Throughout February I had the honour of being Shetland’s Writer In Residence. Part of my duties was to deliver script writing workshops, so for this column I present a short play. I thank you:
Future Fuels by Sandy Nelson.
Scene: The ante-room of a corporate office. Two figures sit waiting. POWELL is grey haired in late middle age with a large waistline and a stoic expression. WINNIE is flouncy in a white gown with airy fairy hair.
WINNIE Nerve wracking isn’t it?
WINNIE Have you heard anything yet?
WINNIE It’s weird having a bunch of strangers deciding your future.
POWELL It’s weird to have to apply for your own job.
WINNIE Oh, are you Powell Powerstation?
WINNIE Ah, right. I’m Winnie Windfarm.
POWELL Oh. I see.
WINNIE Well, this is rather awkward.
POWELL Oh, I don’t know. I think it’s quite straight forward. You are here to steal my job.
WINNIE Well, excuse me but I was invited here. I am a professional, you know.
POWELL Well it would seem the definition of “professional” has changed over the years.
WINNIE What, you think I do this part time?
POWELL Listen, pal, I am literally a powerhouse. I work hard. You just stand there with your arms in the air waiting for the wind.
WINNIE I’m sure you will agree that in Shetland I don’t have to wait too long. It’s the busiest shift in the British Isles.
POWELL Even so, what do you produce? Enough power to run a few heaters on a chicken farm?
WINNIE You know I produce far more than that.
POWELL I don’t mind people having their wee turbines in their garden and their solar panels on the roof.
WINNIE Oh, do you know Sonny Solar? That guy’s a riot . . .
POWELL . . . that’s all very well for a wee small holding, but when it comes to powering an entire community, I’m your man. I get the job done.
WINNIE I’m not suggesting you can’t get the job done.
POWELL Well there you are.
WINNIE But if you don’t mind me saying you’re not that clean are you?
POWELL That’s a bit fresh.
WINNIE Unlike yourself. You pile all sorts of rubbish into the atmosphere.
POWELL Don’t you fool yourself, sunshine.
WINNIE I’m not sunshine, I’m wind.
POWELL You do a bit of damage yourself. Some poor wee birdie flying along then BAM! A turbine blade right in the neck. Or if they are really unlucky they fly too close to a swish and the drop in pressure collapses their lungs.
WINNIE Better that than choking to death on your fumes, just like any man or beast who lives within breathing distance of you.
POWELL I am within the regulated and accepted emissions bracket.
WINNIE Have you SEEN what’s legal? It’s ridiculous. And do you know that your owner can pay to offset your extra emissions? Sure the treasury gets more money but the emissions are still the same.
POWELL If you are so green then why does it take tons of landscape dug up and fleets of lorries emitting gas fumes to build you? You’re not so innocent. And you’re an eyesore.
WINNIE That’s just a matter of opinion, NOT a reasoned argument. Some people find me majestic. And look at you. You’re no oil painting yourself. (pause) And speaking of oil, and other fossil fuels . . .
WINNIE Come on. We both know what’s coming.
POWELL Technology will find more.
WINNIE Until the hollowed out world collapses in on itself. And then what?
POWELL But you don’t have the strength! You and solar and wave. Even together you can’t match me.
WINNIE But we will always be there. I’ve never said I was your replacement. I’m just here, along with solar and wave and don’t forget tide, to lend a hand. So we are all in place when, well, you know . . .
POWELL You think you are so wonderful, don’t you?
WINNIE Yes I do. And you have been wonderful too. You’ve done an amazing job. But we have to face the future. And until then we can work together. At least we can talk about it.
POWELL That’s all them in that office have blooming done is talk. If they just stopped talking and made a decision we’d all save a bob or two.
WINNIE True. (pause) I won’t let you down.
POWELL Make sure of it.
Enter a trendy science nerd in purple shades and combat trousers and iPod .
NERD Hi. I’m Colin Coldfusion. Is this where the Future Fuels auditions are?
Both share a glance then both turn to the audience saying in unison.
P&W Ah, well. It was fun while it lasted.