Feeling disillusioned with politics? These young parties will have you queuing up to vote for them...in 20 years time!
In my continual quest to keep my regular drama classes relevant and interesting, this week I ventured into the murky realms of the 2015 Election. I wanted to see if I could get the group 'pumped up' about politics. I was pleasantly surprised to find that when asked what was happening in the world on Thursday 7 May, they responded with a resounding cry of "um, the election...duh!".
I was off to a good start.
Not wanting to set too dry a task for them, after all they do come to drama class to enjoy themselves, I divided them into three groups and asked them to form their own political party.
Stick with me, it gets better.
I then asked them to come up with a catchy name that would be easily remembered and would encapsulate what their party stands for. It could be anything. Anything in the world. They were then charged with electing a leader within their group who would drive their party forward with strength, determination, conviction and a sense of morality.
They started to lose interest then but I brought it back with...
...the final task which was to come up with some policies that defined their party and then be ready to present them to the group. Again, the policies could be absolutely anything. Free carrots for all, bouncy castles at every birthday party for the under 10s, a better selection of clothes for dogs. As I say, absolutely anything. BUT, you must present the policies with sincerity and be prepared for questions from the audience at your presentation. You have 15 minutes.
And so began hushed, intense and in-depth conversations within the 3 groups and the first topic under discussion was, undoubtedly, who was to be leader. Some parties voted while others just assigned. It all went off without a hitch. The next item on the agenda was the name of the party. A crucial element of any self-respecting political party is their name. Much conversation was had and then, surprisingly amicably, decisions were made. Then began the serious task of policy making.
I left them to it.
I was surprised how engrossed they all became, even requesting paper and pen to write their policies down. Great stuff. Eventually came the time for the presentations. A sense of anticipation filled the room as the first party took to the stage. The Fashion Party. Intriguing name but what were their policies...
1) Free hats and accessories for everyone on Tuesdays. Well, you can never have too many hats, shoes...
2) All girls must wear skirts on Wednesdays. A controversial one this but the audience were on board.
3) All shoes will be available in 'doll size' right through to 'giant size'. Fun, yes. Practical, no.
During questioning they were challenged regarding what ants would do for shoes? And what about cats? And cows? Which then inevitably led to a tidal wave of similar questions. Seals, dogs, spiders and ocelots were all fully represented and had their shoe needs discussed. The Fashion Party came to the conclusion that they would operate a 'Shoes for All' policy across the board, which went down well.
Next to the stage were The Blue Banana Party. They were incredibly convincing. Their policies included...
1) Allotments should be made available to everyone to encourage them to grow their own fruit and veg. It is healthier and also good for the planet. Can't argue with that.
2) Ice-cream should be made in a wider variety of flavours. Fair enough.
3) All bananas should be blue and be given away free to everyone. Hmmm, okay. Potassium is good.
When questioned about whether they were going to be genetically modifying the bananas to be blue, they fired the answer straight back that, no, in fact they were going to use blueberries. That told us then.
Then followed then a series of questions about what they would do if you didn't like bananas? Answer, give you oranges. What happens if you don't like oranges? Answer, they would give you apples. What happens if you don't like...you can see where the audience were going with this. The final question was, what happens if you don't like any food or drink? The answer came back quick as a flash, you'll starve. Classic.
Lastly we heard from The Bobbington Party. The origins of the name are still unclear. Their policies are...
1) Free chocolate for the over 60s. Interesting, though there are health implications.
2) All public toilets should be cleaned on the hour every hour. A very popular policy.
3) More money should be put into the investigation and discovery of dragons. Ground-breaking stuff!
4) Free snorkels for all seals. Charming yet there were concerns over the practicality.
The audience were worried about any over 60s with diabetes. This was quickly quashed by the Bobbingtons as they made it clear they would fund sugar-free options. The toilet cleaning was met with resounding approval, with only slight concerns for the workers but the electorate was reassured that working conditions would remain fair. In fact, by using the dragons as alternative transport the party would, in fact, save money on cars and roads thereby freeing up more money to pay workers. An all- round winner. Finally, when questioned about the likelihood of dragons actually being found, the party replied with the quote of the day..."well, no-one has ever not found a dragon." You can't argue with that.
In conclusion, I remain hopeful for the future of this country if these young people are anything to go by. In the words of Prince George in Blackadder the Third, "sensible policies for a happier Britain."