Idea #5: Meeting for Me

I’m cheating a bit, this is a one act play idea rather than a story idea. I suppose it could be a scene in a story as well.

The entire thing is a parody of a Quaker Meeting for Worship. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great fan of the idea of meeting, but the implementation often goes terribly, terribly wrong. This play would pull from some of my experiences in a Quaker school.

For those of you unfamiliar with Quaker Meeting, the idea is that a group of people sits in complete silence for a given period of time. Whenever someone feels moved to speak, they stand and do so. This is not expected to happen frequently.

What sometimes occurs is more like popcorn, with people commenting on each other’s messages, even getting into very genteel spats. Another no-no is preparing anything beforehand or bringing some sort of reference sheet with you. All messages are supposed to be utterly spontaneous.

Intro: Some authority figure announces that the usual, greater authority, is unable to preside over today’s meeting, but that a ‘professional Quaker’ and descendant of George Fox is here to lead the meeting. It is implied that there has been some trouble in previous meetings. All actors with lines in the play have brought scripts on with them with the exception of the first authority figure.

Georgia Fox VII: Gives some of the history of the Quaker Meeting, citing the need to read off dates as her excuse for bringing a paper reference. All the students fall asleep a few words into this speech, so Georgia stops. When they awaken in the silence she continues with some quick rules and reminders about how meeting is supposed to be held. Major points: leaving a few minutes silence for contemplation between messages, respectfulness, only messages which are meant for the whole community, etc.

Many students are goofing off. A few are still sleeping, one is doing something with a cell phone, some are studying, at least one is doing someone’s hair, and there’s a massage exchange going on in the back.

Students start coming up in quick succession. One declares his undying love for another, who blows a kiss, and a second girl (freshman?) leaves the room crying. Whispers. Another (an upperclassmen) stands a few moments later and berates the crowd for not being more empathetic towards the crier. “It would only take one of you, any one who knows that girl’s name, to make her life that much brighter on this day. I would, but I don’t know her name.” He names a few names of people sitting close to her, accuses them of inaction. Gives example of famous psychological case where a woman was beaten in the open street with neighbors watching from the windows of their homes. Whenever the windows banged up, the attacker would retreat for a time, and then return. No one called the police, no one went out to help, but any one person could easily have saved her. “Do any of you know that song by Green Day? *sings and claps*

‘i want to be the minority
i dont need your authority
down with the moral majority
’cause i want to be the minority'”

Some other students join in the clapping part way through.

As soon as that student finishes, another student pops up with a rebuttal. “Things you never thought would be said in meeting number six hundred and sixty six. Playtime is over, I AM the devil’s advocate.” At some point during the rebuttal, Georgia Fox VII stands up in silence. The student speaking eventually notices and asks, ‘What’s she standing up for? I don’t get it. Well, I’m done anyway.’ Both sit down. Another student immediately stands and explains the concept of eldering and the entire thing descends into a discussion about the purpose of meeting.

During some particularly long winded and for some reason unacceptable monologue, Georgia Fox VII again stands up, but is ignored. As it continues, she loses her patience and begins to hop up and down. Eventually she sits down in a  huff and the chair breaks – the student behind her has been dutifully loosening the screws on her fold-up chair the entire time.

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