(The Chorus Teacher is sitting in her classroom typing at her computer. The Drama Teacher enters holding a script and seems close to tears.)
DRAMA TEACHER: Hey. Ellen is sick. She called from the hospital.
CHORUS TEACHER: Oh no. (Furrows her brow) What are you going to do for the show tonight? Are you going to play her part?
DRAMA TEACHER: I don’t know. Lisa wants me to but I don’t know the lines and I teach straight through today. I have no time between now and when I have to start putting make-up on the kids. When am I going to learn the lines? We could just cut the act – the rest of the play won’t crash without it.
CHORUS TEACHER: No, but it’s one of the funniest pieces! Don’t cut it. You don’t know the lines? Not even if we practice them now? I’ve been running lights for a week – I think I might know some them.
DRAMA TEACHER: Ohhhh … here, let me give it a try.
(The chorus teacher takes the script and they run through an opening monologue a few times – each testing it out in turns.)
DRAMA TEACHER: How do you KNOW these lines already?
CHORUS TEACHER: I watched from the light booth – learn by hearing I guess. I think I could do it if you don’t want me to.
DRAMA TEACHER: Would you? That would be amazing. I could coach you for a bit on stage after school today. That way you could get your confidence up. And I’ll get Sam to run the lights for the last scene.
CHORUS TEACHER: Okay – sure.
(Drama Teacher leaves. Chorus Teacher fingers the script for a moment and chuckles to herself. She moves towards the middle of the room, silently acting out the opening as the lights go down.)
(Drama Teacher is sitting in the front row of the audience. A few students mill around the edge of the stage. Chorus Teacher stands on a box in the middle of the otherwise empty stage – Drama Teacher is giving directions.)
DRAMA TEACHER: That’s right, make all the motions really big – use up that space. Don’t worry about the British accent. Just annunciate.
CHORUS TEACHER: (every motion is exaggerated) Come flame of the sky and pierce my head! What do I Medea gain from living any longer? Oh I hate living! I want to end my life, leave it behind, and die!
DRAMA TEACHER: Doing great!
CHORUS TEACHER: Fie on her and the House of Creon! … uhhhh … and the four brothers of the acropolis! Oh but I am skilled in poison, and tonight three of my enemies I will strike down dead – Debbie, Debbie’s dad, and … oh my husband Jason.
DRAMA TEACHER: Excellent – the next bit is fine. Let’s go back to the opening monologue. You’ve almost got it.
(Lights come up on a backstage area. A group of actors, in varied costume and make-up, is peering through two wing-curtains onto the stage. They appear to be watching a performance, the muffled sounds of which can be heard in the distance. A few others mill around. The Chorus Teacher is pacing next to a costume rack, practicing her lines with large but silent motions.)
ACTOR 1: (stage whisper) Break a leg Miss Lillis! You’re gonna be great.
(The act ends and some actors rush into the backstage area. The crew scrambles to take the next set pieces out.)
ACTOR 2: Okay it’s you now! Go!
ACTOR 3: Wait! Not yet, they have to put the third box on! Okay … now! (the young actor gives the Chorus Teacher a gentle nudge.)
CHORUS TEACHER: (From off-stage.) I am she who will be Medea. That is, I will play the heroine in that famous Greek tragedy by Euripydes …
(The monologue becomes less distinguishable. Every so often, another actor will scurry “off-stage” to deliver a few lines and then come back. At the sound of applause, Chorus Teacher comes rushing off looking very relieved. Several actors congratulate her. She goes immediately to the costume rack, whisks off her robe, and hangs it up.)
ACTOR 1: Miss Lillis – wait! We still have the curtain call … right now, come!
(The whole group of actors rush out on stage while the Chorus Teacher fumbles to get her costume back on before giving up.)
CHORUS TEACHER: Dangit! Whoops – oh well … guess I missed the curtain call. At least I made it through. And only needed one line prompt … (she looks past the curtain, presumably watching the actors take their bows, then smiles. Lights go down.)