CASSANDRA BANKS VETERAN TEACHER
V.O. WHILE CAMERA FOLLOWS A GROUP OF SEVEN YOUNG CHILDREN PLAYING ‘TAG’
I am six years old on the blacktop playground of a two-story brick Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am in an exhilarating chase and tag game with nameless children. Adrenaline is high. I am nimble and quick, but if I’m not, the risks are too high to imagine in daylight. I watch myself from the dark sidelines of my dream.
As each of us becomes “IT”, we begin to shrink. We understand that we will diminish out of existence and into nothingness unless we can tag someone else while we still have a body. Tagging someone cancels our own dilemma temporarily.
We regain our full corporeality within a split second, and make strategy adjustments. Whoever we just tagged now faces the same predicament: Reach out and touch someone, or disappear forever.
Resume Action on Present Day Playground
CRYSTAL, a six-year old girl, emerges from the crazy crowd energy in a stunning pink outfit and playful ponytail. She approaches CASSANDRA BANKS, whom she recognizes as a sort of Life Guard in a sea of personal problems. Her limbic system sees an ‘orange emergency cone.’
CASSANDRA BANKS wears an attractive vest of glow-in-the-dark tangerine netting and is willing to listen to CRYSTAL spill her guts. She leans down to listen, keeping her eye on the roiling activity around them.
(SHE ALSO SCANS THE CROWD AS SHE SPEAKS, KEEPING A SPECIFIC BOY IN SIGHT.)
That boy over there in the uh, he was over there by the slide and uh, he has a blue uh, that boy by the one with the football, uh, he ran behind the wall and uh…
What did the boy do?
Cassandra wonders privately:
Hit, kick, slap, trip, push, spit, take, grab, steal, lie, cheat, flip off, ridicule, touch privates, hug, kiss, mock, or eat your chips? Which?
He called me Poop Face.
OK, we’ve got a situation.
That must have been awful! Are you OK?
What happened just before he called you Poop Face?
I was just trying to make him stop eating his candy because my teacher says no one can’t eat on the playground.
What’s your name?
Why am I not surprised?
Do you know the boy’s name?
No, he ran away.
Well, Crystal, my name is Mrs. Banks. Thanks for letting me know about this. I want you to go find something fun to do now, before the bell rings. I’ll talk to that boy about the rules. You go ahead and play.
Crystal turns and skips away, ponytail wagging. The shoulder strap of her pink purse holds her pink poncho in place, so she can use both hands to fan out her pink skirt.
AN ELECTRONIC BELL SYSTEM RINGS FOUR TIMES. MOST CHILDREN STOP PLAYING AND ‘FREEZE’ IN PLACE. CASSANDRA WAITS FOR THE REST OF THE ACTIVITY TO HALT.
(PROJECTING TO INCLUDE EVERYONE ON THE PLAYGROUND)
When you hear the whistle, please walk to your line. Have a wonderful day!
SHE BLOWS HER WHISTLE
Some three hundred children between six and twelve years old criss-cross each other, giving high fives, gathering balls, backpacks, lunch bags, jackets, and sort themselves into twelve parallel lines across the blacktop to wait for their teachers to pick them up for class.
The inside part of the day is about to begin in twelve different worlds.