The Graduate: a recession remake

Fri, 06/07/2012 - 16:00 -- nick

This short play from The Guardian is a new graduate's reimagining of the original Dustin Hoffmann/Ann Bancroft film The Graduate. It's fun and funny but with a point to make - looking for a job is hard and bouncing back from rejection even harder. But keep going and the right job for you is somewhere out there.

'The New Graduate - An Inspirational Film

For the past three weeks, all Ben has been able to think about is the letter. In the morning, before he opens his eyes, an envelope flits in and out of his dreams – a fluttering promise, a sliver of the future. One morning, it arrives. Ben is seduced by its perfect symmetry. He allows himself to imagine that the letter feels the same.

BEN: When I first saw you on, my pulse quickened and my palms began to sweat. I opened Microsoft Word faster than ever before. I wasn't tempted to check Facebook, or even to make a cup of tea. Because I knew. I knew that this time I was everything the job specification required. Like a suitor pursing his lips, Ben tears the paper.

LETTER: Ben, I think you're incredible.

BEN: I know – that's how I feel about you.

LETTER: But I can't give you what you need right now.

BEN: What?

LETTER: It's not you, it's me.

BEN: No. Please don't say that. I had plans for the future, for us …

LETTER: Ben, you're everything a letter could want. You have a first-class honours degree, a range of extra-curriculars Leonardo da Vinci would be proud of, and your referees think you're the messiah. But, darling, I can't keep stringing you along.

Every morning for the last fortnight Ben has sat watching the postbox. He's thousands of pounds in debt, the temping agency hasn't found him diddly squat, and two nights a week behind a bar isn't exactly lifting him out of the red. Perhaps, then, we can understand if our hero does not take his rejection with becoming grace. Defeated, he slumps to the floor.

BEN: [shouting] I'm capable! I'm confident! I'm efficacious, dynamic, team-oriented, forward-thinking, indefatigable, initiative-tastic, superhuman and all those other adjectives on my CV! [pleading] Why don't you want me? 

LETTER: You are all those things Ben. Except maybe initiative-tastic. I'm not sure that's a word. Please don't doubt yourself.

BEN: [Scowling] Why then? WHY? Is it because I'm not, y'know, all that, um, experienced?

LETTER: I'd be lying if I said I didn't like a man with experience. But that's not the reason. It's not really about you. There's nothing you could have done differently.

BEN: Is it because I still live with my Nan?

LETTER: Of course not.

BEN: Is there someone else?

LETTER: Ben … I …

BEN: Tell me! [pause]

LETTER: Yes, there's someone else. 

BEN: Who is he?

LETTER: She, actually.

Ben leaps, enraged, from his attitude of dejection.

BEN: It's a woman? You're only interested in women now? What is this affirmative action bullcrap!?

LETTER: It has nothing to do with her being a woman.

BEN: Then why her? Why not me?

LETTER: Do you really want to know?

BEN: Of course I want to know.

LETTER: It was always going to be her job. Company policy meant we had to advertise, but there was never really any opening.

BEN: You were always … There was never …

Ben feels his legs shake, and leans against the wall to steady himself.

LETTER: Please don't be upset. I think you're an excellent candidate. If there actually were any jobs, you'd have one. No question. Ben? Ben – don't cry. Please don't cry.

BEN: [tears roll down his cheeks] Sorry. I'm sorry. It's just …

LETTER: It's just what?

BEN: I thought you were The One.

LETTER: Oh Ben, there are plenty more jobs on

BEN: You're the only job I want! You're the only job I care about! No other job exists for me. You're all I can think about. Don't you understand? Please. PLEASE! Just give me a chance. I'll show you how good we could be.

LETTER: I think I'd better go.

The letter drops to the floor. Ben pads, barefoot and dejected, upstairs to his room, where he lies on his bed and toys with the notion of giving in to despair. 

BEN: Maybe I'm not bright. Maybe I'm not reliable. Maybe I'm not engaged, quick-witted, socially aware, dexterous, un-obstreperous, modest or any of those adjectives on my CV after all … 

Ben loads up and picks through the bones of the global recession. A job specification catches his eye.  It's looking for someone just like him. His pulse begins to quicken, his palms sweat.


Emer O'Toole
Via The Guardian