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Title: Presented Without Courtesy
Author: Musette Morell
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Language: English
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Presented Without Courtesy

A Comedy

by

Musette Morell


Australian Youth Plays [Note]
General Editor: Leslie Rees, B.A.
Senior Series No. 2
Angus and Robertson 1948


(This play was a prize-winner in Angus & Robertson's
competition for young people's plays, 1947)


Notes on Production appear at the end of the play

THE CHARACTERS.

MR BLATANT An American manager of an Australian commercial broadcasting station
JIMMY A young copy-writer
MISS TYPER A typist
DAVID NEWERA Australia's most perfect young man
DAVID'S TUTOR

VOICES OVER THE RADIO
Commercial Voice
Woman's voice
Man's Voice
Genteel Voice
Emotional Voice
Antiseptic Voice
1st, 2nd,3rd, 4th, 5th Voices
Intimate Voice

THE SCENE.

A Broadcasting Station. Part, it not all, back of stage is draped. Standing at centre back is a large property radio. Behind it and the drapes, and so unseen by the audience, are the actors and the gramophone to provide effects when the radio is supposedly turned on. Right and left, towards rear, green baize swing doors. Across one corner, but standing well out from it, is a luxurious settee. Down front, a bit to one side, is the microphone. Above it is the signal light.

* * *

As the curtain rises Mr Blatant, a flashily-dressed stout man, comes in from right and is crossing smartly to the door at left when he suddenly halts, as though remembering something, retraces his steps to door at right, opens it and shouts off:

BLATANT. Hi, Miss Typer, let me know the minute Nooera shows up.

[He is hurrying left again and has almost reached the door when Miss Typer comes in from right. She is smart, pretty and diffident.

MISS TYPER. Excuse me, Mr Blatant—

BLATANT (halting impatiently). Well?

MISS TYPER. I'm sorry, but I didn't catch the name you said.

BLATANT (turning). Nooera. N-E-W, Noo. E-R-A, era. Nooera. I'm expecting him any minute.

MISS TYPER (gasping). Not—not David Newera.

BLATANT (smiling). Yep. David Nooera, the masculine Venus, the wonder boy, the specimen that's got 'em all talking.

MISS TYPER (overwhelmed). Do you mean he is coming here to broadcast? Here?

BLATANT. Yep.

MISS TYPER. But I thought—

BLATANT. We've changed all that. He broadcasts from this stoodio—right here.

MISS TYPER (closing her eyes). Then I'll see him. (Opens eyes) Oh, but he can't possibly be all they say...no one could. (Going to the door) I suppose he'll be just another advertisement. (Goes out)

BLATANT (bellowing after her). Here, can that talk...it ain't loyal.

[Once more he makes for the door at left, but is again halted, this time by the entrance of a gangling youth of seventeen who dashes in from right, brandishing a manuscript.

MISS TYPER (calling). Mr Blatant—Mr Blatant!

[The manager turns impatiently.

BLATANT. Well!

JIMMY (in a rush). I've been looking for you everywhere to ask you—(Pauses self-consciously)

BLATANT. Spill it.

JIMMY. I—I was hoping to get your opinion on this advertising copy I've been writing for you.

BLATANT. Why didn't you leave it on my desk?

JIMMY. I did Mr Blatant, for two days—but you didn't read it.

BLATANT. Where is it now?

JIMMY. Here, sir.

[The copy-writer hands the script to the manager, who sits, scans it hurriedly, a dark frown gathering on his face.

BLATANT. Jimmy, Jimmy, this copy of yours won't do at all.

JIMMY. Which one is that, Mr Blatant, the one for the hair, teeth, or breath?

BLATANT. All of 'em.

JIMMY (disappointed). Oh! (Quickly) But I said the hair lotion contained the brighter brilliantine, had hygienic and restorative properties, and that the powder—

BLATANT (slapping his knee). Yep! Yep! Yep! But they can read all that on the bottle, the tube and the carton when, and if, they buy 'em. What your copy has to do is to force them to buy

JIMMY. Force? You mean persuade, don't you, Mr Blatant?

BLATANT. I said force, and I mean force.

JIMMY. Er—not physical force?

BLATANT. Nerts—you could deal with only half-a-dozen or so prospective customers thata way. But with mental force you contact thousands, millions, thousands of millions. Now, what's the greatest force in the world today?

