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Final Lecture

Anglo-German Lecture Series “English in Daily German Life”

Written 21 March 2010 for the English Theatre Berlin's Ten-minute Play Contest, 15-19 June 2010. It was a runner up.

Host (Hostess alternately possible): American moderator for the lecture series. Wears a tuxedo (‘Smoking’ in German)
Professor: Scottish (male or female) from the fictional Loch Ness University. Wears an item of clothing – tie or scarf – with a tartan pattern that lends its name to the professor. Doesn’t get much to say.
Cindy: Young German lady. Marketing assistant. Speaks English with a marked German accent.
Techie: Cindy’s computer expert (male or female). On phone in front row or off stage.

The lights come up. Host and Professor enter and cross to center stage. The stage is bare or has minimal props appropriate for a lecture series. Host has a microphone in his hand. It is a non-functional prop; the actors actually should not need it.

Host: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Guten Abend, meine Damen und Herren. Welcome to the final lecture of the Anglo-German lecture series on English in Daily German Life, which is so graciously presented here in the beautiful English Theatre. For tonight’s lecture we are proud to introduce Professor Ian (Mary if female) (name of tartan) from Loch Ness University. You’ll tell us about your latest studies on particular Scottish influences on the German language. (Professor nods approvingly.) I understand you’ve got a flight to catch, so the lecture won’t be too long.
So, without much further ado, let me just make one more announcement so that you can begin. (To audience) We kindly request that you switch off your cell phones. Not only would they be a nuisance during the lecture, but these little devices can also interfere with the sensitive electronics of the microphone. So, please switch off your cell phones all the way off – not just to vibration, but completely. Otherwise, I may come and take your cell phone and throw it out the window or stomp on it, depending on my mood, heh-heh.
That said, I’d like to turn the mike over now to Professor (tartan name) for the latest on Scottish English in common German language. (Hands mike to Professor.)

Professor: Aye, thank ye for your kind introduction. I, I …

Cindy’s cell phone goes off. She is seated in the front row to one side. Professor notices his mike does not work anymore, taps at it and makes helpless gestures to the technician’s box. Meanwhile, Cindy pulls her cell phone out of her purse and answers it.

Cindy: Oh, hi Honey! Where are you? … Bahnhof Zoo? … Listen, I can’t talk now; I’m in the theatre.

Host approaches her. Has hand extended to grab phone.

Cindy: The English Theatre in Kreuzberg. I don’t think the moderator is happy you call me now. (She dodges the Host’s attempt to grab the phone and escapes onto the stage.) Yes, yes, I know … Irish Harp … starts at 9. (She runs around the Professor a couple of times, chased by the Host. The Professor is oblivious of this; still having problems with his mike.)

Cindy: (Running) Don’t worry Mac. I, … I won’t be late – not this time. Tell the band, I happy to see them. Bye, bye, Mac. Ich liebe dich … You love me too? ... Bye, bye. (She deftly drops her cell phone into her purse, snaps it shut and holds it close to her chest as she come to a stop next to the Professor. The Professor looks bewildered back and forth between Cindy and the Host, who is standing on his other side.)

Host: (Breathlessly) Didn’t I tell you? Switch – off – your – cell – phone!

Cindy: (Innocently) Zell phone? Zell phone? What’s a cell phone?

Host: (Angrily) That thing you were talking into – to Mac! (Points to purse.)

Cindy: Oh that! You mean the handy! Sorry, Mac is so possessive. Tschuldigung.

Host: No, no, not handy. Cell phone. That thing is called a cell phone, or otherwise a mobile phone! Don’t you know English? What do you come to this theater for, anyway?

Cindy: Of course, I know English! My name is also English.

Host: Oh?

Cindy: I am called Cindy.

Host: Cindy … and where do you come from?

Cindy: I come from Hellersdorf.

Host: Not Marzahn?

Cindy: No, Hellersdorf, why? (Gives the audience a pouting look; brief pause.)

Host: So, where did you learn English?

Cindy: In the Marketing department of my company. I am a Marketing-Assistentin.

Host: But, that is not a school. (Exchange looks with Professor. Professor is about to say something into the mike, but is interrupted. This can happen frequently throughout the play.)

Cindy: Oh, yes, yes. They speak English all the time. I learn it when I make PowerPoint presentations for the beamer. Last week, I had to make a presentation about the marketing campaign. Let’s see if I can remember it:
(Rattles it off) Wir halten zuerst ein Status-Meeting mit der Consulting Company, um das Mission Statement abzuchecken. Der nächste Step ist nach Tools zu scouten, unser Brand-Name global zu promoten. Dann startet es mit einem Kick-off Event, wo wir die newste Advertising outrollen und die low-cost Giveaways präsenten, womit wir den Premium-Market cornern.

Host: What the … ? (Shares a glance with the Professor.) Did you understand that?

Professor: Well, seriously, I…

Host: No, nobody understands that jargon! Nobody, but maybe some marketing experts out there. Honestly Cindy, did you know what you were talking about?

Cindy: Why yes, of course.

Host: Then can you explain what a low-cost giveaway for the premium market is?

Cindy: (Hesitates) Well, ah, no, sorry.

Host: See! Such nonsense is not your normal English. That must be some sort of code only experts use to communicate with each other. Isn’t that right Professor (tartan)?

Professor: Quite right. Communication is a, a … (Cindy’s cell phone rings again and interrupts him.)

