Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

Michael Müller (Germany)

Oh boy!

Junge, Junge

Text Extract


Thunderstorm researcher in the back yard

A muggy, humid, late summer’s day in the city. DANILO is standing in a back yard. On his head he wears a home-made helmet with two metal spikes. He is looking up at the sky. Every now and then, in the background, bolts of lightning stab down towards the ground. DANILO takes photos. He holds a kind of measuring instrument in his hand, which he uses to check particular spots on the asphalt. He makes notes. It looks like some kind of ritual, but DANILO is actually conducting ‘scientific investigations’ (into electrostatic induction, in fact, but he doesn’t know that, he’s only just turned eleven). SERTAC, a bit stocky, a bit too strong for his age, is standing in a little shed behind a rubbish bin, watching him.

SERTAC Get lost, nutter!

DANILO (unfazed) Can’t right now. Have to measure.

SERTAC Yard belong my father shop, his property, so you piss off, or else…

Lighting streaks across the sky. DANILO goes over to a particular spot, measures, and shakes his head.

Ey, what you looking, you want trouble?

DANILO Strange.

SERTAC Only you’s strange. You look like amputated bee or something.

DANILO It’s my protective helmet.

SERTAC Once we see play with school, in theatre, there bee make cake, look just as stupid like you.

DANILO (still very preoccupied) I’m not a bee, I’m researching… The weather, if you really want to know.

SERTAC Bee had no eggs…

DANILO (serious) Bees don’t have eggs, they have larvae…

SERTAC Then is coming this hen and lay one for her. Erkan beside me shout, “Now let bee hatch egg,” and they have to stop play, because everybody laughing so much… Was in first year… Stupid kids theatre, you know.

DANILO (points to his helmet, wants to impress SERTAC with his knowledge) This conducts lightning.

SERTAC Like I said, you’s mental. Must’ve been hit some times. From lightning.

DANILO You have to press your legs together, then nothing’ll happen. (Shows him, which really does look pretty mental. He points to his measuring instrument) I use this to measure how charged the earth is after the lightning. For example, if it strikes the ground ten kilometres away… I can still measure something here. They’re called amperes. (He pronounces it a bit wrong – ‘ampeers’) They do it at airports too, and if the charge is too high the planes aren’t allowed to take off. The lightning messes up the control system and all the other stuff in the cockpit. And the planes can explode while they’re filling up with petrol.

SERTAC But we not in airport, we’re in back yard of my father shop.

DANILO (continues undeterred) Lightning can have a temperature of up to 30,000 degrees, so it can melt asphalt, or if it strikes you all that’s left of you is a pile of ashes.


SERTAC (jumps, startled. He’s slightly impressed now after all) How hot is it here?

DANILO The reading’s pretty low.

SERTAC (visibly disappointed) Shame.

DANILO I take pictures of lightning too, do you want to see? (holds up a camera)

SERTAC (looks up, grins) Ey, weather bee? When the rain coming?

Another bolt of lightning, and immediately thunder.

DANILO (looks at him, counts) Three, two, …

It starts to pour with rain.

SERTAC (laughs hysterically and yells) Come, come here.

DANILO runs over to him, joins him in the shed. They look out at the rain.

How you do that? You big magician?

DANILO I just counted the seconds between the lightning and the thunder.

SERTAC (casually holds out his hand) Sertac.

DANILO (shakes Sertac’s hand with the utmost seriousness) Danilo Oleff.

SERTAC Russki?

DANILO Yes, my father.

SERTAC Can I put on helmet?

DANILO hesitates, gives him the helmet. SERTAC puts it on.

DANILO Pretty mental.

They both laugh.

SERTAC (pretends to be fending off lightning with the helmet) Lightning photos, you show me.

DANILO gives him the camera.

Cool, this with branches. Look like white tree.

DANILO (takes the camera back) And this one, like a pitchfork.

SERTAC Danilo, you research more thing? Other thing?

DANILO (cautiously) Lots of things.

SERTAC What you tell me, no one at home or in school tell me. No one doing this.

DANILO My father says I should learn what the teachers teach us, and play with the other kids. But research is more important. Do you have computer games?

SERTAC (showing off, exaggerates) At least thousand.

DANILO Tell me: why can the characters move when we want them to?

SERTAC Characters? Because you click with mouse.

DANILO And the mouse has a brain, right?

SERTAC Mouse with brain, no, come on… There’s … minidisk inside, or something, that knows this. Like TV zapper, something like this.

DANILO That’s what I’d like to know, things like this. Secrets, things you can’t see.

SERTAC For what? When you play, you play… totally not important, all this stuff. What I think. Gotta go. Going to gym. My father always take me, so I become strong. Look! (shows off his muscles)

DANILO (puzzled) Strong?

SERTAC Lift weights, for muscles…

DANILO Can I come too?

SERTAC You crazy? Is gym for Turkish people!

DANILO (doesn’t understand at all) I see… Okay, then. (Turns to go)

SERTAC You come again, measure lightning?

DANILO Maybe. See you.

SERTAC See ya.

SERTAC’s father appears.

ÖZGÜR Sertac, what are you doing out there?

SERTAC Watching the lighting.

ÖZGÜR That’s dangerous.

SERTAC Not if you wear helmet.

ÖZGÜR Come on, come inside.


Danilo, a Russian, and Sertac, a Turkish boy; two boys in a city that could not be more different. Really? Despite all the cultural differences at first glance, the second glance might perhaps show a few similarities.
The two boys get closer to each other, as Sertac watches Danilo measure the energy of lightning like a real scientific researcher. He does all this in the backyard of Sertacs father’s shop. At first the two find each other rather odd. But because of what they experience together in a competition for a big fashion show, Danilo and Sertac realize that they actually get on quite well together. But Sertac’s father observes the friendship with a boy of the “Russian Mafia” sceptically. Then, an incident Sertac’s father’s store casts a shadow on Danilo. The two friends have to be very courageous to keep their friendship alive and to defend it against the problems in the family. Because with the strong family honor in Sertac’s family and the separation of Danilo’s parents, the two eleven year olds actually have to plough through a lot of other areas.
“Oh, boy!”is a play about a very different male strong point and disassociation from identified role models. And a friendship that first looked like nothing and gives a lot more support than expected in the end, after the boys have sought and found their identity.



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