FORTY HOT CROSS BUNS

FORTY HOT CROSS BUNS is a play by Tenzing Scott Brown.

The play is set on a specific border crossing between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The specific border is between the County Derry and the County Donegal.

And to be more specific it is the crossing just south of a town called Muff on the Culmore Road.

The play takes place on the 19thof April 2019, which is also Good Friday. 

The play has a cast of two actors – one female the other male. Each actor may have to play more than one role. Maybe even several roles. One of the actors may have to be able to do a passing resemblance of an accent from the north of Ireland.

In preparation for this play, someone has to bake forty fresh hot cross buns. Shop bought ones will just not do. There will be a recipe for hot cross buns at the end of this script.

In Act One of this play the character played by the male actor goes by the name Drummond. The character played by the female actor goes by the name Cindy. These two characters have appeared in several other plays written by Tenzing Scott Brown.

Tenzing Scott Brown is an alter ego and sometime arch nemesis of Bill Drummond.

Act One:

Drummond walks onto the stage – from stage right. 

He looks around, up and down and out at the audience.

He then leaves the stage – stage right.

He then returns carrying a record player.

He plugs it in and switches it on.

He then takes a 7” record from his inside pocket.

He puts it on the deck.

He puts the needle into the groove.

The music that we hear is called Londonderry Slash Derry Air.

Some might know it as the tune to Danny Boy.

Others might know it as the tune to a Hymn they sang at church when they were young.

This is a light orchestral version of that tune.

Drummond leaves the stage.

He then returns onto the stage carrying what looks like a home made wooden sentry box.

He may have to use a two-wheel sack truck to do this.

He places this towards the back of the middle of the stage facing out at the audience.

He then leaves the stage.

He returns with a large homemade easel. This is one that has been used in several of Tenzing Scott Brown’s plays. 

This he places it at the other side of the sentry box, facing the audience.

He then leaves the stage.

He returns with another large homemade easel.

He places it his side of the sentry box, facing the audience.

He then leaves the stage.

He returns with a canvas that he places on the easel at the far side of the sentry box.

And then does the same with a second canvas and places it on the other easel.

Both canvases measure 190.5cm X 135cm.

These are two of Bill Drummond’s ongoing 25 text paintings.

The words on the first of these two text paintings are FORTY HOT CROSS BUNS.

And on the second STOP! BORDER POST.

These text paintings only use the colours of black and yellow.

Black and yellow do not appear on the flags of the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom.

He then opens the door of the sentry box, which we now assume to be the border post alluded to in the words of the second canvas. 

From inside the border post he takes a small foldable table and two chairs and puts them up in front of the border post.

He then takes a publication from inside the border post. It is a copy of the Good Friday Agreement. And he puts it on the table.

He then takes a kettle and a small paraffin stove.

He gets the stove going and places the kettle on it.

He then takes a teapot and tin of tealeaves and bottle of milk and bag of sugar and spoon.

He takes one of the forty mugs that he has in a box in side the border post and places it on the table. On the mug are the words VERY GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT.

He then takes a large round cake tin from inside the border post and opens it.

Inside this tin are the forty freshly baked hot cross buns alluded to on the other text painting.

He opens the tin.

He lifts one of the forty hot cross buns from it and smells it. 

It smells good.

He is tempted to take a bite.

He doesn’t.

He puts it back in the tin with the other 39 hot cross buns.

He sits down on the chair.

He picks up the Good Friday Agreement.

He looks up and down the road (stage right and stage left).

He flicks through the Good Friday Agreement.

The kettle begins to boil.

He makes a pot of tea.

He pours out a mug of tea.

He takes it black without sugar.

He takes a sip from the mug.

He looks up and down the road.

He takes another sip from the mug.

He starts to read the Good Friday Agreement.

This reading goes on for some time. 

Then from stage left enters a woman.

She is the character Cindy.

Cindy: What are you doing?

Drummond: What does it look like I’m doing?

