'This country has had enough of leaders like you'


In the final week of our Tiny Plays competition with Fishamble, we’re printing a new play every day by leading writers. Today, Tom Swift presents ‘I Stand Here Before You’

A politician enters followed by his translator. The politician goes to a podium scans the audience and clears his throat. The translator takes up position at a microphone.

Politician I stand here before you. An ordinary man. A people person.

Translator I understand your deepest prejudices. Like you, my childhood was not a happy one.

Politician I have no time for fancy talk. I am a straight talker.

Translator Intellectuals disgust me.

Politician And I want to get the job done. I want to get the job done, for you, for this country.

Translator The roads of my constituency are smooth, straight and wide. My home town has a new Olympic swimming pool.

Politician During the course of this campaign I’ve been speaking to a lot of people, ordinary people.

Translator The tinted windows of my limousine protect me from reality and harmful UV rays.

Politician Because I want to hear what you have to say. And because I believe the people of this small country of ours are a great people, a proud people.

Translator You disgust me.

Politician That’s why I want you to come out next Friday and do what’s right for the country, do what’s right for your families and future generations to come.

Translator This is a game I play.

Politician Now I’m happy to take any questions.

Translator Shoot.

A man stands up in the audience, his arm raised.

Man My question is, people say you have no ideas, that you don’t believe in anything, they say all you care about is self-promotion and money. And they’re dead right. You’re just an ordinary person, like me. The country needs leaders like you. You like pints and peat briquettes. So if you tell me you’re getting things done and if my kids have an Olympic swimming pool to swim in, then all those people with their bitching and complaining need to just get our of your way and let you get on with the job, whatever it is you’re doing!

Translator I think I love you.

Wild applause and cheers. The Politician waves to the crowd and exits. A few moments later the Politician enters to the sound of a tense whispers, camera flashes and occasional boos. He goes to the podium, scans the audience, clears his throat.

Politician I stand here before you. An ordinary man. I’m only human.

Translator Look, my childhood was not a happy one.

Politician So, I’ll get straight to the point.

Translator I want to murder you.

Politician [emotional] Yes. I did what I did . . . but it was a difficult time for me, personally.

Translator My heart is a glacier.

Man Boo...

Politician So you can think what you like. But I want to say this . . .

Translator I have a limousine.

Politician I want to say this: I never did anything wrong, ever.

Translator Grown men meeting in darkened car parks is not a crime.

Man Liar! You’re a dirty liar! Politician Look, I have always been lucky with the gee-gees!

Translator Loser.

Man Look what you’ve done to us! To think some people were ever taken in by your waffle. I mean, you have no ideas, you don’t believe in anything, all you care about is self-promotion and money. And do you know something? This country has had enough of leaders like you. I’m out of a job. I can’t afford a pint, let alone peat briquettes. And that Olympic swimming pool is leaking like a sieve!

The politician sighs a deep sigh and slowly leaves.

Politician I accept the democratic will of the people.

Translator Why don’t you kill yourselves.

A pause. The Translator scans the audience, waiting. Finally the man walks down from the audience and approaches the podium. He scans the audience, clears his throat.

Man I stand here before you. An ordinary man. A people person.

Think you can write a Tiny Play?

You have until tomorrow, November 11th to enter the Tiny Plays for Ireland competition and have your play staged by Fishamble The New Play Company. E-mail a play of no more than 600 words to fishambletinyplays@irishtimes.com.

Fishamble will choose the winners and pay each selected writer a fee of €250. They will work with the writer on the development of the commissioned plays and produce them from March 15th to 31st, at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin.