Role Play (work in groups of 4)
Student A: Character and Background
You are an easy-going, well-travelled British businessman returning home, finally, from a business trip, tired and stressed after working bloody hard, yet almost losing your bags on the way out and missing your flight on the way back. Having blown the best part of £300 rescheduling flights and trains for a new route home, you have paid for a train ticket online which is to take you from a large city in Germany to Wherethefuckisthat Airport. Your train taking you as far as a tiny shuttle bus in the middle of nowhere was half an hour late, making you particularly anxious that you are about to miss a second flight in as many days. You are also concerned that this will not only incur further unnecessary expense, but also bring about the ridicule of many Facebook friends to whom you have already revealed your current ineptitude for overseas travel. You have followed advice in good faith from a helpful German passenger to get off the train at a particular station (oh, but not the one shown on your ticket…) as it will be easier and quicker to get to the airport. You have got off, pulled your heavy bags behind you (wishing you’d lost them for good on the inbound flight), and found said shuttle bus and have got on, only to find that you have entered a whole world of pain and obstruction. Your conversation begins just as the bus starts off and the driver has seen your ticket but is not at all happy that his bus stop is not mentioned, demanding therefore an additional €4.90 which, for him, is missing in this process. Your goal is to avoid paying this extra sum as you have a valid ticket to take you all the way to the airport no matter what bloody bus stop you use. Your part in the conversation is to be held at the top of your voice from the back seat, and must continue for a good twenty minutes until you reach the airport and then taken to the police.
Student A: Conversation Tips
When arguing with the bus driver, try to stay calm and sane during the conversation, whilst trying to absorb the absurdity of the situation and the deplorable way in which driver speaks to you. Keep trying to explain that you have paid, and are terribly sorry that his bus (not a proper bus) stop isn’t mentioned, though inside you know you’ll be damned if you’re going to shell out an extra €4.90 just because the driver can’t be more flexible and see I am not ripping anyone off). Be sure that your blood boils as you realise you might as well talk to the bloody wall. Be quietly pleased, however, that your German is still good enough to argue your point at the top of your voice from the back seat, whilst remembering three genders, various plural forms, some weak masculine nouns, time-manner-place word order, four case systems and related adjective declensions. Whilst countering his astonishing rant, throw the driver temporarily off guard by reminding him of his duty to drive responsibly and watch the road before he takes us all at 60kmh into a ditch. Student B will be talking to you into a rearview mirror. He will move his head a lot and spit. Move around a lot as if the bus were swerving all over the place. Which it is. Try to convey your feeling that you are about to either pass out with rage, or hurl yourself to the front of the bus (not a proper bus) and stuff the online ticket print-out down the driver’s throat. Including the staple.
Student B: Character and Background
You are the local bus driver of an airport shuttle bus which isn’t even a proper bus but a mini-van with some extra seats. You clearly hate your job, your bus (which isn’t a proper bus) and anyone who rides on it. You do not know - and will never know - the meaning of courteous behaviour to a foreigner, customer relations, and the fundamentals of give-and-take in basic human kindness.
Student B: Conversation Tips
Be sure to be very irritable and abrupt right from the start. Continually interrupt Student A and do not listen to a word he tells you. Stand your ground as if this were is a life and death situation, and ignore Student A’s legitimate online print-out proof of his fully paid fare. Move your head a lot in a head-butty sort of way. Try to practise having some spittle shoot out of your mouth at the end of your every loud and bombastic claim for the world to do what it says on a piece of paper. Remember that you are driving and talking into your rearview mirror. Move around a lot as if the bus were swerving all over the place. Which it is. You are allergic to staples.
Student C: Character and Background
You are a small, unshaven policemen with a gun and big boots and a cigarette in your mouth. You are so bored with your never-ending airport duty, and have long-since given up the idea of ever amounting to anything in the force, or one day encountering a terrorist or stopping a real criminal. You are friends with the bus (not a proper bus) driver. You share a common bitterness with Student B in that, just as your driver friend doesn’t drive a proper bus, you don’t police a proper airport.
Student C: Conversation Tips
When tell-tale Student B pathetically marches Student A to you, do not greet anyone and talk slowly and patronise Student A as much as possible, until Student A thinks he is about to vomit. Interrupt Student A at every possible opportunity, whilst being sure to convey that you are on the side of the driver. In fact, talk to Student A as Student B continues to harangue Student A loudly (with spit), to see if Student A’s command of German is good enough to process two diatribes at the same time. Switch to English sometimes to show you can be bloody awkward in a second language, too.
Student D: Character and Background
You are a very tall, clean-shaven policemen with a gun and big boots but no cigarette (there is not enough oxygen at your height to fuel combustion). You do not say a single word. [Teacher note: this is a good role for the shy students, or very tall ones, obviously - or ones with big boots, or those who have come to class having lost their voice. Also good if there is a total beginner in your class who doesn’t know anything and can’t join in. Please note that guns are usually not permitted in schools]
Student D: Conversation Tips
Try to stand tall with your head in the clouds and not give a shit. Say nothing with as much indifference as you can muster. Stare at Student A the whole time.