ESL/EFL Short Play

FINAL GRADE: AN ESL EXPERIENCE

 

Kyung-hee: A lively, imaginative university student

Mi-kyung: Also a university student, but shy and self-effacing

Professor Abra Cadabra: A thoughtful, serious English teacher from overseas

Voice: A university senior

 

 

SCENE: A KOREAN COLLEGE CAMPUS

 

KYUNG-HEE:  [Brightly]  Hi, Mi-kyung.  Where are you going?

MI-KYUNG:  [Glumly]  I’m going to Professor Cadabra’s office.

KH:  Who?

MK:  Professor Cadabra.  My English teacher

KH:  Oh?  Why?

MK:  [Still glum]  I have to complain about my final grade in her English conversation course.

KH:  Really?  Why?  What did you get?

MK:  I got a C+.

KH:  [Shocked]  A C+!  My god, you must be absolutely devastated!

MK:  I am.

KH:  I mean  .  . your life is ruined!  You’ll never get a decent job now—with a C+ on your record.

MK:  It’s just so awful, isn’t it?

KH:  Poor girl!

MK:  Say, will you come with me?  I may need some moral support.

KH:  Sure.  Of course.  I’ll be right behind you all the way.  And don’t worry.  Maybe I can think of something.

 

 

OUTSIDE THE DOOR OF MI-KYUNG’S PROFESSOR’S OFFICE

 

KH:  Well, go ahead and knock.

MK:  I can’t!

KH:  Why not?

MK:  I don’t know what to say.

KH:  Just tell her you think you deserve a higher grade.

MK:  But I’m not so sure now.  Maybe I deserved a C+.  I’m not sure.

KH:  KNOCK!

[MK knocks.]

PROFESSOR CADABRA: Come in.

[MK hesitates.]

PC: Come in!

[She continues to hesitate.]

PC:  [Impatiently]  COME IN, PLEASE!

[MK enters, with KH waiting outside.]

PC:  Yes, can I help you?

MK:  Ma’am, I  .  .  [She pauses, staring at the floor.]

PC:  Yes?

MK:  I  .  .  I  .  .

PC:  It sounds like you have a problem.  Why don’t you sit down?

[MK hesitates but finally sits down.]

PC:  What can I do for you?

MK:  I took your English conversation course this semester.

PC:  Of course.  I know.  I remember your face.  What’s your name?

MK:  Kim Mi-kyung.

PC:  Ah, Kim Mi-kyung.  Yes, I think I remember now.

MK:  Thank you.

PC:  Is there something you want to talk about?

MK:  Well, I  .  .  I  .  .

[Professor Cadabra’s telephone rings.]

PC:  Excuse me a moment.

[PC picks up the telephone receiver.]

PC:  Hello.

VOICE:  Hello.  Professor Cadabra?

PC:  Speaking.

V:  I was a student in your English conversation class this semester.

PC:  I see.  What can I do for you?

V:  I have a problem with my final grade.  You see, I’m a senior and I’m looking for a job these days and I really need to have a spotless record.

PC:  Oh?  What grade did you receive?

V:  I got a really low grade—a horribly low grade.  A grade so low I blush to even think about it.  A terrible, terrible grade.  [She pauses, then whispers]  I got a B+.

PC:  That’s not so bad.  It was a challenging course.

V:  But I need an A+.  Or an A.

PC:  Well, I’ll check my records.  But I’m usually very careful when I make out final grades.  I seldom make mistakes.  What is your name?

V:  Kim.  Kim Mi-kyung.

PC:  Kim  .  .  Mi-kyung. [She writes it down.]  And your student registration number?

V:  08765432.

PC:  0-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.  [She writes down the number.]  Okay, let me check my records.  Why don’t you come to my office tomorrow afternoon?

V:  What time should I come?  I’m very busy these days, you know.  I’m looking for a job and–

PC:  Any time after lunch.  I’m usually here until 5:30 or so.

V:  Oh, thank you!  Thank you!  I knew you would help me out.  You are such a thoughtful and considerate person.  Everybody says so.

PC:  Just come in and we’ll try to straighten out any problems.  But you should understand that I can’t promise anything.

V:  Wonderful!  I’ll be there at two o’clock sharp.  I knew you would not let me down, Professor Cadaver.  I knew you would not disappoint me.  Let me thank you in advance for your sincerity and generosity, ma’am.  Bye.

PC:  Bye.  [She hangs up the telephone receiver]  [To herself, under her breath]  Jesus, what a pushy little Princess.   [To the Kim Mi-kyung in his office.]  I’m sorry.  Now, Miss  .  .  uh  .  .  uh  .  .  What was your name again?

