Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A School Play

My son's primary proudly present "The Lost Rainbow" - an environmental drama in three acts.

Act One opens with the Rainbow, personated by a charming and articulate young lady, bewailing the destruction of the environment through Man's greed and selfishness. A succession of mini-rainbows then tell of the felling of the rainforest, the destruction of the ozone layer, the pollution of pristine lakes and rivers. Children look up but cannot see the stars because of light pollution. The beaver has no clean river in which to fish, or trees to build his dam. The Lords of the Jungle find their habitat shrinking, their posterity failing. The oceans are swept clear of life and the birds of the air have nowhere to lay their heads - or their eggs. In any case, the eggs' shells will be too thin, because of toxic chemicals in the food chain. And as for the radiation in the seas ...

Act Two finds us at the headquarters of an anonymous Corporation, where three sharp-suited capitalists in shades are attempting to destroy what little remains of the natural world, partly out of greed and partly because the end of Nature will mean the demise of the Rainbow, who has spiritual powers of growth, rebirth and healing potentially fatal to the Corporation's plans (you can see why we send our children to a Catholic school).

In case there's any doubt as to who the goodies and baddies are, the capitalists are made up as rats, with hollow cheeks and painted whiskers. My son got enthusiastically into character, barking 'cut', 'burn', 'buy', 'sell', 'destroy' into his mobile like a natural.

We then move to Egypt or similar desert location, where an all-American family are on vacation. Moronic Mum, dimwit Dad, whining and obnoxious children, Hawaiian shirts, check pants, camera bouncing off gut - even the Independent might consider the stereotyping a tad overdone. The family wander around the untouched desert, chucking litter and half-empty plastic bottles of precious water in all directions, Junior whinging and asking Pop where the theme parks are, until he wearily agrees to head into town for a burger or three.

Exit stage left, leaving the large sand-coloured cloth of the 'desert' looking like a second class Paddington-Cheltenham compartment on a Friday night when the train has reached, say, Gloucester.

I couldn't but wonder, as I watched this personification of greed and thoughtlessness, if any other nation on earth could be portrayed this way in an English primary school. A lot of the big corporations demolishing the forests of Sumatra and New Guinea are Japanese, but the likelihood of the Headmaster sanctioning a play where comedy slant-eyed chaps said 'Ah so !' while ripping out a forest - well, this likelihood is not a large number.


Act Three was somewhat confused, but suffice it to say that the Spirit of the Rainbow triumphed over the forces of evil, the capitalist rats were routed, and the Rainbow and all her little helpers took several bows to sustainable and sustained applause.

Then the lights went up, coats were put on, the cast retrieved, and little Chloe and James were belted safely into the back seats of the 4x4 for the long half-mile drive back to the gas-fired, centrally-heated warmth of the executive detatched, with its hardwood doors, conservatory and double glazing, garden illumination which comes on automatically at dusk and halogen security lighting, built six years ago on the floodplain where the old allotments used to be.

3 comments:

Mark Holland said...

A few years back my wife and I went to pottery evening class. Well mucking about with clay anyway. One of the ladies on our table was dispairingly trying to figure out how she was going to fabricate an oil drum costume for her son's school play.

Laban said...

I wouldn't have done that, Mark.

Pottery teachers are the #1 source of marriage break-up in the UK, although salsa and ballroom instructors are moving up fast.

Something about all that wet clay and standing close behind her at the potters wheel "let me just guide your hands" ...

verity said...

What on earth were you doing going to a pottery class when you could have been in a bar?