young people with their lives before them, laughing and joking in the way that they do when they know no adult is listening. But we can hear them, for we are Gods, and tonight we shall make them dance to our tune. So let us pause them here, fix this happy scene in our minds, and tell you that we have devised this evening a game for your amusement.
GOD 2: Although in truth I think the amusement is principally ours.
CG: Very well. Let us say, we have devised a game for your – education.
GOD 3: I do not think they will learn much from it.
GOD 4: Perhaps. But it matters little to us.
CG: We do, however, invite you to join our game.
GOD 3: And the game starts with a question. Which of these young people here before us shall become – The Outcast?
GOD 4: And what fate awaits this outcast?
CG: Yes. And shall we decide their fate, or shall you, our audience?
(The Gods look the group up and down.)
GOD 2: We must choose one. We haven’t got all evening.
GOD 3: On the contrary, we have all the time in the world.
GOD 4: Yes, but they are mortal, and do not.
(The Chief God walks amongst the group.)
CG: The Council agreed. I set the rules. And the choice of outcast was mine.
GOD 2: Then do it. I am bored already.
GOD 3: What about that one?
CG: No, they shall be but pawns in our game.
GOD 4: They are all pawns in our game.
(The Chief God takes his/her time, then presses the remote – Joanne steps forward)
It shall be this one. Her name is Joanne. She is popular, clever, kind, and above all gentle. She shall be our outcast. And her friends must help make her so. Agreed?
GOD 2: Agreed.
GODS 3 & 4: Agreed.
CG: One thing of importance you must all know. The Council requires that this game
must end at my command. Do you accept that, before we start?
GOD 2: Why?
GOD 3: That might spoil our fun.
CG: There is more than pleasure in being a God. Do you agree?
ALL: (reluctantly) All right. We agree.
The Chief God then recites a poem…
The Gods could help this outcast
Who in your world has no worth
Only we can show her mercy
She won’t find with you on earth
Lonely, lost, forgotten
Her voice unheard but shrill
The Gods could help this outcast
For who amongst you will?
(They walk back to their vantage point. The Chief God presses the remote again.)
So fix this happy scene in your minds, and let the game begin.
(All exit leaving Joanne on her own centre stage)
(Joanne takes out her mobile.)
JOANNE: Yeah right, he asked me out there and then! I was going to play hard to get but in the end all my resolutions went out of the window and I said yes. What, you think he’s a bit freaky? Why? It is possible to play football and read books you know. Before you got together with mum there was this girl in our street, right, and she’s at Durham Uni and the rugby captain sings in the choir! Yeah…see
you later, we’re all going bowling.
(The bullies arrive.)
Yeah, OK see you. Yes Dave, I’ll be home by seven. Bye. Sos, just on the phone to my stepdad. We off then?
(She picks up her bag, but the bullies just stand there. There is a long pause)
JOANNE: Are you guys all right? You look kind of weird. Different.
BULLY 1: Well, what have we got here – the school freak.
BULLY 4: The girl with no friends. Apart from her stepdad, apparently.
JOANNE: What are you on about?
BULLY 3: The question is – why doesn’t she have any friends?
JOANNE: What is this? I thought we were going bowling.
BULLY 1: Yeah we are.
BULLY 4: But you’re not.
BULLY 3: Well not with us, anyway. We wouldn’t be seen dead with you.
JOANNE: What’s going on? Is this a joke?
BULLY 1: I can’t see anyone laughing.
JOANNE: I don’t get this. What’s this about, all of a sudden?
BULLY 3: It’s about you, Joanne.
JOANNE: I thought we were friends.
BULLY 3: We were. But that was then, and this is now.
(they start circling)
BULLY 4: He/she’s seen the light. She knows that to have friends, it’s very important that you don’t diss your mates.
JOANNE: Listen, what the hell is going on?
BULLY 1: You’re getting above yourself.
BULLY 4: Which means you are alone!
BULLY 3: So I had a choice to make. Either go around with a freak, or get myself some real friends. Hmm…freak or friends, freak or friends….
BULLY 4: And now you’re not alone. (High fives?)
BULLY 3: That’s right. I’ve got some friends now. Simples!
BULLY 1: Unlike you freak who’s going to be alone for the rest of your life.
(Bully 4 makes a grab for the bag and snatches it out of Joanne’s hand).
BULLY 4: I bet you’ve got set texts in there. An A star freak. (They rifle through the bag).
JOANNE: Give it back. The books aren’t mine.
BULLY 3: We know. That’s because they’re ours.
JOANNE: Give it back.
BULLY 1: Say please.
JOANNE: Look, is this some kind of joke? If it is, I don’t get it.
BULLY 4: No joke. We’re deadly serious.
JOANNE: That’s enough. Give me my bag. Now.
(Joanne grabs the bag back from Bully 4)
BULLY 1: Whoa there. (They laugh) Don’t think this is the end of it. We’re watching you.
BULLY 3: We’re coming after you.
BULLY 4: Freak.
JOANNE: (Calls to the retreating Bully 3) What is all this? I don’t get it. You’re supposed to be my friends. You especially.
BULLY 3: Not any more. I hung around with you for a while until I found out how boring you were.
JOANNE: Really? Remember the “proud to be freaks club”. Last New Year, up in my room.
BULLY 3: Yeah, yeah, whatever.
JOANNE: So you don’t want to remember?
BULLY 3: Think what you like.
JOANNE: I have no idea what this is all about. One minute we’re going bowling and then – this. Why are you picking on me?
BULLY 3: Because we can. Try doing something about it.
JOANNE: It isn’t me that has to “do something about it” I’m still be the same person.
I really don’t get it.
BULLY 3: You will. Just fight back. Show us how hard you are, then we might leave you alone.
JOANNE: I’ve never been in a fight, not ever. And there’s 3 of you.
BULLY 3: Then get some friends. But if you grass on us, we’ll come and get ya.
(Bully 3 exits)
JOANNE: What are you on about?
(Mum, Dad, Teacher, Head Teacher and Youth Worker form a circle with Joanne in the middle of it. The Gods clearly take an interest. Joanne goes to each one in turn.)
JOANNE: Mum, Dave.
MUM: Ssh, he’s watching the football.
(Dave pulls the ring on a can and stares at the TV)
JOANNE: It’s the adverts.
DAVE: Can’t it wait? Till after the match.
JOANNE: I suppose so.
(pause – Joanne fidgets)
MUM: All right. I don’t care about the football, what is it?
(They move a metre or two aside)
JOANNE: Well, you know we were supposed to be going bowling tonight.
JOANNE: Well…we all met up after school, as normal, and then everybody just started on me, calling me names and stuff and pushing me around. It was weird.
MUM: Why did they do that?
JOANNE: That’s just it. I don’t know.
MUM: You must have done something.
JOANNE: No. It just, like, came out of the blue.
MUM: Have you told the teacher?
JOANNE: What? It’s only just happened.
MUM Well, you must have done something to upset them. Anyway, if you just ignore it and tell the teacher tomorrow it’ll stop.
JOANNE: Oh. OK.
MUM: Did you fight back?
JOANNE: I’d be useless in a fight, mum.