JIMMY. Er—er—

BLATANT. Snap into it.

JIMMY. Er—wait jiff.

BLATANT. K.Y.J.—Know your Job. The greatest force in the world today is fear, of course. You've gotta appeal to the fears of the listeners. Rub off their starch—get beneath their skin—touch 'em on the raw! Appeal to their inferiority complex—they've all got one. Appeal to their frustrated and repressed emotions-they're all volcanic with them. (Looking at papers) Now looka here at this ballyhoo of yours for powder. Whata you expect that to do when it's read over the air?

JIMMY (near tears). But I said they could see it's got—

BLATANT (roaring). Forget it. It's not what they see but what they feel makes the sales. Anyway if they could see at all they'd see there ain't a cockroach's whisker between one powder and the next. But feeling's different—that's where fear takes the big punch. And you gotta learn how to deliver it. You gotta make them million little shop-girls and stenographers fear that unless they use Honeymoon Powder, their chances of a honeymoon, orange-blossom and happiness are N-I-X, nix. Make each girl feel a lemon; tell her she'll never be the apple of a man's eye, or one of a pair, unless!!! Show her lonely in a penthouse, and finally in a pauper's grave, because she lacked P. and I. Perspicacity and initiative to use the one-and-only, cure-for-the-lonely—Hon-ee-moon Pow-der!

JIMMY. Oh!

BLATANT. Are you catching the idea?

JIMMY (admiringly). Well, Mr Blatant, you make it sound so marvellous; I mean so swell, so grand.

BLATANT (pained). Grandiose, Jimmy, grandiose. Never use grand where you can use grandiose, and never use grandiose when you can use stoopendous or colossal. In America we useda use "grand" way back in the dim agags—it's not noo, Jimmy; it's not modern. The word's strictly dated, outmoded. It's debunked, liquidated, it's—

JIMMY (in haste to stem the flow). Oh, Mr Blatant, I meant to tell you, we've received a letter from a chemist saying he has analysed the products we advertise and that none of them can do what we say they do; he says that the hair restorer couldn't grow hair on a Fijian, and that the face-cream—

BLATANT. It ain't the product—it's the way it's presented gets results. Gee, here I've been telling you—

JIMMY. But, Mr Blatant, what I mean is, if that sort of thing gets around, sales will fall off and then we—

BLATANT (booming). It won't get around. Nobody listens to analysts. What is an analyst anyway? Just a guy green with envy coz he ain't got a racket. Now you've made me go and forget what I was telling you.

JIMMY (quickly). You were telling me how to appeal to the public's fear—

BLATANT. Oh yeah. Well, fear's the touchstone, the electric button, the fuse that ignites the bomb that blows folks into action. See? Play on folks' fears and you'll get 'em emoting, get 'em responding, so's they'll give —give their coin, I mean. Remember it was our fear-advertising telling girls that a mole any place is worse than a bunion on your face that sent every dame with a mole scampering up to pay 7s. 6d. for its removal, even though the salon was three flights up, and down a back street—so's they had practically no rent to pay! There's advertising for you! Okay?

JIMMY. Okay.

BLATANT. You've gotta thunder the secret that unless— [He breaks off as the door at left opens and the typist's head appears.

BLATANT. Well, is the world's wonder here?

MISS TYPER. Not yet, Mr Blatant—I am just looking for someone.

BLATANT. You stay put at the desk till he comes. And the split second he comes, give me the whistle.

MISS TYPER (dutifully). Yes, Mr Blatant.

[She disappears for a moment. The next she is in the room, shy but excited.

MISS TYPER. Excuse me, but oh, Mr Blatant, is Mr Newera really all his build-up says he is?

BLATANT (pompously). He's Australia's, I mean the world's, most perfect specimen of young manhood.

[Her face lights up. Forgetting her shyness, and herself, she skips out, singing under her breath.

MISS TYPER. The world's most perfect young man—the world's most perfect young man—the world's most perfect—

[The closing door shuts out the rest.

BLATANT. Now what was I saying when that swooner crooner interrupted?

