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Resource J: Excerpt from 'The Survivor' by David Hill (pp. 45-47)

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DownstageLorR, are three desks for the Newsreaders and their guests. Downstage on the other side are four chairs grouped in a loose semi-circle forMother, FatherandChildren. TheNewsreadersand thefamilyface one another across the stage. Upstage centre are two desks or tables. As the upstage action changes from one place to another, large signs are placed against one of these desks to indicate what they represent.

(At the start of the play,Mother, FatherandChildrenare seated in their chairs. The twoNewsreadersand theResearch Specialistare sitting still at their desks. EachNewsreaderhas a folder closed in front of him/her. The desks upstage are empty. No sign is on them.)

Child 1: Why do we have soya beans every night?
Child 2: The family unit next door have meat substitute twice a week.
Mother: The family unit next door are a Level Five Family.
Child 1: So why aren't we a Level Five Family?
Child 2: Yeah! Why not?
Father: Your mother has a Level Four job. Other families would be pleased with that.
Child 2: Other families don't have two children.
Child 1: Yeah, how come there have to be two of us?
Mother: We've told you lots of times. The State allowed us to have an extra child as a reward for your father's loyal work in Neighbourhood Spying.
Father: I reported five neighbours to the Security Service for complaining about their living areas being reduced.
Mother: And as a reward, we were allowed a second child.
Child 1: That's a reward? Yuk!
Child 2: I'd sooner have meat substitute than an extra child.
Child 1: So would I, especially when the second child's like you.
Father: Now stop that, or there'll be no visiscreen for you tonight.
Mother: What's the time, anyway?
Child 2: 1830 hours.
Mother: News time! Turn on the visiscreen now. I want to see if there's any more about the discovery.
Child 1: Oh yeah.
Child 2: Turn it on now.

(Fatherleans forward and turns an imaginary switch. TheNewsreadersimmediately 'come alive' and open their folders.Mother, FatherandChildrenlean back in their chairs and watch.)

Newsreader 1: The second road bridge across Cook Strait was opened today.
Newsreader 2: Traffic on both Strait bridges was extremely heavy, and delays of up to three hours were reported.
Mother: Imagine what the pollution's like in Cook Strait now.
Father: I wonder if the oxygen factories are coping.
Newsreader 1: Now fresh news of the astonishing discovery made yesterday in the southern sector.
Child 1: Here it is!
Child 2: Ssshh, fission-head!
Newsreader 2: The area of the discovery has been sealed off, and citizens are not allowed to enter.
Newsreader 1: Any attempt to do so will result in a fine of fifty food credits.
Child 1: Fifty food credits!
Child 2: That's a whole week's seaweed ration!
Newsreader 1: We have with us this evening a Central Government Research Specialist who will explain some points about the discovery. Good evening, Citizen. Loyalty to the State.
Research Specialist: Loyalty to the State.
Newsreader 2: Citizen, I believe that yesterday's discovery is the first such event for a long time.
Research Specialist: That is correct. All other specimens were thought to have vanished in the Great Technical Leap Forward, 50 years ago.
Newsreader 1: Is this new specimen dangerous in any way?
Research Specialist: No. Central Government wish to make that very clear. Primitive people even thought that these objects were useful.
Mother: Useful!
Father: Strange ideas people used to have.
Newsreader 2: I understand that primitive people even wrote books about these objects.
Research Specialist: That is correct.
Child 1: What are books?
Mother: Things people had before visiscreens.
Newsreader 1: Citizens may be aware that books became rare when paper rationing was introduced many years ago.
Child 1: Paper? What's paper?
Child 2: Paper was before visiscreens too, alien-brain! Don't you know anything?
Mother: Ssshhh, you two!
Newsreader 2: Have you any idea if citizens will be allowed to visit the discovery?
Research Specialist: Central Government hopes to allow citizens from Level Four and above to visit as soon as safety measures have been taken.
Newsreader 1: Thank you, Citizen. Loyalty to the State.

(Motherleans forward and turns switch off.Newsreadersclose folders and sit still.Research Specialiststands and exits.)

Child 1: Can we go and see the discovery?
Child 2: Yeah, can we go? Huh?
Mother: I don't know. It will be such a problem getting time off from work.
Father: And we'll have to get a movement permit.
Child 1: I bet everyone else is going.
Father: you heard what it said on the visiscreen. Only Level four and above are going to be allowed to visit
Child 2: Yeah, but we're Level Four
Mother: Well, I'll see the government work Officers tomorrow and ask them. But don't set you heart on it. Central government doesn't like changing its work units.

Extract from Survivor by David Hill (originally published in Get In The Act by Heinemann, 1985 - now Out of Print). Full script and performance rights available from Playmarket .

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