I wrote it when a young girl named Leah Betts died as a result of taking Ecstasy. Her death sparked all sort of debates on the use of drugs. Leah Betts died just over 23 years ago now, and yet the debate still continues. It’s a short play written mostly in verse. It’s pretty raw. It remains as it was written, and has never been edited, and it has never been shared. When I wrote it I was 33 years old. It was just the way I saw things back then. I titled it ‘I don’t know’ because it really was an issue that sparked debate…

I don’t Know…

Narrator:

From man came woman,

From woman came man,

In the beginning –

It all began.

Word of the Serpent,

Flesh of the fruit,

Tree of Knowledge,

Ready to loot.

From wisdom to folly,

From pleasure to pain,

Narcotics abundant –

Like water, like rain

Access is easy,

Scoring a treat,

Like sugar, like candy,

Habitually sweet.

So it was in the beginning,

So it will be in the end,

Unsavoury substance,

More foe than friend.

Hello and welcome,

I bid you please stay;

Your opinions are valued,

Your ideas are weighed.

This floor I’ll now open,

The debate underway;

The campaign has started,

Please have your say.

I’ll into the background;

Stand down, stand away,

The way now is forward,

Go on, don’t delay.

ACT 1

CONSTRUCTING REALITY

Man: (To the audience) I am the man in your life. I am the male line of your ancestry and your family yet to come. Take my hand. Let me lead you through this maze of mindless madness. Let me show you what I have done. I am not really a bad man but I am a man who has been bad. Let me introduce you to woman. (he turns from the audience and beckons the woman to come upstage)

Woman: Did you call?

Man: Yes.

Woman: Something wrong?

Man: That’s what we’re here to find out. Look out there. See those people (pause) just say a few words – go on.

Woman: What should I say?

Man: Anything you like. They ‘re a gullible lot.

Woman: (clears throat) I am your Mother. i am the lifeline of Humanity. The heart within your home. I am not a bad woman but I am a woman who has been bad. (Aside to the man) They don’t say much do they?

Man: That’s because they hear all, see all and say nought. If they say something, they might get noticed, draw attention to themselves. God forbid that they should stand up and be counted. What’s worse – they might actually be asked to do something. Truth is, they don’t like to get involved. If they don’t get involved they can’t get hurt. Savvy?

Woman: Oh yeah, right. I see what you mean – I think. You mean they don’t care.

Man: NO – they do care, they probably care a great deal. It’s just that – they don’t understand. Caring is not the same as understanding.

Woman: Oh, right. Well, what should we do then?

Man: LISTEN…They must listen. They must open up their minds and hear the words being spoken. They must go right back to the beginning and start again. The way ahead is written in the past.

Woman: What? (Pause) In books and stuff?

Man: In life my dear. In life.

Woman: Oh, right. Anyway, I’m off now. Can’t stand around here chatting all day. I’ve got more important things to do. You coming?

Man: Oh alright. (Pause) Hang on just a minute. (Turns to audience) Remember, just listen. (Lights down).

Narrator:

Did you hear

What he said?

Did it go

In your head?

Open eye

Open ear

Open mind

Knowledge find.

Answers to questions,

Problems to solve;

Travel the path

Of learning, Evolve.

Right, wrong,

Aye, nay,

Uneasy errors

Invoiced to pay.

Here come before you,

From forth the dark screen,

Reasons against, in favour, unseen.

Listen intently,

Hear all that’s said,

For later, your vote

Must be cast, voiced, said.

Into the shadows,

I’ll now take my leave,

Win, lose, maybe grieve.

 

ACT II

THE CAMPAIGN

The Baron:

Greetings good people;

You all look so swell,

So smart and so clever,

Well-dressed and fed well.

Your affluence astounds me,

Glistens and glows,

I’ll show you a good time,

Where fun overflows.

Don’t be shy,

Don’t be bashful,

Don’t be coy, hidden, quiet,

Life in the fast lane

On my diet,

Will equip you with nerve –

Dare! On higher.

