Fail Better: A Play for Voice by Simon Jones
(We open in the outskirts of Mos Eisley space port on the outer rim world of tattoine. This scene occurs during Star Wars…I refuse to call it Episode 4: A new Hope because I saw the movie before it was called that. It’s Star wars OK.)
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS IN SAND.
Kevin: Fancy that.
Nigel: Yeah, fancy that.
Kevin: Who would have thought that we would come across identical droids?
Nigel: Two identical droids.
Kevin: Not the droids we’re looking for though.
Nigel: (Slightly hypnotised)
Not the droids we’re looking for.
Kevin: Nice chap too. Helpful like. But what a strange coincidence? It’s like I keep telling you buddy. This universe is a strange a wonderful place ripe with possibility.
Nigel: That’s true. You do say that.
Kevin: Don’t just agree with me. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine.
Nigel: Well, OK. I am just not sure that I believe in all of that.
Kevin: You don’t believe in the bountiful riches of the galaxy?
Nigel: I could be described as a something of a skeptic, yes.
Nigel: I don’t think that my clone batch were bred for that sort of malarkey.
Kevin: Malarkey. How can you call it malarkey? How could you do that? When you think of all of the things we’ve seen. We have seen the universe…
Nigel: (under his breath)
From a troop carrier.
Kevin: Walked on the surfaces of countless worlds
Nigel: (under his breath)
And blown them up.
Kevin: Experienced exotic cultures and civilisations.
Nigel: (Under his breath)
And crushed them for the glory of the Empire.
Kevin: Sheesh…Nigel, there are days when I think that you don’t like this job.
Nigel: (picking his words carefully)
Well, I don’t like to say this…Maybe I should just leave well enough alone. No, I’ll say nothing.
Kevin: Just say what it is you were going to say.
Nigel: OK. OK. OK. Between you and me…this is just between us, right.
Kevin: Right. Yes, of course.
Nigel: I just find that the job a little bit…well, samey. We turn up. We get deployed. We shoot at stuff. We inevitably hit it because we’re quite accurate. And then we go home…Actually we don’t go home, because we don’t have a home. We just go on to the next thing and shoot other things.
Kevin: If I was to summarise your comments, would it be fair to say are experiencing a lack of job satisfaction then?
Nigel: That seems a accurate summary, yes.
Kevin: Have you thought of what else you might do?
Nigel: It hasn’t really come up. I’ve looked at the vacancies on the Empirenet. They’re looking for a different skill set.
Kevin: Like what?
Nigel: Project management. At least 5 years experience. C’mon, how are you going to get that sort of experience during a galactic war?
Kevin: Let’s reframe this and look at what you have to offer the prospective employer. What are your core skills?
Nigel: Storm trooping. Shooting at things. And people. Quite a bit of shooting a people these days.
Kevin: I see the problem. That’s quite a gap between…more of chasm really
Nigel: The other option is to work my way up the ranks, but ultimately if I because a Sergeant or Squadron commander, I’m still just a Stormtrooper. I’m still there to shoot things, but get a little patch on my shoulder.
Kevin: Ssssh…Here comes the Sarge.
SOUND: Footsteps in sand.
SARGE: Troopers report.
Kevin: Nothing much. A couple of Jawas.
Nigel: Little feckers.
Kevin: And the usual Mos Eisley scum and villainy.
SARGE: Nothing else?
Kevin: An old bloke and a young fella in a speeder. With a couple of droids.
SARGE: Droids? What kind or droids?
Kevin: A little astromech I think? That’s right isn’t it?
Nigel: Yeah. An astromech…And a protocol droid. Shiny.
Kevin: Strange to see a protocol droid out here on such a backward hole of a planet, now that you come to think of it.
SARGE: You didn’t seize them?
Kevin: That’s quite a funny story actually. And I can see where you’re going with this Sarge, but allow me to put your mind at rest. Let it trouble you no more. We thought the same thing and we were going to seize the droids, but of course they’re not the droids we’re looking for.
Nigel: Not the droids we’re looking for.
SARGE: You two stand there. Do. Not. Move. Or I will shoot you somewhere painful. Repeatedly.
SARGE: Unit 1138, the unsubs have been spotted near Mos Eisley spaceport. Request a hard-target search.
(some radio noise)
I want it yesterday.
Nigel: Do you think the Sarge is cross?
Kevin: Maybe. A bit.
Nigel: Do you think he’s cross with us? Because he seems cross.
Kevin: Probably just having a bad day.It is quite warm and of course that would you irritable. No, it will all be fine. Mark my words, this will all work out for the best.
SOUND: Music scene break
(So things have moved on a bit. We’re still in Star Wars…we will take the whole New Hope/Episode 4 stuff as read, shall we? We are on the death Star…the first one)
SOUND: Footsteps on a metal floor.
Kevin: I told you that it would all work out.
Nigel: I’m not entirely convinced that it has.
Kevin: I don’t get you sometimes. You need to be open to accepting the gifts that the universe has for you.
