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New Views

By Andrew Pritchard

Every year New Views, the National Theatre’s pioneering playwriting programme for 14-19-year-olds, gives hundreds of students from across the UK the opportunity to learn about playwriting from some of the UK’s finest writers and to write their own 30-minute plays. A selection of these plays are then presented as rehearsed readings at the NT, with one young playwright being given the chance to see their work brought to life on a National Theatre stage by a professional cast and crew.

 

Open to any school or college, New Views students sharpen their approach to research, as well as their ability to develop and articulate ideas on issues they care deeply about, and they gain real transferable skills. Through New Views, students gain a sense of connection to the arts, an enthusiasm for theatre and an understanding its power to engage audiences in serious debate. Playwright Simon Stephens, a member of the judging panel for the 2017 competition, says ‘Reading these plays charged me with great enthusiasm at a time when our country needs its young voices to sing more clearly than ever before.’ 

This year’s winning play was Dead Don’t Floss by 17-year-old Beattie Green from St Marylebone School in London. It was performed in the Dorfman Theatre on Tuesday 4 July, directed by Roy Alexander Weise.

 

[New Views] has been one of the best things (if not the best thing) I have ever done and I'm so grateful that I was given the opportunity.

- Beattie Green, Winning Writer of New Views 2017

Read on for an extract from her winning script.

From 2017 winning play, Dead Don’t Floss

Scene 3: Floss


Alex goes back to making her bed with a sort of faded energy slowly returning to her.

Alex (to the audience) One thing that I really do find hilarious, and I say this genuinely, is my father. He’s like a caricature of an awkward dad. It’s astounding.

Her dad hovers at the edge of the door.

Alex He never remembers to knock until he has already come into the room and looked around a bit. He’s not being a tactical genius, he’s just really not practiced in the art of excessive politeness.

As she says this he enters the room, looks around a bit, then knocks sloppily on the door frame without looking.

Alex (to the audience) He always makes a kind of unnecessary comment, like small talk. Really, really small talk. Especially for the man from whom I get half of my genetic material and who has raised me since birth.

Dad I like what you’ve done with it. (He roughly gestures to the entire bedroom).

Alex Thanks Dad, you were here yesterday. (He nods but doesn’t actually react as she turns back to the audience) Nothing has changed since yesterday.

He walks slowly over to down stage left and hesitates looking around the floor.

Alex He will never sit on my bed, there’s no reason why, he just won’t. So instead, he’ll improvise. Inventively. He once decided to do a kind of awkward squat, like PE teachers do to demonstrate their athleticism. He was very committed. Think that’s why he has trouble with his knees now.

He spots a laundry basket piled high with clothes and slowly perches on it, not really letting his full weight rest. He is half facing the audience, somehow not quite able to face his daughter.

Alex Now, he’s going to ask me something wildly out-dated. Not only in terms of my life but also in terms of general society.

Dad How are your O-levels getting along then?

Alex Or, something completely arbitrary.

Dad Are you flossing? Flossing is really important.

Alex Or, if he’s feeling confident, he’ll make a clunky attempt at getting in touch with his feminine side.

Dad Do you need any (it’s difficult for him to say) tampons or sanitary towels or…bras or anything?

Alex Or, he might even ask about one of my friends. He’ll always get their name wrong. Without fail. But never wildly wrong, in fact it almost seems deliberate.

Dad And how is my buddy Neymar?

Alex It’s Naima, Dad. Neymar’s the weirdly attractive Brazilian football player.

Dad (suddenly turning to face her) You find him attractive? Really?

Alex (to audience) Of course, his protectiveness extends to twenty-something year-old Brazilian football stars that might pick me up in, I don’t know, an Oxfam or a Nando’s on the high street or something. (To dad) Of course not, I’ve just heard some people say that at school (he nods, reassured).

Long pause – the mood shifts, she is no longer delivering her stand up, and is staring straight at him.

Alex Normally, he would make an excuse to leave now, feeling satisfied that I’m coming along nicely. But not today. Today he’s just sitting there. His face looks weird.

He is staring at his hands and she is staring at him, standing centre stage, facing him directly. 

Dad Alex, I really need you to come today. I’m not going to ask you again, or force you, but just please know, that I really bloody need you today.

Alex I usually hate it when adults use swearwords to try and connect with you because they think that if you’re under 18 you speak exclusively in the language of angst. But the thing is he’s crying. My dad is crying, he’s sitting on a pile of my clothes and crying, and it’s all I can do not to scream at him and ask him to pull himself together because he’s my dad, he’s supposed to be strong and big and there but he really isn’t. And neither am I. And I think he swore because he really needed to, and I think he wanted to say more than bloody but even now he’s trying to protect me from the f-word, because he’s realised he can’t protect me from the rest of it.

Dad (his body is convulsing and he turns to face her, shrunk by her uncomfortably rigid figure) Alex, please, I had three children a week ago, now I’ve lost one forever, I can’t lose you as well.

Alex (She looks at him for a very long time and then slowly walks over to him and sits on the floor with her back leaning against him and the laundry basket)

I’m doing A-levels now and O-levels haven’t existed for ages.

Beat

I don’t floss. To be honest I don’t know anyone who does apart from you (they both laugh, despite both of their tears).

Beat

I have plenty of feminine hygiene products and bras, and Naima is doing okay except she worries about me and she misses Ab.

Beat

Thank you for asking.

Beat

And thank you for not asking how I am.

He looks down at her and a hint of a smile traces his lips, they make eye contact for a second and then both look away. He puts his hand on her head.

They remain like this for a few seconds and then he leaves and she moves to sit with her back against the cupboard.

 

New Views is one of many National Theatre Learning projects aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of theatre makers.

National Theatre Learning projects are made possible through support from legacy gifts. To find out about how legacies have a lasting impact visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/legacy-giving

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Find out more about what this means and how we got involved in Remember a Charity Week.

Proud Supporters of Remember A Charity in your Will Week 11-17 September 2017

                       

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