JIMMY. You were saying—

BLATANT. I was saying you gotta thunder the secret that unless our listeners use Casteroll's Death-to-Breath Sweet-Pops, their breath will scatter even their closest pals world wide. Even their hardiest friends won't stand for it. Make 'em realize that unless— (Miss Typer has reappeared, smiling inanely) Well, what now? Yep, he's got two eyes and wears his nose above his mouth, in the usual place, and— (Breaks odd as he sees her rapt expression)

MISS TYPER. Oh, Mr Blatant, he's here—I mean Mr Newera's here. And, oh, Mr Blatant, he's really perfect, just as his publicity says.

BLATANT. So Lord Godiver's arrived, has he? Well, now I'll have to go put this paragon over the air.

MISS TYPER. He's in the Green Room, Mr Blatant. We girls were just saying he won't need any of the lines we advertise. He's oh, Mr Blatant, Robert Taylor [or the current film heart-throb] can't hold a candle to him—

BLATANT. He can lose 'em all, huh?

MISS TYPER. He certainly can, he's—oh, we girls are just crazy about him already.

BLATANT (walking out). Well, let us get a close-up of his scenery. (Turns back) No, you can show him in here.

MISS TYPER. Yes, Mr Blatant. ( Goes out. walking on air)

BLATANT. And now, Jimmy, carry on with that copy like I told you. Don't forget fear's the target to shoot at. Fear takes the big punch. Fear's the weak spot situated next their pocket. Touch 'em on it and you have their money in the shop. Alrightee?

JIMMY. Alrightee.

[The door opens and Miss Typer ushers in David and his refined and scholarly looking tutor. She goes out backwards, her eyes glued on the almost incredibly handsome David.

BLATANT. Howdy, folks.

TUTOR. Mr Blatant? BLATANT. That's me.

[They shake hands.

TUTOR. I am Mr Newera's tutor. Allow me to present David Newera—

BLATANT. So this is the prize beauty my typist tells me has got all the girls loco. (Admiringly) Well, I don't want to flatter, but—(Guffaws and grasps David's hand, pumping strenuously)

TUTOR (coughs). David, this is Mr Blatant, the manager of this radio station.

DAVID. How do you do.

BLATANT. Skip it, Jimmy!

[Jimmy has been making a close inspection. He has already combed his hair to comply with David's hairdo and is now bending to see his socks. In obedience to the manager's command he jerks upright and, still gaping, goes out backwards, tripping over his feet at the door. Blatant looks after hint irritably, then turns to his guests, rubbing his hands and booming heartily.

BLATANT. Well, now, we're all set. It isn't time to announce you yet, but I'll introduce you round.

DAVID. If you don't mind—

TUTOR. Er—David is just a little nervous. You see, its his first broadcast—he hasn't even spoken in public yet.

BLATANT (not impressed). Is that so?

TUTOR. Well, you see he became twenty-one only today. And as you know, it was his guardian's wish that until he reached his majority he should live protected from all worldly taint.

BLATANT. Worldly taint!—You mean broadcasting? Huh, that's a goody. I must tell the boys thata one.

TUTOR. I was about to say that since the occasion is a somewhat nerve-racking one for David, perhaps he could stay here until the actual minute he is to broadcast.

BLATANT. Sure, sure. Make yourself cosy, Mr Newera. There a radio there you might like to listen to whilst I play y'r theme music in the other studio. The record to introdooce you, you know.

DAViD. A radio? (He crosses to it)

BLATANT. Yep. Go ahead. Don't mind anyone—room is sound proof.

TUTOR. David has never seen a radio. His education has been most exclusive.

BLATANT. Exclusive! I'll say—why it hasn't begun yet. Turn the dials, Mr Nooera, and be introdooced to the great new world you live in.

DAVID. Dials? Do you mean these lithe knobs?

BLATANT. Atta boy. I'll take your tootor along with me, and you can have it all on your lonesome. (Walking out) Coming, Mr—er—

TUTOR. Thank you, Mr Blatant.

[They go out. David is alone with the radio.

DAVID (softly). I think I'll turn this knob. Oh, I see, it controls a silver needle which points to illuminated numerals. (Blaring jazz comes out of the radio. It quickly dims as he turns the dial) Oh! What a horrible noise—something must be wrong with the instrument. I'll turn the knob again.

[The jazz fades out and a man's voice fades in.

COMMERCIAL VOICE (coaxingly). Remember, ladies, though only a strong woman can lift a man up, even a weak woman can throw him away. Why be weak? Why throw him away? Why not take that extra forty minutes over your toilet and make certain of your power to keep him always?

