Controversy – Eastport South Manor High School (2011)

Max Fehr and Jake Williams perform in Ryan Little's play, "Controversy." (Photo by Star Black)


(Set in a bed room: William Schiro, an 18  year old student, is sitting at his cluttered desk, shirt half unbuttoned, tie basically off, and sweating. His roommate Raymond McKee walks in.)

William: (Looks through papers agitatedly) It’s got to be here, I just wrote it. (Whispers) maybe I put it (Realizes it)

Raymond: (Bursts into room) Will!!!

Will: (Upset) Really Ray… You had to bust in like that? Now I really forgot where I put it.

Ray: Put what?

Will: Oh nothing, just a letter I wrote.

Ray: Letter? What letter?

Will: The letter to the board.

Ray: (Pauses)… Of education

Will: Yes the board of education! Why do you have so many questions?!

Ray: (Comedically upset) Well than… maybe I just won’t help with the situation, sheesh (Turns his back to Will)

Will: Listen Ray, I’m sorry, I’m just stressed you know? A lot of people’s favorite classes are getting cut.

Ray: Awe shucks, I forgive ya. (Holds hand out)

Will: (Shakes hand) Sorry Ray, it’s not your fault.  I just can’t help but think that they don’t even get that what they’re doing is going to hurt the future generations. You know, without the arts, the world will be a dull place and you know what else?! I believe that-

Ray: (Cuts off Will) I know, the world we become a dark, (Grabs blanket and shrouds it over himself) scary place, where all the color and life is SUCKED out of everyone! And we will all fall into the cynical trap of the dullness of the Board!

Will: You basically have the entire thing down, yes.

Ray: Listen, Billiam (Pause.) You say this in your sleep (lays on bed) mumble, mumble, mumble, darkness, mumble, mumble, mumble, boring life, mumble, mumble, mumble, mom I don’t want to help grandma in the tub.

Will: One time!

Ray: But you said it!

Will: (Sits back at desk) Ughhhh (drops head on his desk) Oh… heh, heh… found the letter.

Ray: Oooo, what’d you write?

Will: (Clears throat) Dear Board of Education, my name is William Ignasious Shiro, and I-

Ray: Hahaha

Will: What?

Ray: You’re middle name is Ignasious.

Will: (Stares at Ray, waits, than throws a pencil at him) Anyway… And I have a problem with you cutting the art programs at our school. Do you know what this could do to the world? The world will turn into a dark, scary place, where all the color is SUCKED out-

Ray: Will!

Will: What now?

Ray: Umm, before you go on… Do you mention anything about what the arts can do for you outside of school?

Will: Well, not exactly.

Ray: Did you mention what ideas and strategies do and come from?

Will: Ummm…..

Ray: And did you even think of the consequences this could have on the future children of America?!

Will: I may need to re-write this.

Ray: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna go grab some food and you sit right there and re-write this thing. And think man, remember what Mr. Giuseppe used to say (In a very deep and manly voice while waving his finger in the air) “Writers are dangerous!”

Will: Alright (As ray walks out) Hey can you get me-

Ray: Nope (Slams door shut)

Will: He’s right… Well, the way I see it, I have two options. I could just stop fighting, which will run the entire world into the ground! Or (Will stands on a chair while inspirational music plays softly in the background) I could continue to fight, explain to them all the incredible things about the arts. Like in a regular class, teachers teach you to learn a certain subject and then kids forget it. It’s no use, like Trig… Who remembers logarithms anyway! Now the Arts, they teach you to think. Think… everyone thinks, think about that. The arts also help you outside of school. It goes beyond the walls of any high school or college. The Arts even help you prepare for things like job interviews. It’s not about putting on a show or dancing and singing on a stage, it’s about life lessons.  Art programs keep kids off the streets, away from all the temptation, but they don’t care. As long as they’re getting the money they want for: Televisions, useless concession stands, and even new parking lots. I don’t know if the understand, Writers are dangerous. Yes, you can fight, but ideas… Ideas can bring down a kingdom. (Proudly nods to himself)

Ray: (Walks in with his arms full of chip bags and a hotdog in his mouth) Hey I got- Why are you standing on a chair? (Bites hot dog)

Will: (Looks at Ray dumbfounded) Huh?

Ray: (Swallows hotdog) Uhhhh, nothing. I got you something (Throws a bag a chips at Will)

Will: Thanks man. Hey, did you hear anything back from the Board meeting?

Ray: Actually, yeah my mom, who as you know is on the board of Ed, called while I was getting food. The meeting was changed to tomorrow morning.

Will: Tomorrow!? It was supposed to be next week!

Ray: Sorry man.

Will: Damnit, why couldn’t they of told us sooner!

Ray: I just recently found out Will, I really am sorry bud.

Will: I really have to get this set and done with right now and you have to help me, I can’t do this alone.

Ray: I don’t know (a little upset) you did kind of yell at me before.

Will: Please?

Ray: A little more effort.

Will: Pretty please?

Ray: Hmmm… say the phrase.

Will: Ray please, not the phrase. (Ray folds his arms and gives Will a look) Okayyy… “Mr. Raymond A. McKee is by far the most educated man I have ever met and he deserves my upmost attention at all times (pauses) and I’m a weenie.”

Ray: (Slow claps as he says) Well done my friend, now let’s crack down on this!

