Jackson and Oliver

Jackson—sophomore at UC Merced, Major: undeclared
Oliver–    sophomore at UC Merced, Major: Biology

Setting: Early morning in Merced. Jackson has planned a last-minute trip to Yosemite. The birds are chirping and the sun is rising as Jackson tries to wake up his best friend.

Jackson: [flings open Oliver’s bedroom door and pulls open his blinds. Soft sunrise light streams in]
Wake up Loser! Wake Up! We’re going to Yosemite.

Oliver: [drowsily] What?

Jackson: Get up, we’re going to Yosemite.

Oliver: [Immediately rises and goes to his desk]
I can’t, what are you doing? We both can’t, we need to study for our quiz tomorrow.

Jackson: [opens the window and the sound of chirping birds streams in]
Quit your books and grow a little Oli…

Oliver: I can assure, I have grown enough?
[as he points to his belly where he carries his infamous share of the Freshman 15]

Jackson: Come on, clean your face, come outside, and don’t get your panties all in a wad.
[takes Oliver’s notes and flipping through them moves toward the window for light]

Oliver: Nobody has their panties in a wad, there’s just more important things to do than “going on a hike”. Again. [reaching for his notes]

Jackson: It’s not just a hike Oli, the sun, the top of the falls,

Oliver: Here we go!

Jackson: The meadow at half dome is going to look so good, we’re staying until sunset.

Oliver: [reclaiming his notes]
I need to go over the last chapter from the lecture on Friday. Can I borrow your book?

Jackson: Books! Their boring! come outside and listen to the sweet music of life, you might learn a little more of it, Yo-lo-Ol-i.

Oliver: [annoyed] Ookay, but can I borrow your book?

Jackson: [as the dawn dim light turns morning sunshine]
Listen! The birds don’t care, they’re not preaching at you learn this do that, come outside and let nature teach you a thing or everything.

Oliver: Is nature going to teach me how to pass my test?

Jackson: No but she can give you what our test won’t. You might get a little healthier, bless your heart, and ease your tired mind. There’s truth to be found in that peace.

Oliver: Why do you talk like that man? Peace of mind won’t get me into med school. I need to pass my classes, graduate, get letters of rec. I need to do well here so I can pay off my loans, remember those?

Jackson: Is paying off your loans all you really want from life? Do you even want to be a doctor? Finding peace in Yosemite might not teach you that or pass your little test but it can make you understand more of good and evil, people, and you. One little thing there can change you.

Oliver: It’s not that simple.

Jackson: You think you’re so smart. Your little meddling mind making things into what they’re not. [reaches for text book] This book and that test isn’t all that you are. You think they are, but they’re not.

Oliver: ….

Jackson: You want to know everything so bad you’d kill for it and think what is “bad” is us going on a hike, on such a perfect day. The tables are turned.

Oliver: I know I’m not just school, I just, I need to do this for my future. I can’t be a bum.

Jackson: Alright then. Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. You’re not a bum. What you need to learn to do is how to relax and find the true meaning of life in nature. [Oliver stares confused] Enough of science, enough of art. [tosses book out the window] let’s go, get ready, and bring your heart with you.

For my creative writing project, I did a play version of “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth from The Lyrical Ballads. To engage “The Tables Turned” with 2017 I decided to change the medium of the message from a poem into a play by engaging the plea for living by Romantic ideals found in “The Tables Turned” with a 2017 UC Merced student. The poem when read by myself felt like a conversation. The appeal of the Romantic I think is something that is very relevant for college students today. This is particularly so when consider the high cost of tuition and the struggle to afford it only to find themselves unable to find a job post-grad. There is currently I think a struggle between this career driven mentality and the Romantic desire to go out and learn by experience. A play with a person speaking the poem of “The Tables Turned” and secondary 2017 student character permitted me best to communicate this while paying homage to Wordsworth’s poem. In the play, I also used updated modern language so as to keep with the Romantic way of using the lay mans language.

I chose for Oliver to be a science student and skeptic of Romantic ideals which promote a stray away from the rational and orderly to the emotional and natural. Romantic I think may be a particularly hard pill to swallow for a student of science who has chosen to study the orderly and rational. Jackson is the character aimed at being the speaker of the updated lines of “The Tables Turned”. His physical action of tossing the textbook out the window is a symbolic way of portraying the message of the poem to abandon the study of science and art. This being done in the action of a performance takes away the irony of the message to stray away from the message of books being found in a book itself.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz


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