What is love?
I am struggling to remember.
I have these diaries and journals where I speak frankly and painfully about this love I had and the pain, I remember feeling it like I should, I remember writing the entries conscious of how similar to the films it felt.
I can’t remember this love anymore and I read my diaries snorting with contempt for my innocence and naivety. Perhaps in reality it is my shame and lack of understanding which dismisses these experiences, perhaps its the unspoken knowledge that I am bitter and pragmatic and scornful of the idea of anyone ‘needing’ anyone. My inner monologue spitting the word’s ‘for fuck’s sake, get a grip, get real… man up’. Emotions are for weak people, needing someone makes you weak and vulnerable and susceptible to pain, to be taken for a fool…. although perhaps this is the lesson I learnt in my first loves, when both betrayed me. I was 15. I fought in the way the romances on the silver screen taught me I should, I used words and guilt and back stabbing. I used every tool I was afforded as a woman scorned. In the end I’m not sure what I won, the one that lost probably gained so much more for them-self, forced to redefine and find a new path. I fought to the bitter end and then felt the need to wear the prize I had won. To justify the losses. In the tears cried by sore red swollen eyes I couldn’t see what was really at stake, maybe I remember it wrong. Now I see I fought for the wrong love. Although I had no choice, it was that or nothing. It was a tragedy. One of us had to win and in that winning everyone was going to lose. If I could change anything, and I’m not sure it could’ve played any differently, but if I could I would change the prize, I would fight for what I see now was worth saving, I would say sorry. We would both know with hindsight that a teenage boy meant nothing, our friendship was far more valuable.
Perhaps love is pain in my body and mind. That makes me sound 17 again.
There will be days and days and days like these
The play opens where it began and where it ended 10 years ago. The play opens at the end.
In reality we could be anywhere, at anytime, we are led to believe in a drama studio in a south Nottinghamshire comprehensive. It is 2001.The stage directions tell us otherwise, it is 1967. It’s is Easter, Knightsbridge.
There are 12 scenes, each in its own way a mini play. Making a whole.This is quite Brechtian, although Hare intended it to be otherwise, Mr Harnan, mostly for ease of producing a play in a school put the ‘subtitles’ back in. Each soundtrack precursing a change of scene, the black box studio is the stuff of GCSE’s and Performance Art, no pretending here. What you see is what you get.
Gemma aged 27:
In 2001 everything changed, although in truth it had begun earlier than that.
It had begun in August 1944, when Susan had stood on the top of a hill in St. Benoit, looking down at the villages below, It was the end of the war and the children were lighting bonfire’s in the village. She turned to the French farmer she was speaking to in the fields and said,
“There will be days and days and days like these”
And I was there to hear her. I was there in 2001 when Philippa Jones stood here in this drama studio, the play was ending, she was stood on a stage block, that stage block, which symbolically represented both the hill in St Benoit and a bed, as she turned to the Frenchman who was played by Phil Swift, she caught my eye.
I remember feeling ecstatic, I had never felt like that before. I can’t describe it too you, but I trust you know what I mean.
It was an awakening, a really new feeling, the first time I had felt like that.
She caught my eye and as she turned back to the audience I was there with her looking out over the fields in France.
I believed her, I knew what she meant, when she said, ‘there will be days and days and days like these’.
Years later, I found myself awaiting the drop in a field in Yorkshire, I looked for Phillipa but she wasn’t there, instead I found Susan, in truth she’s never left./ Phillipa was there, and Susan and me, as I was when I was 17.
In 2001 I was only beginning, only starting the days, which I’ve dreamed of ever since.
In terms of a play this scene should offer exposition, it should help you, the audience understand the context of the play. In truth, the context is ambiguous, in truth the context is about the time of your life.
It’s 2001 and the play opens near the end of the story. We find Susan at the end of her’s, my story is just beginning.
Act 1, scene 1, The play opens at the end of the story. We find two women contemplating a naked man who has passed out from two nembutol and 12 fingers of scotch. Susan a woman in her mid thirties, hands Alice a key and says..” You must tell my husband…. Tell him I left with nothing that was his, I just walked out on him. Everything to go”
The story opens at the end of the play, I can still hear Susan saying there will be days and days and days like these, except its not Susan saying this, its Phillippa Jones and the war has not just ended, neither are we in a field in France.
Instead we are in a drama studio in a suburban comprehensive school in the Midlands. It’s early Summer 2001, yesterday was my birthday, I am 17.
We didn’t know it, but a war was about to start. Later I’ll be sat in a pub, trying to convince a friend to leave an abusive boyfriend. Whilst we are drinking two pints of strongbow, two planes will fly into the two towers of the world trade centre. I’ll be bunking French. My friend will eventually leave her boyfriend.
“there will be days and days and days like these”
Director’s (Mr Harnon) notes on the Play:
In structure it is complex, persuing a largely linear narrative that demands the audience piece together the story from a series of disjointed scenes; Each scene working as a small play in its own right, hinting towards a Brechtian influence and structure.
Each scene a mini play…. What would they be called?