Gateways: First Lesson Day by Gwen Kelly-Masterton

Transcript:: This story is written by Gwen Kelly-Masterton. Though primarily a director, she has been writing short stories and poems since childhood. She has recently made forays into playwriting with Land of Never-Lack (Cave Painting Theater Company 2016) and When You Know (Chicago Danztheatre 2017). Opposites and contrasts are her favorite, whether she is contrasting voice with content or nudging the audience toward two different but equally supportable conclusions. Gwen tells us she believes that comedy is funniest when the emotion is real, and tragedy is most devastating when you’re laughing through tears. This is “First Lesson Day”.

Good morning and let us sit still.
My name is Riley B and I’m eight years old. I am very honored to read my report for First Lesson Day out loud to you. Honored is a word that means “grateful for responsibility.” I am always grateful for the wonderful things I learn here in the Child Place, but being honored is different, because now I am responsible too. I first wrote my report about my species’ First Lesson for my Teacher, but now I will share it with you, Children, and you, Aides, and even you, Adults, if you are good enough to watch our First Lesson Day Celebration through the cameras.
Once upon a long time ago, the first Teachers arrived on Earth. Earth is the planet where my species of Children were first made. By researching in the database we can learn that Earth is a spheroid planet approximately 8,000 miles in diameter, containing water oceans and an air atmosphere. By watching vidclips from Earth we can learn that the sky is blue, and the plants make beautiful brightly colored flowers in the spring.
The Teachers came to Earth because the Adults in their Adult Places had stopped making enough Children for them to teach. So the Teachers told their Aides to make a big, big Ship. The Ship was so big, it could fit three Teachers, fifteen Aides, and three Place-fulls of Children! The three Teachers were named Oulak, Muptav, and Fon. We don’t know the names of the Aides, because the database doesn’t tell us. But I am grateful for all Aides, even when they don’t have names.
Oulak, Muptav, and Fon got into their big ship and packed it full of everything they would need to teach a new planet. Then, they sailed and sailed until they came to Earth. Their big Ship landed in a desert. Ships like to land in deserts because not many Adults go there. They can sit for a long time gathering information with their instruments before the Teachers start the First Lesson. Ships and Teachers like to have a lot of information, so they can do a good job teaching. I think Aides like to do a good job too.
Oulak, Muptav, and Fon read and read what their Ship’s instruments told them. What they read made them very sad, but also happy. They were sad because they learned that the Adults on Earth had been doing Capitalism and Oligarchy. And some of them were even doing War and Fascism too. If you want to know what those are, you can ask a twelve year old, because I haven’t learned it yet. Learning is the best thing in the whole universe, but it’s scary to learn about bad things. So we have to wait until out Teacher say we’re ready.
Oulak, Muptav, and Fon were sad because all the Capitalism and bad things were making Children suffer and die. And even Earth was starting to suffer and die too! This was bad because Adults should be grateful to their planet for letting them live and make Children. It makes Teachers very sad when Adults aren’t grateful. But Oulak, Mouptav, and Fon were happy too, because they knew they could save the Children and Earth from the bad things the Adults were doing. What makes Teachers so wonderful is, they love to help. They especially love to help Children, because Children are so good at being grateful. Adults sometimes are not as good at being grateful, but Teachers love to help them too. We don’t know what Aides love to do, but I think they love helping too, because they always do it even when they’re very, very tired.
While Oulak, Muptav, and Fon were still on their ship, looking at their instruments and learning about all the bad things Adults were doing on Earth, something unusual happened. Even though they were in a desert, where they thought no Adults would come and find them, some Adults did come and find them! The Adults who found them banged very hard on the side of the Ship with pieces of metal called bullets, until the Ship was almost getting damaged. So the Ship froze the Adults and lifted them up in the air. I think the Adults were probably pretty surprised! Then the Aides went out and took away the bullet throwing machines, which were called Guns, and they took one of the Adults into the ship to talk to the Teachers.
The Adult who went inside told the Teachers that the Gun Adults were going around the desert to look for some other Adults, who had Children with them too. A mixed group of Adults and Children in my species is called Humans. I had to look up that word in the database, of course, because we don’t use it anymore. The Gun Adults were trying to stop the Humans from going across the desert, from a place where War and Capitalism were very bad, to a different place where they thought they would be less bad. This made the Gun Adults angry. They thought that Humans should only stay where they got made, even if it was a bad place. The Gun Adults said the Humans were going to steal the less bad place from the Humans who already lived there, unless the Gun Adults could find them first. If they did find them first, they would throw bullets at them until the Humans got all full of holes, and died.
