CYBER Civil War

by Cindy Marie Jenkins

Artists create a map of the world together and from memory

This piece was first work-shopped at The 2011 Indy Convergence. Pre-Convergence, I asked the participants to describe an event or time in history when what they were taught was very different than what they learned later. Most people mentioned the Civil War in one way or another, so I felt we should explore that time. Some pics of our process are scattered throughout. Artists include: Christina Aimerito, Ashley Bennington, Ellen Denham, Ian Garrett, Mariel Greenlee, Zach Laliberte, Joshua Morris, Caitlin Swihart Negron, Robert Negron, Stephen Gabriel Pallo, Michael Velez & Roberta Wong.

If interested in performing this scene in any way or any context, I highly encourage you to choose the words and structure that strikes the strongest chord with your performers, as we did.

CYBER CIVIL WAR

(ROBOT TEACHER and THE CLASS enter. ROBOT TEACHER hands THE CLASS sealed documents as they sit down. ROBOT TEACHER speaks in a stilted manner but otherwise is relatively human.)

ROBOT TEACHER

Hello Class. Please welcome our new student to class today.

(NEW STUDENT meekly waves hello.)

Now you may open today’s lesson.

(THE CLASS tears open their envelopes, and ready themselves to take notes. As soon as the ROBOT TEACHER speaks, THE CLASS writes furiously. NEW STUDENT is a little behind and wary.)

ROBOT TEACHER

Our lesson for today is the Civil War. In the 1860’s, The North and The South disagreed on salvery. The North knew that it was wrong, but the South wanted to keep their tradition and finances flowing. The North tried to keep the United States together and show the South the error of their ways, but the South threatened to secede.

Christina Aimerito remembers the day that her perception of the world changed.

(NEW STUDENT raises hand.)

You have a question.

NEW STUDENT

Where exactly is the South?

(THE CLASS is shocked at this outburst.)

ROBOT TEACHER

You do not need to know that for the test.

(THE CLASS happily continues scribbling.)

Abraham Lincoln desperately wanted to free the slaves and make them full citizens, but The South wouldn’t let go fo slavery. The South grew great amount sof much needed crops, but the North had industry.

(NEW STUDENT raises hand.)

You have a question.

NEW STUDENT

What is Industry? What does that mean?

ROBOT TEACHER

You can look that information up on the internet.

NEW STUDENT

Didn’t the North have slaves, too?

ROBOT TEACHER

You did not raise your hand. You do not have a question.

(STUDENT 1 raises her hand.)

You have a question.

Zach Laliberte & Muriel Greenlea sing Dixie from North & South's POV

STUDENT 1

Did the North have slaves, too?

ROBOT TEACHER

You do not need to know that for the test.

(STUDENT 2 raises hand.)

You have a question.

STUDENT 2

Did Abraham Lincoln have slaves?

ROBOT TEACHER

(slight pause or kink.) That answer is password-protected.

STUDENT 3

Thomas Jefferson had slaves. I saw it on TV.

ROBOT TEACHER

We are now studying the Civil War. We are not studying Thomas Jefferson.

The Civil War was the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. Brother fought against brother, and families were torn apart, all to free the enslaved.

(NEW STUDENT raises hand.)

You have exceeded your questions quota.

(THE CLASS all raise their hand at once.)

You have a question. You have a question. You have a question. You have a question. You have a question. (once for every hand raised.)

STUDENT 1

I thought this was a civil war, not a world war. Was it really the bloodiest war the world had ever seen?

ROBOT TEACHER

The lesson for today is The Civil War. Soon, brave Northerners began a noble pathway to freedom, creating the Underground Railroad.

(STUDENT 2 raises hand.)

You have a question.

STUDENT 2

So, if the slaves got to the North, then they were free? They were equals?

ROBOT TEACHER

That answer is password-protected.

STUDENT 3

Wait, doesn’t the Declaration of Independence say “All men are created equal”?

STUDENT 2

Did women get to vote?

ROBOT TEACHER

We are now out of time. You asked too many questions and now must learn the rest of the lesson on your own. Your test on The Civil War is next week.

(ROBOT TEACHER closes his/her book, and walks out of the classroom. THE CLASS sits still, waiting.)

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