Taking Care of Business: Act Three

25th April 2021

Nicholas Young (Elvis) & Martin O’Shea (the Colonel). Original Berlin cast

ACT THREE

     Elvis appears. He goes over to the TV’s and repeats his movements from Act One, but without any enthusiasm. Finally, he goes to a chair and slumps down. On a table he sees an old pizza box, with some left-overs. He picks one piece and eats, but mechanically, his jaws moving in a uniform rhythm, also without enthusiasm or pleasure. There is more debris in the room and rubbish on the floor. After his food, Elvis just sits staring vacantly into space.

     Enter Colonel, slowly, with a sideways glance, a look of pity and confusion rather than disgust.    

Col: Well, I’m still here. I was re-instated in my post. For the sake of peace and quiet, I apologised and promised not to do it again, a promise I have every intention of keeping, I might add … my back was aching for days afterwards. I left my girlfriend or at least tried to … she wanted to break up with me. Something about me not being so much fun anymore, no sense of adventure. Work’s the same. I no longer bother to speak about what’s going on in my life … I merely listen to others drone on. I’ve developed a whole series of gestures and non-committal phrases like these …

(demonstrates various movements of head and body to match his words)

You don’t say; no, really ? Well, whatdoyaknow ? How do YOU feel about that ? What do YOU want to happen …Thanks for coming, hope to see you again, real soon … When I come home … it’s this. The work has dried up and so has he. No-one seems to want an Elvis, anymore. I felt in some way responsible for his depression. I tried to cheer him up by doing things like this …

(to Elvis)

Hey, Elvis, I put some flyers around town and some adds in papers, how about leaving Graceland for a while and going back on the road ? You know your public needs you.

(addresses audience)

we got a little response … we were put on a short list for a walk-on part in a TV add … Elvis likes TV, but they chose to go with a George Michael look- a-like in the end.

Elv: Won’t they get a surprise when they go to the can !

Col: Right ! Who needs it ? Walk-on parts ! Opening shops selling any old tack.

Elv: You know, I think you’re right there, boy. I shouldn’t be limiting myself to small commerce. I have a higher calling. Doggone right, you know, I’ve got it, I know what I have to do … call the Limo, Colonel, we’re off to … the Reichtstag ! (1)

Col: Say what ?

Elv: Yeah, I’m gonna offer my services to the state, hell knows they could use them. What do those politicians know about real life ? C’mon let’s go see ol’ man … er, who’s the big boss man, these days ? Is that big mother still there ? (2)

Col: No, there’s a new kid on the block. And that kid’s a woman.

Elv: Hilary ? Man, she’s cute. Love that hair-band thing.

Col: No, not Hilary. Not cute, either.

Elv: But a woman ?

Col: More or less. Give or take, though you’d probably want to take more than give. Name’s Merkel.

Elv: “Urkel” ? Oh, well, I be damned if I’ll go then. Wait till they get a President worth clambaking … can’t have a man like me wasting photo-ops with a two-bit cow-faced in-bred hillbilly.

Col: (To audience) Then I had an idea and bear in mind that I’m getting increasingly desperate. This is something I tried a few weeks back.

(To Elvis)

Hey, Elvis, Paul McCartney’s outside, he wants so much to meet you. Can you find the time to give him an audience ?

(A mere nod from Elvis. Colonel goes off stage and returns presently, dressed as a Beatle, dark suit and Beatle wig. Throughout, he speaks with an exaggerated Liverpool accent.)

Col: All right there, Mister Presley, honour to meet ya, like, it really is, fab, gear and groovy. Me and the lads got all your records, we really love you, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, like every time we write a song, we think, “how would it sound if Elvis sang it ?”

Elv: Better.

Col: Hey, you could be right there, Cock.

Elv: Bet your arse I’m right.

Col: So, which one of us is your favorite … everyone has a favorite Beatle ? Is it me ?

Elv: None of you.

Col: Oh, ‘ey, ain’t you a one, hey, a right Bobby Dazzler. Is it me ? It’s normally me. All the girls like me.

Elv: Boy, you sure as hell look like a girl. Whoa … I like the drummer … Bongo. He’s all right. ‘Course, he’s not the best drummer in the world.

Col: “In the world” ? He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles. Ta-da ! An oldie but goldie. But can I ask you, where does your talent come from. People ask me all the time to …

Elv: Stop talking ?

Col: Oh, you do like a laugh, oh, ‘ey, fab, like, gear, WWHHHHOOOOOHHHHHHHHH

Elv : No, boy, I mean … stop talking ! You can get a signed photo on your way out. It’s my time to commune with the higher power now. An’ if you wanna know where my gift comes from, well, I suggest you get your skinny, white arse down to the local Baptist church. Randy Scouse git !

