Mrs Greenwood claps her hands together, calling for the attention of the bustling hall. After a moment, she gains control, the geeky drama kids practically drooling as they sit on the edge of their seats at the front, waiting for her to speak.
“Right then, Year 10. As you all know, the Christmas Play is coming up at the end of next week.” A loud groan comes from the majority of students but she simply shushes them without comment and continues.
“As we only have a week until the night of the performance, there will be rehearsals each evening – other than weekend, of course – to ensure it’s up to the best of standards.” Another loud groan.
“We are going to be doing the auditions today, and everyone is going to be taking part. That includes you, Orlando Knavesmire.” She adds as she sees a tall boy at the back roll his eyes to his friends then begin to shuffle towards the door at the back of the hall, obviously planning to escape and bunk off the auditions. The boy – Orlando – grudgingly returns to his huddle of friends and the rather plump drama teacher continues her pep talk.
“Right, so. The big moment; the play itself. This year we are doing to be putting on the show of…” She pauses for a ridiculously long time, and the drama kids are all leaning forward, momentarily abandoning their indie fronts in anticipation. “‘The Present That Was Left Behind’ – I’m sure somebody can come up with a more creative name, but you get the idea.” Even the drama enthusiasts visibly deflate as she says this, not at all impressed.
“But miss,” Comes a voice from the back of the hall and she looks to where it’s coming from. “That’s such a babyish and stupid play!” The source of this rather blunt statement is Orlando again, sitting confidently back in his chair with his gaggle of mates around him, his feet on the back of the chair in front, and a cocky smirk on his face. Mrs Greenwood’s expression darkens as she glares at the insolent boy, her mood turning sour as her play is insulted. If there’s one thing that her students know, it is to never insult her plays.
The drama kids perk up again as a result of this, jumping at the possibility of defending their beloved drama teacher and their precious art form.
“I’ll have you know, Orlando Knavesmire, that it is not a babyish play at all, and I will not stand for you to say that. In fact, for that comment, you can be the first to audition. Come on up here, immediately, and see if you can live up to your namesake.”
“Who’s my namesake?” Orlando asks as he rolls his eyes at his friends again and grudgingly scrapes his chair back so he can walk up to the stage at the front.
“Orlando Bloom, of course. Honestly, don’t you know anything about drama?”
Miles Strongton, one of the quietest, most polite boys that teachers ever have the fortune of having in their class nervously approaches the drama board that lunchtime, when there is no crowd of people around it. He looks to the bottom of the list, slightly panicked when his name doesn’t appear as a filler part, frantically scanning his way up the list until he reaches his name. It is right at the top. The colour drains from his face as he stands and silently blinks at up at the list.
All of a sudden a large object comes barrelling into him and he stumbles backwards slightly before regaining his composure. Standing before him, a bright beaming smile on her face, is Hattie Miller. Hattie is well known around the school for being one of the most excitable students, and is always heavily invested in every drama performance that goes on.
“Congratulations Miles!” She practically shouts in his ear, wrapping her arms around him in a tight hug. “I saw you got the main part! Well done! You must be so pleased!”
“Um, Hattie… Hi. Yes, it appears so. I assume it is a mistake though – I’ll have to ask Mrs-” He is quickly cut off.
“No! Of course it isn’t a mistake, Miles. Your audition was amazing – we could have done with you in ‘Carrie’s War’ last year – that was a disaster.” She stops for a moment, “Sorry; I’m rambling.” She smiles and rolls her eyes. “It will be nice working with you,” And she skips off.
Miles shakes his head, slightly dazed by the crazy explosion of Hattie. He runs his finger up the list until he finds her name – she has an important part and will be playing the Mrs Claus to his Santa. He takes a deep breath, unsure whether to be pleased or petrified – secretly, he has always loved drama, but been too scared to admit it. Perhaps this would be a turning point for him. Or not.
As he turns to leave he almost walks straight into another person, and when he raises his head he sees that it is none other than Orlando Knavesmire. Miles has always been slightly scared of Orlando and has stayed out of his way for all the years they’ve been at the same school together, but now there is no avoiding confrontation.
“Oh, hey Miles,” Orlando smirks, his eyes quickly darting up and down the list. “I see you got the part of the big guy himself – well done. Shame really, I would have loved to have played him, but good on ya.” His tone is dripping with sarcasm. The gaggle of boys that surround him chuckle and smirk to themselves, and Miles feels himself turning bright red.
“Alas, I only got the part of Elf 2. But oh well, at least I’m not playing ‘the present’, like that little June Carter is. That’s the sign of a bad actor.” At this comment the whole group breaks out in raucous laughter and wander off together, revealing June Carter herself standing behind them. Miles can see tears glistening in her eyes as she sturmbles away, avoiding eye contact with everyone as she weaves her way down the crowded corridor.
Momentarily flustered, Miles makes the decision to talk to her.
“June,” He calls after her, causing her to turn at the unfamiliar voice. She sees him and her hand lingers on the door handle, not opening it as she had obviously originally planned to. He takes the opportunity to run up to her, “June, right?” He smiles in a friendly way, rather awkwardly but with good intentions. “I’m Miles.” She sniffs and says in response,
“I know. Wait, sorry… I mean ‘Hi.’”
“Hello.” He opens his mouth, but then closes it again, unsure of what to say. “Hey… um – are you alright?” She bites her lip and stays silent, looking down at her shoes.
“I mean, sorry, um, yeah. But the Present is quite a big part, if you see my point? I mean, the whole play’s about you.” He gives a nervous laugh. She stays silent, not joining in his laughter and just making the whole thing seem even more tense and awkward.
“Thanks, but… actually – I’m not that present. That’s Kelsey.”
“Oh… sorry about that.” He pauses, “If you don’t mind me asking… What part are you then?” Her eyes glaze over, but she blinks away the unshed tears and answers quietly,
“I’m the Girl’s Brother’s present.” She stops, “The one that was delivered and just sits under the tree whilst they realise that the Main Present is missing.”
“Oh.” Miles stutters, not really sure what to say to that. “I guess I’ll see you in rehearsals tomorrow then?”
“Sure.” She replies quietly, before turning the handle which her hand was still on and quickly leaving.