Iz Dis A Dagga I See Before me?

Iz Dis A Dagga I See Before me?

A Stage Play by Ddraper

A reformed gang member confronts their troubled past and attempts to atone for the mistakes they once made. Will he find redemption, or could this be the makings of a Shakespearean tragedy?


Iz Dis A Dagga


See Before Me?


Darrel Draper


A community united by a street shrine. A ghetto grave marking a tragic loss of life. As a loved one pays their respects they are met by someone who perhaps knew the deceased on a much more personal level than anyone else. A reformed gang member confronts their troubled past and attempts to atone for the mistakes they once made. However will the bereaved be willing to forgive, or could this be the makings of a Shakespearean tragedy?

Note on text:

In this text, the use of ( /...) signals an interruption from another character. The use of ( …... ) without a dash, represents a change in thought process or a desire not to complete a sentence, carry out a particular sentiment. i.e. wanting to swear or reveal a secret, but stopping yourself mid thought. Or in the way of trying to change the topic of a conversation.

Characters and notes on transition:

PUPIL #1 & VICTIM #1: Male. BAME. Preferably of an interesting mix/dual heritage. 12-14yrs as PUPIL. 20-25Yyrs as VICTIM.

PUPIL #2 & VICTIM #2: Female. BAME. Preferably of an interesting mix/dual heritage. 12-14yrs as PUPIL. 20-25Yyrs as VICTIM.

As PUPIL's both actors need an ore of energy which communicates their younger years. They should both have school bags which also demonstrate their age. Perhaps coats partially unzipped to reveal a white shirt and loosened tie. Black trousers and shoes. Perhaps a prefect badge for PUPIL #1. Upon transitioning to play the VICTIMS (who are completely separate characters from the PUPILS), they should lose the school bags and coats. In place of their coats they should each slip on a hooded top perhaps. The black shoes exchanged for trainers. One of them should wear a hat, possibly VICTIM #1 as he is entering an area where he is perhaps not welcome. Their ore of energy as the VICTIM's needs to represent a matured state of mind when confronting the reality of the situation, especially from VICTIM #1, however a slight loss in hope and optimism is needed, especially from VICTIM #2. Both VICTIMS must seem more downbeat than the PUPILS.


PUPIL #1 and PUPIL #2 are walking in amidst conversation when they begin to slow at the sight of a street shrine in remembrance of a young individual who was stabbed to death. PUPIL #2 is wearing a remembrance poppy, in honour of those that lost their life’s in WW1.

PUPIL #2: It starts off slow, but, once ya get into it, ya really get into it.

PUPIL #1: Nah, I dunna. Don't think it's my thing.

Their attention is drawn by the shrine.

PUPIL #1: Should put down some Krispy Kreme or Suttink.

PUPIL #2: Uh?

PUPIL #1: As if he liked flowers.

PUPIL #2: Mighta done. You don't know.

PUPIL #1: Still, everyone likes donuts.

PUPIL #2: Exactly, be gone in minutes round ere.

PUPIL #1: I kna people be movin bookey, but, dat's like grave robbin.

PUPIL #2: Aint like. Is. Bet more people pay dere respects ere den where dere's actually green.

PUPIL #1: What you talkin bout? (With a snigger and smirk) Dere's plentya green round/.....

PUPIL #2: (With a huff) Ya kna what I'm sayin. (Beat) What's a postcode anyways?

PUPIL #1: What?

PUPIL #2: Like, when ya think about it. Jus a place where s**t gets sent. Init? At least used ta be.

PUPIL #1: Itz bout pride dough. Havin pride fa da/.......

PUPIL #2: (Gesturing towards the shrine) You proud of dis?

PUPIL #1: (Shakes head. Beat) Ere, you ear about da murda da otha day?

PUPIL #2: Nah. Anuva one?

PUPIL #1: Jus down da road dere.

PUPIL #2: Serious?

PUPIL #1: Yeah.

PUPIL #2: When?

PUPIL #1: Yesterday. Black on black as well. (Oddly looks as if he's trying not to laugh)

PUPIL #2: Ow come.......(Noticing PUPIL #1 about to crack) What are ya/.......

PUPIL #1: (Bursts into laughter) Dis is why ya need ta start goin English again.

PUPIL #2: (Baffled) What!

PUPIL #1: A gang of Crows iz called a murda. Kinda fittin really. Ay?

PUPIL #2: (Beat) What da......(Shift in tone) You think dis is a joke?

PUPIL #1: Nah I was jus/.......

PUPIL #2: Aint nuttin funny bout bein/......

PUPIL #1: Ite. Ite. Lighten up yeah. I didn't mean/.....

PUPIL #2: Ya kna da reason I don't go English anymore? Coz Mr. Glendhalls ignorant as.......He went off on one bout grime being like, what was it, he said suttink like........."Detrimental to our development", or some........So when it came to writtin bout Shakespeare I thought I wud challenge his perspective a bit innit. Coz when you think bout it. Dat's like, da origins of it.

PUPIL #1: What iz? What you/.....

PUPIL #2: All dis, "Iz dis a dagga I see before me?". Dis man was writtin bout knife crime way before dere was such a thing as 'Knife Crime'. In most his plays someones gettin stuck up. Romeo And Juliet. Supposed to be bout love. But ya got two gangs fightin in da street, one of dem gets cut. Killed. Dey jus walk away like it aint no big thing.

PUPIL #1: Guess men be fightin ova women for time. (Laughs to himself)

PUPIL #2: Dey didn't lay down a shrine for Mercutio, ya didn't see people mournin in da streets for him. (Beat) Macbeth. Hamlet. Both bout power. Bout staying on top. War. Gettin revenge. Murder. Now you tell me, what's da difference between what went on back dere, and what goes on now? Here?

PUPIL #1: We don't wear thrilly collars in da street?

PUPIL #2: Man get real for a sec!

PUPIL #1: Ite. Tell me den.

PUPIL #2: Perspective. That it. E16. N1. Capulet. Montague. All da same. But. Coz, coz Shakespeare writes about dat, about violence and......And for dat, he's praised init. He's, we hold him up in the holiest lights. Say he was a great man. He did great work. We're made to study it. Now, why aint dat, "Detrimental to our development"? But listening to Stormzy is. I mean, rah, C'mon man. And I wrote that. I wrote that in my essay, and apparently, I didn't take it seriously, when I did! I was! I was presenting an argument init. And that's what ya supposed ta do when ya write an essay. Aint ya? But Mr. Glendhall jus dismissed it. Didn't even.....Couldn't even get back to me with a logical argument, response to what I wrote, had written. Jus gave me detention and told me ta start again. Coz he thought I was a joke. Coz people make too many jokes nowadays, but..... So I said, nahhhhhh. I aint doin it boi. Why am I bein punished? Fa havin an opinion? Like. Knah what I mean?

PUPIL #1: Yeah. Yeah. It's bull.

PUPIL #2: Complete bull. (Beat) Selective scrutiny. Get me?

PUPIL #1: Ya think if Shakespeare weren't white he'd/....

PUPIL #2: Itz not even bout dat dough. Itz bout.........Ay, stop lookin at us, and start lookin at what came before us, coz, we didn't wake up one day and start dis s**t. Dis s**t been goin down fa time. Iz jus, we easiest ta focus on right now, init. Like. Don't shoot da messenger. Back track a little.

PUPIL #1: (Genuinely trying to engage in the conversation on a more mature level, but failing) I think da moral iz, don't shoot anyone.

PUPIL #2: (Laughs a little at his attempt. Beat) Now I'm on report coz of it. Coz I refused ta go detention. And now mums goin spare coz she thinks I jus didn't bother. Waz jus actin up. But. Dat aint da truth. But. Don't matta now. Coz what he said. She won't listen ta me. Can't win, init.

PUPIL #1: Dat's peak. Really. But/......

PUPIL #2: Guess itz prep fa life dough. Real world s**t. Ya talk a certain way an people will listen. Ya talk anuva way, an, dey just assume. Init? Ya get dismissed. Even dough what ya sayin, probably da same. Even betta.

PUPIL #1: Yeah. (Beat) But if ya keep skippin English, won't things jus/.....

PUPIL #2: I aint willin to engage with someone who aint willin to engage with me on the level. Like, he's always takin da piss outta us, what we say, but, faget ow I talk. My writtins good, BELIEVE. It iz. Proper. I'm one of the best in da class, if not THEE best. I mean, it don't occur to him, people in his position dat, dat maybe, we ave ta talk a certain way out ere. Coz if we don't. (Glances towards the shrine).

PUPIL #1: (Beat) Fair. (Beat) But, shouldn't/.....

PUPIL #2: C'mon. Enough of dis. Det's let man rest in peace.

PUPIL #1: Ite. (Begins to exit with PUPIL #2 but suddenly stops in his tracks) Wait. (Pulls out a remembrance poppy of his own from an inside pocket) Pin always pricks me, so.......

PUPIL #1 walks over to the shrine and lays down the poppy.

PUPIL #2: Don't think dats......I mean, it's nice an all, you doin dat, but, It's not exactly......

PUPIL #1: Perspective dough.

PUPIL #2: (With a snigger) Pffft. Ya got me dere I suppose. (Beat. Mutters aside with greater contemplation, in her own thoughts) Was it a dagger? Like, was dere really.....(Laughs to herself) Or was it jus Mr. Glendhall with a red marker pen in hand?

PUPIL #1: Uh?

PUPIL #2: 'We are not the makers of history. We are made by history'.

PUPIL #1: What! What you/.....

PUPIL #2: Ow. Jus.....(Beat. Opens her school bag and takes out her English book, carefully tares out some pages)

PUPIL #1: What's dat?

PUPIL #2: My essay. Reckon It'd be appreciated ere more.

PUPIL #2 Places the folded piece of paper with the other stuff at the shrine. Beat.

PUPIL #2: But ya right. He aint winnin. I'm gonna go back. Ta English. Dis aint ova.

PUPIL #1: Cool. You show him init.

PUPIL #2: (Gestures for them to leave once more) Come.

PUPIL #1: (As they're exiting) Could really go fa a Kreme right now.

PUPIL #2: (Laughs) Heffer. (Beat) Oh. Itz a flock by da way.

PUPIL #1: Huh?

PUPIL #2: Ya said gang of crows. Earlier. Jus coz dere's more den one, don't make em a gang. Dat's false perspective. Init.

PUPIL #1: Right. (Beat) Want a flock of doughnuts.

They laugh and exit. Through a simple change of costume PUPIL #1 becomes VICTIM #1 and PUPIL #2 becomes VICTIM #2. They are now playing older characters. VICTIM #2 walks back on stage alone, stands at the shrine in quiet contemplation. VICTIM #1 walks on moments later, joins her, standing beside her, but not too close. For a moment there is silence, it looks as if VICTIM #1 wants to strike up a conversation but is hesitant, looks awkward, goes to speak a few times but stops himself. Until......

VICTIM #1: Hardly feels like two years. (Beat, nothing from VICTIM #2). Mad aint it. (Beat) Good to see all the support though. (Beat) Good to see people still care. (Beat) Kinda surprising in our day and age. (Beat) You related to him by any chance?

VICTIM 2 just gives a look as if to say 'Why you asking?' . Edges slightly further away from him.

VICTIM #1: Just. You look similar. (Beat. No response from VICTIM 2) He was a good looking guy.

VICTIM #2: This a pick up attempt? Because if it is you're/.......

VICTIM #1: Nah, nah, nah, I wasn't trying.......Why'd you say that?

VICTIM #2: You saying he's good looking. Saying I look like him.

VICTIM #1: Just making convo, that's all. Nothing to it.

VICTIM #2: Right. (Beat) You know him then?

VICTIM #1: I knew of him. But, not like personally. Not. Well. It's........

VICTIM #2: What?

VICTIM #1: I mean, how well does someone know anyone? Know themselves even.

VICTIM #2: Ay?

VICTIM #1: What they're capable of until they actually/......

VICTIM #2: (Defensive) Listen, I don't care what anyone round here says, he was a good man. He weren't like.......Just easy to get mixed up.

VICTIM #1: Yeah, I know. I wasn't.......(Beat) I doubt even the person who did it wanted to. Or even meant to. Just, one of those/........

VICTIM #2: I don't give a s**t about them. They can rot in hell. Where they belong.

VICTIM #1: Right. (Beat) Probably young at the time, probably/.......

VICTIM #2: Don’t care.

VICTIM #1: So you don't think.......What if they changed? Like, went away and completely/......

VICTIM #2: Nah. Still the same.

VICTIM #1: You don't believe in all that then?

VICTIM #2: All what?

VICTIM #1: Second chances and that.

VICTIM #2: Does he get a second chance? No! So why should the person who did this get one?

VICTIM #1: Right. Yeah. I understand that. I'm not. But. It's/......

VICTIM #2: What's done cannot be undone.

VICTIM #1: (Beat) So if you ever met the person who did it you would/.......

VICTIM #2: They wouldn't be standing here, let's put it that way.

VICTIM #1: (Beat) Don't you think that/......

VICTIM #2: He was my cousin! You think I'm just going to have a chit chat with them. Nice cup of tea. No! They need to be punished.

VICTIM #1: I feel ya, I do. (Beat) Punishment comes in many forms though.

VICTIM #2: Prison aint enough.

VICTIM #1: Aint talking about Prison. That's........I mean, not everyone's cold hearted. Probably punishes himself every day. Thinking about it. Wishing. Regretting. These things destroy both life’s you know.

VICTIM #2: I only see one destroyed life here. (Gesturing down to the shrine)

VICTIM #1: (Beat. Noticing the poppy which was placed by PUPIL #1. Drawing attention to it) You see that? That's for a fallen soldier. That means he died with honour, dignity. People obviously respected him. Thought highly of him, otherwise there wouldn't be all this. There wouldn't be all these people showing out. Man was clearly loved.

VICTIM #2: Still don't make it right. Make it......Fair.

VICTIM #1: No, it don't. But, not everyone has that, do they? That level of respect. Love. Admiration. Whatever, So they feel they need to earn it, in some, some.....Messed up way. But even still, after, they don't get that respect. They lose it if anything. Lose it for themselves. And then, then their the ones stuck on earth, having to spend the rest of their days trying to atone. Make up for one, stupid, irrational, senseless moment. Where, things just, happened, got out of hand, and a moment which seemed to last seconds, now lasts a lifetime. And you know, there's no going back from that. And you actually start to envy the other person. Start to wish it was you. Instead of them.

VICTIM #2: Well as I said. Point them in my direction and I'll make that wish come true.

VICTIM #1: Aint that easy. And it only gets worse.

VICTIM #2: Is that right?

VICTIM #1: Yeah. Trust me.

Pause. VICTIM #1 just stares at VICTIM #2 for a moment. There is an awkward/uncomfortable silence between them. VICTIM #2 begins to look at #1 suspiciously.

VICTIM #1: (With sincerity in his voice. As if the one personally responsible) I'm truly sorry for your loss.

Beat. The penny finally drops for VICTIM #2. It dawns on her who is potentially stood in front of her. She is overwhelmed with emotion, not knowing whether to break down in tears or lash out in anger. VICTIM #2 places her hand in her pocket, it looks as if she is grasping something in her hand. VICTIM #1 notices.

VICTIM #1: Go on. Put me outta my misery. I deserve it.

VICTIM #1 just stands, almost as if waiting to receive whatever is thrown at him. VICTIM #2 is speechless. They maintain eye contact for a while. There is tension in the air. Neither of them know what to expect. After what feels like an eternal stare down and silence, VICTIM #2 breaks it and looks down, overcome by her emotions.

VICTIM #1: See. Aint that easy. (Beat) I pray that you're able to find some comfort. And that you'll never experience this kind of pain. (Tapping at his head to indicate his thoughts of regret and guilt)

Beat. VICTIM #1 turns his back and goes to walk away. In a sudden change of thought VICTIM #2 goes to storm after him and for a moment it looks as if she is going to attack him from behind, ready to pull out whatever it is that she is grasping in her hand/concealing in her pocket. But then she has another change of thought and stops in her tracks. With VICTIM #1 out of sight she breaks down near the shrine. Intense mix of emotions. She takes her hand out of her pocket.

She falls to her knees. While in this position she notices the folded up paper PUPIL #2 left behind. Out of intrigue she picks it up and begins to read it. The reading of the essay appears to calm her. A faint smile even emerges on her face for a brief moment.

She decides to share some of the words written with her cousin.

VICTIM #2: Listen to this cuz, “Shakespeare and Stormzy both present moral dilemmas that are alike. They both focus on the troubles of the past in light of the future. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the character of Ophelia says, in act four scene five, 'Lord, we know what we are, but not what we may be', in Stormzy's song, First Things First, he says in the very last line of the final verse, 'Before we said our prayers, there were gang signs'. Both writers here, in these examples, are comparing the past with the prospect of the future. Both writers are presenting to the reader and audience, the potential for change. In Shakespeare's example, the change is seen in the thought and belief that these characters can evolve from their current state of being. In the example of Stormzy, the change is presented through the comparison between a past life and a present life. Therefore, in conclusion, to say grime music is detrimental to personal development, would be to say that Shakespeare did not have a positive influence on all other art forms that followed”. (Beat, laughs) Praise to whoever wrote this man. (Beat, reflecting upon the writing. Mutters) 'We know what we are, but not what we may be'. (Beat) I'm sorry cuz, you could have been so much more, I know. And you deserved so much more.

She returns to her feet and decides to take the essay with her, folding the paper back up and placing it in her pocket. As she does so she pricks her hand/finger on something sharp inside that pocket. Remembering what is already in there. She looks around her to see if there's anyone nearby, watching her. There isn't. She takes out a knife she has been carrying around with her. The knife she was contemplating using on VICTIM #1. She stares down at it. She notices a nearby street bin. She decides to walk over to it and dump the knife. She returns to the shire.

VICTIM #2: I'm gonna make you proud, I swear. Bless.

She turns to walk away. It looks as if a slight weight has been lifted from her shoulders.



© 2018 Ddraper

Author's Note

This piece was my first official paid commission and programmed by Applecart Arts as part of their InCourage project. I was given the topic of reformation and how an ex gang member tried to get their life back, and wrote this based on a case story.

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Added on June 8, 2018
Last Updated on June 8, 2018
Tags: gang culture, reformation, drama, Shakespeare, knife crime



Essex , London , United Kingdom

I am a writer of theatre, film, television and poetry. I specialise in dark comedy's and have had some of my work previously produced. As well as having a passion for creative writing, I am also an ac.. more..

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