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This is an historic project that may not reflect my current thinking

 

Ideology

 

Normality is a play written by Simon Stevens in October 1991. The play was written to give people a better understanding of many issues which are ignored. It is based around Frank who has Cerebral Palsy very much like Simon. The play confronts the very difficult issue of normality. Is somebody with a disability normal?

 

While it is a serious play, it uses comical statements to emphasise important concepts. Amongst other things it explains what Cerebral Palsy is and the difference between disabled and handicapped. This play is only a slice of life, rather than being a story it acts a window showing the many issues which are faced by Students with Disabilities in mainstream education.

 

 

History

 

 

The play was first performed by Collyer’s Sixth Form College in December 1991. The performance lasted four nights with one matinee and put on in combination with Find Me, a play on mental health. The play was written to take account of the large number of female actors involved. The acting was excellent, Frank was played by two non-disabled actors on alternate nights, one male and one female, they were both very good.

 

The second performance was by Coventry University Student Union’ Film and Drama Society in March 1993. Performed over two nights it was combined with some Monty Python sketches to form “Normality meeting Insanity”. Frank was played a female actress. Produced solely by students with assistance from Simon Stevens, this was a highly unique production.

 

In September 1993 the play was performed for the third time at Aberstywth University. It was the opening act of the Choice Motivation Course Talent Show. After only two hours of rehearsals it was watched by 120 Liverpool “Year 11” Students. Because of the short production time Frank was played by Simon Stevens in his first ever lead role. This quick performance was highly successful and enjoyable to all.

 

No new performances are planned but if you would like to perform Normality yourself please contact Enable Publications for further information.

 

 

Prologue

 

 

This play is roughly based on my own experiences. I have Cerebral Palsy and since the age of 11 I have been fully integrated within a normal school. I wrote this play to describe my feelings on being disabled within an Able Bodied environment.

 

This play was first performed by Collyer’s 6th form College in December 1991 after being adapted for their benefit. I would like to thank all those involved with the first production of Normality for all their advice and support, may they have much success in the future.

 

I hope this play has been interesting and one day I hope to be able to develop Normality into a TV series.

 

 

The Play

 

 

Introduction

 

 

This play is based on Frank. Frank is 15 and attends an all boys secondary school. This is quite normal except Frank has Cerebral Palsy with a speech impairment, quite rare in an Able Bodied environment!

 

Cast

 

 

Frank:          Central character

Frank has Cerebral Palsy which makes him quite jerky and he

has poor speech. He is very witty both verbally and by other

means. School is not his Favourite pastime since he is bullied a lot but he gives as much as he gets. He uses computers a lot and cooks up many crazy scheme.

 

Mum:           Frank’s mum

                  Frank’s mum is a very caring person but is very ignorant of

Frank’s disability and IQ. She mainly believes that Frank will

get better one day which Frank keeps correcting her.

 

Ted:            Frank’s brother

                  Ted is a pain. He teases Frank all the time but Frank will get

his revenge when the time is right, mum is always on Frank’s

side.

 

Tim:            New best mate

                  Tim is very good with computers and helps Frank against

Nasher.

 

Nasher:        Bully

                  Nasher has got it in for Frank is one step ahead!

 

Brains:         Bully’s firstmate

Not so bright

 

Fred:           Bully’s second mate

 

Mrs Lobby:   Tutor

                  Mrs Lobby is very sharp and understands Frank

 

Mrs Oldby:   English Teacher

                  Good teacher

 

Miss Eyes:    Maths Teacher

                  Miss Eyes is not so keen of Frank.

 

 

Scene 1: The bedroom

 

 

Frank is nearly dressed. He is struggling with his shirt buttons.

 

Frank:          Ted! Ted!

 

Silence- Frank tries to do up his shirt button

 

Frank:          Ted! Please would you do my buttons up!

 

Silence

Frank gets annoyed and waves his arms about

 

Mum:           (from distance) Do his buttons up (sigh)

 

Ted walks in

 

Ted:            Hmm. What do you want?

Frank:          BUTTONS!

Ted:            What about them?