Cindy: Being a wanker.

Drummond: Well that’s open to interpretation.

Cindy: Whose interpretation?

Drummond: Me. You. Anyone that might be passing. And of course the audience.

Cindy: So where are we? And don’t say “Inside your head”.

Drummond: I’m not inside your head. I’m inside my head.

Cindy: Fuck off.

This saying “Fuck off” is done in jest not in anger.

Drummond: Where to?

Cindy: You know what I mean. Where is this supposed to be? And don’t say, “Wherever you want it to be”.

Drummond: This is the border crossing between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Cindy: But which one, according to various news reports I have heard over the past few months there are hundreds of them?

Drummond: But you have just walked up to me now, surely you know where we are?

Cindy: All I know is that we are on a stage and you are pretending to be something you are not.

Drummond: Yeah?

Cindy: Well where are we pretending to be?

Drummond: It’s a border crossing just up the road from Derry Slash Londonderry. Down there is a place called Ballynagard, that’s in Northern Ireland. And up there is a town called Muff and that is in the Republic. And I am sitting bang on the border.

Cindy: Why?

Drummond: Why on the border? Or why on this particular border crossing?

Cindy: Whatever?

Drummond: ‘Cause, back in 1959, when I was six, we went for a holiday in a place called Greencastle. That’s just up the road from here in Donegal. We had got the ferry across from Stranraer in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland. 

Then we drove across to here. 

And when we got to this very spot, there were all these men in uniforms and a big gate. 

And one of the men in a uniform asked my dad what we were doing and where we were going. 

And my dad told them.

And then they opened the big gate. 

And then we drove on. 

And had our holiday in a place called Greencastle. 

And I went out fishing in a boat. 

And I caught mackerel.

And we…

Cindy: Yeah, yeah, ‘nough of the Drummond family holiday word snaps. Why are you here now?

Drummond: So anyway, I asked my dad what that was all about. And he explained to me all about borders and passports, although we did not need to show a passport at this border. Although my father had brought his with him just incase. And I said to my dad “But I thought this was all Ireland, as in all one country, like Scotland is all one country. And England is all one country. And we don’t have to stop at something like this when we cross the border when we are going to visit our Granny Copeman in Norwich”.

Cindy: You said all that at the age of six?

Drummond: Well maybe I didn’t say it all like that, but I thought it and kept thinking about over the years. And then the decades. And when I was here with The Bunnymen back in the 80s staying at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, where you had to get through all sorts of armed security guards just to get into reception. And the British military presence everywhere. And then when it was announced we were going to have the Brexit referendum back in 2016, I thought “What the fuck?” And “How’s that going to work over on the border, and what about the Good Friday Agreement?” And I thought about borders. And why borders. And how I thought we had got rid of all this having to stop at the border stuff and explain who we were and where we were going. And I thought about this very spot…

Cindy: But that doesn’t explain why you are here now – or pretending to be there now, or whenever it is you are pretending to be there. In fact when are we pretending to be here?

Drummond: Good Friday in 2019…

Cindy: We haven’t even got there yet. Is this play all set in some imaginary future?

Drummond: Well this Act One is. I was not actually planning on writing Acts Two and Three until I had actually done this on the 19thof April, which is Good Friday this year.

Cindy: So you are expecting me to come up here with you in reality then?

Drummond: No I won’t need you. I will just make you up if I need your wit and wisdom.

Cindy: Why? I mean why the fuck?

Drummond: This is my protest against it all.

Cindy: Yeah but you are always telling me that protest is a waste of time. That you have got to actually get involved if you want to really change things and not just go on marches and wave banners and chant slogans.

Drummond: Yeah but…

Cindy: So you are back with a case of white saviour complex?

Drummond: Yeah but…

Cindy: Yeah but what?

Drummond: I’m trying to tell you…

Cindy lifts the tin containing the forty hot cross buns. Opens the lid. Lifts out a hot cross bun. Smells it. Opens her mouth as if to take a bite.

