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"I don't," Nancy said disapprovingly, "see why we need to be put through this torture every time Eleanore has an essay to write."

"It's not every time. We didn't do The Taming of the Shrew."

"I'd rather that than this. Honestly, Kathie, look at the fiasco Othello turned out to be. I really don't think there's any benefit to trying again."

"If it helps Eleanore, and gives her more drabbling time-"

"But it doesn't help her," Nancy objected. "She doesn't get the essays written any faster, does she? She's one of those last-minute people - incurably so, if you ask me. The only way she'd get her essays finished earlier would be if you went ahead and wrote the wretched things for her - and even then she probably wouldn't hand them in until the last possible second."

Knowing Eleanore, Kathie had to admit that this was probably true.

"And we're not much better, I have to say," Nancy continued, as she noticed the clock. "It's 23:00 hours, the night before her essay deadline, and we're only just discussing this now. I think you've left it rather late, my love."

"That's hardly my fault," Kathie protested. "I wanted to start weeks ago, but there was a marked lack of enthusiasm. Whenever I even came close to mentioning it, people left the staff room in droves."

"Doesn't that tell you something? Kathie, nobody wants to be in a play about impetuous, over-dramatic, hormonal teenagers. Even Eleanore's stopped listening to you, and it's her essay."

Kathie looked dejected at this brutal interpretation of the lack of support for her production, and Nancy attempted to soften the blow. "Look, my love, we live in a school full to bursting with impetuous, over-dramatic, hormonal teenagers. If you feel you must produce this play, why not cast some of them?"

"That's not at all the sort of production I had in mind," Kathie pouted.

Nancy didn't really want to ask (something told her she wouldn't like the answer) but Kathie was looking at her expectantly. She sighed. "Okay, tell me what you had in mind. But I'm not promising I'll do it," she added hastily.

Kathie brightened. "It's just that I studied this play when I was in school. Everyone else was mooning over who would be their perfect Romeo, while I was always imagining my ideal Juliet, and now, well, here you are. It's too good an opportunity to waste."

"Me?" Nancy looked appalled. "Me as Juliet? Kathie, be serious."

"I was." Kathie couldn't see the problem.

Nancy was only too ready to explain it to her. "Juliet was not tall, chubby, and middle-aged."

"It's called artistic licence, Nance."

"You need radio to get away with that amount of artistic licence," Nancy said decidedly. "Just imagine what it would do to the balcony scene, if your Juliet looks like she could simply make a long arm and haul Romeo up to her. I don't suppose you particularly want to turn it into a farce? Not," she added, parenthetically, "that it could possibly make the wretched play any worse if you did. And just who were you intending to cast as Romeo anyway?"

"Well, um, me," Kathie admitted, with a hopeful expression.

"Oh. Well. In that case." Nancy had not expected this; Kathie wasn't in the habit of casting herself in her productions. "I suppose that does make a difference."

"Was that a yes?"

"It was a maybe."

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