Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

My fourth guest blogger is Carlos Gontow from Brazil. I have to admit a special affection for Carlos and his wife Cris. I have mentioned before on this blog that they are, as far as I know, the only people in the world who ever interrupted their honeymoon to come to listen to one of my talks (in São Paulo in 1994). Carlos is also in my good books because he once wrote in a blog comment: “I have always said that when I grow up, I want to be Ken Wilson.”😛

Carlos certainly wants to be known for his sketch-writing skills, and he has kindly offered as his blog post a sketch from his book The Classroom is a Stage.

I hope you enjoy the sketch. Warning if you are planning to use it in class – the stage directions stipulate a lot of passionate kissing!

Carlos performing the sketch with his working partner Mila Rey

My name is Carlos Gontow and I’m from Brazil. I’m an English teacher and an actor and I’ve been involved with teaching English through theater for more than twenty-two years. I’m the author of The Classroom is a Stage – 40 Short Plays for English Students. ‘Don’t leave me’ is one of the plays in the book.

Level of English Intermediate to advanced. The students have to know if-clauses.

Recommended age: Teenagers and adults

Structures: Grammar: If-clauses – first, second and third conditionals

Vocabulary: Parting verbs: go away, leave, abandon

 Number of characters2  – John and Mary

Costumes: Ordinary clothes. The characters can be any age, but old enough to be married, and the clothes they wear have to reflect that. If you’re working with teenagers, they can wear their parents’ clothes.

Playing time:  Approximately 5 minutes

DON’T LEAVE ME

                 John and Mary are at home, holding hands.

JOHN:      (Romantically.) Oh, Mary, I love you so much!

MARY:     (Romantically.) I love you, too, John.

                     (They kiss.)

JOHN:      You’re the only woman for me. I can’t live without you.        

MARY:     And you’re the man of my dreams. My life means nothing without you.

JOHN:      Oh, my love…

MARY:     Dear…

                      (They kiss passionately.)

JOHN:      If you left me now, you’d take away the biggest part of me.

MARY:     Don’t worry, John. This will never happen!

JOHN:      I know it won’t. That’s why I said, “If you left me now, you would take away the biggest part of me. It’s an untrue, impossible, or imagined situation.

MARY:     Yes, John, I know. But don’t worry. I will never leave you.

JOHN:      I know, my dear. And I really love you.

MARY:     I love you, too, John.

JOHN:      But let’s suppose you decided to leave me.

MARY:     What?

JOHN:      Yeah, just a supposition.

MARY:     Oh, come on, John…

JOHN:      If you went away, I would be desperate.

MARY:     (Annoyed.) I’m not going to go away.

JOHN:      If you left me, I would die.

MARY:     (Angry.) I’m not going to leave you, OK?

JOHN:      I said, “If you left me,” just an unreal condition.

MARY:     (To the audience.) Oh, my, why did I marry an English teacher? (To John.) John, stop it! You’re making  me angry.

JOHN:      If you abandoned me, I would kill myself.

MARY:     (Very angry.) That’s enough. (She exits, gets her suitcase and comes back.) Good bye, John.

JOHN:      Where are you going?

MARY:     I’m leaving you! I can’t take it anymore.

JOHN:      Why? What have I done?

MARY:     You always think I’m going to leave you.

JOHN:      I’m just afraid. You know I can’t live without you.

MARY:     Why don’t you believe me when I say I won’t leave you?

JOHN:      It was just an imaginary situation.

MARY:     Well, I’m tired. Good bye. (Starts exiting.)

JOHN:      (Crying.) No, Mary. Don’t do this to me! If you leave me now, you’ll take away the biggest part of me.[1]

MARY:     I don’t care.

JOHN:      (Crying even louder.) Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, no, baby, please don’t go!

MARY:     It’s too late now!

JOHN:      And if you leave me now, you’ll take away the very heart of me. Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, no, baby, please don’t go!

MARY:     Oh, come on, stop crying…

JOHN:      Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, girl, I just want you to stay!

MARY:     John, this is ridiculous!

JOHN:      A love like ours is love that’s hard to find. How could we let it slip away?

MARY:     (Embarrassed.) John…

JOHN:      We’ve come too far to leave it all behind…

MARY:     Stop it!

JOHN:      How could we end it all this way? If you leave me now…

MARY:     (Shouts.) Stop! Don’t say that again!

JOHN:      What’s the matter? I said, “If you leave me now,” because it’s a real possibility. You’re about to leave me, so I say, “If you leave me now, you will take away the biggest part of me.” Because this is what is going to happen.

MARY:     I’m not leaving…

JOHN:      If you leave me now, I’ll die.

MARY:     (Louder.) I’m not leaving…

JOHN:      If you go away now, my life will be over.

MARY:     (Shouts.) I’M NOT GOING AWAY!!

JOHN:      (Happy.) You’re not? (On his knees.) Oh, thank you, my love. You know I can’t live without you.

MARY:     Let me take my suitcase back to the bedroom. (She exits and comes back.)

JOHN:      Oh, Mary. You scared me. I thought you were going to leave me.

MARY:     But I didn’t. I’m here…

JOHN:      Yes, my love. I love you…

MARY:     I love you, too.

                 (They kiss passionately.)

JOHN:      I was really afraid. I really thought you were going to go away.

MARY:     Oh, John, don’t think about that. I didn’t go away.

JOHN:      I know, but you almost did. I was terrified.

MARY:     I was very angry. I don’t know what happened to me.

JOHN:      Oh, Mary, if you had left me, you would have taken away the biggest part of me.

MARY:     What?

JOHN:      If you had left me, you would have taken away the biggest part of me.

MARY:     John, I didn’t leave you.

JOHN:      I know, honey. I said, “If you had left me.” That’s an imaginary condition in the past. You didn’t leave me, and you didn’t take away the biggest part of me, but if you had left me, you would have taken away the biggest part of me.

MARY:     John, don’t start again. You’re not talking to your students. I’m your wife.

JOHN:      (Dramatic.) If you had abandoned me, I would have died.

MARY:     (Angry.) Stop it!

JOHN:      If you had gone away, my life would have ended.

MARY:     (Angrier and louder.) Stop it, I said!

JOHN:      It’s just an imaginary past condition…

MARY:     I’ve had it! That’s enough. I’m up to here with your conditionals. (She exits, gets her suitcase and comes back.)

JOHN:      Where are you going?

MARY:     Back to my mother’s house. I’m tired of you. (To the audience.) Why did I marry an English teacher?

JOHN:      What’s wrong with English teachers?

MARY:     (Shouts.) What’s wrong? (Shouts louder.) What’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. If I hadn’t married an English teacher, I wouldn’t have to listen to conditionals all day long… Good bye. (Exits.)

JOHN:      (Cries.) No, Mary! Don’t go! Come back! I can’t live without you… (He sobs.) Oh, Mary, why did you leave me? Living without you makes no sense to me. My life is empty. My life is sad. If you hadn’t left me, you wouldn’t have taken away the biggest part of me. But you did! You did! You left me and you took away the biggest part of me… (Cries uncontrollably.) Come back! Come back! I need you! I want you! I love you! Come back… (He looks at the audience. Very dramatically.) I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

(We hear the theme song from “Gone With the Wind.” Blackout.)

THE END

[1]  This line and the next ones are taken from the song “If You Leave Me Now,” by Chicago.  If you want to see Chilean singer Nicole singing the song with the band themselves, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id51WP4E5ho

 Some staging and follow-up suggestions:

You can use chairs and a table as scenery, trying to make it look like the couple’s home.

You can have different pairs of students present this sketch and create a different ending. Then the class can vote for the best ending.

After performing this sketch, ask the students to write a sketch using the same grammar structures. They can write a sketch about a teacher and a student, a mother and a child, etc.

 Carlos’s quiz sheets are at cgquiz.sites.uol.com.br

Comments on: "Guest blog 4 – a sketch from Brazil" (16)

  1. What a lovely piece, Carlos!

    Although I’ve always wanted to write such short plays for my students, I somehow postponed the moment and chose to stage pieces written by others. Your post is such an inspiration! Thank you!

    Melania

    • Thanks, Melanie

      I know what you mean. After I had staged all the sketches in Ken’s books, I started writing my own. It’s not hard once you start.

      Best,

  2. Hi Carlos!
    This is a great way to practice Conditionals and learn many new expressions! I am sure a lot of students would enjoy it. A very interesting post! All the best to you!
    Kind regards,
    Vicky

  3. Ha! A play page 44! I was thrilled when I saw your post here and realised that you’re the author of the book that lives on a shelf in my office🙂 What a great pleasure to know you!
    Whenever one of my teachers comes to ask me for some ideas to break the monotony in their classroom I either indicate few activities I’ve learned from Ken in ACINE 2008 or pass them your book. Where are you from in Brazil? Anywhere close to Teresina PI?🙂

    • Hi Agata,

      Thanks a lot! It’s good to know that the book is useful. I’m from Sao Paulo. I work at Associacao Alumni. Are you from Teresina?
      Good to hear from you.

    • Germano said:

      A Polish living in Teresina! How this could be possible! Ha! ha!. In Poland you can get freezed and in Teresina you can melt down because of the very, very hot weather all the entire year.

  4. Cristiana said:

    Hi Carlos! Is this inspired from real life? I mean if it is, then she must be codependent, that’s for sure, if it’s imaginary, run for your life! The play would be good for anyone going through a crisis and learning about turn-offs in a couple’s life…good piece! I hope there’s the second part where the mother-in-law has something to add, something more of a monologue where she answers her questions!:)
    take care!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Cristiana, i think you should write the second part. It would be a wonderful contrast of styles!

    • Actually, it isn’t inspired from real life, because my wife Cris is an English teacher, too, so we both speak like this. Sometimes we use quotes from plays, movies and books. Nobody knows what we’re talking about, but it sure is fun. One of my favorite quotes is the line from Ken’s “The Superlative Vacuum Cleaner, ” “Good morning, young lady, is your mother in?” I like to say that when someone opens the door to me. (Am I crazy or what?)

      Yeah, write the second part and let me see it later. I don’t need to give you my permission. In fact, my book is photocopiable. People can buy one and make copies, adapt, change, invent, whatever.

      I am in the States and haven’t had much time to go online. I spend my time waiting in line to get autographs from Disney characters.

      Thaks for writing,

  5. Ken Wilson said:

    Carlos is in the USA at the moment, and I think he may be cyber-incommunicado. I’m sure he’ll reply to your comments the next time he gets near a computer.

  6. Oh yes, being married to an English teacher. It’s not often I speak English with my wife, but when we do I think she sometimes feels like this🙂

    • Well, my wife is an English teacher, too, so we don’t have this problem. On the other hand, sometimes we’re watching a movie and I lean over to hear and whisper in her ear, “He just used the third conditional. This would be perfect for Level 5.” Isn’t that romantic?

  7. Victoria said:

    This is wonderful! i LOVE theater, and i do speak english, and I am Brazilian. Carlos this is awesome!🙂
    Can I have your e-mail please? it would be delightful to know someone that works with theater and English teaching as well🙂 Congrats on the sketch, it is funny, interesting, and educational at the same time!

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