Col:

(To audience, as he removes his Beatle garb)

I gave it my best shot, what do you expect ? It got to the point where I was past caring, I thought I’d just let him rot, what’s it to me ? If he couldn’t pay his rent, I’d sling his fat arse out of the joint. ‘Course, I might need some help, someone with a JCB, maybe, but then … something happened. I was at work, drying glasses, when this guy comes in. He orders a beer and we strike up a conversation, you know, I’m thinking about the tips, well, this guy, he’s talking about his house and he’s got some light switch, which, I dunno, either it worked, or only sometimes, doesn’t matter … this guy’s talking to me … about light switches ! I don’t know the guy and he’s not drunk, he just goes on and on and on, he presses the switch one way, on comes the light, then when he tries it the opposite way, the light stays on, that kinda thing … and I’m LISTENING TO HIM ! I’m trying to follow him, see where he’s going with this … then it struck me … OK, the Ku’Damm (3) is hardly the road to Damascus, but this night, could I honestly say that my flatmate was any crazier than this guy, Mr Off-Switch ? Or any of the others in that sad and sorry place ? The guy playing video games all day long ? The girl who puts all her hope in computer-dating ? Anyone who’s ever gone to a Karaoke bar ? Maybe he had the answer … he felt that his life simply wasn’t good enough so he did something about it … little extreme for some tastes, I grant you, but … he did something. He was happy … was … so who was I to judge ? He made people laugh and, for a time, forget their own lives, their own problems. You know, I think people envied him. Really. He had the balls to be what they wanted to be. HE’S NOT ELVIS … he knows that. Did I have any better solutions, any answers, any … thing ? The next day, a letter arrived which gave me an idea. It was actually a bill for 46 Euro that’s 45 for the pizza and 1 for the stamp. I phoned and put a little proposition to them. They could have Elvis eat there every night for a week. I got him a booking …                   

Elv: What’s that you say, boy ?

Col: Elvis, you listen and listen good. 

(Speaks in a heavy, Southern accent)

I’m an old army man and I’m used to discipline. Now I’ve been good to you, almost too good, lettin’ you enjoy the fruits of your labour, an’ all. But heavens to Murgatroyd, they want you ! Your public’s crying out … they’ll be banging on the doors… Elvis, you’ve got to throw a little bone once in a while. I’ve got you booked into a week’s residency and by golly, you’re gonna do it.

Elv: A gig ?

Col: You betcha a gig.

Elv: Enough to keep us here, safe in Graceland ?

Col: More pizza than even you can imagine … but ya gotta get back into shape, son, back into motion.

Elv: Yeah, I have to … warm up a bit, that’s all. Why I can hear the crowd now … faint but expectant … murmuring. I can feel the excitement mounting … the lights, the make-up people running around, the choir doing their scales, musicians tuning. I gather my children around me for a little prayer, the audience getting louder and louder, sweat beginning to pour. I’m calm, gotta keep my people under control, but my heart’s pounding. I owe so much. People living their humble, God-fearing lives, have this one night to get a taste of, a glimpse of … something … higher. They need me … they need me to show them the way, to give them hope, belief, happiness … they need my love … they deserve … my love.

(Colonel slowly exits during Elvis’ speech. As Elvis reaches the end, ‘If I Can Dream’ comes on so that he can go immediately into his routine. He mimes along to the entire song. There should be no parody in the performance. Elvis can give out towels or flowers to women and as the music ends, the play finishes and lights go down.)

Notes

(1) Reichtstag – the German Parliament building.

(2) A reference to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl

(3) Ku’Damm the main shopping road in west Berlin

Takin’ Care of Business: Act Two

24th April 2021

No photo description available.
Nicholas Young as ‘Elvis,’ with Jason Daly
No photo description available.

ACT TWO

It is seventeen weeks later. The room is even more tacky, with junk food wrappers and various Americana and kitsch items strewn around. As the Act begins, both are sitting on the chairs. Colonel tries to read but is put off by noises and mumblings coming from Elvis. He stares at Elvis, who seems oblivious. After some moments of silence :

Col: So then … what’s your favourite Elvis song ?

(slight pause)

Elv: All of them.

(slight pause)

Col: What’s your schedule this week ? I said …oh, what’s the use ? Think I’ll go and see Cordelia.

Elv: (suddenly appearing animated ) Oh yeah, the little lady. You take good care of that sweet lil’ bundle of honey – loving.

Col: What would you suggest ? Man of your experience.

Elv: (deep in thought) Uh … women. Boy. Whewww.

(Elvis doesn’t seems as if he’s going to add anymore.)

Col: Thank you, that was very helpful.

Elv: Shoes.

Col: Excuse me ?

Elv: Yeah, shoes. They love shoes. Buying shoes, trying  shoes, choosing shoes, they never wear them. Then take them out. A show, something that women like.

Col: Such as ?

Elv: That play they’re all clucking about … what’s it called ? Something … The Monotonous Vagina, that’s it.

Col: OK. Actually, I’m gonna break up with her. I don’t think it’s working out.

Elv: Attaboy ! Send her back to the farmyard where she belongs. Then when you come back we’ll go cruising on beaver patrol. I’ll show you why they call me ‘The Pelvis’. This rooster’s gonna rustle a few feathers, t’nite !

(He gets up and rubs his back, making slight moaning sounds)

Hold that thought, boy, not sure the King’s back could take it. Couldn’t you just pick up a pair of cuteys ? Use my name. That’ll work.

Col: Well I wasn’t planning on going down Hackershe Mackt (1) way. Listen, why don’t you use those phone numbers … satisfaction guaranteed, all for local rates.

Elv: And they’ll come here ?

Col: No !

Elv: Then …. ?

Col: You know … you know.

Elv: Yeah … what ? I dunno … what ? Oh….OH ! No, listen, I’ve been meaning to have a little chat with you … now seems a good time, what with you breaking up with Corolla.

Col: Cordelia.

Elv: See ! There you go, again. You always have to disagree with me … anything for an argument. When I think of what I gave, what I give to you, shucks, I don’t like to say, but doggone it, people would be falling over themselves to have your job. I don’t ask much, I’m just a simple country boy at heart, don’t let these luxury surroundings tell you otherwise. You have to admit, your work isn’t backbreaking, twenty-four hour a day hard manual labor. Hell, boy, it ain’t hardly work at all. I thought you liked looking after me … me who, well, me who gives so much pleasure to millions … don’t you think …

Col: Whoa, there, Tiger, time-out, time bloody out ! Enough is enough … what was the first record you bought ? What were the names of your pets  ? What’s the ingredients of your favorite peanut-butter and banana sandwich ? I have to say that your knowledge of trivia is disarmingly poor. I’m ashamed of you ! What happened last week ? Opening that dry cleaners ?                     

Elv: “Star Cleaners … feel like a star.”

Col: And that little kid comes up, asking where you were born… and you said “Dortmund”.

Elv: Well it was that Monroe look-a-like … she put me off … I couldn’t concentrate.

Col: So you may have been looking at the stars, but your mind was in the gutter.

Elv: Hey, there’ s a pal, get her number could you ? Tell her I’ve got a seven year itch she’s welcome to scratch. You know, I didn’t like the way Charlie Chaplin was looking at her. No values that man. Ah, she’s too old for him. He liked them young, barely out of their school uniforms …

Col: It’s no good knowing trivia about others … why don’t you read up ?

Elv: Why don’t you shut up, boy ? You can’t speak to me like that ! I made you what you are ! I took you out of that bar and gave you a firm foundation in life, set you up, away from that bedrock of sin and vice and nurtured you in an atmosphere of warmth and love and spiritual guidance. Now ! Get me Monroe’s number … I can’t get her tits out of my mind !

(Elvis gets up and prances around, fiddling with the TV’s, looking restless and generally lost as Colonel speaks. Halfway through the monologue, he sits down)

Col: I don’t know what to do with him. It was a joke at first, went on a bit long, but there was a line. As you can see, said line has been crossed, yes sir, and the truck is gonna keep on a-truckin’. He now refuses to believe that he’s not Elvis. He sits around all day, in the costume, same costume, watching TV’s, eatin’ junk and shouting out, “My boy, my boy.” Maybe it’s like a sleepwalker, you know, you’re not supposed to wake them. Imagine the shock he’d get when he realizes that he thought he was Elvis all these months. On the other hand, what if Elvis, his Elvis that is, suddenly realizes that’s he’s not who he thought he was, but he’s actually a bloke from Dortmund. You see where I’m going with this ? There’s one for the deconstructionists in the audience. Oh, I still work in that bar, for the time being. The boss told me to stop speaking to the customers about living with an Elvis impersonator. Apparently it’s depressing them and I have to survive on the tips. But why do all Elvis impersonators have to choose the 70’s Elvis ? Surely, if you’re gonna impersonate someone, you’d want to capture them at their best ? Why does no-one go with … the … ahhh … I have an idea. I won’t lie to you…it’s not without risk. There is, as you see, no safety net. Anything can happen and I cannot be held responsible. But I think it’s the only choice. You have been warned !

 (Exit)

Elv: Where you off to, boy ? Too ashamed by your behavior ? Well, I don’t hold grudges. You’ll be out of the ol’ doghouse soon and we’ll carry on as …

(Opening melody of ‘Are you lonesome tonight’ is heard, played by a toy xylophone. Elvis looks down at the landline phone and picks it up, slowly, with trepidation.)

Ahhhh … er, yeah, what, say, hello ? Yes, you are speaking to … The King … yes, say what, boy ? Burger Bar ? Yeah, I think it’s my God-given duty to open your Burger Bar … I’m a great patron of the arts. My fee …? er, well, hold the line … Colonel … COLONEL … Colonel ? Ah, heck, right, I’ll take 40,000 dollars cash and a bucket of burgers for the … hello ? Hello ? Damn Yankees ! Where’s the Colonel ? How dare he leave me before I sacked him. Kick his arse for sure. Skinny runt. Thinks he can talk like that to me … me ! The King …THE KING ! 

(attempts some moves but has to stop and rub his back)

Ohh, maybe it’s time I eased into my ballad period. Get the Colonel to hire some doo-wop backing chicks … short skirts, religious like. Oh, the …What in tarnation … ?

(The Colonel appears dressed in tight jeans with quiffed hair and carrying a guitar around his neck. He goes into a routine, singing and playing ‘Hound Dog’. The routine should start off quite serious and impressive until Colonel gets self conscious or loses his confidence and it becomes more of a parody. During this performance, Elvis gets increasingly irritated. First he is perplexed, then offended and finally angry. He tries to obstruct the Colonel, who is too nimble and quick. For the first time Elvis appears at least aware that there is an audience, as he tries to block the view and stop them seeing the ‘upstart’. Colonel then exits, singing and playing as he leaves. He gives one final turn and performs a series of pelvic-thrusts, then blows kisses. Elvis remains standing, breathing hard and heavy and mumbling to himself, though a few words may be intoned clearly. He seems to come to, breathes more calmly, then storms off stage. There are muffled sounds of Elvis screaming and cursing then some banging and thumping. Elvis reappears, dragging Colonel by the ear.)

Elv: I have never … never …

Col: (A la Gilbert & Sullivan) What never ? Or hardly ever ? Arrgghhh !

Elv: Ever seen such a hootenannying display of vulgarity. Boy ! My stomach is a turning over. I’m sick, sick, that a man could … and me … and … and… there’s nothing else for it. I’ve been carrying you for too long and this is how you say thank you, King. To think I was ever you ! The army didn’t come a moment too soon, doing my duty to God, serving in this fair country, comforting those little frauleins, all in the spirit of brotherhood and … and why weren’t you here ? Burger … burger … or whatever phoned … they had a gig for me … I don’t know how to speak to money people … my message is to the hearts, not the wallets. I only asked for 40,000 …see, they knew it’s too little, they must have thought they’d got hold of a crank. I HAD A GIG !  WHERE WERE YOU ? All this has cost me work … not to mention the insult, the … I’m trying, Lord, but … I can’t … I can’t. Some things are unforgivable. You have 24 hours to leave Graceland … and may the Lord have mercy on your soul.

(Exits)

Col: OK, so maybe I overdid it. I didn’t know he’d take it so hard. Disgraced in Graceland. Run out of town. Been given the boot. I’m no longer the pretend manager of a pretend Elvis. Maybe I could get a job as pretend Brian Epstein and pretend to manage pretend Beatles. What am I saying ? It’s getting to me … I have to leave, get back to normal people, have normal conversations, return to reality. Somebody around here has to. I don’t think it’s going to be him.

      END OF ACT TWO

Notes

(1) Hackershe Mackt an area in central Berlin where ladies of the night ply their trade.

Takin’ Care of Business: Act One

A comedy in three acts written & directed by Paul Pacifico

23rd April 2021

May be an image of 1 person

First performed in Berlin early 2000s with Nicholas Young as ‘Elvis’, Martin O’Shea as ‘Colonel’ and Chad as ‘Pizza Boy’. Later revived with Jason Daly as ‘Colonel’ and Philipp Pressmann as ‘Pizza Boy.’

Feel free to use this play as you see fit. If a small profit is generated, I would appreciate a donation to a cancer charity.

This version is set in Berlin. See notes at the end of the play for any references to specific locations or vocabulary.

Legal notice: should you wish to perform the play, you should check for copyright issues or music publishing rights. Original music may be used instead.

And now … lights down … Richard Strauss ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra.’

Takin’ Care of Business

Cast :    Elvis

     The Colonel

          Pizza Boy

Berlin : The Present.

ACT ONE

One room which is a microcosm of Graceland. In one corner hang multicoloured drapes. A table with some plants. The other corner contains three TV sets. Two comfy chairs.

Darkness. Intro of Strauss ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra.’

Two corner lights (red and blue) switch on.

Elvis enters after a minute or so. Lights up.

Elvis switches on first one, then the other TV’s. He looks at them, moving his head from side to side at regular intervals. He is dressed in 70’s costume and periodically alters his garb, without shame or any self-consciousness. He moves around the room. Suddenly he leaps into posture, performing a few karate kicks and muttering to himself, “Master tiger”. Then he does some ‘moves’ or set pieces. He gives a little chuckle to himself and mumbles something. He moves to the TV’s and changes the stations, eventually ending up with the same programmes as beginning, but on different sets. He watches intensely, moving head from side to side. He then moves around the room, performing two set pieces, one facing left, other to the right.

Elv: Well, that’s my work out finished. As the man said, if ya can’t fix it, don’t chyou go a-breakin’ it. Hahaha … Makes a guy hungry … Colonel…  (shouts) COLONEL ! Oh, Col-on…

Col: WHAT !

(He appears from side. He obviously isn’t Colonel Tom Parker but a young man dressed in normal street wear.)

Elv: Hey ! What were you doing upstairs ? You know NO-ONE is allowed upstairs !

Col: Certainly not the cleaning lady. And as for the bathroom …

Elv: Hey! What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom.

Col: Yeah, just make sure it does. Would it kill you to open a window ?

Elv: (with exaggerated pathos)

You know I have a weak constitution. My lil’ ol’ body can’t take those winds rushing up from the Delta.

Col: Yeah, rolling in from the badlands of Kreutzberg. (1)

Elv : Why, you’d tease the bobtail off a muskrat. I know ya don’t mean a cotton pickin’ word. C’mere…give me a southern-fried hug …you know you want to.

(Elvis goes to grab Colonel, who leaps out of the way, almost into the audience. Elvis freezes, mid pose. Colonel now addresses the theatre.)