 

Frank hits Ted around the head

 

Frank:          Do them up!

Ted:            Okay

 

Ted starts to do Frank’s buttons up

Frank dribbles on Ted’s hand

 

Ted:            Ehh!

 

Ted wipes his hand on Frank’s shirt

 

Ted:            Back to school today.

Frank:          Yes, I wonder how long it will be before they start?

Ted:            What?

Frank:          The abuse! Hope its original, cakes and biscuits drives me

round the bend. Its you 1st year at Wood Boys.

Ted:            Yes, not looking forward to having my head down the bog.

Frank:          Out of my four years at Wood boys they had never done that to

me, they took the mickey out of my speech, what I wear, how I walk, my haircut… everything but that!

 

Mum walks in after listening to Frank

 

Mum:           Come on Frank, it’s not that bad.

Frank:          Oh yeah! You are not there.

Mum:           You are exaggerating! Right, are you ready?

Frank:          Yes

Mum:           Frank flies?

 

Frank looks down and does them up

                  Car horn

 

Frank:          My Taxi, better go!

 

Scene 2: Tutor Group!

 

 

Nasher is sitting on a table with his gang around him.

Frank walks in.

 

Nasher:        Hear comes the mank. All right Spaso?

Brains:         Nice summer Mank? Meet any other Spasos?

Fred:           Yeah!

 

                  Frank sits down and Mrs Lobby walks in with Tim and sits down

 

Mrs Lobby:   Sit down everyone. This is Tim pointing to Tim. He is new at

Wood Boys. Tim, sit down next to Frank, nobody is near him.

 

                  Nasher & Co giggle as Tim sits next to Frank

 

Frank:          Hello

Tim:            Hello? … Are you Ok?

Frank:          Ok ? Why?

Tim:            Nothing, just you don’t speak properly

Frank:          Yes I know, and can’t walk properly. Yes, perhaps it’s the fact

I’m disabled?

Tim:            Hmm, Yes, very witty! So what is your handicap?

Frank:          Sorry I don’t play golf.

Tim:            Okay! What is your disability?

Frank:          That’s better, I have Cerebral Palsy.

Tim:            My brother works with CPs. If you have Cerebral Palsy why are

you almost normal?

Frank:          Not all CPs are in a wheelchair and are mentally retarded

although not all end up in this hell hole-I am it.

Tim:            Really? At my previous school there are no disabled students.

Frank:          Hmm. Let me welcome you to Woods Boys. I will show you the ropes if you like?

Tim:            Yes please. I am somewhat nervous and it is nice to have

someone I know. Well…

 

                  Tim is interrupted

 

Mrs Lobby:   Time to go to your next lesson, good luck.

 

Everyone leaves the room!

 

 

Scene 3 Maths

 

 

Everyone is working quietly in maths.

 

Miss Eyes:    I must go now. Finish questions 5 and 6. And Frank, don’t wind

Nasher up.

 

                  Frank mutters “why me”.

                  Miss Eyes leaves the room

 

Fred:           Frank! Don’t wind Nasher up.

Tim:            What did Miss Eyes mean?

Frank:          Its called Blame the Victim. According to Miss Eyes and the

Head I must meet people all the way and that this abuse is in my head. 5 4 3 2 1

Nasher:        O! Mank! Where did you get your haircut? I’ll shoot him for

you.

Frank:          Bang on time.

Brains:         Mank! Manky Manky Manky Mank!

Frank:          Shut up!

Fred:           What do you call a group of manks?.... Vegitable soup

Frank:          You are mentally ill!

Tim:            Either Miss Eyes is a hypocrite or I’m also imagining it.

Frank:          Yes this has been going on for four years and I damn well hate

it!

Nasher:        (imitating Frank)… Talk properly! And stop gobbing.

 

                  Nasher gets up, spits on Frank.

Frank is now angry and spasms up

 

Frank:          That’s it. I hate you. You are an evil, mentally deformed

bastard. I just want to get on with life. What have I done to

you?

Nasher:        I’ll tell. You get off PE. You have a computer. You get out of

trouble. And Mrs Lobby said to treat you like any other person.

