I Know Nothing About Music
An Unfinished Play (less than an act, but more than a set change)

Two characters, Ann and Greg, are on the stage.

Ann- I find it hard to believe that we sat through the entire duration of that concert without you knowing who we were seeing, without you having any idea what the name of the composer was or who was conducting or even what instruments were being played
Greg- that sounds vaguely critical
Ann- I just don’t understand Greg. Those tickets were expensive.
Greg- but I love you
Ann- I know you do sweetheart
Greg- I know I liked the music, whatever you want to call it
Ann- I know you did, you were tapping your foot. Strangely enough to a cello recital.
Greg- I saw a piano in there somewhere
Ann- When? In that five seconds when you opened your eyes? I know you weren’t asleep Greg, you seemed too rigid to be asleep. You didn’t look all that comfortable though. You looked about as comfortable as a donkey in a suit
Greg- What? What an odd….
Ann- about as comfortable as my mother on steroids
Greg- what? I was just focusing. I was in a “trance”.
Ann- voodoo
Greg- just listening
Ann- smoodoo….noodoo….coodoo
Greg- the music is absorbed with your eyes closed. You don’t see the people playing….you are not distracted and it leads me on to greater things, greater thoughts….same as you are now
Ann- pear shaped
Greg- nothing like that, tuna fish…nothing like that
Ann- well, this evening has led me on to other thoughts….other greater thoughts
Greg- I am all ears….and eyes for you….damn, lame.
Ann- sweet enough, you fumbling ninny….but hear me out…I have come to greater conclusions, greater truths
Greg- ok….go
Ann- we should move….to Pittsburgh
Greg- ok…why?
Ann- because we need a change
Greg- I know that. Why Pittsburgh?
Ann- I like metal.
Greg- It’s not all like steel mills and everything.
Ann- I need gritty…visceral….salt of the earth…blue collar folk
Greg- John Nash was from there…and Andrew Carnegie….and Stan Musial
Ann- why do you know that? And why don’t you know that it’s not Pittsburgh, it’s my reasons for going that are important….for going….Stan Nash Carnegie
Greg- just trying to expand the scope, bring the lens out so to speak….farther and farther out….farther….like the some solar system wide shot
Ann- alright there….hold your horses…cosmos
Greg- just the scope…so why visceral? Why Pittsburgh? You want some grit in your life.
Ann- I want struggle, not like our kind of struggle. Leave the toilet seat up or down kind of struggle, not like recycle glasses in the recycle cans bag, not like that….like human struggle
Greg- you want struggle…like Stella and all that….you want me to be a longshoreman?
Ann- not necessarily struggle financially….we’ve already done that
Greg- there was struggle in the music tonight…is that feeding something in you? Getting you thinking? I am impressed if it is
Ann- that I think
Greg- that you let your frustration with my peculiarly eccentric listening style not affect your enjoyment, no absorption of the music tonight….it fed something….
Ann- your ego
Greg- not true….size of a molehill in comparison to our potential. Nash was from West Virginia, he went to school in Pittsburgh
Ann- I don’t care.
Greg- I hate to be fraudulent, or misleading. Ok, blue collar, visceral, give me more. Why?
Ann- struggle
Greg- you need struggle. Ok, back on track, go.
Ann- things are going too well.
Greg- strange, but how so?
Ann- just hear me out because I am still working this out in my own head, so it might as well as be verbally, aloud I mean, to you, with you, listening rather than speaking, interjecting, you can just listen if you want. Close your eyes and tap your feet.
Greg- that looks very strange outside of a dark concert hall. I will stare at this salt on the table.
Ann- alright then, I am working through some things and if it seems as though I am creating conflict than so be it, not with you, per se, but with….include your own object here.
Greg- with vice.
Ann- it was rhetorical, more of a figure of speech, all the same as you continue focusing on that salt, imagine something as my words spell out. Don’t freak out if they clamor into poetics or fall short of reality. I love dreams but I love buying all these little knick knack, paddy whacks and all these little trinkets. I have thousands of them as you are painfully aware but more importantly than having these is that I desire more. Clutter and clutter and your bull in a china shop ways to crash them all down, as you have so frequently done, crash them all down and clumsily apologize as feign some sort of anger. I will buy more.
What I am looking for: grit, visceral humans, conflict, struggle. How did I get here? More importantly how will we get on from here? If I struggle, then you will struggle just as you struggle, so will I. not out of loyalty or duty or anything like that but rather the part and parcelness of being in love, together. There is no escaping my fate. I will never escape your fate. Sort of like a suicide pact. But struggle it is and so struggle it must be.

Are you listening?

Greg- yes. After listening to all of that, I felt salt was an appropriate thing to focus on. Don’t know why. Just is. Just like I liked that music but I have no idea what register it was in or even what a register is. So, struggle it is then.
Ann- yes, it is.
Greg- what kind of struggle? Compromise? Change of jobs, new careers, children.
Ann- slow down with that children talk. That’s not struggle, that’s cutting my own legs off with a butter knife before running a marathon, that is much larger than struggle.
Greg- what?
Ann- struggle= challenge= life extending=fulfillment.
Greg- you will never be content sweetie.
Ann- as you have told me.
Greg-….who wants to be content?
Ann- I thought you did.
Greg- I know what I want. Off.
Ann- what?
Greg- to
Ann- what?
Greg- Pittsburgh.
Ann- (pause) thank you.
Greg- (pause) your welcome

Set change.
Stage resembles sidewalk. Complete with newspapers. Greg is standing in the middle of the busy sidewalk looking up. Others dressed formally are walking by in endless sequences, two at a time. Greg looks dazed and appears to be out of sync with those who walk by him. The sounds of urban life are streaming from everywhere but there should be a melodic pulse behind all of that, such as an organ or something in a minor key, barely audible. Otherwise, all cars and beeps and muffled conversations and screams and the sound of athletic squeaking on pavement. In fact, as the scene opens, Greg is broken from his trance by the sound of a squeaking tennis shoe.

Greg looks around dazedly, glances once more at the sky suspiciously, then reaches into his pocket and answers his cell phone which, unbeknownst to the audience, has been ringing for quite some time. He methodically places the phone against his ear and his other hand over his other ear.

Greg- (in a resonant, playless voice) Yes? Hello sweetheart. I have not seen him yet. There are too many people. I assume he will be here soon. Have you heard from him?….I see. Nothing from anyone. How are you feeling?

Drink some tea and maybe you will feel better. I will be home soon enough.

Thanks sweetie, I will try.

Thanks sweetheart.

Love you too.

Alright, bye.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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