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Beth Steve Mari Brett Briana
The whole cast except for the Narrator is arranged as a classroom with the students on one side facing the Teacher. They are clearly mid-lesson. Teacher: All: Teacher: All: Teacher: Heidi: Teacher: All: Okay, so that wraps up the lesson on Wikipedia(interrupting and cult-like) Wikipedia! Yes, that's what I said. So, remember, I don't think Wikipedia(interrupting and cult-like again) Wikipedia! Yeeees, I don't consider it a valid source since it's open to the world for editing, but check your other teachers' recommendations and remember that it's a good place to get the names of sources, just don't use it as a source of its own. I'm sorry, what aren't we to use as a source? Heidi, come on, we've been talking about Wikipedia(are you noticing a pattern?) Wikipedia!
Enter Rod Sewing, our narrator. The students and teacher all look at him and each other as if to ask 'Who the hell is this guy and what's he doing here?' Narrator: There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination, where rules and fantasy contradict and support each other. It is a zone which we call the Gray Area.
Rod disappears as the Twilight Zone theme plays. The class look around for the source of the music. Parrot: Teacher: This is the dimension of imagination, where rules and fantasy contradict and support each other. It is a zone which we call the Gray Area. Uh, quite. Class dismissed, but remember I'll be holding conferences about your papers this afternoon. Your appointments are listed on my office door.
The class all leave. Enter Rod again. The Teacher appears to be reading papers.
Picture if you will, a quaint college teacher, married with two kids and trying to get home to her family. Piles of work, like the bars of a cage, keep her locked in her office where she seems safe from Fate’s hand. However, the hand of fate and the truths that it carries cannot be evaded. It will always find its targets…in the Gray Area.
A sound of knocking. Teacher: Enter Rerun Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Yes ma’am… Something wrong? You seem nervous. Oh, I…I don’t know, I guess I am always nervous about borrowed information. You warned us so much about it and handling it properly when we went to the library. Yes, but information – unlike science – is nothing to fear, it is only…we are getting off track and I’m quite busy. What is it that you wanted? Right, what I wanted…Well, professor, it’s about my paper. (getting annoyed now) Yes, go on. I…I don’t know how to get permission for it. This is a common problem this week. Let’s start with the basics. When was your source produced? Um…let’s see… Yes? Come in.
He pulls a paper out and looks at the date. Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Teacher: Rerun: Teacher: Oh, 1920. Oh, you’re fine then. Under the laws of public domain, anything before 1923 doesn’t have to be cited as copyrighted. It falls into the public domain after that. Why is that? Well, for one, it’s so old, it can’t be defended and can’t be renewed Old? How is it old? ..I don’t understand the question, what do you mean? If it was written way before 2009, right? That makes it pretty old! 2009? Yes, it’s a brand new year, 2009. But, professor…it’s 1922. Wha…what?
Both look at audience with mouths open as the Twilight Zone theme plays. Enter Rod. Narrator: The past belongs to all of us, a golden burden we must all bear our share of before we, too, pass into its being, shortly after we leave...the Gray Area.
Exit Rerun. The Teacher goes back to reading. Enter Parrot. Teacher: Parrot: Teacher: Parrot: Teacher: Ah, Parrot, come in. Ah, Parrot, come in. Well, I think I see where this is going. Where this is going? You got an F on your paper because all you did was turn in a copy of the Illiad stapled to a copy of my master's thesis about it with a post-it saying 'You were right'.
Janet stands up from behind the curtain, totally out of character. The following dialogue need not be exact, but the gist should be there. Janet: Hold on! Hold on! This parrot-phrasing parrot was my idea, Beth. You're stealing it in a cruel and ironic twist.
Beth stands up to defend herself. Beth: I didn't steal it! I mentioned it to Steve and he wrote it into the play. He stole it.
Steve stands up to defend himself. Steve: I didn't steal it! There's a citation on the very last page of the script saying it was Janet's idea.
Janet flips to the back page and reads the citation there. Janet: Steve: Janet: This isn't a proper citation; it just says “The parrot was Janet's idea”. I didn't know any other details. I went with what I had. They're called 'sources', not 'hearsay'. You need to do real research and find out all the information you can so that other people can find the information for themselves! That's the whole point of citations, even for conversations, lecture, and letters. This is very embarrassing for me. May we please return to the play at hand? Do your research properly next time, jackass!
They all get back down behind the curtain again. Teacher: Parrot: Teacher: Just repeating what others have said makes you an empty vessel. If you can't come up with and voice your own ideas, what's the point of writing a paper to begin with? I thought this was common knowledge. Common knowledge? Yes, yes, facts that are highly unlikely to be disputed and that someone in the field would be instantly familiar with, like the chemical symbol for carbon or December being the twelfth month. Or things that are so old it can safely be assumed that everyone is familiar with them.
Parrot: Teacher: Parrot:
Oh, I see what you mean. By not producing my own thoughts and citing the thoughts of others, I am better able to express myself and reveal my inherent genius to the world? By citing even paraphrases I am able to clearly show what brilliance is my own ideas and what is simply the tools of previous geniuses that I have used to attain my own state of intellectual nirvana? Precisely. Try working to minimize paraphrasing if you have trouble remembering what to cite. You can read a piece, wait a few minutes, and then summarize it in your own words without looking if you like; that might help. Or make casual references throughout the paragraph or sentence to the author. But how can I do that when I'm just a parrot? What? Squawk!
Parrot and the Teacher look at the audience agape as the Twilight Zone theme plays. Enter Rod. Narrator: Holy simoleons! Did you guys see those giants arguing!? That was amazing, like looking into the face of God! Also, there was a parrot taking a college-level class. How does that even work!? Of course, that's just par for the course...in the Gray Area.
Exit Rod and the Parrot. Enter ESL. ESL: Ma'am? I'm curious why I got an F on my paper; I worked a long time on it and used many good ideas. Teacher: Yes, there are good ideas in your paper. There are, however, ideas and direct quotes from other sources which are not properly cited. Using someone else’s words or ideas in your paper and not citing them is considered plagiarism, which is a big offense in American universities and generally receives a grade of F. It can also be grounds for dismissal from the school. ESL: I was not using those words and pretending they were mine. I was only using the words of that author because he is famous and respected and he answers the question so much better than I could in my own words. In my country, it is very common to use the words of famous and respected people in our papers. It shows our respect for their word. We would not, as students, consider our own words superior to theirs. Teacher: Yes, I understand that. However, in American Universities, the emphasis is more on your own ideas. You can still use quotes and ideas from others as long as you cite them. I respect the view your county has on this issue but since you are in an American university, you will have to write your papers with this in mind. With a stronger emphasis on your ideas, this will allow you to really engage with the text and have a discussion with the authors. ESL: Okay. I understand this now. I will write this way on future assignments. But, can you adjust this grade for this one time since we have discussed that this is the way we do it in my country? Teacher: I think you need to focus on future assignments. You can rewrite this paper and submit it in but I cannot your grade on your paper as is because the plagiarism
policy is treated the same for all students and is stated in the syllabus. For next class, we are having a workshop on when, how, and what to quote so you can use that to help you in future assignments. Okay. Thank you.
Exit ESL. Enter Rod, looking confused. Narrator: No, ah, no twist there? No big reveal? No she's-really-beautiful-and-everyoneelse-is-ugly?
The Teacher looks up, shakes her head 'No' and goes back to work. Narrator: Okay, well, sometimes normal things happen...in the Gray Area.
Parrot pops up. Parrot: Narrator: Gray Area! Gray Area! Quiet, you! Now, ladies and gentlemen, imagine a place, if you will, where people don't grow old, where time itself seems to stand still and the young always seem young. There is such a place, although once you arrive, you may find it hard to leave...the Gray Area.
Exit Parrot and Rod. Enter Cheerleader. Cheerleader: Um, hello? Teacher: Oh, hello, please, come in! Cheerleader: I'm here for the conference about my paper? Teacher: Yes, I wanted to talk to you about that. Did you perhaps turn in an old paper from another class? Cheerleader: I don't know why you'd think that. Teacher: Here, on page three, you make a reference to whoever will win the upcoming presidential election – Warren G. Harding or James M. Cox. Cheerleader: Don't you mean Barack Obama or John McCain? Teacher: No, it's 1922; I mean Harding or Cox. Cheerleader: Oh, okay. What's the issue then? Teacher: President Harding won the election over eighteen months ago! Cheerleader: Okay, I admit it; I recycled some bits of an old paper. I gave myself permission, so what's the problem? Teacher: The problem is that you're still a source and that old information came from prior research. Also, if you simply keep revisiting your old stomping grounds and ideas, how are you supposed to grow and develop into a mature intellectual? You'll remain a child forever and never grow old. Cheerleader: That actually sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Teacher: It's not! Haven't you ever seen an episode of the Twilight Zone? Cheerleader: Of course I have; I'm 672 years old.
They both look at the audience agape as the Twilight Zone theme plays. Heidi: Teacher: Enter Heidi. Heidi: Teacher: I did, ma'am. Heidi. Ah, of course, Ms. Stealer. (off-stage, under the curtain, whatever) I've seen every episode of the Twilight Zone, and I'm only nineteen. Who said that!?
Exit Cheerleader. Teacher: Heidi: Teacher: Heidi: Teacher: Heidi: Teacher: Heidi, you and I need to talk about your paper. And how awesome is was? How audacious, more like! Why, whatever can you mean? Heidi, did you really think I wouldn't notice that you stole all of your ideas? I did no such thing! Here, on page two -
Teacher quotes from the paper. Teacher: “I propose a television program hosted by Rod Serling in which every episode is a short science fiction or horror story with a twist or a moral that will leave the audience stunned. This program should pass into the annals of television and pop culture history.” You mean to tell me that you invented the Twilight Zone fifty years after it first aired? Also, how did you get this into a visual rhetoric paper?!
Awkward pause. Heidi: Teacher: Enter Rod. Narrator: Exit Rod. Teacher: Heidi: Teacher: Heidi: Teacher: Look, Heidi, stealing ideas is just as bad as stealing cars. That's preposterous. A car is worth billions of dollars. So are ideas. Look at relativity, isn't that just an idea? Yeah, I suppose. Yet it got Albert Einstein all of the beautiful women, fame, and money he could It's not plagiarism. It's satire and parody, which are covered under fair use. It wasn't me. It was the one-armed man. Not even your excuses are original. You stole that one from the TV show The Fugitive. How many old shows are we going to plagiarize in this presentation?
Heidi: Teacher: Heidi: Teacher:
eat. Just an idea did? Yes, just an idea got Albert Einstein in the Guiness Book of World Records for Largest Harem. So, in stealing ideas... ...you stole billions of dollars' worth of beautiful women, fame, and money.
Heidi bursts into tears. Heidi: Teacher: I'm horrible! Lock me up! I need to be sentenced for my crimes! Very well. For the crime of idea theft, I sentence you to a term no shorter than four simple sentences, six compound sentences, a complex sentence, and three compound-complex sentences. No chance for contraction. Take her away!
Heidi looks around for someone to take her away. No one is coming, so she just exits on her own. Enter Rod. Narrator: The world can sometimes seem so very, very complicated. Ideas and sentences abound and not running into a web of plagiarism and poor research can be difficult indeed. Just ask these poor students and their haggard teacher as they come back from their most recent field trip...to the Gray Area.
The parrot was Janet's idea.
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