GENTEEL VOICE. You must use Jungle Soap. No person of refinement, of charm, chic, allure, of fastidiousness can afford not to use Jungle Soap.

WOMAN'S VOICE (authoritatively). You must use Jungle Soap.

MAN'S VOICE (rapidly). Do you wish to be radiant?

GENTEEL VOICE. Compelling—

WOMAN'S VOICE. Irresistible—

MAN'S VOICE (high pressure). Then there's only one thing for you—

GENTEEL VOICE. One thing to do—

WOMAN'S VOICE (coaxingly). And you know it's true—

ALL. USE—UNGLE—SOAP!!!

DAVID. Oh! (He turns the knob hurriedly. The radio is silent) What extraordinary voices—they oppress Me—they make my blood run cold. I'll turn the knob again.

[But all the voices sound as though they have been trained by Mr Blatant, for they all play on fear.

EMOTIONAL VOICE. You may think you are well. But for the sake of your kidneys, beware of easy illusions. You can't be well unless you take Mustak. So buy our—(Fade)

DAVID. Queer! (He turns the dial around slowly)

1ST ANTISEPTIC voter. How are your teeth? Do you—(Fade)

2ND VOICE. Do you neglect your hair? Or do you use—(Fade)

3RD VOICE. Your hands—do they repulse people? Then use—

4TH VOICE. Remember undisinfected breath is social death so don't forget to use—

5TH VOICE. Do you keep your pores open by using—

[The dial is turned and there is blessed silence.

DAVID (softly). I hadn't dreamed it would be like this. So this is the world I live in. (Turns dial)

HUSHED INTIMATE VOICE (over radio). There is something unclean about the human being, something offensive, so that but for the discoverers of Fumigatoyd, it would be quite impossible for the sensitive person to mix with his fellows. But for Fumigatoyd the fate of humanity would indeed be a sorry one. (Alert syncopated tones) Remember, it's because not even your father, mother, sister, brother will tell you, that I (Intimate tone) take it on myself to do so. You are quite unfit, unfit is the word, to move about amongst your own kind until you are de-odorized—shall we say, dehumanized?

VOICE (high pressure). Are you savoury? Are you approachable? Have you hygienic personality? Have you—(Fade)

DAVID (turning off the radio and springing to his feet). No—no—NO!

[He buries his face in his hands, then controls himself as the door opens and Mr Blatant, followed by the tutor, enters.

BLATANT. Nearly time for you to spruik, Mr Nooera. Your theme music's playing in the other studio. Would you like to hear it?—I'll switch on the radio.

DAVID (involuntarily). No! (More quietly) Er—thank you, but I'd rather not.

TUTOR. Are you ready, David?

BLATANT. Stand over here, Mr Nooera. (Propelling him) Not too close—don't hug the mike. There, that's it. Now we gotta let the music finish, then I'll introduce you. (Gets script from pocket)

TUTOR. How will you know when the music's finished?

BLATANT. When that little light up there pops on, I let her rip.

TUTOR. You mean the light is a signal for you to speak?

BLATANT. Yep (While the manager and the tutor watch for the light, David slowly backs his way out of the room) There's the light now.

BLATANT (to the mike, honey-sweet, reading from script). And that music, the March of Progress, listeners, was to introduce to you David Newera, the most perfect young man of today—of any day. David Newera represents a noo era in manhood, in health, vitality, and idealism. No need to tell you of his history —you all know how he seas born. You all know that he is the answer to the Eugenists' prayer—that he was bred as carefully as any racehorse; that he was reared and educated away from the world. David Newera is as innocent of our way of life as a being from another planet. For instance, he has never been inside a theatre, never listened to a radio, never mixed with ordinary folk. There is much criticism passed on our day and on our way of life today, but David Newera is the answer to such pessimists, for it can truly be said that the pinnacle of our commercial and mechanical civilization has been reached now that we can not only breed but broadcast a really perfect specimen of the human race. So, listeners, I now have the honour to present through the courtesy of—

TUTOR (sotto). We have no sponsor—

BLATANT. Er—we present him without courtesy—I mean, this young man comes to you purely non-mercenary—er, that is through the courtesy of his public-spirited guardians, and their most laudatory, stupendous, colossal magnanimity and altruism in—(Turns, sees David is not there and gesticulates frantically to the tutor) altruism—er—in—quick, push him on to the mike. (Aloud) Altruism—er—in wanting you to hear what a really—(Turns to gesticulate) a really perfect young man sounds like—er—speaking to you in his—er—own voice. (Sotto) Where is he? Fetch him! Fetch him!

