James Graham kicks off WikiTheatre

And we're off! Hot off the press, you can read James Graham's opening to our piece of WikiTheatre exclusively, here on the brand new nabokov website. For the details of what to do next, read our previous blog post about our pioneering new idea, and don't forget to book your tickets to NABOKOV RE-LOADED on Sunday 10th November at Soho Theatre.

James has taken inspiration from a story about young people's relationships in Japan. You can read the article here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/young-people-japan-stopped-having-sex

Enjoy - we look forward to your creative responses!


         A Cabaret bar.

Lights hit a woman, Carmen, sat on a stool.

She, somewhat reluctantly, begins to sing…

Suddenly the lights snap to –

A room.

         A Man in a suit. Carmen is stood there, agitated.


Man:                  Please.

Carmen:   Please what?

Man:         Please. Sit down.

Carmen:   Why?

Man:         You don’t have to be so susp-… you’re very suspicious.

Carmen:   Suspicious?

Man:                  You don’t have –

Carmen:   Seriously?

Man:                  Please.

Carmen:   You arrested me –

Man:                  We did not arrest you, we –

Carmen:   You –

Man:                  We kidnapped you -- I’m kidding –

Carmen:   … I …

Man:                  I’m kidding, please. Sit down.

Carmen:   Please don’t joke, I’m not able –

Man:                  OK­

Carmen:   I can’t tell what’s a joke or not right now, so –

Man:                  Please.

Carmen:   (beat. She sits).

Man:                  (he sits).

Carmen:   You just, you turn up out of nowhere, your goons –

Man:                  Goons?

Carmen:   Turn up at my house –

Man:                  They’re civil servants.

Carmen:   Bundle me into a car –

Man:                  The Eurostar.

Carmen:   No information, no nothing –

Man:                  First class.

Carmen:   I’ve got a life back home you know, I’m actually, I’m, I’m actually something of a –

Man:                  We know. Of course we know. That’s why you’re here.

Carmen:   What accent is that?

Man:         Mine? Let’s just call it European.

He could open some bottled water or something, and pour them each a glass.

Man:         I was raised in a small town outside of Bern, in Switzerland. Bumpliz. Do you know it?

Carmen:   Erm, no.

Man:         I’m aware it may reconfirm unhelpful national stereotypes but my mother was a chocolatier. A brilliant one. Contrary to what your expectations of having a chocolating mum might be, it was not some pleasant idyll. Chocolate making is a merciless, ruthless, competitive world where the hard survive and the weak are destroyed. My mother was a coldblooded, ambitious chocolate entrepreneur and nothing or no one stood in her way.

Carmen:   Why are you telling me this?

Man:         You seem anxious, I’m trying to break the ice.

Carmen:   ...

Carmen:   So while my Swiss mother made chocolate, my Swiss father–

Carmen:   Made clocks?

Man:         … was in the military. He moved us around an inordinate amount in my formative years. To Frankfurt, and to Krakow. Vienna.

Carmen:   What kind of army covers Germany and Poland and Austria?

Man:         The NATO kind. I’m trying to explain the origins of my somewhat ‘unfocused’ accent.

Carmen:   And this is Brussels? Here, now; you’ve brought me to –

Man:         This is Brussels, yes. My home. I have laid roots, something my family never could. How about yourself?

Carmen:   What?

Man:         Your turn. Where are you from? One place or more places?

Carmen:   I’m not arsed about breaking the ice, actually, if we can –

Man:         OK –

Carmen:   - you know, just cut the – get to the –

Man:         Sex.

Carmen:   …

Man:         That’s the point. That’s why you’re here. Sex.

Carmen:   … I don’t do that anymore –

Man:         Sorry?

Carmen:   - and actually I never did that, really, those stories are – they exaggerate my –

Man:         I know.

Carmen:   I’d like to leave now, please.

Man:         People are stopping. They’re stopping doing it. Young people. They’ve stopped having sex.