MK:  Kim Mi-kyung.

PC:  Kim Mi-kyung?

MK:  Yes.  I just told you.

PC:  [Clearly worried, looking through papers on her desk]  Oh boy.  Oh boy.

MK:  [Finally emboldened] Ma’am, I got a C+ in your English conversation course this semester and  .  .

PC:  And you think you deserve a higher grade?

MK:  Yes.

PC:  Okay.  What’s your student number?

MK:  Pardon?

PC:  Your student registration number.  Your hak-bun.

MK:  Oh.  08765431.

PC:  I see.  [She writes down the number.]  Let me look at my–

MK:  Ma’am.  I’m really serious.  I really think I earned–

PC:  Okay.  Okay.  Let me check my records.

MK:  OH!  [She starts to cry.]

PC:  Hey, come on.  Calm down, will you?  It’s not the end of the world.  [She checks her records.]  Hm.  Hm.  Hmmm.  I see.  I see now.

MK:  What?

PC:  I have two Kim Mi-kyungs.  A C+ and a B+.

MK:  Oh, this is terribleTerrible!

PC:  Calm down.  It’s not the end of the world.

MK:  OH!  OH!  OH!

PC:  You are 08765431?

MK:  Yes!

PC:  You should have gotten the B+.  I’m sorry.  I’ll make the change this afternoon.

MK:  Oh, thank you!  Thank you!

PC:  No problem.  I’m just glad you brought this to my attention.

MK:  You know, ma’am.  Just a few minutes ago I thought you were an evil, ugly, spiteful old lady.  And now I see that you are really kind of pretty.  For an old lady.

PC:  Hey, stop while you’re ahead, okay?

MK:  [Puzzled]  I’m sorry.  I don’t understand.

PC:  Don’t worry about it.  But I know somebody who REALLY is not going to understand.

MK:  Who’s that.

PC:  Tomorrow.  The other Kim Mi-kyung.  Little Miss Pushy Princess.

[There is another knock on the door.]

PC: [To Mi-kyung] Goodness, today is a very busy day. {To the door} Come in!

[Kyung-hee enters wearing a gray wig that looks like a janitor’s floor mop.]

KH: [To Mi-kyung] Hello, darling!

MK: What are you doing here?

KH: Quiet, child.  Just be still.  [To Professor Cadabra]  Are you Professor Cadabra?

PC: Yes.  And who might you be?

KH: I’m Mi-kyung’s mother.

MK: My mother!  Oh my God!

KH: Quiet, darling.  Don’t say a word.  I’ll handle this.

MK: But—

KH: Professor Cadabra.  My daughter tells me that you gave her a C+ in her English conversation course.

PC: Well, in fact—

KH: I want you to know that my Mi-kyung is a very, very bright girl.  She begins studying the moment she gets home at night and doesn’t close her books until sunrise.  Her favorite subject is English conversation.  And did you know, Professor Cadabra, that YOU are her FAVORITE teacher!

MK: MOTHER!

KH: Hush, child.

PC: [Very puzzled] I see.

KH: Yes.  I’m telling you the absolute truth.  She begins talking about you the moment she gets home at night and doesn’t shut up about you until sunrise.  It’s “Professor Cadabra this” and “Professor Cadabra that” all night long.  She practically worships you!

MK: MOTHER!

KH: Can you imagine how many millions of won her father and I have spent sending her to English language institutes this year alone?

PC: Uh  .  .

KH: Her father and I work our fingers to the bone so that she can have the opportunity to learn English–

MK: Mother!  Please shut UP!

KH: Don’t talk that way to your dear old mother, Mi-kyung.  [To Professor Cadabra] As I was saying, from the moment she gets home at night–

PC: Lady, you are very strange.  And your hair is even stranger.

KH: [Adjusting her mop wig] –and doesn’t stop studying English until sunrise–

MK [Grabbing KH by the arm and pulling her toward the door] [To Professor Cadabra] I’m terribly, terribly sorry, Professor Cadabra.  My mother is not well—in the head. [MK points to her own head and twirls a finger.]  I’d better take her home.

KH: [To PC, as MK pulls her out of the office]  My husband and I have spent millions and millions of won on English lessons for Mi-kyung.  She has talent, you know—

MK [Pushing KH out the door] Home, mother!  NOW!

[Outside Professor Cadabra’s office]

KH: She believed me!  I know it!  It worked!

MK: I’m ruined!  I’m utterly ruined!  Kyung-hee, how could you!

KH: Hey, what are friends for!

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