Col: It’s not easy. I mean, isn’t life hard enough without having a flatmate like this ? I blame myself … it was that party … the theme was ‘great singers of the past who are now past it.’ I chose Dean Martin, which … “Elvis,” here, thought was extremely funny, as he’d been to school with two brothers who were called Dean and Martin. Anyway, I chose ol’ red eyes then suggested that what with his physical dimensions, he’d be a dead – ringer for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. That was the day my music died. Mind you, the signs were all there. He once went through a Beethoven phase. He spent a week frowning at everyone, demanding that we all speak up. Of course, with Beethoven he only attracted geeky nerds. You know the sort … they understand computers. Believe Fox News is “fair and balanced”. Pockets full of crap: screwdrivers, batteries, long forgotten toffees … not a girlfriend between them … literally. Anyway, sorry for this digression but if you remember rightly, I was about to be slobbered over by that inflated blimp behind me. Consequently, I’ve no real desire to resume this play, but, the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the audience, the show must go on, yagga-yagga. Besides, I’ve learnt how to cope with all … nearly all … situations … Watch this…

(Colonel returns to his former position, ie, about to be hugged)

Col: SALAD !

(As predicted, this repulses Elvis.)

Elv: Lord have mercy, Colonel, give a guy a heart-attack. Ah, heck, ya can’t fool me. I know you’re a grizzled ol’ whiskey soaked man’s man, but, deep down, you’ve a huge capacity for love. I respect that. I know where you’re comin’ from and so if sometimes I don’t say it, well, doggone it, I love you, you ol’ moonshine shadow, you, (sings) “I don’t have a wooden heart.”

Col: No, just a wooden head.

(Goes to phone)

Elv : Say what, boy ?

Col: I said I’ll get onto the pizza hot line. What would you like on yours ?

Elv: Cheeseburger, of course. Hahaha, no, I’m only having my little laugh, no, gimme the Hawaiian Five – O.

Col: That’s pineapple and five types of meat ?

Elv: Yeah….and five of them. Gotta keep in shape.

Col: Oy, Elv, the guy here says if you order the Hawaiian Five -O-One, you get a free pair of jeans. Guess that’s some kinda baker humour.

Elv: I haven’t worn jeans since my ’69 special.

     (awkward silence)

Hell, you know I don’t wear jeans … too restricting for my fan base.

(He can think of nothing else to say, after floundering around for a short while. Suddenly he strikes some poses and exaggerates his pelvic thrusts, which should be a balance of vulgarity and humour)

Col: Everyone’s a comedian, hey ? Oh, the guy said don’t try and fob the Gästarbeiter (2) delivery boy off with one of your tin foil medallions. They want cold, hard cash.

Elv: Cold and hard … just like their pizzas … HAHAHAHA … whee-whee, boy, you didn’t see that one coming, did you ?

Col: (With heavy sarcasm) No, gee that was a good one. Way to go, dude.

Elv: Spoken like a good ole boy !

Col: I was speaking to Jimmy the other day. You know Jimmy ? He’s a real American.

Elv: He’s not American ! He’s from San Diego. I don’t wanna hear … I’m worn out … you’re driving me too hard … what do I hire you for anyway ? You should be making all the day to day decisions … what pizza do I want ? How do I know ? That’s your job … I’ve got so many other things to think about, shows to prepare, a public constantly demanding more, wanting to know every rinky-dink detail … I tell you, they won’t be happy until I’m dead. No, don’t apologise, my head is too full up … I must prepare myself for pizza. I’ll be over here … in the Jungle Room.

Col: Well, that’s him quiet for a few minutes. Let me take advantage of this little respite to hip you in to some other info. As I was saying, it all started at that party. He blew everyone away. He was great. Dancing, singing, even the Southern accent kept up. He was fun and you know why ? Because people wanted him to be fun. He fed on their expectations and their spirit. And he got lucky. Yeah. Women who wouldn’t even look at him before, were fighting over each other for his attentions. He learnt the meaning of the English expression ‘knackered’ that night and no mistake. The fact that a girl I had my eye on went over to the far side and got herself “a hunk, a hunk of burning love,” didn’t exactly endear me to this sequinned monster I’d created. But I got over it. He didn’t. He’d found something he’d never had before. He was popular, people loved him. I don’t know where all the moves came from. Very disturbing. I’d advise you not to try any of them at home, certainly not in public. Illegal in seventeen states kinda moves. I thought it was just a phase. Unfortunately not. Quite the opposite … he’s now the head member of the Berlin branch of the Elvis impersonators. They’ve got their own website. He opens supermarkets, gets booked for parties and signs CD’s at markets and Messes (3). He signs … ‘Elvis Presley.’ It seems that people need Elvis, even if it patently isn’t Elvis. He pretends he is and they let him. They want him to be Elvis. The sonofagun makes more money than I do. He can pay for the pizzas … he’ll sure as hell’ll eat them.

Elv: (Makes sniffing noises) Pizza’s here.

(A knock on the door)

Col: Amazing. I suppose you want me to get that ? Sure you don’t want to meet your public ?

Elv: No, even the King must have one night off. Oh, to be King, but where is my queen ?

Col: Well, if you’re a good boy and eat up all your pizza, I’ll put on my Little Richard costume.

Elv: I told you never mention that man’s … er … make that woman’s name around here. He … er, she says she invented Rock ‘n’ Roll. Upstart, Johnny come lately, and don’t start me on Jerry Lewis.

Col: Guess you mean Jerry Lee Lewis.

Elv: I know what I mean, now get the door … pizza waits for no man, and this man don’t wait for pizza.