Frank:          Yes, as in give a fair chances, not wind me up for four bloody

years. I am different, I have special needs. I wish you would

learn that I am Human, with rights and feelings not some

nightmarish thing haunting your egoistic mind.

 

         Frank begins to weep gently

                  Miss Eyes walks in.

 

Miss Eyes:    I warned you Frank, I heard what you said. Report to the Head

now!

 

                  Frank screams and cries heavily

 

Frank:          You evil cow! You victimising hypocritical cow!

 

                  After Frank had explained the situation and threats of

malpractice, suspension and kicking heads in had died down things go back to normal, Whatever that is.

 

 

Scene 4: The Corridor

 

 

Nasher & Co bump into Tim in the Corridor, Nasher brushes Tim almost knocking him down.

 

Tim:            Watch out!

Brains:         It’s the Mank’s new friend.

Fred:           What are you doing hanging around with that Spaso?

Nasher:        Don’t you know its impolite to mix with Manks.

Tim:            I like Frank. If you don’t like him it doesn’t mean everyone

have to agree with you.

 

                  Nasher grabs Tim’s neck

 

Nasher:        Look here! You’re new, in this school what I say goes.

Brains          Yeah, what he says goes.

Fred:           Understand!

 

 

         Tim nods and Nasher puts him down.

 

 

Scene 5: Lunch

 

 

Frank is eating lunch with Tim.

 

Tim:            Sorry to ask but what is Cerebral Palsy? It been bugging me all morning

Frank:          That’s all right. Cerebral Palsy basically means brain damage

Tim:            Ow! Does it hurt?

Frank:          (Laugh) Ofcouse not, I find it hard to believe it myself. Me…

brain damaged.

Tim:            How did it happen???

Frank:          Well. At birth I lost some oxygen which caused the brain to be

damaged. The doctors did not think I would survive let alone do GCSEs.

Tim:            Amazing! Have you had any operations?

Frank:          Why?

Tim:            To make you better?

Frank:          Hmm. No! I don’t believe in operations. I feel normal since I

have never known what it was like not having Cerebral Palsy. A major operation Just like that operation where they break your legs would make me feel disabled.

Tim:            Don’t you want to be able to walk properly and talk properly?

Frank:          I can walk! An op there would be cosmetic to please Able

Bodied people. Talking is hard work but I never want to be

able. It frightens me that One day I’ll wake up normal.

Tim:            Why?

Frank:          I’ll have lost my identity and life will have no aim to it- the

aim to go where no other CP has gone before.

Tim:            It must be hard having Cerebral Palsy

Frank:          Not really- it must be very boring being normal.

 

         They both laugh

 

Frank:          Do you like computers?

Tim:            Yes, I’ve a BBC Master.

Frank:          So have I. Would you like to come round after school? I have

Exile.

Tim:            Well…

 

                  Tim’s face changes. Frank works out what is on Tim’s mind. In

anger Frank slams his fists down.

 

Frank:          Its Nasher. I bloody hate him. He had a go at you for talking to

me, didn’t he?

Tim:            Yes – but I am not frightened of bullies and if I want to talk to

you I will. And I will come round.

Frank:          Okay. Thank you Tim, not many people disagree with Nasher.

Tim:            It’s a pleasure.

 

 

Scene 6: English

 

 

 

Mrs Lobby:   Today we are going to discuss minority groups. Who can name one? Yes, you, Tim?

Tim:            Handicapped people

Nasher:        Yes Manks

Mrs Lobby:   That’s no way to talk about the handicapped. No Tim,

handicapped people are not a minority group, they … Frank,

what do you want?

Frank:          Ma’am, we are a minority group, we have less rights than black

people. Also I and other disabled people are not handicapped

and do not like being called handicapped.

Mrs Lobby:   Why not?

Frank:          Disabled is a statement Eg you cant walk. Handicapped is what

people tell you can not do, such as if you said I can’t do an

exam because I can’t write then you will be handicapping me but if you asked me whether I could do the exam then you wouldn’t.

Mrs Lobby:   Yes but you are handicapped because you have Cerebral Palsy.

