Five Short Plays About Hope: 3
CONTAINS: Swearing, Misplaced optimism.
I still didn’t have any of the answers, but I did have a desire. I desperately wanted someone to follow, someone to give me hope. I wanted:
THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
The research room at a news radio station – lots of desks with computers and phones. Upstage is a sound booth, with glass walls to us, with interview and interviewee chairs and mics. There’s the background sound of talk radio coming over some speakers. Haseena comes in to the room – the attendants staff cheer and applaud her.
JESSICA: You did it! Ladies and gentleman – every radio station, television channel, newspaper, magazine, blog, fuck it, every single person on the street from here to Gretna Green wants to talk to one person. And who has our remarkable new Prime Minister said that she will give her first interview too? An exclusive, no less? Only fucking Haseena Ahad of LRC!
More whooping and cheers.
HASEENA: (Presidentially) Thank you, thank you, well, I couldn’t have done it without – seriously you flapping great bunch of twats we’ve got ten minutes until she’s here – stop whooping like pop heads and get to work!
Everyone rushes into action.
JESSICA: Seriously, Has, how did you pull this one off?
HASEENA: I’m not sure I did – she phoned me. She’s driving herself here now and she phoned on hands free. Apparently, she gave her own security the slip.
JESSICA: Shouldn’t she be heading direct to Number 10 or something?
HASEENA: Who knows? All I know is she’s coming here to see me. Right, 8 minutes to prep.
Goes through into the booth, leaving the door open behind her and puts on the headphones. Mun Yi goes over to the control panel on this sound, turns the radio chatter down and brings up the mic in the booth.
HASEENA: Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3
MUN YI: All good, boss.
HASEENA: (Over the speakers) Hey, one of you shits, come in here and spit-ball with me!
A gang of five staff barge in.
HASEENA: Alright, fuck it, line up we can take it in turns.
ELOISE sits first.
HASEENA: Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining us today.
ELOISE: (Posh) My pleasure.
SHARON: She doesn’t speak like that! That’s what’s ace about her!
HASEENA: Yup, sorry El, too posh, fuck off. Right, Shaz, you’re up.
SHARON sits in seat.
HASEENA: Thank you for being here today, Prime Minister.
HASEEN: Yup, that’s pretty good. Prime Minister, it’s been a remarkable few months. 2017 started as an absolute shi. . . pwreck of a year. For us it looked not just the country, but America, the EU and the world stood on the brink of an irrevocable descent into division, hatred and out-right fascism.
SHARON: Yeah, Has, and I was an ordinary housewife in Hulme.
HASEENA: Not so ordinary – look at everything you’ve achieved in seven short months. . .
SHARON: Yeah, but that’s the point isn’t it? That’s why she’s fucking amazing. She is just ordinary.
HASEENA: Bzzzzz! You’re supposed to be her, not talking about her, Shaz you’re fired. Next!
SHANIA takes the chair.
HASEENA: What was it that made you get up on the police car and make that amazing speech back in March?
SHANIA: I just wanted to speak out, yeah? Just had to speak the truth to power, didn’t I?
HASEENA: And you certainly did that. Your words galvanised a movement behind you. When I heard you – no, sorry – when some people heard you on the march they said that it changed them. That march had been made up of hundreds of different groups, all agreed that they weren’t happy with the way the country, and indeed the world was going, but all with their own individual fears and beliefs about how to make it better. And you – you were able to unite them into a common voice – in the same way as some other politicians had –
SHANIA: – united the people in hate, yeah. Well, I reckon that at heart, British people are good. Like, we fought a war against fascism, didn’t we? Seems a bit rich to just let it in by the back door. And we created the welfare state. We fought together, and then together we built a better country. But some people want to take that away. They want to take our openness, and our trust, and our belief in the inherent good in people. And I don’t want to lose that. I want us to grow our openness, grow our heart, be there for each other, and for the rest of the world. And I don’t see why we can’t.
HASEENA: Very good!
SHANIA: Yeah, and that’s why I wanted to come and talk to you first, because it’s about the people, isn’t it? And I hear there’s a boss girl working here called Shania, with this great hair –
HASEEN: Yup, you blew it! Next –
HASEENA: But it’s one thing to bring together a march and quite enough to form a political party from scratch, use that party to form a progressive coalition and then force the government to call a general election and then to win that election. How did all that happen?
KAREN: Well, Ms Khan, thank you for asking me that.
HASEENA: Na, that’s too politico for her.
KAREN: Oh right. Do I get another go?
Haseena thinks for a moment then nods.
KAREN: Ay, cheers for that, Has. Well, I read in this book once, that a great change in the heart of one person can change the world. Like, you know, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, and that other bloke. That sometimes, it just takes one person to stand up and challenge their own fear and weakness, and then that can cause a hundred others to stand up, a thousand, ten thousand. And that ten thousand can change the world. And I thought, well, fuck it, why not me? Why don’t I be that person? So I did. But it could have been anyone.
HASEENA: But it wasn’t anyone, Prime Minister – it was you –
MUN YI: She’s here!
Everyone scatters and takes up their positions.
HASEENA: Right, you bunch of malodourous bell ends, the woman who changed the world is coming to talk to her world through us so we better get this right!
All turn to face the door to the studio, expectant.