The Mass Debate Club, an Original One-Act Screenplay
by
Rihaan Shimomura

Yes, I realize the joke in the title. Good thing my College Professor didn't notice :D

Was supposed to do a 4-page, one-act play. Accidentally over-shot the script. Never wrote a play before, only familiar with Shakespeare plays, I have no idea what the format is supposed to be.

Got a 95, by the way. Got deducted for not adding the Character List.

...I was in a hurry, okay? Wrote this an hour before class.


[Two Women, Two Men. All a different race, none of a very distinctive accent. Classroom, set to look like a small-production courtroom. Teacher's podium used for Judge's podium, Chemistry class tables used for defendant and plaintiff tables]

Character List: STEVEN, SIERRA, RYAN, ASHLEY, MARISSA (offstage)

[RYAN and SIERRA sitting at the plaintiff table, SIERRA lightly scratching at the nameplate carved out for the bench. STEVEN and ASHLEY are sitting at the defendants table. ASHLEY has her arms crossed in a bored fashion. STEVEN puffs out a breath of air in irritation.]

STEVEN: This is stupid.

SIERRA: You asked for this.

STEVEN: That's only so I could get you to stop.

SIERRA: You brought this all upon yourself.

STEVEN: All I did was make an innocent joke.

SIERRA: And all I did was mention a few innocent facts.

STEVEN: Every single day until I buckled under the pressure?

SIERRA: Your fault.

[STEVEN snapped his head to her, a disbelieving look.]

STEVEN: How in any way is that my fault?

SIERRA smiled innocently back.

SIERRA: You didn't buckle sooner.

STEVEN: This is peer pressure.

ASHLEY: You'd have to be a peer, STEVEN. What she did to you was just torture.

STEVEN: I know. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

ASHLEY: How did that work out?

STEVEN: I got a nice little migraine out of it.

SIERRA: Your fault.

STEVEN: Stop that. Who the hell spends a whole afternoon talking about Harry Potter?

SIERRA: I have hobbies; get over it. For the longest time, I considered doing a podcast.

STEVEN: Good for you. Remind me to steal your microphone when we're done here. (Waits a beat.) What, no witty comebacks?

SIERRA: Nope. I save those for the debate.

STEVEN: You mean we haven't started?

SIERRA: We haven't said a thing about it yet.

STEVEN: (Clears his throat.) Fine, then. Let me start it off. (Stands up.) This debate is as stupid as its topic. (Sits back down.)

SIERRA: We need a judge first, STEVEN.

STEVEN: This isn't an official court debate, SIERRA.

RYAN: Where is Jake?

ASHLEY: Probably seeing how long he can make his next skidmark in the hallway with his shoes.

STEVEN: And how long are we going to wait until he gets here?

SIERRA: As long as we have to.

ASHLEY: What's the chance of Jake, your brother, showing up to talk about books after school?

[Awkward silence.]

SIERRA: Good point. Let's begin.

[All in attendance stand.]

STEVEN: Already losing an argument before the debate begins?

RYAN: Who starts?

STEVEN: (Grunts nonchalantly.) I guess I'll go, officially. (Clears his throat over-dramatically.) Books are meant to be read, and I think every book has at least one thing to contribute to life or society. All books have a story, a useful tidbit or meaningful fact that can mean something to at least one person. I will give you indefinite proof that even the most critically hated books have meaning.

RYAN: SIERRA?

SIERRA: Some books suck. Literature in general is a wonderful thing, but when used in negative ways, can be disastrous and destructive to all involved. There is a such thing as bad reading material. Once read, it is possible to both plague your mind and heart of its wretched mental stench. You can't safely claim that all literature is good, especially when it comes to books. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's racist to think that all books can be put in the same category as 'Literature'.

ASHLEY: (Gives a low whistle.) Good start.

RYAN: So it's set. STEVEN is trying to defend what is usually known as 'bad' literature, and SIERRA is trying to attack it. It seems that you both have a common enemy in mind, and you both need a common subject. ASHLEY, since I'm obviously biased, I need you to pick a topic.

ASHLEY: (Leans over the table and smirks.) Twilight.

[SIERRA bares her teeth in a feral grin, an air of confidence around her. STEVEN snaps his head towards ASHLEY, panic beginning to erupt.]

[MARISSA, wearing full judge regalia, saunters into the room slowly. Her unseen heels click along the ground as she tugs at her robes to walk comfortably. Her shining blonde hair is done to look like an old wig.]

MARISSA: So, what did I miss?

ASHLEY: (Turns her smirk from STEVEN to MARISSA.) STEVEN's going to defend Twilight.

MARISSA: (Raises her left eyebrow as she reaches the Judge's podium.) Not to sound biased, but weren't we supposed to be talking about literature?

STEVEN: And that's exactly why I have to defend it. Where's Jake?

MARISSA: (Waves him off.) He paid me fifty dollars to take his place.

SIERRA: He said he was going to be here for me!