They are not for you.

Cindy puts the hot cross bun back in the tin. Puts lid back on it. And…

Cindy:   You mean you have hundreds of freshly baked hot cross buns, I am the only other person here and you are telling me I can’t have one. Were you going to eat them all?

Drummond: No. I am carrying out a referendum…

Cindy: A referendum?

But now Cindy is not really listening as she has picked up the copy of the Good Friday Agreement that is also lying on the table and flicking through it.

Drummond: Yeah. I am going to ask the first forty people that cross the border here today, if they are up for having my proposed new clause added to the Good Friday Agreement, thus keeping this border open. So they can come and go across it whenever they need to and even if they don’t need to. You know forever. Or at least as long as the island of Ireland is here. And while they are at, if they want to make any other amendments to the Good Friday Agreement? And if they do, can they write their amendments in the margins. Or something.

Cindy: And the hot cross buns?

Drummond: Well that is their payment for taking part in the referendum.

Cindy: I’m getting confused here. These hot cross buns are fresh now… How many are there. I take there are forty? Who is going to eat them? Good Friday is not until sometime in April. They will be well off by then.

Drummond: Yeah I know, but this play wont be staged until well after that Good Friday and I am hoping that in Act Two, I will be getting people crossing the border. And if over 20 of them agree to this amendment to the Good Friday Agreement. And the people have spoken and the people have made their voice heard. The border will have to stay open. And if they don’t keep the border open, I will come back again next year and do the same thing. And the next. And the next. Until they do or I am too old. Or…

Cindy: Back to reality – there were no other actors back stage to be playing the parts of even some of the forty border crossing Irish folk.

Drummond: Yeah, I know. I was thinking that you could play me in Act Two…

Cindy: What?

Drummond: Well the actor playing you could play me…

Cindy: What?

Drummond: And the actor playing me could do all the Irish folk.

Cindy: What?

Drummond: Yeah, I texted Tam Dean Burn last night, who has played me in other plays written by Tenzing Scott Brown. And I asked him if he could do accents from the north of Ireland. And he texted me back saying he could. So…

Cindy: Any audience watching this play, will think it is totally up its arse. If they haven’t already walked out. Or at the very least got confused. Especially if I have to come on in Act Two as you. And anyway what happens in Act Three.

Drummond: I have no fuckin’ idea yet. But…

Cindy: So that is it. Do we get to have a break now between this act and the next one?

Drummond: I say we go off stage now for a costume change…

Cindy: Hang on a minute. I don’t want to be wearing your smelly sweaty clothes.

Drummond: You can wear my Donegal sweater, its backstage, I bought it especially for this show.

Cindy: Donegal sweater?

Drummond: Yeah like an Aran sweater, but it has a turn down collar. We all got them here when we over there back in 1959. 

Cindy: And the hot cross buns?

Drummond: Yeah, don’t worry, there will be enough for you to have one. There will be enough for everyone.

Cindy: Promise?

Drummond: Promise.

Drummond then bends down and takes the record from the record player and replaces it with another one. It is by that greatest of bands from Derry, The Undertones.

And as the record begins to play Cindy and Drummond leave the stage to get changed while it plays.

End of Act One

Are teenage dreams so hard to beat?
Everytime she walks down the street
Another girl in the neighbourhood
Wish she was mine, she looks so good

I wanna hold her, wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night

I’m gonna call her on the telephone
Have her over ’cause I’m all alone
I need excitement, oh, I need it bad
And it’s the best I’ve ever had

I wanna hold her, wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night, all right

Are teenage dreams so hard to beat?
Everytime she walks down the street
Another girl in the neighbourhood
Wish she was mine, she looks so good

I wanna hold her, wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night, all right

I’m gonna call her on the telephone
Have her over ’cause I’m all alone
I need excitement, oh, I need it bad
And it’s the best I’ve ever had

I wanna hold her, wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night, all right

I wanna hold her, wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night, all right