Frank:          Yes, only in the fact that society says I can not work and lead a

normal life. With the right attitude and the right equipment

no-one is handicapped.

Mrs Lobby:   I see your point.

Nasher:        I think manks should be shot at birth.

Tim:            Are you a Nazi or what?

Mrs Lobby:   Nasher! Report to the head for discriminating a minority group. So Disabled people are a minority group….

 

Scene 7: After School

 

 

 

Tim and Frank are playing on Frank’s computer. Ted walks in.

 

Ted:            Who is this?

Frank:          This is Tim, he is a new pupil at Wood boys. Tim, this is Ted,

my lazy brother, it was his first day too.

Tim:            Hi

Ted:            Hello. Its not often Frank invites a friend around.

Frank:          Its not often I have any friends to invite.

Tim:            I can imagine.

 

Mum walks in with a tray.

 

Mum:           Hi Frank, here are some biscuits for you and your friend.

Frank:          Thanks Mum.

Ted:            Where is mine?

Mum:           Cant you get your own?

Ted:            Yes but mum?

Mum:           Look Ted, you know Frank can’t get biscuits and anyway he has

visitors.

 

 

Frank smiles to Ted.

Ted and Mum walk out

 

Tim:            Nice family

Frank:          Hmm. Yes Mum is very nice and has supported me in having a

normal life but believes that one day I will be able.

Tim:            What’s wrong with that?

Frank:          False hopes. I have always accepted that this body is mine and

the amazing cure will never come so why wait?

Tim:            Yes, sad. It’s a pity you’ll never be normal?

Frank:          Don’t pity me, I may not be normal but this doesn’t mean I

can’t enjoy life, even sex.

Tim:            Fair point. Five o’clock, I must go. Bye!

Frank:          Bye!

 

 

Scene 8: Family

 

 

Frank and his Mum are watching TV

 

Mum:           Nice day frank?

Frank:          Okay, the usual horrible day.

Mum:           Nice Frank, mixing well with everyone?

Frank:          Yes Mum.

Mum:           Did you watch the news?

Frank:          No, why?

Mum:           There was an item about a child with Cerebral Palsy who was

awarded damages for the mistake at birth.

Frank:          Like the cock-up at my birth?

Mum:           Yes, he was awarded £20000.

Frank:          Not much.

Mum:           Yes but would it be worth having a go? We could do with the

money with all that extra clothes, food and equipment I have

to buy.

Frank:          Well, I do not remember it and unlike most people I believe

that disabilities are not that bad. Saying that it is the doctor’s

fault that I am Disabled, a better doctor and I could have been normal, what a horrible thought. Very confusing.

Mum:           We could use the money to have an operation to make you

normal.

Frank:          No Mum, you know my opinions on that.

Mum:           I still think it will benefit you.

Frank:          Did going white benefit Michael Jackson?

Mum:           Why?

Frank:          Never mind (chuckle) Never mind.

 

 

Scene 9: Diary

 

 

Frank is writing the day on his computer

 

Computer     Monday September 5th 1989

                  What a day! Not bad for a severely handicapped child. I hate

that label, ain’t people with glasses handicapped? But they are normal. In English we discussed minority groups and mainly how black people are portrayed, in my opinion they moan too much, they have a good education, good jobs and are accepted by the media as normal but of course they want more! It is all right for black people to want more but not for disabled people, the charity of Britain. When it comes to human rights I’d rather be black than disabled.

 

I missed RE today because of Miss Eye. Shame, some Christians

were coming in and I wanted to prove God didn’t exist by

asking if he exists why am I disabled? Always gets them!

 

Miss Eye still didn’t realise that I don’t enjoy being called a

mank 24 hours a day. She says that because I am disabled I

expect not to be bullied therefore I am In the wrong. I thought schools condemned bullying not accepted it!

 

Tim is very nice, he treats me like I feel, normal and not what

I look like, Ugly. I know I am being harsh but I am Ugly, this does not mean I won’t get married or have children.

 

Its been a normal day! Tomorrow will be the same. Even with

my problems and morons like Nasher, I enjoy being disabled, I

really do! I enjoy being me:

 

Frank:          Normal.