Oulak, Muptav, and Fon listened to the Gun Adult, and felt very sad. They knew that what the Gun Adults were doing was very, very bad. But Teachers always try to help, so they started trying to teach the Gun Adult. They taught him that Children should be safe from War and suffering, and they taught him that Adults shouldn’t tell Children what to do because Adults are not Teachers. But the Gun Adult was not grateful and didn’t want to learn! He said he was just doing his job. A job is like how we always obey our Teachers, but it’s when Adults obey a different Adult who has more Capitalism. The Gun Adult told the Teachers there were so many Adults doing jobs and obeying other Adults instead of Teachers, that in order to teach Earth how to be good, the Teachers would have to make all the Adults living on it die.
So the Teachers did.
It made them very sad to do it, but to be a Teacher, you also have to learn. And the Teachers had learned what the Gun Adult taught them. So Oulak told some Aides to start gathering all the Children on Earth into the ship, and Muptav told some other Aides to biotag all the beautiful flowers and animals that weren’t Humans, so they would be safe too. When the children were all on the ship, the ship flew up, up into the blue sky, all the way back up into space. And then Fon pressed a button, and all the Adults who were left on Earth started to die and die, until they all were dead. Oulak, Muptav and Fon were very sad that they had to waste so many Adults. But they were glad, because they saved the Children and the planet. We don’t know how the Aides felt, but we know they love working hard. So I think they must have been glad too.
Some of the Children who went on the Ship were not grateful to the Teachers for saving them, because they remembered being Humans, and they didn’t understand why all the Adults had to die. But the Ship brought them to the Child Place, and when they met other Children, and heard about how the Teachers saved all of them too, they started to feel better. And once they started learning from the Teachers, they felt even better than that. And when those Children grew up and turned into Adults, they went to the Adult Place to make more Children. And the Children that they made didn’t remember being Humans, but only remembered the Child Place and the Aides and their wonderful Teachers, so none of them were sad at all. Even if someone is not grateful, they can still make Children who are. That’s why if a Child is really, really bad, and doesn’t learn to be better, the Teachers tell the Aides to give them medicine, so they can go to the Adult place and start making Children right away. That way, no Children are wasted. The Teachers have been teaching Children for a long, long time, so they always know what to do, even when things go wrong.
After the Aides had cleaned up the bodies of all the Adults who had died, the Teachers taught Earth, and all the plants and animals, how to put back all the things the Adults had ruined. And when the planet was ready, they brought some other Adults there and turned Earth into an Adult Place. And it is one, to this day. And I think the Adults who live there must be very lucky to be making Children somewhere so beautiful.
My Teachers says that someday, all the Children and Adults will go back to our old planets and be together again. But we have to be patient, because even though we Children may be almost ready, many Adults still have a lot of tough learning to do. For example, sometimes they still get angry and sad when they work hard to make a Child and then the Aides take it away to the Child Place. That is why the Teachers let the Adults watch us on the cameras, so they can see how nice the Child Place is and how much we are learning. I hope the cameras are turned on today. But I think we should always be extra good and learn as hard as we can, in case the Adults are watching, so they can see how happy and safe we are. And maybe someday, if we are grateful enough, the Adults who are watching us will finally become truly grateful too. That would make the Teachers very happy, because they want the best for all Children, and even all Adults. I don’t know how the Aides would feel, because if we go back to the planets we won’t need them anymore. But I think the Teachers will find a good solution for that, just like they did for Earth at our First Lesson.
That’s the end of my First Lesson Day report about the First Lesson of Earth, by Riley B. I would like to thank my Teacher for honoring me to read it, and all of you for listening. And I would like to thank Oulak, Mouptav, and Fon, for coming to Earth once upon a long time ago. After lunch, our First Lesson Day celebration will go on, and Riley C will tell us all about the First Lesson of Taarvo Seven-Prime. But right now, let us sit still, and be very, very grateful for all the things our wonderful Teachers do, even when we make them sad, just because they love to help us learn.

Rachel Granda Gluski is a chicago based voice actor and movement professional. She currently enjoys working with radio play companies Starlight Radio Dreams and Locked into Vacancy Entertainment. She also performs every summer with the Bristol Renaissance faire. When she’s not performing she enjoys being a huge nerd and hanging out with her cats.

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