Cindy: (Looking at her phone’s display) Oh! Speaking of code, it’s my PC techie. This is important. (Into phone) Hi! Läuft’s nun?

Techie: (Seated in front row speaking into the phone or off-stage voice.) Du Cindy, ich habe die neuste Software-Aktualisierung für die Festplatte heruntergeladen und dann den Rechner wieder hochgefahren. Der Kasten sollte jetzt nicht mehr abstürzen.

Host sneaks around behind Professor to make a grab for the phone.

Cindy: Hä? Ich versteh nur Bahnhof. Kannst du das einem nicht leichter erklären? (She doesn’t see Host coming, but casually crosses in front of Professor. Host fails to get cell phone again.)

Techie: Easy. Ich habe den neusten Update für die Harddisk downgeloaded und den PC gerebootet. Die Box sollte jetzt nicht mehr crashen. Klar?

Cindy: Alles klar! OK. Du hast einen gut bei mir. Tschüßi. (Hangs up and hides cell phone back in purse.)

Host: Did you really understand that?

Cindy: Yes, this time I really did.

Host: With those English terms, but not the German? That’s insider talk again.

Cindy: I guess so. But, I am not a computer expert either, you know. (Feels insulted; protests.) I can speak English!

Host: But, can you speak normal, everyday English?

Cindy: Sure, I also must know English when I go shopping every day.

Host: Shopping?

Cindy: Yes, to know what is up-to-date in the fashion world you need to speak English – that’s haut culture.

Host: Haut culture?

Cindy: Haut culture is English, no?

Host: Not really.

Cindy: Well anyway. I don’t go to any old Kaufhaus; I go to the Galleria or Arcadens. And there I don’t go into the Damenbekleidung – that’s for my grandmother – I shop in the ‘modern woman’ department. You know, I wanted to get a new Damenbluse the other day and all they had were these Lady-Shirts! (Points to own blouse.)

Host: Well, too bad. Looks nice though.

Cindy: Thanks. But, they did have a sale. Instead of “Zwei für den Preis von Ein”, they had what they called a “2–for–1” sale! (Makes panning hand gesture as if reading a sign.) I saved so much more that way. (Host and Professor count on their fingers and look at each other incredulously.)

Host: I’m sure you did.

Cindy: Desous and lingerie, that is English too, no?

Host: Well, not really.

Cindy: Mr. Showmaster, you must have gone to a men shop to buy that smoking.

Host: I am a host, not a showmaster; sorry, there’s no such thing as a showmaster in English. And I’ll have you know that this is called a tuxedo.

Cindy: Ach, it is so hard to be modern. I want to be stylish and modern!

Host: Modern, modern?! Why do you think it’s modern to use the language of a country that drags its feet on health care reform, has an obsolete automotive industry, and an antiquated election system from the 18th century?

Professor: Ey, Yank! Speak for yourself.

Host: (Embarrassed) Oh, sorry, yes, of course … Ah … To the Queen! (Makes a toast to the Queen with an imaginary glass to make up.)

Professor: To the Queen! (Also toasts with an imaginary glass, but is unsure if this might not be meant in irony.)

Brief, embarrassed lull.

Host: (Suddenly, to Cindy) Hey! Can you sing?

Cindy: Sing?

Host: Yes, sing. Like for that Eurosong contest; that girl Lena sings in English. What was the name of her co-dependent love song?

Cindy: Satellite! (Grabs the mike from the Professor. Starts singing the songs chorus.) Love, oh, love. I gotta tell you how I feel about you. ‘Cause I, oh, I can’t go a minute without your love.

Host: Sounds great, Cindy! Just a tad off key (sing-song like “Love, oh, love”) like Lena. And you know, her English sounded Welsh – or was it more Scottish? What do you think, Professor?

Professor: Well, to be honest, it sounded … (Reaches for mike, but host grabs it first.)

Host; And with that charming German accent, the international music scene will know right away what country “Satellite” comes from.

Cindy: But, that is the way the young people talk today! You should hear my little sister.

Host: What does she say?

Cindy: She is a teenager and I don’t think she wants me to know what she is talking about.

Host: Well, do you know what she is talking about?

Cindy: I’m not sure. (Makes appropriate quotation-mark finger motions) On the weekend, she says she is “aufbitching” herself so she can “clubbing gehen” and “out chilling”. She says that is “cool”, but when she wears so little, I worry she get a cold!

Host: So, does she say that so that she is different from other others; different from adults?

Cindy: Well, ja.

Host: Or otherwise, does she want to be hip and modern?

Cindy: Yes, maybe …

Host: Now that would be a question for our expert Professor (tartan) here to answer. (Passes mike to Professor.)

Professor: Aye, that is a good question: Being different or modern. Well, …

Host: But unfortunately, our time is up for today. I’m afraid we’ll have to hear your lecture some other day, Professor. You’ve got to catch your flight. Air Ryanjet will want to leave on time. So, thanks once again for being with us. And if you in the audience would like to be invited to our next lecture series, we have a sign-up sheet for you in the lobby out there. So, good night and … (Cindy’s cell phone rings.)

Cindy: (Pulls her cell phone out of her purse to answer it.) Yes, yes, Mac, I’m already on my way to the U-Bahn … (Runs off stage, chased by Host.)

Professor is left standing bewildered and forlorn on stage. Looks back and forth between mike and where the Cindy and Host exited the stage.

Lights down

First reading of the play, 27 March 2010. Krister, Anita, Alan, Laura, Susi