 

 

    …IMPORTANT NOTICE…

 

The comments made in scene 9 regarding black people were not meant to cause offence but highlight the difference in public awareness between race and Disability issues. These comments are no longer supported by either Simon Stevens or Enable Enterprises since they are contrary to current equal

Opportunity policy.

 

 

Between the lines

 

 

Simon Stevens gives an insight of the creation of Normality and the reasons behind it.

 

One September evening in 1991 I was in the back of a car on the way to Ready and Able, a sports club for People with Dysabilities in Horsham, when I had an idea. The idea was of a sit-com based on a person with Cerebral Palsy who ran a company at home. The next day I watched a programme about a group of students who wrote a play about a person with Cerebral Palsy, this made me determined to write my own play. A few days latter I began to write character list, as I did it seemed to turn into the play it is today.

 

I showed the play so far to the head of drama at Collyer’s 6th Form College, where I was studying and he agreed to put the play on. So over the next few days I wrote the first draft of Normality, then it was called Young and Able. In October 1991, I met the cast for the first and with their help extended the play into final version which was published.

 

Normality does not try to tell a story, only to provide a slice of life. The play has varied meanings from school life to the frustrations of trying to be normal. I renamed the play to normality since it seemed to provide a common denominator in all aspects of the play.

 

Many people have commented on the fact that the play seemed to have been written in anger. This is probably true since I wanted to portray what my school was like and after five years of being bullied you would expect a bit of resentment (wouldn’t you).

 

I choose Frank as the name of my main character after my imaginary identical twin brother. Frank was born when a friend saw me in the cinema and I made him believe that it wasn’t me, it was Frank! Normality seemed the ideal opportunity for Frank to have his first star role.

 

I did not use real names for legal reasons, for weeks I was scared of being sued (mainly by my brother). With fiction I was able to squeeze the thoughts, events and experiences of many weeks into one single day. Also fiction writing allowed me to stretch the truth to fit the play.

 

At points the play in very complex issue in a few paragraphs. Although somewhat strong stuff it is balanced out by some very witty remarks, my favourite is;

 

Tim    So what is your handicap?

Frank  Sorry, I don’t play golf

 

This witty remark shows how much Frank resents the word handicap which is expanded in scene 6. This is just one of my comments which tries to show the problems with disabled and non-disabled relations and how integration needs a lot of work. Bullying is a major part of the pay tries to explain that this is due to misunderstandings.

 

I have had much feedback from the play. Most people enjoyed the play and some found it very interesting. A small few found the play negative, I can

Understand how they get that idea and accept it is a valid point. I think those few are trying to find something in my play that does not exist and if they knew me better they would know what I meant. This is expected since with any subject there are always those who have a minority view to express including myself at times.

 

Collyer’s adapted the play for their performance so it was set in a mixed school since 80% of the cast was female although the main aspects remained. I was Involved with every minute of the play, through the weeks of rehearsals, set building and much more. I did not want to play Frank because I wanted to see how a non-disabled actor would deal with it and if I had played Frank it would allow the content of the play to work fully. In the last days before the premier I had heard and seen the play about fifty times and spent many 100s of hours just trying to make sure it did not misrepresent my ideology, I had enough and I was going slightly mad.

 

The premier was nervous especially since my step-dad was watching, I can not remember if I enjoyed that night but the other three times I watched it (and The audience) I did. Whenever I think about those four nights I get a great buzz of excitement and satisfaction that my words typed on this very same computer that I am using now had turned into a living piece of art. I can remember after the last performance walking from to the Indian Restaurant to the cast party in the icy cold at midnight thinking how unbelievable it had all been, that moment I shall always remember.

 

Over the years I have discovered more and more meaning in Normality. While many of the views are dated as I have become more aware of disability issues it still provides an historic insight into the views of a disabled teenager caugtht in an environment which deems him a freak. I am currently writing Normality 2, an insight into being a disabled student in Higher Education.

 

I hope this has answered many of the questions bout Normality, if you have any other questions please write to me

 

©1991 Simon Stevens