The Cast and Crew of the Cliff College Production of "Pygmalion" have been inspired by their Eliza Doolittle, Carly Cliff, to mount a night of comedy in an effort to raise the money necessary to buy the new sound system they so desperately need, but, due to a recent theft, they cannot otherwise afford. Hundreds of their fellow students and Cliffton townspeople have shown up to show their support for the Cliff Drama Department and in hopes of being amused. The producer/director/star of "Pygmalion", Dylan Atkins, has just finished portraying a very foolish Cliff Chief of Security in a sketch and is now, even while graciously acknowledging the applause of the audience, removing his holster, badge and riding crop to resume his role as Master of Ceremonies.
DYLAN
Our next act marks the on-stage debut of comic Charlie Watson, although I understand he's been performing from his desk in the third row of the fifth grade since September -- to the delight of his classmates and annoyance of his teachers. Please join me in welcoming him to our stage tonight! I mean it, folks... make him feel really good about this or his mother... who is Alice Watson... as in the Dean of Students... might be one grumpy mom when she's reviewing your transcript tomorrow!!
The audience is particularly warm in its reception of Charlie Watson, whether because the students therein fear the power of his mother or because everyone is delighted at the sight of a ten-year-old boy taking center stage doesn't much matter. Still on the shy side of five feet, with curly brown hair effecting a seascape on a choppy night, wearing jeans and a "Rage Against the Machine" T-shirt, the kid is clearly pleased and immediately starts pacing the stage and telling the assembled a thing or two about...
CHARLIE
Sex Education. What a time and place we live in, huh? Cliffton's Public Schools have taken it upon themselves to instruct ten and eleven year olds in the facts of sex. And, as if that weren't enough... they're throwing in drugs, too! All that's missing is the rock&roll, dontcha think? Who'd a thought that 3rd period in 5th grade would be an "R"-rated party?

I suppose some parents are shocked or intimidated by this, but not my mom. Oh, no. My mom's cool. My mom's pleased that we're getting information that could save our lives and help us make the important decisions in the difficult years of adolescence that loom in the near future. Yeah... my mom's just fine with anything and everything. Until I start wanting to do more than talk about sex and drugs, my mom's gonna be the hippest woman this side of 1969. But I have this feeling that there's a day... or maybe it'll be a night... a few years down the road when my mom's gonna turn into Nancy Reagan... "What's this joint doing in your jeans?! What were you planning on doing with that condom?!?! No! No!! No!!!" At which point, I'll turn into President Reagan... "Uhhhh... I don't recall, Mommy."

Alice Watson is the only person in the room who isn't laughing heartily at her son's routine. It's not that she isn't amused by the humor, albeit at her expense, it's just that she's mesmerized by the sight of her little boy up there on stage making hundreds of people laugh. And she's suddenly saddened that his father isn't there to share her pride and wonder. But an elbow in her ribs from old friend Karen Archibald brings her back to the moment; Karen is indicating her husband, McGeorge, on the other side of her and he is... laughing! McGeorge never laughs. Well, the kid must be doing something right. Distracted from mourning her dead husband, Alice gets thoroughly caught up as Charlie goes on...
CHARLIE
Hey... does this mean that the next time one of my teachers reams me for a wisecrack and demands... "So, Charles, what do you think you are? Some sort of comedian or something?" I get to say, "Yes, Ms. McBride, that's exactly what I think I am?"

Anyway, let's get back to the SexEd thing. Most of the time it's boys and girls together, y'know? But sometimes, they separate us so that we can feel freer to ask the questions that we really want to know the answers about. So, one of my best friends is Maryanne. A girl. Can you believe it? And this is before a single class in how to relate to members of the opposite sex or anything... Anyway, I asked Maryanne what the girls really wanted to know about and she was a little embarrassed to answer, but finally she told me. The girls wanted to know all about breasts and periods, you know, girlstuff. What a coincidence! That's pretty much what the boys wanted to know all about, too -- breasts, period! Hey -- you didn't expect politically correct from a ten-year-old boy, did you?

Speaking of ten-year-olds, you know what my idea of perfect sex is? Baseball. Personally, I just can't get enough. Especially with a role model like Albert Belle right here in the great state of Ohio. Can't you see the exhibit they're gonna set up to honor him in Cooperstown? Right there on a shiny plaque it'll say something like: "Albert Belle broke Roger Maris' single season homerun record in 1996. Here are the 62 bruised and bloodied fans whose heads he cracked to get back each of those balls..."

Dylan is standing in the wings, grinning widely at the boy's success. Carly comes up behind him, hugs him and lets him know...
CARLY
We made nearly $5,000. And my Aunt and brother have insisted on making up the difference.
DYLAN
"Insisted"?! I doubt it.
CARLY
Really. Contributions to the Cliff Drama Department. And all the loot's safe and sound with Dickie's goons...
She indicates a spot backstage where two uniformed men are supervising a strongbox even while listening to Charlie's routine. The younger one, Ty Powell, is particularly enjoying the sports humor. Oliver Hagger -- the one with the artificial leg and the .72-caliber machine gun shell on the tip of his cane -- looks less enthralled, downright disapproving of the rather sardonic, worldly tone the kid's using now...
CHARLIE
Okay... back to grown-up sex because, for some reason, I have a feeling baseball just isn't the same thing for you guys. So, there I was, cruising the Internet the other night, I began to worry about myself. Maybe I'm not a normal, hot-blooded American boy, or something, because even though I spend a couple of hours a day online, I'd never ever checked out any of the dirty stuff that President Clinton and Vice-President Gore and Reverend Wildmon and everyone's saying I'm probably obsessing over. I really wanted to check out the official NBA site, but I felt kind of obliged to search for some porn so that I could be living up to everyone's expectations of me. So I headed over to Yahoo and searched for "pornography". Jeez -- so much to choose from! But then I saw they had a kid's section so I headed straight for it. You know, "Child Pornography"? ... Yuck! Who knew?!

I think politicians and ministers and TV newspeople would be doing kids all over the country a really big favor if they'd change the name. Maybe something like "Vile, gross and totally unappetizing filth for dirty, old men in need of lobotomies." Then they could call the Pamela Anderson site "Child Porn"... and I could go there and get a jump on high school biology... not to mention physics. You know. Cantilevering? Aerodynamics? Surface tension? Just about everything, except the effects of gravity on mass...

The house is in hysterics. The ten-year-old beams, soaking in the approval as the hat passes through the audience, sucking in the bucks.


Previously at the Schuyler Theatre