MARISSA: If it makes you feel any better, SIERRA, he gave me ten dollars to tell you that he suffered a non-threatening accident that you shouldn't look for him for, and that you shouldn't worry at all, and that whatever he has is probably contagious.

[A small pause.]

MARISSA: Wow. He is a horrible liar.

STEVEN: Wait. You're filthy rich. Why take his place for sixty bucks?

MARISSA: (Shrugs as she jumps into her high chair.) You can never not afford to make a poor man poorer. So, let's get through this. Vampires, werewolves, emo kids galore. STEVEN, your defense?

STEVEN: (Glares at MARISSA before sighing.) Very well. Twilight isn't the best book series in the world - wait, are we talking about the series or the first book?

MARISSA: It matters?

STEVEN: Yes, it does, in context.

MARISSA: You mean, you read the whole series?

STEVEN: Is that a crime?

MARISSA: By the end of this debate, it probably will be.

[They all look at SIERRA expectantly.]

SIERRA: Actually... I read the whole series.

MARISSA: You've got to be kidding me.

SIERRA: I like to be well-versed?

STEVEN: You didn't know what book we were going to talk about until we started.

MARISSA: Well, at least you both have equal knowledge on the subject. STEVEN.

STEVEN: Twilight is not the best series in the world. It is certainly the most overrated book series of all time, including movie franchise - wait, are we talking about the movies too?

MARISSA: It's a damn literature debate.

STEVEN: I know that, but it is still an extension of the literature. Anyway; it's bad. I admit it. But it's not terrible. Frankly, I think this isn't a good enough example for horrible literature.

MARISSA: SIERRA?

SIERRA: Twilight is the perfect example for this topic. It is the single, most noticeable subject for our topic for the simple reason that they are, quite simply, the worst books ever written.

STEVEN: Where's your proof?

MARISSA: Don't speak out of turn, STEVEN.

STEVEN: You're enjoying this, aren't you?

MARISSA: The fact that you think you might win this case is enjoyable enough, trust me.

STEVEN: You're not supposed to be biased!

MARISSA: I'm not supposed to be here. Proof, SIERRA?

SIERRA: No proof, your honor. The 'literature' speaks for itself.

MARISSA: Back to STEVEN.

STEVEN: This story teaches us about a perfect fantasy love story. About how a boy and a girl, despite different social circles, family backgrounds, and personalities, they are perfect for each other.

SIERRA: (Lays her head on RYAN's shoulder.) I've heard better.

RYAN chuckles deeply as he wraps his arm around her waist.

MARISSA: (Laughs loud and brilliantly.) Good rebuttal.

STEVEN: What, you're not going to yell at her for speaking out of turn?

MARISSA: I'll allow it.

STEVEN: What the hell? You're not even going to try to be unbiased?

SIERRA: The Plaintiff asks that the defendant shuts up and gets to the point.

MARISSA: The Judge will take that into consideration. I have come to a decision. STEVEN, shut up and get to the point.

STEVEN: Do you want me to shut up or do you want me to get to the point?

[Small, tense pause.]

MARISSA: This trial has adjourned in favor of SIERRA.

STEVEN: Hold on! Wait, that's not fair!

SIERRA: (Pumps her free hand into the air, wrapping her arm around RYAN's shoulders.) It's official! Twilight blows!

ASHLEY: Didn't need a court trial for that, but it's nice to know it's on the record.

STEVEN: (Looks around in despair.) Oh, come on guys! The books don't suck that much! It's a pretty good series! Once you understand the characters, the drama, the enemies, what each character has to go through -

ASHLEY: (Puts a hand on his shoulder.) It's over. Why are you still trying to defend that book? Even through a legitimate trial, you knew it was going to end this way.

STEVEN: Why is it like that? I don't understand why it gets a bad rep just because of the fantastic fantasy of it all! It's just like Harry Potter, and it's your favorite book series!

MARISSA: (Undoing the rivulets in her hair) Of course. It's my favorite series as well. Because it's good.

ASHLEY: Don't even try to compare the two, STEVEN.

STEVEN: But Twilight is my favorite book series! Why is that bad to you guys?

[The room falls silent. MARISSA's arms droop down to her sides, only one side of her hair down. SIERRA, RYAN, and MARISSA's faces are of pure surprise.]

STEVEN: (Glances around the room in hesitation.) Look, all I'm saying is that all forms of Literature have something to teach us. My IQ is pretty high; and yet, Twilight is my favorite book. You can't say I'm a stupid little kid that can't understand anything. I've read every Dickens book, I can quote any Poe verse, and I can act out any Shakespeare scene. I just feel like I relate to Twilight most. At the end of the day, it's a form of literature, not to be taken for granted, or shunned, just because of its core audience or reputation.

[A long, awkward pause ensues. SIERRA shuffles her feet, and MARISSA steps down from the podium.]

MARISSA: And this is why you should never stay after school.

[Everyone except STEVEN agrees with non-descript murmurs.]

RYAN: Let's get out of here before I learn more things I never wanted to learn in the first place.

[They all exit the room.]

[SCENE END]

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