I have the power to make dreams come true,

To grant you your wishes, honestly, I do.

I’ve pills and I’ve powders,

So many in store

And when these are finished,

I’ve always got more.

Trust and believe me,

Good people, and note,

I am your future

When you cast your vote.

(Enter man and woman)

Man: We’ve been listening to you. So you reckon you can show us a good time? Prove it.

The Baron:

Very well…. Let the show begin. First on the catwalk, representing the Amphetamine School of Fashion, we have an energising little number called Pink Champagne. Otherwise known as Whizz, Speed, Sulphate, Billy and Go faster. Tell us my dear, what you can do for us.

Pink Champagne: For all those tasks you need to get done, take me and I’ll keep you awake for hours. i’ll provide you with more energy when your natural reserves are low. All you people who want to lose weight, I’m your solution. No more fad diets. A little bit of me will mean a lot less of you. I’m Whizz – try me. Buy me.

The Baron:

Thank you Whizz. (to the audience) Let’s hear it for Whizz. (The audience applaud as told). It now gives me great pleasure (aside) and profit to invite the delightful Ecstasy to take the catwalk. A lovely little mover who guarantees you a good time. Over to you Ecstasy.

Ecstasy:  I am known by many names. Doves, Strawberries, Apples and Burgers to name but a few. Drop me and here’s what I’ll do. I’ll make you warm, I’ll make you glow, I’ll make you love the sweetest rush of feeling that’ll leave you reeling. Go on, try one, have some fun. Sexual healing, floor to ceiling. C’mon, my man’s dealing.

The Baron: Yes, oh yes – without a doubt Ecstasy will take you to that loving feeling. Not 15, not 12 but just £10 a tab. Yes folks, just £10 is all I’m asking. Roll up now while the price is low. I’m practically giving them away. Next up, we have an old favourite. Please let’s hear it for Acid.

Acid:

Hi there people.

Let me take you to that land,

In realms beyond your dreams;

Where colours are abundant

And wonders never cease.

Wow!!!! I say and Wowwww!!! again,

It really makes you see

How vibrant, vivid, wonderful,

This World of ours can be.

The grass is green,

The sky is blue,

Can you see it too???

The people on the walls,

The stars beneath our feet,

Jellybeans and rainbows,

Mushrooms act as seats.

The night is young,

The fun’s begun;

There is no turning back:

Wheels, wings and bicycles,

Goblins, witches, hacks.

The fare’s paid up,

The ride is on,

From here to journey’s end.

Like the Waltzer at the funfair,

Completely round the bend.

Try me, fly high with me,.

Oh Man…

The Baron:

These are just a few I supply,

To help you get high.

Stick with me people.

For a small price,

I’ll deal, serve, entice.

Don’t be slow, don’t be dull,

Don’t be boring,

Come on, get scoring.

Give you a lift, depression shift,

Happy, real happy, get my drift?

Don’t stop me now,

I’m a man on a roll,

Targeted goal,

Fall in a hole.

Not to be outdone in the race,

To get out of your face,

I’ve more on my books,

Of habit making hooks.

The finale here shows,

A threesome, Crack, Smack, Snow:

When you tire of the rest,

I’ve saved these last for best.

So special, important, my number one,

One of many prats I’ve done.

I’ve got you now, you’re in real deep,

All twisted, sorted, a worthless heap.

That’s not quite true,

Of course I care,

You’re my moneymaker,

– so what?  Life’s not fair.

Live fast, live happy,

Excitement and thrills,

Forget normality, boredom and bills.

VOTE FOR THE BARON, SUPPLIER, MAIN MAN

OF NARCOTICAL COCKTAILS,

AND SUBSTANCES BANNED.

Woman: (To Man) Sounds good and it’s there for the taking. It might give me confidence. I’m usually so shy. Oh, and I could do with losing a few pounds. oh….but I don’t know. What do you think?

Man:  Well, I must admit, taking drugs does seem to have alot going for it. With all this misery in the World and all this poverty and deprivation, I could do with a little cheering up. Might make me forget about reality for a while.