(Door is opened. There stands the Pizza Boy, loaded with boxes)

Pz : That’s 45 Euro and no tin foil. I’ve heard about you two.

Col: Me ? What have I done ?

Elv: Problem, Colonel ?

Pz : Colonel ? Bloody hell !

Col: No, it’s him, I’m not … what the hell am I speaking to you for ? You just deliver pizza, and not even quickly. If you think you’re getting a tip, you can whistle Dixie … you’d only spend it on comic books and bubble gum.                                       

Elv: Whoa, there, Tiger, that’s no way to speak to guests in our fair country.

(Goes to door to speak to Pizza Boy, looking more at the boxes, than the boy)

Helloo, Chief … and … how … do …YOU … like our … country ?

Pz : Well, it’s OK, I guess. Get to meet all sorts of interesting people. See what they get up to. Makes me think my life ain’t so bad after all. So you taking these pizzas or what Mr Presley ? Or may I call you Elvis ?

Col: Ut-oh, that’s done it.

Elv: Why son of my heart, c’mere lemme give you a…

Pz : I don’t want one of those tin foil medalli …

Elv: …kiss

(Gives enormous smacker on the mouth)

Pz : Aaarrgghhhh … fuck this for a job ….. think I’ll join the army.

Elv: And now’s a good time, plenty of work.

(Pizza Boy Exits cursing, random ad libs like, “Go back to Brokeback Mountain.”)

Elv: Kids … they love me, what can I do ? An’ yer know the best thing ?

Col: We didn’t pay.

Elv: Hot diggerdy-dog, yep, let’s eat.

END   OF   ACT   ONE

No photo description available.

NOTES

(1) Kreutzberg – an area south of the river in Berlin, famous for being a student hang-out, full of bars and Turkish restaurants and, in the 80s & 90s, squat houses.

(2) Gästarbeiter -‘guest workers’, typically immigrants who work in the less desirable sectors such as cleaning or general unskilled work.

(3) Messes – trade fairs, business and marketing events

Nicholas has his own website: http://www.thesoulofelvis.de/photos.html

A Tale of Two Classes

11th December 2020

Compare these two photos; which class do you think was more dynamic ?

Photo 1
Photo 2

The basic lesson was the same: what are you doing now, add a connector (or discourse marker) and say what you want in the future.

Students are taught how to use vernacular language, practise changes in intonation and alterations in stress, as well as chunking (natural linking together of words).

The photos, as the saying goes, tell their own story.

Photo 1 is from a high-level IELTS class where I wanted to increase vocabulary, and encourage the students to use more intonation … or basically ANY intonation in their voice.

The topic went down like the proverbial Led Zeppelin (and I wasn’t feelin’ a Whole Lotta Love for the class). I managed to elicit some half-arsed replies before they returned to their mobiles (or cell phones if you’re in the USA) or their natural comatosed state.

The Big Short GIFs | Tenor

On the other hand, take a gander (have a look) at the second photo; same basic lesson target, but my goodness, what a difference, and this from an intermediate class.

Both classes were small in size (about six students) and predominantly teenagers, so how do we account for the chasm between them ?

To use academic language (for one of my new IELTS students):

This would seem to suggest that it was the students, as opposed to the lesson, that was the issue.

Academia GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Words such as ‘inspire’ or ‘motivate’ are synonymous with teaching. However, as someone who attempts to teach, I must add that a successful lesson relies on synergy; one cannot motivate those who actively resist being motivated.

Teachers only have so much energy, and they can’t afford to waste it on customers who shuffle into class, scowling, ignoring the teacher, sitting at the back clutching their bag, defensively, in front of them before becoming engrossed in their phones and ignoring any questions put to them. I’m not talking about children here, but young adults or adults, on a course that they chose, and need for their future.

Joking Season 2 GIF by Outlander - Find & Share on GIPHY

I wish I were.

So, to my great students, who come to class willing to learn, to be active, to practice and are polite and respectful:

Elvis Presley Saying Thank You Very Much GIFs | Tenor

Subject Index: People & Photographs used in ESL Classes

4th December 2020

People

Alice in Wonderland (book and picture) // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Archimedes // Adult Professionals. Mechanics. Theme: Archimedes // 26th February 2020

Buzz Aldrin // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Louis Armstrong // Young Learners, Level 2 // 1st June 2019

Art: Dali, Dada, Surrealism // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, Dada & Surrealism // 23rd April 2020

Asian salesgirls (mobiles) // Adult C, L 1 // 20th February 2019

David Bowie // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Isabard Kingdom Brunel // Adult Professionals / Mechanics Part 2 // 23rd January 2020

Fillipo Brunelleschi // Adult professionals // architecture

Robert Capa // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: War Museum

Captain Cook // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Tom Cruise // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Salvador Dali // Young Teens // 27th February 2019

Salvador Dali // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Dali & his art // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Dali // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, Dada & Surrealism // 23rd April 2020

Charles Dickens // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3

Fyodor Dostoevsky // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Crime & Punishment

Nguyen Du (‘Tale of Kieu’) // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Le Duan // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Bob Dylan // Adult C, L 3 // 3rd December 2019 /// Adult C, L 3 / // 19th August 2019

