David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Deliver Me

March 4, 2018

Every time I go see a musical (SMC's "The Secret Garden" this weekend), I am convinced It's All Academic could work better as a musical.  The only problem: I can't write music.  So, my conviction is never anything more than delusion. Still, I can't help visualizing how some scenes may play out.

So, for now, I plan to offer some scenes from "It's All Academic: The Musical."  I won't start at the beginning.  Opening with a musical number centering on a half-day long meeting requires the kind of drugs that probably led to "Hair." 

Instead I go to one of my favorite scenes in Chapter 9, where Provost Carter deals with the complicated world of Boan University's various course deliveries. 

Scene/Stage Set Up:  The stage is split so that we can see three rooms separated by walls that still allow audience to see all three rooms.  To the far right is the kitchen of Hector and Jamie Viola, the two of them sitting at a kitchen table with a phone, Jaime with her head in her hands. In the middle is Provost Carter's office, him sitting at a desk with a phone and a computer. To the far left is an advisor's cubicle, phone and computer on desk, Frank Pollen, working on his computer as the scene opens.

Carter's phone rings.

Carter: This is Provost Carter.

Hector: Um, yeah, President Berrien told me to call you.

C (with a face showing he would like to strangle his boss): About what?

H: My wife is getting screwed by the college.

C (laughing):  Well, let's start off more clearly sir. What is your name? Your wife's name?

H: Hector. Hector Viola. My wife is Jamie Viola.

C: Well, thank you, Mr. Viola. Before we go any further, has Jamie signed off on FERPA?

H: Furball?  What the hell is that?

C: FERPA, Mr. Viola, is the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act.  It protects a student's educational record.

H: My wife has been trying to change her schedule around, but that son-of-a-bitch advisor advised her wrong.

C: Maybe so, Mr. Viola.  But if Jamie has not given written consent to waive FERPA, I can't really discuss this with you.

H (getting increasingly madder): Written consent?

C: Yes, there is a very simple form she fills out.

H: So that she can get her schedule fixed.

C (Trying to keep his patience): No, to allow me to talk to you.  Or I can talk to her directly. Is she available?

Music begins for the song "Bad Forms"

H (Slamming phone down and rising from the table.  He dances angrily with his chair during the number): "They say we need a form, hon/They're giving us the run-around, hon."

Jamie (Shrinking into her chair): "A form?/Form for what, dear?"

H: "That's what I hear/A form for ferpa, uh, I guess/Everything's a form these days/It's for forms your tuition pays."

J: "What is a ferpa form for, dear?/What more do they want/How less can they care?"

H: "A freakin form! I swear, James/It's the run-around just the same/I knew you never should have gone/never should have signed on/College won't make you smarter/just broke and broken-hearted."

J: "Don't get started, hon/It's just a form, hon/Are they firm we need a form, hon?"

H: "Talk to the damn man, yourself, dear/I need a damn beer, dear."

Music softens while Jamie picks up phone to talk to Provost Carter.

J: This is Jamie Viola. My husband says there is some form I need to fill out.

C: Only if you want someone else to know your educational situation, Ms. Viola.

J: But he is my husband.

C: I know, ma'am, but it is still the law.  Anyway, give me your student number and I will look you up and try to help you.

J: 123-432-88-61

C (After a moment): O.k., tell me what's wrong.

Music for "Deliver Me" picks up.  Jamie is now standing in kitchen and sways around the room during the musical number.

J: "I'm not sure where to start/I had a change of heart.  My classes were moving too fast/I was sure I'd never pass/I talked to that guy Frank/who I really have to thank/but the new courses I'm in/. . . oh, I don't even know where to begin/Deliver me from this hell."

C: "Slow down if you can/so that I can begin to understand."

J: "I was in all those accelerateds/but I quickly got so frustrated."

C: "Some students find them difficult/they're designed for mature adults/after all, material covered in 7 weeks/requires different studying techniques."

J: "That's why Frank switched me to a regular section/even though 15 weeks is causing me depression."

C: "Am I right in assuming/you got no guidance of what you were pursuing?"

J: "The first class in which I enrolled/is three chapters ahead I am told/of the course for which now I am vexed/to learn requires a whole different text/my teachers don't seem to get/that I break into a cold sweat/trying to figure out if am behind/or ahead because of the acceleration I was first assigned/The course number and name are the same/but everything seems like a shady shell game."

C: "Can I put you on hold for a sec/while I call the advisor to check/on how you were told/of the situation as it would unfold."

J: "Oh, sure pipe in the muzak!/Hector, deliver me my prozac."

[Carter puts Jamie on hold and calls Frank Pollen in the advising cubicle.]

Phone ringing.

Frank [Looking at the caller id]: Oh crap, the provost rings/I wonder what hell the call brings/Do I pretend not to be around/Oh damn, the computer confirms I've been found."

Frank picks up the phone.

F: "This is Frank Pollen."

C: "Dr. Carter calling."

F: "How can I help you?"

C: "Is the name Jamie Viola a clue?"

F: "I remember her, sir/a change in classes occurred."

C: "She seems a bit perplexed/and unsure where to turn next/I'm trying to ascertain/if information germane/to her schedule decisions/armed her for their provisions."

F: "I am not sure I understand your concern/should I transfer you to Admissions in turn?"

C (Getting angrier) "Do not deliver me to the admissions team/If you do I shall have to scream/Surely there are some basic delivery explanations/students are given at your advising stations?"

F: "Perhaps you need to speak to Ms. Cruz/who might understand what it is you want us to use."

C: "Don't you dare transfer me [Frank transfers the call]/I'll just get her voicemail, you see." 

[Recording: "You have reached the voicemail of Caroline Cruz."  Carter hangs up the phone.]

C: "Ms. Viola, are you still there?"

J: "Of course, I was going nowhere."

C: "I am going to have to call you back/as too much information I lack.

J: "I'll never hear from you again/your concern is merely pretend."

C: "Just give me a few days/Since I am new, I am learning Boan ways/Such investigation may be fool-hardy/if you don't hear from me in a week, send a search party."

(They both hang up.)  Jamie is spotlighted in her kitchen on the dark stage.

J: "Sweet Jesus, deliver me from these weasels."  Spotlight fades.

{If I continue with this insane act of whimsy, the next posting will be the subsequent scenes of Provost Carter talking with student services' staff in a futile attempt to understand Boan's practice of offering multiple deliveries of classes.}