Nigel: We’re assigned to the Death Star.
Kevin: Awesome. Plum assignment. How lucky are we?
Nigel: Let’s consider that for a moment.
Are you insane? We’re assigned to the Death Star.
Kevin: Mate, it’s the hot new thing. It’s the biggest thing in the Empire and we’re at the heart of it. Biggest base in the Empire. Utterly indestructible. Cushy gig. How Jammy are we?
Nigel: Allow me to reframe my comments for a moment.
There is something called a DEATH STAR. We’re on it
Kevin: Yeah, so what?
Nigel: It doesn’t sound very nice.
Kevin: They have to call it something big and important though. I agree that calling it a Death Star is a bit worrying.
Nigel: It’s not like it’s…the “Luxury Warm sands, Blue oceans and Drinks with umbrellas in them” Star. It is a big old Death Star.
Kevin: I’m starting to detect a strain of pessimism in you that I really don’t like.
Nigel: Sorry. You asked my opinion.
Kevin: You are very hard to please sometimes, d’you know that?
Nigel:The way I see it, we could be on the cushiest detail ever, but we’re still posted on a giant floaty Death Killing machine.
Kevin: I think that you will find that you mean an indestructible, Giant Floaty Death Killing machine.
Nigel: Well, let me ask you this question then - If this is an…
An impregnable fortress in space…
Nigel: Well if it is…
The supreme power in the galaxy.
Nigel: If it is all of those things…and don’t get me wrong. Maybe it is all of those things. But if it is, impregnable and invulnerable and the supreme power in the galaxy, then why do they have two Mynocks like us getting dizzy going around in circles on guard duty?
Kevin: Something to do, isn’t it?
Nigel: Doesn’t sound like a productive use of our talents.
Kevin: Which as you mentioned previously are mainly in the area of shooting.
Nigel: Which are primarily in the areas of shooting things…So if this place is so impregnable, who are we guarding it from?
Kevin: I dunno. Spies maybe.
Nigel: But. if for arguments sake, the station is in itself an impregnable fortress, who would get in? How could they? Apparently it is impossible.
Kevin: What’s got your standard Stormtrooper issue undergarments in a knot?
Nigel: I’m just uneasy about this whole detail. It doesn’t seem like a promotion to me…Do you think that they’re still sore about the droids?
Kevin: No. No. It couldn’t be that. They wouldn’t really stay cross for that long. They’re quire fair minded.
Do you really think that this assignment was some sort of punishment?
Nigel: Yes. Yes I really do. I think that someone hates us and we’re stuck on a Giant Floaty thing in space, guarding against spies who shouldn’t be here but probably are. If this thing was really impregnable, they wouldn’t need us. We could take the rest of the day off.
You said Giant Floaty thing.
Nigel: Be serious.
Kevin: (Still giggling)
Sounds like something you need to go the medic about. Bwahanahahaha.
I just can’t talk to you.
Kevin: Excuse me Doc. I’ve got this problem with my Giant floaty thing…OK my boy, let’s just all take a look at it.
Nigel So, if you came across a Rebel spy, what would you do?
Kevin: Shoot him I suppose. Or her. Or it. There are probably “its” on their books too I suppose.
Nigel: Why would you do that?
Kevin: Because Rebellion is bad and needs to be stamped out.
Kevin: Because it is. It just is. The Empire is a finely balanced system and rebelling just ruins things for everyone.
Nigel: OK. That seems simple enough.
Kevin: No. If everyone did their own thing, that would just be chaos. Conformity my lad, that’s the way to go.
SOUND: multiple footsteps on the metal floor.
Officer: Troopers come with me. We need you to secure the power trench.
Kevin: Yes sir. Of course sir. Right away sir.
SOUND: running on metal floor
Nigel: Sir. What is a Power trench?
Kevin: To explain, we’re new here sir. Just posted today.
OFFICER: You will be securing the Tractor beam control
Kevin: See, that sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
OFFICER; We’re here.
Nigel: That looks awfully high. I don’t like that.
Kevin: (whispers to the officer)
He has an inner ear thing.
Don’t worry. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine.
OFFICER: Secure this area until the alert is cancelled.
Kevin: Give me regular reports.
SOUND: sound running on metal floor
Kevin: Do you know what’s going on?
Nigel: Maybe it’s another drill.
What was that?
Kevin: Oh, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.
SOUND: OBI Wab Kenobi turns off the tractor beam
SOUND: MUSIC SCENE BREAK
(Yeah, we’re still in the middle of Star WArs/A new Hope/Episode4. WE’re on the death Star in the Troopers habitation block.)
OFFICER: You troopers. On your feet. Attention.
SOUND: Stormtroopers scrambling to their feet.
Kevin: Yes sir.
OFFICER: Why aren’t you at battle stations?
Kevin: Sir. Because we haven’t been assigned anything as yet. We’re new.
Officer: Get to your TIE Fighters.
Kevin: Ah yes…Sir. That’s a bit difficult. I can’t.
