David, a wheelchair user
(Optional) Non-speaking. Volunteer from audience.
The words addressed to the ‘volunteer’ can be addressed to the audience.
At a conference. DAVID, is in a wheelchair.
LUKE: It’s hot today. Phew! (hangs coat on wheelchair).
DAVID: Excuse me. (indicates coat).
LUKE: Oh, sorry!
DAVID: Hi, I’m David..
LUKE: Oh, Hi. PLEASED TO MEET YOU!
DAVID: Pleased to meet you.
LUKE: LUKE. LUKE MEDDLER. CONFERENCE ORGANISER. JUST WAITING FOR OUR PLENARY SPEAKER. VERY DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR, YOU KNOW.
DAVID: Well, actually, I’m …
LUKE: (to volunteer) It must be very difficult for him..…
DAVID: Yes, things could be better.
LUKE: (to volunteer) It must be a hard life. (to audience) I have a cousin who is … ‘handicapped’. So I know what it’s like. Yes, he needs a lot of attention. Can’t do anything on his own. Pity. It’s incredibly HARD on the family. (to volunteer) What does he do?
DAVID: I teach …
LUKE: A TEACHER! REALLY? THAT MUST BE VERY HARD
(LUKE pats DAVID like a dog, leans on chair)
DAVID: Well, not really. You know …
LUKE (patting DAVID again) WELL, GOOD FOR YOU! (to volunteer). There’s so much running around to do, isn’t there? Ooops! I mean, moving around…rushing around, you know, and nowadays kids are so … and him being, you know.
DAVID: It’s not a problem. I can manage.
LUKE: (to volunteer) Is there a ramp?
DAVID A ramp?
LUKE: (to volunteer): At the school. You know, for ‘handicapped’ people.
DAVID: Yes, the students campaigned for one. Now the whole campus is disabled-access friendly.
LUKE: (to volunteer): What does he teach?
DAVID: I teach English.
LUKE: ENGLISH? EH? THAT’S INTERESTING. (to AUDIENCE) of course, it wouldn’t be gymnastics, would it?
DAVID: (overhears): Actually, there are quite a few gym teachers with disabilities. .
LUKE: Oh, yes. Of course. DO YOU… ER … SORRY, ER …?
LUKE: Yes, of course, do you have an assistant?
DAVID: An assistant?
LUKE: TO HELP
LUKE: WITH THE LESSONS!
LUKE: TO HELP WITH THE LESSONS.
DAVID No, I teach on my own. I manage…
LUKE: ON YOUR OWN? THAT’S TOUGH. PITY. DO THEY MISBEHAVE?
DAVID: You just need to motivate them. As always.
LUKE: THEY DON’T YOU KNOW PULL YOUR LEG, TO COIN A PHRASE!! (embarrassed silence; then to volunteer). … Was it an accident?
DAVID: An accident?
LUKE: YOU KNOW … THE WHEELCHAIR?
DAVID: No …I chose it.
LUKE: (to volunteer): How long has he been … er … ‘handicapped’? Oh, I mean ‘differently-abled’? Must watch our language, eh? Political correctness and all that.
DAVID: Could we go and see the amphitheatre now? I’d like to check the equipment, if that’s alright.
LUKE: OK BUT I HAVE TO WAIT HERE FOR OUR PLENARY SPEAKER. (to audience) Well, I wonder where he’s got to … (to DAVID, leaning on wheelchair). Our main, speaker, if you know what I mean.
DAVID: Yes, I do know what you mean. I’d like to check the powerpoint now, please …
LUKE: Yes, of course. It’s time to go. We’re late. We’d better run. OOPS, SORRY. I FORGOT. I MEAN – WALK … ER, YOU KNOW … GO. HERE, LET ME TAKE YOUR BAG FOR YOU …
DAVID: No thanks, I’d rather hang on to it, if you don’t mind. It’s got my notes in it – for my talk.
LUKE: RIGHT, OF COURSE. I’LL TAKE THE CHAIR. (stands behind the chair and starts pushing)
DAVID: Please, I can manage …
LUKE: OK, OK … SO YOU’RE GIVING A TALK TOO, ARE YOU? WHAT WILL IT BE? A WORKSHOP…?
DAVID: Actually, it’s my plenary talk; it’s on Respect and Understanding Towards Wheelchair Users.
LUKE: Respect and Understanding? Plenary? But Mr Johnson’s plenary …
DAVID: Johnson. David Johnson.
LUKE: AH, YES, OF COURSE – YOU’RE DAVID JOHNSON – PROFESSOR JOHNSON FROM CAMBRIDGE YOU’RE GIVING THE FINAL PLENARY. WELL, WELCOME, WELCOME!!
DAVID: Thank you. I would like to see the room now.
LUKE: Yes, of course. (to audience) I didn’t realize!
(DAVID starts to get out of the chair)
LUKE: HEY, WAIT. LET ME GIVE YOU A HAND … BE CAREFUL … HERE, GIVE ME YOUR HAND … I’LL TAKE YOUR BAG …
DAVID: It’s OK, thanks. I can manage.
LUKE: NO, NO, PLEASE. I’LL HELP YOU. I’LL TAKE THE CHAIR – PLEASE ALLOW ME …
DAVID: It’s alright.
LUKE: NO, NO, PLEASE … MY PLEASURE …
DAVID: (hanging on to bag) It’s OK, thank you. (stands and moves towards the door)
LUKE: But … I thought you couldn’t walk …
DAVID: Look, let me explain. I have recently developed a condition which prevents me from standing upright for very long, or walking without great difficulty. So I am now very often a wheelchair-user – but not all the time. You see, there are different kinds of disability…
Luke: Yes, yes, of course, professor.
DAVID: Now, if you don’t mind I’d like to check the powerpoint equipment, please …
LUKE: Yes, of course, Professor Johnson. This way, please….
(fade – Luke follows David as he walks off; the wheelchair is left onstage)