Woman: Of course if we spend money on drugs, we’ll have to go without other things. Maybe things like food, clothes, going out, that sort of thing. I suppose it does n’t matter if it’s just this one time. I would like to see what it’s like. Shall we?

Man: Well, I honestly think it’s important to experience something first hand before dismissing it as something bad. Don’t you?

Woman: I guess so – I’m a bit scared though…and what if somebody finds out? We might get into trouble….remember it is illegal, we could get nicked.

(‘nicked’ – slang in English for getting arrested by police).

Man: Oh be quiet and let me think.

Guilt: (A voice in the Woman’s head) Yes, it most certainly is illegal. As the law stands at present the possession of drugs and offering drugs to others can result in a criminal conviction. You must want your head examined. A conviction on a drugs related charge could affect your entire future. Have you thought about that? Is that what you want? You must be thinking it’s wrong or you would n’t be worrying now, would you?

Woman: I don’t know! I really don’t know what to think…maybe it’s not wrong. Maybe it’s the bureaucrats wanting to prevent us from having a good time. Statistics suggest that many more deaths can be attributed to alcohol and tobacco related illnesses. Yet drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is not illegal. in fact the Government make money from the taxes paid on both. Does that not seem a little absurd? Seems to me that the Law promotes whatever’s in the best interest of the Lawmakers.

Man: (Enters) Who are you taking to?

Woman: Just myself.

Man: What about?

Woman: Whether or not I should experiment with drugs.

Man: Have you decided yet?

Woman: Not yet. i need more information.

Man: Let me know when you have.

Narrator:

Perhaps, maybe, yes, okay?

No, I don’t think so, decline, no way?

Options are open,

Access is clear,

The path uncertain,

Obstacles, fear.

Bureaucratic hypocrisy,

On the one hand it’s wrong

To use any drugs,

Unless they belong:

To the groups on the list,

Stinking, smelly, rancid and pissed.

See this poor creature,

A wretch among men,

What is it that ails you?

Tell us again.

 

Living Corpse: (enters)

The flesh of my body,

The thoughts in my mind,

Excessive indulgence,

For years constand grind.

I’ve had it, you name it,

Tried all of that shit;

Combined it, denied it,

Supplied it and hit.

 

Man: You look terrible.

Living Corpse: Can’t think why….

Man: What you on?

Living Corpse: Borrowed time. (Exits)

Man:  Where’s he gone? What did he mean? I wanted to talk some more.

Woman: Did you say something?

Man: No….nothing…it does n’t matter…come on…we’d better make our minds up soon…it’s nearly time to vote. (Both exit…lights out)

Narrator: (Lights up)

There they go,

Where, don’t know?

Neither do they,

Matter is grey.

A guiding light,

A helping hand,

A kindly word,

Voices heard.

Is anybody out there?

Who cares to speak out?

Stand tall, stand strong,

Breathe in deep and shout.

(Enter the Politician)

Politician: (Carrying papers, looking officious and business like…coughs and clears his throat)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I first must convey,

Apologies sincere,

For my delay.

People here gathered,

To see you is great.

So many in number,

Attend the debate.

It’s ME you must follow,

ME you must choose,

MY way’s the right way;

Any other – YOU LOSE.

The solution is simple,

Straightforward, quite clear,

No nonsense, no dithering,

Fill you with fear.

There’s no other answer,

No room for doubt,

When offered drugs,

You merely shout – NOWT!

(Stands down, exits, walking past the man and woman without noticing them)

Man: Well, what a load of old bollocks that was. I’m sorry for swearing but does he really think we’ll say no just because he tells us we should? I consider myself to be an intelligent human being. I am capable of rational thought. When I make a decision I engage my reasoning powers to sift through the available information to make an informed choice. Tell me…am I being unreasonable?