I mean I would. Of course I would. I would be delighted to but I can’t…I’m afraid that I haven’t passed the test.
Officer: The test?
Kevin: Yes sir. I’ve done the theory exam, but I haven’t got around to the logging the practical hours just yet. And I didn’t pass the test when I did it.
Fifth time is the charm.
Officer: And you?
Nigel: I have an inner ear thing. I have a note.
Officer: An inner ear thing?
Nigel: Yes sir.
Officer: OK. I don’t have time for this. The Rebellion has launched an attack on this station. You two…just stay out of the way. Can you manage to that without screwing things up?
Kevin: Yes sir. You won’t even notice we’re here.
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS ON A METAL FLOOR.
SOUND: Stormtroopers sit down.
Nigel: He seems very tense.
Kevin: He does. Probably a lot on his mind.
Nigel: Do you think that he knows something that we don’t?
Kevin: Not this “This impregnable station is actually quite pregnable if you think about it” thing again.
Nigel: Well what do you think it could be?
Kevin: It could be anything really. Those boots he’s wearing don’t look very comfortable. It probably leaves him very irritable.
Nigel So what will we do now?
Kevin: Fancy a cup of something.
Nigel: Can’t. The mess is closed. Battlestations.
Kevin: Oh yeah. Bugger.
Kevin: Yeah mate.
Nigel: Do you ever think about what life would be like if you weren’t a stormtrooper?
Kevin: Nope. Never.
Nigel: No? You don’t think what life would be like if you, for example, worked on a Spice freighter?
Kevin: No. I love being a Stormtrooper. It’s brilliant. It’s exciting…obviously not today because no one picked up for their team…but mostly we have our place. We have a roof over our head, clothes, food and all the shooting that our hearts could desire. How about you?
Nigel: I dunno. I don’t see myself doing it forever.
Kevin: Is there anything you would like to do?
Nigel: I quite fancy…No, you’ll laugh.
Kevin: I won’t laugh. I promise I won’t laugh.
Nigel: OK. If you’re sure.
I think that I would like to open a shop.
Kevin: OK. I’m not going to laugh.
Nigel: Thank you.
Kevin: I’m not going to laugh. I’m finding it increasingly difficult not to laugh. With a universe of possibilities at your fingertips…Can we please change the subject before I explode?
Nigel: Sorry. It just sounded nice. I’m not like you. I don’t want to do this forever.
Kevin: Oh c’mon. I can’t be out there shooting things all over the galaxy without my best buddy by my side.
Nigel: OK…Well look at this way - Did you ever see an old Stormtrooper?
Kevin: Ah, I asked about that once. I asked one of the officers.
Kevin: Yeah, he says that when Stormtroopers get old, they go to a planet in the Kaylar system. There is a big old farm and lots of open spaces. Beautiful lakes. Sunsets. They get to see their days out in peace.
Nigel: I’d like that. That sounds nice. Maybe grow some vegetables. Maybe look after an animal. That’d be good.
Here’s an interesting question - What do you think happens to us when we die?
Nigel: I dunno. I tend not to give it too much thought.
Nigel: I figure that it would be difficult to reconcile the amount of…shall we call it “Storm trooping” that I’ve done? If I spent a lot of time pondering the greater philosophical and metaphyiscal questions, my head would explode.
Kevin: With guilt?
Nigel: Yes, with the guilt.
Kevin: That’s really interesting. I don’t really talk about it, but I have spiritual beliefs.
Kevin: I don’t follow any organised religion per sé, but I think that we go somewhere when we die.
Nigel: You’re not one of those Force weirdoes are you?
Kevin: No I am not. And don’t say that out loud. Lord Vader might come and get you.
Nigel: Is he the one with the scary helmet?
Kevin: It is a very intimidating helmet. You wouldn’t think that a helmet showing no facial features could be, but somehow he manages it.
Nigel: He’s a proper scary, scary man. Forget what I said about Force weirdoes. Each to their own. They’re lovely people those Force people…EnForcers. Forcetologists. What is the correct word for that?
Kevin: I don’t know. All I know is that I think that it would be a pretty bleak galaxy if there wasn’t some purpose to it all.
Nigel: So you think that we’re all here for a reason? That there’s a reason for all of this.
INTERCOM: Rebel base, thirty seconds and closing.
Kevin: You see, it will all be done soon.
Nigel: Yeah. Brilliant.
Kevin: No more Rebellion.
And yes, I think that we’re here for a reason. And I think that the universe and providence provide us with what we need, as long as we’re big enough and strong enough to get it.
Nigel: Do you hear that? Those are the Death Star’s guns charging. They’re going to blow them up. Blow up the world under their feet.
Kevin: Yeah…You really have to admire the work though. It takes real innovation to build a…
Giant floaty Space Death Gun. Yeah, they must be real proud of themselves.
INTERCOM: Rebel Base in range.
Kevin: Won’t be long now.
INTERCOM: Commence primary ignition.