(Both men sit down at Will’s desk and Ray mouths words as Will nods his head and writes. The lights fade out and in the darkness Will and Ray get into bed. The lights come on really bright and Ray bursts into the room. Will is still asleep)

Ray: (Bursts in) Wwwwiiiiiilllllllllll!!!!! (Ray runs and jumps on top of Will and starts shaking him) Get up! (He slaps Will twice)

Will: (Throws Ray off) What?!

Ray: The Meeting is in ten minutes!

Will and Ray: Ahhhhhhhhhhh (Continues screaming as Will puts on his pants, Ray grabs Will’s shirt and tie, Will grabs his papers, run towards the door, stops and turns to look at Ray)

Will: Oh hey, thanks Ray.

Ray: Oh no problem.

Will: (Opens the door and screams “Ahhhh” as he runs out the door and off stage.)

(Lights off on the room, spotlight on center downstage. Board of Ed is the audience)

Board of Ed: (on the god mic) All in favor of cutting the Art programs, please say-

Will: (Runs into the spotlight) Waaaiiittttt!!!!! (catching his breath) I’d… like… to say… one thing… please.

Board: Ahhh Mister William Schiro, for what do we owe the pleasure?

Will: I request to speak to all the members here, I’d like to re-but the decision to cut the art programs.

Board: (Commotion amongst the board. Head voice uninterested) Alright, settle down now. Mister Schiro, due to the fact that your parents are tax payers, you have permission to speak.

Will: Sir, why are you cutting the Art programs?

Board: Why not? It’s not a necessity. Where can dancing, singing and acting get you in life? You do not need to “act” in school.

Will: Sir… the arts do much more than teach you how to dance or sing. It goes much deeper. Did you know that being in an acting class can actually help you interview for a job or college? It helps build up confidence in a person, maybe give them courage to stand and speak in front of a huge room of people.

Board: Not relevant.

Will: Not relevant?! What do you mean not relevant?!

Board: Settle down Mr. Schiro.

Will: No! I will not settle down because you’re not even listening to me or making any valid points.

Board: (Raising his voice) Valid points? I don’t need to give valid points, Mr. Schiro, I hold the power in this room.

Will: You hold no power! (The entire board gasps) The only power you hold is the power to pocket money from the tax payers for useless things this school doesn’t need.

Board: You respect who you’re talking to young man!

Will: Respect you? What’s to respect? You’re nothing but a selfish shell of a man who obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a kid!

Board: (Loud) I was a kid once also! I know exactly what it’s like to be a kid!

Will: (Angry) You know? (Calmly) Do you really know?

Board: (Still loud) Yes!

Will: (Wisely) I bet you don’t know at all.

Board: Oh really?! I was an A+ student! I was also in my high school concert choir! AND I was even in a PLAY!

Will: I see… bet you don’t even remember the play.

Board: Oh yeah!? I was Harold Hill, lead role in “Music Man” and I spent four straight weeks of 3-10pm rehearsals in my schools black box perfecting my part!

Will: Impressive (Nods and pauses) Answer this for me though

Board: WHAT?!

Will: What’s the cubed root of 81?

Board: (All knowing) Oh that’s! (quiets down almost embarrassed) I-I-I (Pause.) It’s (Pause.) Uhhh.

Will: When did the civil war take place?

Board: Oh, that was (Pause.) Ummm, in-

Will: What atomic number is arsenic? How do you spell Maleficent and what does it mean? X squared times X squared is what?

Board: I DON’T KNOW!!!

Will: Oh (Long Pause) But you remember that play you were in pretty well, don’t you?

Board: (Stampers) Well, I, you know, I…..(Aggravated and defeated) Mr. Bova escort Mr. William out of this room!!! NOW!!!

Will: No need! I’ll go, glad to see this is what is running our schools. Not a single person spoke up (Chuckles). I guess you’re a real intimidating guy as “head of the Board” I’m not surprised. (Starts to walk out, but walks back in) Just think of the future. You don’t care about these kids, but I do, and I will help them. (Walks out, lights down, lights back up on the room. Will walks in and lies down on the bed)

Ray: (Walks in a little later) Hey bud, how’d it go?

Will: I’m pretty sure the arts are gone.

Ray: What? (Sits on bed across from Will) What happened in there?

Will: (Sits up) It just turned into a big screaming match.

Ray: Will, listen, we can find a way to- (Ray’s phone rings) Sorry, hold on (Answers phone and moves to other side of the room) Hello?… Really?… Oh! Thanks Ma! (Walks over to Will)

Will: Your mom called?

Ray: Yeah (Amazed) My mom just said they took the vote and they stopped the cut!

Will: They did?! What happened?

Ray: My mom spoke up after you left, brought up good points, like theatre goes beyond school, it helps you think, and it helped you… for someone to stand up to the entire Board of Education? That was incredible. Will… you basically scared the head of the board. My mom said he didn’t even know what to say after you left. You blew everyone’s mind Will!

Will: Do me a favor? Tell her I said thank you and thank you man, for everything.

Ray: Pshhh, no problem man (Bro hug)

Will: Now what do we do?

Ray: (Grabs his jacket) We write! And tell our story of how we overcame the obstacles of the unforgiving (Raises his fist in the air) Board of Education!

Will: (Walks over to Ray and lowers his arm) How about lunch?

Ray: Oh… yeah that’ll do, come on.

(Both men walk over to the door than exit on a sow fading light)

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