Guy Fawkes // Adult C, L 3 // 5th November 2019

Guy Fawkes // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Alfred Hitchcock // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Sherlock Homes // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Lê Hoàng Hùng // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

James I // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

The Joker (Heath Ledger) // Young Teens // 27th February 2019

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Pham Nhat Vuong //Adult C, L 3 //5th Nov 2019

Scarlett Johannsson // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Kenny Jones // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Franz Kafka // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Franz Kafka // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Dr Henry Kissinger // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Stanley Kubrick // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Christopher Lee // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

Bela Legosi // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

John Lennon // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

John Lennon // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Wyndham Lewis // Adult C, L 1 // 12 & 19 December 2018

George Mallory // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Sir Ian McKellen // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

Man from Taured // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Ho Chi Minh // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Ho Chi Minh // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Wei Minzhi // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Kim Phuc // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Peter O’Toole on Letterman // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Marco Polo // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Elvis Presley // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

REM // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

Mies van der Rohe // Adult professionals // architecture

Shakespeare // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3

Ringo Starr // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

T-ara // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Tchaikovsky // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

Theseus & the Minotaur // Young Learners 5 // 6th October 2019

Tsai Ing-wen // Taiwan: Listening Extra 12th April 2020

Alan Turing // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019

Vlad The impalor // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

Christop Waltz // Adult C, L 1 // 26th February 2019

Ludwig Wittgenstein // IELTS // 28th January 2019

Natalie Wood // Adult C, L 3 // 15 August 2019 \ 12 November 2019

Photos

Alcimbado // Young Learners 1 // 26th May 2019

Animals // KG 1 // 2nd March 2019

Architectural styles // Adult Speaking Class, level 2 // 9th January 2020

Art // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Art // 13th April 2020

Asian icons // Adult C, L 3 // 15th August 2019

Bad note-taking // Teenagers // 12th January 2019

Basquet // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

John Bercow // Young Learners 1 // 13th April 2019

Siddharta, the Buddha // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

David Carradine (Kill Bill) // Young Learners 1 // 24th April 2019

Henri Cartier-Bresson // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Marc Chagall // Young Learners, Level 1 // 26th May 2019

Marc Chagall // KG 1 // 7th December 2019

Kalpana Chawla (Indian astronaut) // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Child proteges // Young Learners, Level 4 // 1st June 2019

Chimp feeding tiger // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1:What do you need ? // 21st May 2020

John Constable // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

Christmas, Germany // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Christmas, UK // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Christmas, UK – food // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: food // 19th April 2020

Corona virus in Vietnam // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

Countries // Young Learners, Level 5 // 29th August 2019

Cute Japanese cafe Travel talk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Travel talk // 5th May 2020

Cute McDonalds girl // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Benedict Cumberbatch photobomb // Teenagers // 20th January 2019

Daisy & Anna // Beginners’ English Part 4

Julie Delpy // Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking // 28th April 2020

Dynamo (magician) on bus Travel talk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Travel talk // 5th May 2020

Families // Adult C, L 3 // 7th November 2019

Food: English breakfast // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

Food (UK, USA, Korea, Sweden) // Young Learners 3 // 13th July 2019

Gandhi // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Gym equipment // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Health // 27th January 2020

Hamley’s toy shop // Young Learners 2 // 26th April 2019

Kitchen items // Beginners’ English Part 4

Kraftwerk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Describing clothes // 19th March 2020

Interesting buildings // Young Learners 3 // 13th July 2019

Jazz stars // Young Learners 1 // 24th April 2019

Jun Ji-hyun // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

Las Vegas hotels // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

London history and architecture // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: London // 18th April 2020

Lost in Translation // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Wyndham Lewis // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

May Day – Nigeria, Hawaii, USSR, UK //Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: May Day // 5th May 2020

Nelson Mandela // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Describing clothes // 19th March 2020

‘Man Pointing’ // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Market research call centre // Adult C, L 3 // 8th January 2019

Mike the Monkey as animals // KG 1 // 7th December 2019

Ho Chi Minh’s house // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

National Museum, Seoul // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

Noble laureates // IELTS // Writing exercises // re-arrange poor writing // 12th May 2020

Kim Phuc // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Ngo Than Van (Veronica Ngo) // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Nicholas ‘Elvis’ (friend) // Young Learners 4 // 1st May 2019

Robert de Niro // Beginners’ English, Part 2

Pete (friend) on bass // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Pete with Kenny Jones // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Poland (Krakow) // Adult Speaking Class, level 2

Ms Quynh (friend) // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Rock stars // Adult Speaking Class, L 3: Describing people // 27th May 2020

Ronaldinho // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

Russia // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

Seurat ‘Sunday Grande Jatte // Young Learners 1 // 16th March 2019

Shops // Young Learners 3 // 3rd August 2019

Shopping – compound nouns // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Shopping in Viet Nam // IELTS // 10th April 2019

Signs (Indonesia) // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Signs (Singapore) // 21st August 2019

Sleeping student // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Sleeping student // Young Learners 5 // 25th August 2019

Nicola Sturgeon // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

‘t’ words // KG 1 // 5th May 2019

Tutankhamun // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

UK (beach, breakfast, pub) // Adult C, L 2 // 27th May 2019

Vietnam // Young Learners 5 // 25th August 2019

Vietnam – famous Vietnamese // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Vietnamese folk painting // Young Learners 1 // 26th May 2019

