Teenage Dick (NHB Modern Plays)
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Teenage Dick (NHB Modern Plays)

Mike Lew

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  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Teenage Dick (NHB Modern Plays)

Mike Lew

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About This Book

A darkly comic, smashed-up retelling of Richard III, Shakespeare's classic tale about the lust for power, Teenage Dick reimagines the most famous disabled character of all time as a high-school outsider in junior year: the deepest winter of his discontent.

Picked on because of his disability (as well as his sometimes creepily Shakespearean way of speaking), Richard is determined to have his revenge and make his name by becoming president of the senior class. But like all teenagers, and all despots, he is faced with the hardest question of all: is it better to be loved, or feared?

Mike Lew's play Teenage Dick was commissioned and developed by The Apothetae, a company dedicated to plays that explore and illuminate the 'Disabled Experience'. It was first performed by Ma-Yi Theater Company at the Public Theater, New York, in 2018, and received its UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse, London, in December 2019, directed by Artistic Director Michael Longhurst.

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Scene One – Bare Stage
RICHARD. Roseland High School. Home of the Roseland Stallions.
Now that the winter formal gives way to glorious spring fling we find our rocks-for-brains hero Eddie – the quarterback – sleeping through his job as junior class president. ‘Oh? Was I president? I’ve had so many concussions I must’ve forgot!’ Yeah. He’s Phoebus Apollo whereas I am but feeble. He makes sport of governance whereas I am not one who is shaped for sports.
I, Richard, am junior class secretary. Third in line behind Eddie the quarter-brains and Clarissa the goodie-goodie vice-president. Welllll. Maybe I can’t play football, but I can run a play. The senior elections are upon us and from here I will vault past my inglorious station. Not by a pity vote. Not by campaigning. But by systematically destroying the competition. I’ll take down Clarissa AND Eddie AND hold dominion over all of this school.
‘But Richard,’ you whimper. ‘That’s so so mean. Why would you wish for something so mean?’ Because they all hate me, that’s why! I was stamped for their hatred from birth. They see my unpleasant shape and like a magnet I must repulse, whereas Eddie draws in their adoration like so many iron shavings. Eddie who is naught but a Fabergé egg, all pretty surfaces hollowed of brains.
Well Eddie, dear egg, I will crack thee.
I come to bury Eddie, not to praise him.
Is this a ballot I see before me?
Eddie, the love I bear thee can afford no better term that this: thou art a douchebag.
(School bell rings.) Aw shit, I’m late for English. No matter.
Watch this.
Light shift and we’re in English class. RICHARD approaches ELIZABETH.
Sorry I’m late Ms York. With my locker all the way across campus it’s so hard getting to class. You know, with my gait?
ELIZABETH. No worries, Richard! Have a seat.
RICHARD (to audience). Heh heh heh heh. (He passes by BUCK.) What ho, Buckingham!
BUCK. Dirty Rich Yay-Ya!
They slap fives and RICHARD sits.
CLARISSA. Ms York? How come Richard gets to show up late but when I’m late you read me the riot act?
ELIZABETH. Richard is different.
EDDIE. Differently abled? As in retarded?
ELIZABETH. Eddie don’t use that word. What I mean is that Richard is... well look at him Clarissa, he’s got totally differing needs.
CLARISSA. Buck has differing needs.
BUCK. Please don’t involve me...
CLARISSA. And Buck always gets here on time.
RICHARD. Buck is on wheels you pox-scrabbled harlot. Do I look like a race car to you?
EDDIE. Yo! Don’t make fun of my lil buddy. (To BUCK.) You cool, lil buddy, I got you.
RICHARD. Whatever. You’re not even friends! Right Buck?
BUCK. Please don’t... please don’t involve me.
CLARISSA. It’s kind of a double standard, that’s all I’m saying.
ELIZABETH. Okay, you know what? Instead of everyone telling me how to do my job let’s see if you all did yours. Machiavelli’s The Prince. Did everyone read it? Buck?
BUCK. Uh-huh.
ELIZABETH. How about you, Eddie?
EDDIE. Like, a thousand percent.
