Helen and Robert – a play – Act 2, Scene 1


A room somewhere in London: Planning for the demo

Petra, Frankie and Francesca are sitting at a table.

Petra: As you know, this is going to be a mix-n-match demo. We’ve teamed up with the Anti-racist groups as well as a load of the ‘I am other’ movements. We get a five minute platform and I’ve outlined a short speech …
Frankie: Yeah! Go Petra!
Petra Thanks Frankie. I’ll give it some welly. But we’ve got to watch our backs. There’s a counter demonstration planned – so things could get nasty.
Frankie: So what are you going to say? Let’s hear it.
Petra: Well, no jokes. Just simple, straight and – well, I hope I don’t get overcome – break down – or whatever; It happened once before – the emotion suddenly kicked-in big time – and got caught in my throat and it all bombed …
Frankie: You’ll be fine.
Petra: So this is the opening:

Sisters and Brothers – Hello – and thank you so much for being here. And thank you for standing up for the W A V E – for this ‘Women Against Violence Event’ and, of course, for ‘Stop Racism’ … We are here to say something very simple, something very basic, something fundamental about justice and the radiance of hope. We are here to say ‘enough is enough’ – that our culture, our society finally has to wake up, to stop accepting the status quo and to show the one thing that really matters – and that one thing is Respect – Respect for women, Respect for difference, Respect for being what we are – and that is HUMAN. In our humanity we are all equal. We are here not to blame, not to berate, not to hang people out to dry but to say: The time has come, at last, at long last – and forever – to stop violence against women, the violence behind closed doors, the casual everyday violence that deforms and ridicules and derogates girls and women. I can quote you a hundred million stats – stats that show how, on every count, women, are still not only second-class citizens – but worse … so I’m here today, we’re here today – to stop the long ordeal of womanhood and to say: You count, We count, All of us count – and we count in our shared humanity and our right for a full, safe and equal life …

Francesca: Wow – that’s amazing Petra – I’m feeling really moved – I feel alive – I’m feeling – Jesus – Christ I don’t know what I’m feeling …
Frankie: Spot on Petra. Stay with it. Go for it.
Petra: There’s more – but are you sure it’s OK?
Frankie: It’s more than OK. It’s about saying it from deep deep down …

(They pause and compose themselves)

Francesca: Look, here are a couple of words – you know slogans – for the banners … And, I’ve been persuading everyone I know to come. Even Dad is coming – along with Mum – Helen is too. Mum is really up for it.
Frankie: Although she’s a bit worried about the fascists – and, you know, she’s always worried about surveillance. And Dad is up for it – he said that Berlin – and the timeline – the year 1933, when the terror really kicked off – well that did it for him. He’s coming too – he’ll even carry a placard!
Petra: So, we’ll be meeting up outside the tube station in Regent’s park and then we’ll trek on down to Traf. Square. And good news: Even the Met. commissioner is making extra police available. I think deep down she’s on our side! The police have advised us not to respond to provocation. The fascists are in the usual nasty mood. So – be warned – and stay safe.

(To be continued)


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