Vietnamese karaoke // Young Learners 3 // 17th August 2019

Vietnamese police stopping cyclists // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

Vietnam traditional industries // IELTS // 30th July 2019

Vietnam war and related // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Wedding dresses // Adult Speaking Class. Theme: Love & marriage Part 2

Mark Wiens // Young Learners 2 // 25th August 2019

Harri Won // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Thay Paul photos

Bangkok (Al & Alison) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3, Part 4 // 27th January 2020

Berlin 1990s // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019

Drinking coffee (Singapore) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

Driving (fairground) // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019

Elephant // Young Learners 3 // 7th September 2019

Elephant // Young Learners, Level 4 // 9th November 2019

Elephant // Young Learners, Level 5 // 25th August 2019

Playing guitar // Young Learners, Level 4 // 9th November 2019

With friends // Young Learners, Level 4 // 7th December 2019

With Martin (London) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

With students (Ha Noi) // Young Learners, Level 5 // 27th October 2019

With students (Ha Noi) // Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking // 28th April 2020

Teenage Class: The Truth is Out There.

Saturday 12th January 2019

The theme of the lesson is ‘trust and truth,’ and is split between reading and listening in the first half, followed by a speaking section in the second.

It’s also my first time with this class as their permanent teacher, so getting off to a good start is paramount. This means having fun and creating a conducive learning atmosphere but also stating class rules and stating the consequences for breaking said dictums.

I’ll start with a STB game. Students will probably be arriving up to fifteen minutes late, so they won’t miss any new work, while those who manage to arrive on time aren’t left waiting around. The game can be used to review recently-learnt vocabulary (in the last lesson I see they encountered such phrases as ‘off the beaten path’, ‘culture shock’ & ‘left to your own devices.’

We can then talk about different cultures. I’ll show a little of this YouTube clip (it has English subtitles which is great for my students, and the speaker is from USA so he has a different accent to mine).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHnQKvU8OiA&t=547s

Following this, I’ll show my Friends (men) sheet (I’ll put the link below). This will lead into the lesson, the theme of trust and trustworthiness. I’ll introduce the students to my ‘friends’ (yes, they are just five random photos from Google) and ask them which ones they would trust and why. They will also meet ‘Simon’ who will feature in the second part of the lesson.

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/28/friends-men-teaching-sheet/

We’ll then move onto the Truth or False game. Here, I board three things I have done, or achieved. Two are false but one is true. The students have to ask me questions to determine the correct answer. Tomorrow the three will be:

I worked for Apple in Sweden

I have riden an elephant in Thailand

I have fluent Vietnamese, but I speak with a Huế accent

I speak a little Swedish so that could convince them that the first is true. However, my knowledge of all things tech is pitiful, so they could easily see through that. Similarly, by asking me a basic question in Vietnamese, they will, within microseconds detect the fib. The answer, therefore is:

The students can then copy the activity in small groups, while I monitor that students are speaking English (which is the whole point of any speaking activity). I will them introduce them to the phrase ‘call my bluff‘, for example, if I claim to be fluent in Vietnamese but I can’t understand anything they say … they have called my bluff. This will segue into the next game, ‘Call My Bluff.’

For this game, I prepare some A4 sheets with a number of words on with three definitions. One team will read out the word and different people will read out a definition. The opposing side has to guess the correct meaning (and new words can be recycled next lesson in a warm up exercise). For example we have:

obnoxious 1) (adjective) a very unpleasant person 2) (noun) a gas that becomes liquid at 50 degrees C. 3) (noun) a small village without a church.

mindset 1) (noun) a tool designed by scientists to analyse personality 2) (noun) a system of rules to allow students to memorise lots of information 3) (noun) a set of attitudes held by someone or a group of people.

Other words can include demeanour, troglodyte (everyone loves that word), superfluous, salient, volatile, anomaly

After this, it will be time for book work, up to break. After the interval, it’ll be more speaking. I’ll show them the picture of Simon again and say he’s coming to HCM City next week and wants some advice: where to stay, what to do, where to shop, what to eat, how to get around, what to do at night etc. The students have to plan a day for him including breakfast, going to a tourist attraction, shopping, using local transport and a night time activity.

I will give them some information about Simon, for example, he loves trying local food, is interested in history, wants to buy typical souvenirs and enjoys a beer or two at night. However, he is on a limited budget which will affect where he stays, where he goes to eat and how he travels around the city.

Activities like this help students to think critically in a second language and leads into the main exercise in the text book.

In the last twenty to thirty minutes, we need to wind down and do more activities or games after the reading and book activities. In keeping with the theme of truth, I can show some slides and ask are they true or false, eliciting as much information as possible. They include:

Loch Ness Monster
Spring-heeled Jack from Victorian England.
Elvis once flew in his private jet to a different state just to get this peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Fairies at the bottom of a garden. Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, believed in this photo.


Another end game will be with collocations – showing a list of words and asking them which ones collocate, for example an email – you can send it / open it / redirect it / delete it etc. Or maybe just a simple general knowledge quiz or hangman or a B2B.