IF I HAD A TENNER
If I Had A Tenner – An incredibly powerful single-scene play about poverty
[The scene opens on an empty stage. Spotlight centre stage on nothing.]
If I had a tenner I would buy:
A small pouch of blue drum for £2.69
A packet of licorice rizlas for 30p
A double whiskey for £2
Two pints of lager for £2.50 each
Then I’d write a play:
“If I Had A Fiver – an incredibly powerful single-scene play about poverty”
written by Adam Whittaker
Midnight in an Austrian village. Beach Boy, Scraggly Bear, Holidaymaker and Tommy are raiding the bins of a Billa supermarket.
Beach Boy squatting over the edge of the container: Amazing! There is even more Parmesan.
Tommy and Holidaymaker take the Parmesan and put it in a box.
Enter from stage right, the Kiwarei.
1st policeman: What do you think you’re doing there? Pause. Louder, What do you think you’re doing there?
Holidaymaker: We are getting food … out of this bin.
1st policeman: This is theft; we will have to arrest you.
Beach Boy: Surely not. It is rubbish. They have thrown it away.
1st policeman pounces forward. Mysteriously: But is it YOUR rubbish? Silence. I ask you again, is it your rubbish? He dramatically gazes into the dumpster-divers’ eyes. I don’t think so … shouting, It is the supermarket’s rubbish, you get me?!
1st policemen orders 2nd policemen to keep dumpster-divers cornered. Swift exit stage right.
2nd policeman counts the Parmesan and takes a photograph of the ‘crime scene’.
Beach Boy jumping from his perch: Would you be an angel and also record the sell-by date?
2nd policeman kneels down to take close up shots of the symmetrically arranged goods. Mumbling: This one isn’t even out of date …
Tommy: Crazy ey, isn’t capitalist economy sick?
Re-enter 1st policeman.
1st policeman: The reinforcements are here now, come on, in the car, all of you. Chop chop, Schweinsgallopp!
Beach Boy: Hold on, Kiwaras. Allow us to tidy up. We cannot leave everything lying about.
Holidaymaker: Yes, this is a mess. What would the people of Billa think of us?
Dumpster-divers put the goods back into the bins. The officers watch.
Fade out lights. End of scene one.
An office. Enter 1st policeman, flinging the door open so hard, that it bashes against the inside wall and bounces back.
1st policeman shouting: One of you, in my office. Anyone. Now!
Enter Tommy, who has a weakness for show-offs. They sit down on either side of the desk.
1st policeman: Name?
Tommy: ****** ************
1st policeman: Date of birth?
Tommy: ** ** ****
1st policeman: Address? ** ********* ****, ********, U.K.
1st policeman looking up: England? Are you English??
Tommy: No. I’m from Germany.
Policeman gives Tommy a derogative look. He types, swears repeatedly, presses delete button. Concentrates, then types again. Finally he gives up.
1st policeman: Why are you in Austria?
Tommy: I was on my way to Dresden, but took the wrong turning and I ended up in your wonderful countryside.
1st policeman: So you are telling me that you don’t know the other people?
Tommy: Of course I do, I met them a few days ago.
1st policeman: Can you tell me their names then?
Tommy: Umm… Beach Boy, Holidaymaker, Scraggly Bear, …
1st policeman: Scraggly Bear? Is that his real name?
Tommy: I doubt it; nobody is called Scraggly Bear for real.
1st policeman jumps from his chair and leans over desk. Shouting: Now, missy, you think that all this is funny, don’t you? Look at my face. Look! I don’t laugh. Do I?
Policeman stares into Tommy’s eyes. Tommy stares back. Holding the gaze, the policeman fumbles for the phone receiver and dials a number.
1st policeman sitting down, in and ensnaring voice: Oh, hello Mrs. prosecutor… yes … yes, I know what time it is. Pardon me … what it is, right, we have detained a group of… yes… yes, the activists from the forest occupation.
Tommy gives him an indignant ‘what the fuck?’- look.
1st Policeman: They have stolen food from the bins… yeah… at Billa’s… my question is now how to go about this matter … certainly… I agree with you, but you see, we have difficulties to determine their identity, because they have strange names like… questioning look at Tommy.
Tommy miming, whispering: Scrag-gly Bear.
1st policeman: Scraggly Bear. Yes. Giving a slight cough. Yes, Mrs. prosecutor … Good night Mrs. prosecutor. He hangs up. Folding arms he turns to Tommy. There are no two ways about it – you have to stay here until I have proof of identity … unless you give me proof of identity now.
Tommy: Why don’t you just Google me?
After a pause, 1st policeman hesitantly types. Turning the computer screen towards Tommy: Is this you?
Tommy, surprised: Yes …
1st policeman: The child on your arm, is this your child?
Tommy sighs. In a provokative and defiant tone: Yes, and I left it in the forest all alone and starving, and if you do not let me go now, the diggers will roll along and crush my baby. And then you will have to arrest yourself for complicity in murder.
1st policeman slams both hands on the table, fixing the gaze on Tommy again. Furiously, he leaves the room.
From the opened door the voices of Beach Boy and 2nd policeman can be heard.
Beach Boy: I would really like to muse over your question. In the meantime, allow me to ask YOU something. Are you local?
2nd policeman: Yes.
Beach Boy: And when you were small, did you play in the river? 2nd policeman sighs. And do you want your children to play in this river too? See, I know you are a good man. We understand each other, don’t we? I had this strange mystical feeling about you from the moment you appeared in that dark alleyway. It is just sad that you have made this terrible career choice. Nature needs to be saved, you know, because nature has no lobby. And nobody needs another power station. Just imagine, if we all… Carries on talking about ideological responsibilities in a fast, continuous, neurotic, yet charming manner.
End of scene two.