While I am too exhausted – due to 2 solid weeks finishing the show, then moving house and starting a new job – to actually put out a proper reflective blog post on the making of A Conversation With My Father (coming to an Edinburgh near you soon(!)) I thought I’d offer you a bit of bonus material from off the cutting room floor. Consider it part of the show’s DVD extras DIRECTOR’S CUT, or something. You’ll see how it fits in if you see the final show (you should, the last two weeks of Edinburgh in an UNDISCLOSED VENUE) – where in fact the whole thing becomes condensed down to the single line “filled with the subversive silence of a school corridor during class”. But for now, in it’s solitary state (and completely out of context) here’s the story ‘School Corridor’. Enjoy:
I’m standing in the corridor outside a classroom.
I’m 14, wearing a white school shirt and black trousers, with my blue and white diagonally striped tie worn long, because that’s the opposite of what the cool kids do.
We’re on the first floor, outside a science classroom – the science classrooms are different to the rest, all high tables, tall benches, and Bunsen burners in the centre of each table. The corridor outside follows the outside edge of the building, with big windows all along the inside opposite me, looking onto a glass covered courtyard in the centre.
The corridor is usually full of people, shouting, fighting, teasing girls, pulling at newly acquired bra straps, rushing to get to their next lesson, or queuing up waiting to go in.
But now it’s quiet.
The only other person outside the classrooms is a boy called Nathan. Nathan is the son of one of Lincolnshire constabulary’s few black policeman, and is one of the cool kids. One of their leaders.
He’s standing on the other side of the science classroom door too, because he’s been sent out. Like me.
We haven’t been sent out together, but we have been sent out for the same thing: being cheeky.
We don’t have our usual teacher today. I corrected them about something. They don’t know me. Don’t know that though I’m a bit gobby, I’m a Good Girl, really. The teacher thought I was being cheeky –
– I was being cheeky –
and has sent me out.
I am angry at the injustice of it.
Or at least the injustice of being caught.
And I’m also scared. Scared because I’ve never been here before.
The empty school corridor is kind of… suffocating. It’s quiet and heavy, in a way I haven’t noticed before when out inbetween lessons, on an errand for a teacher, or with permission to go to the toilet. A place to move through then.
Now it’s a place with unknown rules.
A place for waiting…
…the feeling is…fuzzy… like the feeling you get in your extremities when you think you might faint but more… in my tummy. Here. I’m nervous. Worried. I don’t know what will happen next.
The waiting makes it worse. I can’t control what happens next.
To Nathan, this is just part of his day.
His control is not caring.
I’m trying to hide the fact that I’m scared.
But he’s still laughing at me.
It seems like ages, it probably isn’t.
The teacher comes out.
And I do what I do when I’m always scared.
I get ultra logical. I’m both wholly present in my body, heavy and more 3d. While I also watch from afar, observe my actions. I explain clearly and remember snippets of my mum talking about negotiation and assertiveness training that she did at work recently. Open body language, steady eye contact, listening, a clearly articulate response about why I don’t deserve to be punished for independent thinking.
Nathan sniggers at me.
The teacher lets me back in the classroom. Nathan stays out on the corridor.
The teacher was probably going to do that anyway.