Carmen:   I’m pretty sure that’s not the case –

Man:         I know that it runs contrary to our assumptions about the world. The permissive, boundary-less, want-it-now society. Online pornography. Jeremy Kyle. MTV. VH1. Miley Cyprus –

Carmen:   Cyrus.

Man:         Miley Cyrus.

Carmen:   What is this; this list makes no sense.

Man:         (handing her a file). The problem is of such severity in Japan, that the Government is being forced to take action in an area of human life normally beyond the moral remit of the state. Except China, of course, but China should only be ever considered the exception in everything.

Carmen:   What’s –

Man:         Japan are enveloped – is that how you say this?

Carmen:   Enveloped, yes –

Man:         - enveloped in a celibacy crisis and it’s a contagion that is spreading to Europe too. Singleness amongst under 40s has increased by 10% in five years, and nearly half of women under the age of 25 are not interested or are even actively disgusted by sex. Fewer babies were born this year than any other year since people could be bothered to count. Is this not a good thing you might think?

Carmen:   I’m not thinking anything, actually, I’m –

Man:         No it is not a good thing. No, it is not a good thing. Physical and emotional intimacy is economically vital. Across Europe, single house occupancy is rising so alarmingly, it is simply impossible to sustain. There is not enough space for people to not love one another. Do you understand.

Carmen:   Why is it happening?

Man:         Why?

Carmen:   Do you have stats, facts, reasons as to why it is happening?

Man:         We have conjecture. Changing gender roles, a flight from the traditional family, a change of priorities toward work, money, achievement, success. Social media or rather unsocial media transforming human relationships from something that used to be tactile, physical, into something abstract, apart. Pornography. The pleasure that a person may have on their own the same as or greater than the pleasure one has to share between people. Cities. Option paralysis. And yes, Miley Cyprus –

Carmen:   Cyrus.

Man:         Cyrus.

Carmen:   And I’m here because.

Man:         Your books.

Carmen:   Ah.

Man:         They are bestsellers.

Carmen:   So I’m told.

Man:         Congratulations.

Carmen:   Thank you.

Man:         You self published.

Carmen:   At first.

Man:         The modern world.

Carmen:   Yes.

Man:         The things one can do alone.

Carmen:   That’s one way of looking at it.

Man:         What’s another way?

Carmen:   That over 40 million people have shared something I did.

Man:         Yes, shared something.

Carmen:   Yes.

Man:         On their own.

Carmen:   …

Man:         They’re very … ‘racy’.

Carmen:   It’s not porn.

Man:         I know.

Carmen:   I'm sick of people saying it’s porn. There’s nothing to be ashamed of about sex.

Man:         I agree – you’re arguing with the wrong person, I agree so very very hard. Your series of books. They have certainly set loins on fire across the globe. We think you’re the person for the job. Not just because of your literary output but because…

Carmen:   Of my past.

Man:         Yes.

Carmen:   I’m not ashamed.

Man:         I know.

Carmen:   You can’t blackmail me with it.

Man:         I know.

Carmen:   If I hadn’t worked in the sex trade I couldn’t have written these books.

Man:         I know.

Carmen:   And there’s a difference between – ‘that’, and, and what I did –

Man:         Carmen. I know.

Carmen:   What exactly do you need me to do?

Man:         The European Union, we like our schemes. Big projects. Well funded. As this one shall be. As our ‘Sex Tzar’ for the UK, Ireland and the Low Countries, you will have a large budget and a fully trained team beneath you. We suggest you begin by meeting a group of individuals we have selected and –

Carmen:   And?

Man:         And listen to them. Understand them. Advise them.

Carmen:   Therapy.

Man:         It doesn’t need a name. This is – this project is ‘off the books’, as it were. Under the radar. A Black OP.

Carmen:   And what am I meant to get them to do?

Man:         Touching. Would be a good start. The young people of the world have retreated into their one bed apartments, to their computers, and into themselves. They’re not touching one another any more. It would be great if you could get them to touch.


Lights down.