Woman: No…of course not. I’m sick to death of all the propaganda and double-standards myself. They tell us don’t do drugs – THEY KILL – but then so do cigarettes and alcohol. They don’t seem to be in a hurry to ban consumption in those areas. The fact that the Government accumulates vast sums of money from the taxes on both – seems to me, a prime case of hypocrisy. Current statistics provide evidence indicating that cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption contribute to far more deaths than the illicit drugs they seem opposed to. The powers that be will have to do better than…DRUGS KILL ! SAY NO !

Man: I never knew you felt so strongly.

Woman: Well you do now. I’ve been doing some research of my own and my findings make interesting reading.

Man: Go on.

Woman: First of all, that Baron, whatever his name was, did n’t quite tell us everything. He painted a very rosy picture emphasising the feel good factor associated with drug use. His motives however…are purely mercenary. supply and demand is his livelihood. The higher the demand, the more money he makes. it’s simple economics. Therefore like any salesman he promotes the advantages of his product. the selling points in this particular market place are feeling good, happy, energetic, dreamy, confident, uninhibited and even inspirational.

Man: Sounds good to me. I’ll have some of that.

Woman: Wait there’s more. What the Baron ommitted to tell us was that the effects experienced from any of the drugs on offer depend on various factors.

Man: I’m listening.

Woman: Well…it helps to be in good health. As most drugs are taken in concentrated doses to achieve maximium effect…you know, to get a buzz, the body needs to be able to cope with the chemical changes that occur. Many of these drugs increase the heart’s rate, so  any respiratory illness would increase the possible risks.

Man: You mean like asthma or maybe a heart condition?

Woman: That’s exactly what I mean. You see, you have to remember that drugs interact and interfere with the body’s natural balance. When any foreign substance enters the blood stream, the body’s natural reaction is to try and expel it. If run down or in poor health the body’s defences are weakened and the risk of something going wrong is greatly increased.

Man: Sounds ominous.

Woman:  Not necessarily. Drugs can without a doubt make you feel good. They can be beneficial both physically and mentally. They can of course be highly dangerous and prove fatal. When a doctor prescribes drugs for treatment, he bases his decision on the patient’s medical history and his current health. Furthermore, in making his decision he is drawing on his knowledge gained from many years of study. What may be suitable for one person may not be okay for another. No two people are the same. Drug dealing is big business. There are no ethics involved and no discernment.

(Man yawns)

Woman: I’m sorry if I’m boring you, just hear me out.

Man: I’m sorry….go on.

Woman:  Of the drugs that hit the streets many are full of impurities…cut with other substances….vim, worming tablets, laxatives, ketamin and all sorts of other things. There is no way of knowing. Some compounds are highly toxic and invite trouble…. You never can tell.

Man: I guess it’s a bit like playing Russian Roulette….I only wanted to enjoy myself….have a bit of fun.

Woman:  It’s not all doom and gloom. Life is by it’s very nature full of risks…..like a game of chance….always hoping that you have the winning hand. it’s a gamble. There are no guarantees.

Man: So what’s the answer?

Woman: Make yourself aware of the facts, good and bad….then the choice is up to you.

Man: But it’s still illegal.

Woman: It is at the moment but sooner or later common sense and logic must surely dicate. The Government could offer greater protection, and exercise greater controls if they bring the issue of drug use out into the open.

Man:  I know that and you know that….perhaps someone should enlighten them.

Narrator:

When God made him

And he made her,

The box she opened,

Ills she stirred.

Out they poured

One by one,

Mischiefmaking,

No more stored.

The box stands empty,

Vice lifts her head,

Wickedly grinning,

Wrongs to shed.

Hold on a moment,

Slow down, relent,

A feeling called Hope

Appears heaven sent.

The human condition,

At times rendered weak,

Answers to riddles,

Solutions we seek.

It’s all a conundrum,

A mess, no , a heap,

Get it together,

Wake up, dream, sleep.

Debate is concluded,

Floor declared closed,

No longer deluded,

Decisions imposed.

Farewell now, good people,

Nether judge nor condemn,

Keep your mind open,

For you could be them.

THE END

©Liola Lee 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements