Meritocracy– King’s Players’ Award-Winning Play Back at the Tutu’s

A Reminder that You can Cite Bob Dylan Only in your Essay and Still Do Great.

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Courtesy of Andrew Marks

After sweeping the awards for ‘Best Writing’ and ‘Best Direction of an Ensemble’ at the London Student Drama Festival (LSDF) last week, ‘Meritocracy’ was brought back to our very own Tutu’s Theatre last Friday.

While most university students break into a cold sweat at the Turnitin similarity percentage in fear of excessively quoting; ‘Meritocracy’ comically presents a reversed case of plagiarism. The storyline revolves around the life of Dr. Elizabeth Bowman (played by Afsana Sayyed), a well-respected academic who appears to have lost inspiration after three decades of writing and struggles to publish any more of her work. Stunned by her student Edward’s (played by James Roberts) ground-breaking article on climate change, Dr. Bowman cannot resist the urge to publish Eddy’s articles under her own name. The play reaches a climax when Dr. Bowman win a Nobel Prize with Edward’s work and her scheme is eventually unveiled. Dr. Bowman, who ridiculed Edward’s article which cited nothing but Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times are a Changin’’, ironically ‘cited’ and plagiarised all of Edward’s essays. Thus, the intertextuality of modern day academia is ironically exposed, as Dr. Bowman rightly claims: ‘Academia is never about being original, but of using others’ work instead’.

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Courtesy of Andrew Marks

The play also inspects the corruption of fame, it presents academia as a brutally competitive arena where superficiality is synonymous with fame. The play skilfully depicts the invisible strings of peer and social pressure faced by Dr. Bowman in view of her bragging academic fellows and the brutal reality of competition for recognition.

Indeed, meritocracy and hierarchy are the orders of the day, this is only too evident when at one point in the play, a fellow researcher’s claim to fame is having met Leo Tolstoy’s great- great- granddaughter. This is made even more apparent when Eddy’s cutting-edge essay carried completely divergent significance for the two main characters: while it implies the glory of a Nobel Prize to Dr. Bowman, it is nothing more than a 2:1 grade to Edward.

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Courtesy of Andrew Marks

Andrew Mark’s and Alex Morris’ play is a successful comedy exploring problems involved with meritocracy in the academic world. From the rapacious desire for power and the climbing of hierarchy, to the bureaucratic intertextuality used by academics in their writing.

Following the play was a hilarious performance by Running-A-Mock Improv. The actors devised fully entertaining scenes according to the audience’s responses. To mark an end to the night with improvisation seems to act as a final reminder to the audience of the importance of originality in art creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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