ELIZABETH. Great. So then Machiavelli lists four pathways to power. Can anyone name me the first one? Yes, Richard.
RICHARD. The first pathway to power is fortune. Whether by being born into royalty or having a principality gifted to you, fortune is the easiest path.
ELIZABETH. Good! And the second?
RICHARD. Second is virtue. Through strength of character a prince may inspire in his phalanx a sense of virile agitur and amor patriae, thus creating de novo a principality per angusta ad augusta, which is by and by more impressive than inheriting an empire by fortune.
ELIZABETH.... okay correct.
EDDIE. Dude: you’re a FREAK.
RICHARD. Read a book, Homo erectus.
EDDIE. I’m def more erect than you.
RICHARD. Why, you’ve got a boner?
EDDIE (vaguely threatening). Maybe.
ELIZABETH. Guys. Can anyone tell me, Machiavelli’s third pathway to power...
RICHARD. Civil election.
ELIZABETH. Richard let’s give someone else a turn. Can somebody name me the fourth? Anyone. Did anyone else in here read words on a page and remember one word?
Nobody can.
(To RICHARD, resigned.) Okay, Richard, take it away.
RICHARD. The last pathway to power. Is wickedness.
ELIZABETH. Yessss. Bloody coup. Stabby stabby. Perfect Richard!
EDDIE (mocking). Perfect Richard.
ELIZABETH. I’m sorry, Eddie, did you have something to add?
ELIZABETH. Then kindly shut up. Or better yet, answer this: What does Machiavelli say about whether it’s better to be loved or feared?
EDDIE. Loved all the way.
ELIZABETH (she does a ‘wrong’ buzzer sound). What about you, Buck?
BUCK. Um. Feared?
ELIZABETH. Care to elaborate?
ELIZABETH. Buck you’re my TA!
BUCK. I’m a shy TA.
RICHARD. Given a choice, it is best to be feared. For man is ungrateful, fickle, and greedy, and thusly being loved is a bond they may break. Whereas being feared is sustained by a dread of punishment that won’t ever fail you.
ELIZABETH. Well I’m glad at least one of you is soaking up Machiavellian tactics for consolidating ABSOLUTE POWER – (Echoing.) power power power!
No response.
Okay did anyone else do the reading?
CLARISSA. I did the reading Ms York.
ELIZABETH. Clarissa, great!
CLARISSA. And I totally disagree with this assignment, from a religious and moral standpoint.
General groans.
ELIZABETH. Oh boy here we go...
CLARISSA. This book is telling me it’s okay to lie and murder and steal, and all of that is really really cruel and totally goes against all of my Christian values.
ELIZABETH. Machiavelli was Christian. Machiavelli was Catholic.
CLARISSA. Whose work was banned by the Catholic Church.
ELIZABETH. Fine but The Prince isn’t cruel, it’s pragmatic. Machiavelli even speaks out against idle cruelty, because idle cruelty stirs people’s hate.
RICHARD. I actually had a question about that.
ELIZABETH. Sure hon go ahead.
RICHARD. It’s about that passage, on how not to be hated.
EDDIE. It’s easy Dick. Talk less, shower more.
EDDIE. What? That’s good advice! Matter of fact, I’m tweeting that. (He tweets it.)
ELIZABETH. No phones in here. Richard, go on.
EDDIE (still tweeting). His name isn’t Richard, it’s Dick.
RICHARD. That’s not my name.
EDDIE. What’s that Twisty Dick?
RICHARD. I said that’s not my name.
EDDIE. Richard is a nickname for Dick.
ELIZABETH. Gentlemen.
RICHARD turns around, hissing to EDDIE, all menace.
RICHARD. I want you to know that this is the very best time of your life. It will NEVer get any better than this. The rest of your life will be spent searching in vain for this moment of former glory as your downward trajectory plunges you ever further from here.
EDDIE. I think I just pee’d a little.
ELIZABETH. Let’s get back to the text. Richard, what was your question?
RICHARD (shaken). Right... Machiavelli says cruelty is at times warranted but that over-cruelty generates hate. But what if you’re hated to begin with? If cruelty is a viable tool then why stop being cruel if you’ve always been hated since birth?
ELIZABETH. Jeez, I uh – Richard where is this coming from?
The bell rings. Everyone starts packing up.
Uh-oh, looks like that’s an answer that’ll have to wait. Okay but everybody if we could just listen up for one second. Please stop packing your bags. I just wanted to mention that as some of you know I’m the faculty advisor for Class Council and that speaking o...

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