HEROINES OF CHAOS: Tragedy of the Commons.

Eco Drama: Stage Play for schools, adults, colleges and theaters

Free script for several actors.

Teenage protest against climate change and plastics.

Read-through Version.
Sci-Fi drama.
The Manifesto
Present day.

Placard: 75 YEARS EARLIER. Outside a coffee shop with a few tables. There are a few tables with chairs, but one table at the level of a bar.

Grandpa, upright, spry, with white beard, possibly dressed in camouflage top and cargo shorts, with bush hat, is standing at the bar-table, sipping a decaffeinated flat white from a mug, and pretending to read from a book. Grandpa's long wooden staff is leaning conspicuously against the bar-table. At a table close by is sitting an older woman, reading a book. There are other clients at other tables, drinking coffee, and talking inaudibly.

(SOPHIE, wearing school uniform, with a straw school boater hat, walks in from outside the courtyard. TINA follows, also in school-uniform and hat. SOPHIE walks up to GRANDPA's bar-table, followed by TINA.)

(with hesitant, faint, polite smile) Excuse me, Sir, are you perhaps my grandfather?
(looking up and smiling broadly)

Indeed, your Grandfather am I: and Tina you must be.

(looking demurely down and hiding a smile) Yes, Grandpa.
Good. Well, it's nice to meet you at last, Tina. Thirty years since the divorce it's been, and your mother still refuses all contact with me. Exactly why, I'm not sure. (gestures toward SOPHIE) And this is?
(looking up brightly.) This is Sophie, Grandpa.
Hello, Sophie. Nice to meet you.

(A waiter appears at the table to take an order.)

This is my granddaughter and her friend. Give them whatever they like. And another iced black coffee for my neighbour, the woman at the next table.

Iced long black coffee please, two cups.

(The waiter nods and disappears inside the coffee shop.)

So, well, Tina, what made you decide that you would come here today?
I was wanting to ask about this manifesto, Grandpa. (Giving a sheet of A4.)
Okay. Let me have a look. (GRANDPA reaches into his pocket and puts on reading glasses.) One moment, while I skim-read it all.

(Pause while GRANDPA skim-reads.)

Okay. The gist is clear. Plastics and climate chaos. Teenagers to protest and refuse to travel on fossil-fuelled vehicles.

It's an interesting idea. It might cause divisions, though, within the family. So, Tina, you'll be protesting, will you?

(TINA nods affirmation.)

Both of us will.

I see: and where did this manifesto come from?

From the internet.

Okay. Well, I'm not sure whether this is the right for my granddaughter. So I am a bit equivocal about the manifesto right now.

Oh. Haha. How ironic. You post-war generation are all the same, all talk and no action. But this is about our life, our future, not yours, old-man.
Of course.
You, Grandpa, won't have to deal with the consequences of climate chaos, plastics, and pollution, will you?

No, that won't happen. But why've you come to me for advice? I belong to the post-war generation: I'm the enemy.

Daddy said that I was free to roam, and that you knew a lot about plastics and the natural world. So why not kill two birds with one stone?

Okay. The first item reads: refuse to travel in any fossil-fuelled vehicle.

So, Tina, how do you propose to get to school? It's about six kilometres, isn't it? That would take you an hour each way if you walked, Tina. What happens if it's raining? You'd get soaked, Tina. It's impossible to sit around all day at school in wet clothes.

(looking up) I'll be taking an umbrella with me every day.

(The waiter returns on stage, bringing a tray with iced coffees for the girls, and a coffee for the woman at the next table. Waiter then exits.)

Look, darling, Why not simply ask Daddy to buy you an electric scooter to go to school on, Tina: he'll do anything for you if you smile sweetly.

That would ruin the protest.
I'll cycle to school. The bike'll be much quicker.

Okay, should I forewarn your father?

(looking down) Whatever. I am fifteen, and it's for me to decide what to do with my life.

Yes, but Daddy pays the bills. ... You won't be flying anywhere for holidays, darling. There'll be no holidays afloat on your Dad's power boat. And no going to the theater in town either, unless you go by tram, or someone takes you there in an electric car! Keep Daddy's support, Tina, don't make him the enemy!

(with fiery eyes.) But he IS the enemy!

Not at all. The enemy is the bus company that is still using diesel buses; or the city government that allows it.

(looking down) Yeah. Whatever.

Okay. What's the second item? Ah, here.

Refuse all plastic packaging, and plastic products. ...

Well, that's hard to put into practice.

(looking down) Whatever.

Myself, I avoid plastic packaging wherever I can, and especially in the supermarket. I choose products in glass jars, which can be fully recycled.

(looking up) So it CAN be done!

Not properly. But city-living necessitates industrialized food production. People can't get their food from local farmers, because there aren't any, they're many kilometers away.

Darling, you'll just have to go shopping with your mother and be prepared to check the recycling triangle on every item you buy.

(looking at SOPHIE.) Whatev.

And you'll have to check out all the different categories of plastic on the internet, darling, and really know which ones are truly recyclable. Most plastics aren't, they downcycle, but eventually end up in the natural world and in the food chain as microplastics or nanoplastics.

(looking at SOPHIE.) It's that complicated?

Yes, but that's how I've been doing my shopping for years.

Darling, don't expect to achieve everything all at once: and be prepared to make some compromises pro tem.

Is that your best advice, old-chap?

Well, darling, you can grow your own vegetables instead! I'm sure your parents would be happy to set up a vegetable plot for you. Ten minutes from garden to plate. Sans packaging. That's my motto.

(looking down) Uh-huh.

Second, paulatim ergo certe. That was my old school motto: it means ‘slowly but surely’. Perhaps at my age, that should be very slowly, and somewhat un-surely! But anyway, that’s enough advice for today. Would you girls like a bedtime story instead?

(TINA looks questioningly at SOPHIE.)

(to GRANDPA, whilst shaking her head gently.)

The universe is a big place, old-chap.

Yes, that's true, Sophie. Even at the speed of light, it would take twenty million human generations to traverse Lanikea, our super-cluster. We humans are utterly insignificant.

But, in two thousand twenty-two, there was a report about the Sixth Mass Extinction on this insignificant planet where we live: the ecosystem, our life-support system, is in dire trouble, worse than anticipated.

Well, that's not cheery news. It's not exactly what a girl wants to hear on her birthday.

Is today your birthday?

(TINA: nods)

Well, in the larger scheme of things, it's not that important, is it.

Happy Birthday, by the way.

How old are you, darling?

Tina, you're too young to face reality: but old enough to drive. In some parts of the world, Tina, you would be old enough to marry, or join the paramilitaries. ... Anyway, look, darling, how about a selfie together?
(looking up and smiling) That would be cool.

(They all take selfies together, with both making cool gestures.)

(SOPHIE: her mobile pings loudly, and she checks the new message.)

Okay. We've got to go now, Tina. Tamara is waiting.
We're off now then, Grandpa.

Okay! Stay in touch, darling, and come and see me whenever, or video-call me. In fact, I would like that very much. You need an old farter in your life, darling. High-five though?


(GRANDPA and TINA high-five.)

(TINA: turns to leave) Tina, say hello to your father for me. (TINA: nods affirmatively.) Ciao babe!

(TINA and SOPHIE: the two girls walk toward exit. TINA looks back, waves, and both girls exit.)

(To woman at nearby table.) Well, that was not the best moment to confess that the manifesto was originally written by me. Now I've failed as a grandfather, too.