[The tutor has been looking wildly around the room. He now rushes to open the door on right, peers out, and closes it again.

TUTOR (worried). I can't find him.

BLATANT. David Newera is the sensation of the moment—the greatest spectacle ever screened—er—broadcast. He's terrific in a positively volcanic way. (Sotto) Where is he?

TUTOR (at the other door). I don't know.

BLATANT. Er—pardon this unavoidable delay. (The human touch) David Newera is just doing up his—er—tying his—er—hair—I mean—(Losing his temper) Oh, confound it!

[He rushes right to pull open the door and yell, "Slam on a record!" The green light goes out. So does tutor. Blatant walks up and down, raging.

BLATANT (raging). Now. Where's that wise guy? What's he holding out for? If it's grain, he's getting no dough from me.

TUTOR (entering). You know he's broadcasting freely.

BLATANT. Then why the heck don't he broadcast? He's gotta play ball. Now get that, and get him!

TUTOR (helplessly) But I told you—

BLATANT. Find him—he cant have flown up the chimney.

TUTOR (walking out). Well, I'll look again.

BLATANT. Son-of-a—— Thinks he can get me outa here to dictate terms to me, does he? Well, I don't budge. He'll cone to me. Yes, siree—He'll come to me! And whatever it is he wants he don't get it. Not by a long chalk. (The tutor comes in. He looks like a dying man) Well, did you find him?

TUTOR. I—I—

BLATANT. Well—well?

TUTOR (choking). He—oh, it's too awful.

BLATANT. Awful's not the word—but he'll pay for it. Bring him in. (Suddenly) Here, what's the matter? No, no, you can't faint in here. Where is he?

TUTOR. I—I—

BLATANT. He can't have vanished out the window.

TUTOR. That's what he did.

BLATANT. What? You mean he—?

TUTOR. Yes.

BLATANT. Don't say he took the dive—croaked. Hey, he can't do that to me. What's his game?

TUTOR. He—left—this—note.

BLATANT (tense). Read it.

TUTOR (reads slowly and dully). "I realize now why I was left in this room with this radio. It was in order to have the news broken to me that I am second-grade and therefore an impostor. But please believe me when I say that I am an innocent one. I had never before realized my inferiority. No one had ever hinted my need for Jungle Soap, Mustak, or Fumigatoyd. I am sorry to disappoint the world and my kind guardians. But now when I realize I am not as advertised there is only one thing to do. Yours in despair, David Newera." (Brokenly) Dead—this will just about kill his guardians.

BLATANT (screaming). And what about me—me! With the whole network from here to there and back again tied up for his broadcast—and now I'll have to announce that the blame fool's committed—(Electrically) But wait! Gee! What did he say? He felt inferior because he hadn't used—By hokey! Perfect Specimen Leaps from Eighth Storied Window Because He Hadn't Used—Oh boy, oh boy, this is the greatest ad. ever!!!! (Rushing to door to open it, booming) Jimmy, Jimmy, slam down on that record and let me at the microphone. I've got something to give the world!

[The greed light flicks on. Eyes popping, mouth wide open, he clutches the microphone as...

THE CURTAIN FALLS


NOTES ON PRODUCTION

This play does not present any production problems and could be given simply with the stage draped in curtains.

Since the turning of the radio dial is supposed to control the fading in and out of the radio voices David's hand should not leave the dial while the radio is switched on.

David should be made up to look sun-tanned and healthy and dressed distinctively—perhaps all in white; at any rate with good taste and so in contrast to the ostentation of Blatant.


ANGUS & ROBERTSON'S AUSTRALIAN YOUTH PLAYS

are designed to meet the growing need for good dramatic material in the ever-increasing numbers of Australian schools in which play production is becoming a part of the curriculum.

The plays are divided into two series, Junior and Senior, to suit pupils below and above the approximate age of twelve. Bright young actors may like to try some of the Senior plays.

Plays of equal merit will, on submission, be carefully considered by the publishers with a view to publication as titles in the series.

All these plays have been performed, and lend themselves to practical stage work. They have been selected with the help of a Committee of the Department of Education, N.S.W., whose recommendation they bear.


THE END

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