Do Not Spit at Random

This street play, which has been performed many times on the street corners of Hangchow and Shanghai, was written by the Hangchow Stage Group in support of the patriotic health movement. It is typical of the purpose which informs almost all contemporary writing in Communist China, and it stresses in particular the vigilance of the Young Pioneers, children of nine to thirteen, prototypes of the Maoists to come.

BY FANG TZU

(A young girl Pioneer with a megaphone comes out from a crowd in the street or from among the audience in a theater.)

YOUNG PIONEER. Dear uncles and aunts, please do not spit at random. Spitting at random on the ground is a most deplorable habit. It helps to spread germs and disease, and so may affect our health harmfully. Dear uncles and aunts, if you want to spit, please do so into a cuspidor. If there is no cuspidor at hand, then spit into a handkerchief.

PASSER-BY (walks across stage with a brief case, makes noise as if going to spit). Hmm . . . hawk . . . choo! (Spits phlegm on the ground.)

YOUNG PIONEER (seeing the passer-by spit, hurries away from the crowd to overtake the man, or leaps onto stage from below). Uncle, uncle, don’t spit on the ground. Please rub it away with a piece of paper.

PASSER-BY. My young friend, with the cuspidor so far away, where do you think I should spit?

YOUNG PIONEER. You can go up to the cuspidor. It’s only a few steps away.

PASSER-BY. I’d have to go there and come back again. How do you think I am going to catch my bus?

YOUNG PIONEER. Uncle, don’t you know there are many germs in spittle? When it dries, the germs will be scattered everywhere, and, by breathing the air, people may be infected with such diseases as typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis —

PASSER-BY. I am not a tubercular. So there cannot be any germs in the phlegm I coughed out.

YOUNG PIONEER. It is a social obligation to refrain from spitting at random. If everyone spits and insists that there can be no germs in what he has spat, how can we be patriotic and keep ourselves in good health?

ONE OF THE CROWD (speaks from the crowd or from the audience in a theater). Rub the spittle away quick!

(A large crowd gathers around the passer-by.)

PASSER-BY (irritated). Hmm. You want me to squat there and rub away the spittle? But I have no time for that. Besides, I am not used to doing that sort of thing. (Prepares to go.)

YOUNG PIONEER. Uncle, uncle, don’t go. I haven’t finished with you yet.

PASSER-BY. I have to go home now to my dinner and have no time to carry on a conversation with you.

ONE OF THE CROWD. Hey, you come back here! There can’t be a more unreasonable man than you.

PASSER-BY. How SO?

YOUNG PIONEER (offering a piece of paper). Uncle, please rub it away with this piece of paper.

PASSER-BY. I won’t do it!

YOUNG PIONEER. HOW can you refuse to carry out a social obligation?

PASSER-BY. Are you lecturing me?

(Here a number of actors come out of the crowd to speak, or speak from among the audience, or some may go up on the stage.)

CROWD. What? You are trying to assume airs? Don’t argue with him. Call the police. Police! Comrade police!

PASSER-BY. I won’t rub it. I promise not to spit again.

CROWD. Comrade, what is your unit?

PASSER-BY. That’s none of your business.

CROWD. Why isn’t it my business? When you refuse to carry out a public obligation, everyone is entitled to criticize you.

PEOPLE’S POLICE (enters). What’s happened here?

(At this moment the crowd becomes larger.)

CROWD. He spat at random and refuses to accept criticism. He would not listen to the advice of a child. And he’s such a big man. He is no better than this child. And he is a Party member too! Probably a backward one.

PEOPLE’S POLICE. All right, it’s clear to me now. (Addressing the crowd.) Comrades! What do you think we should do with such a man?

CROWD. He should be criticized and fined. He should be made the subject of a wall newspaper. A cartoon should be drawn of him for all to see. He should be taken to the police station.

PEOPLE’S POLICE. Oh, well, if you will not rub it away, I’ll do it for you. But, first of all, may I know what unit you belong to?

PASSER-BY. As for that —

(The voice of a middle-aged woman is heard off stage calling someone.)

MOTHER. Hsiao-ying, Hsiao-ying.

YOUNG PIONEER. Oh, Mama!

MOTHER. There you are. We’ve been waiting for you a long time. The meal is cold. Won’t you hurry home to your meal?

YOUNG PIONEER. I haven’t finished my work yet.

MOTHER. Work? What sort of work?

YOUNG PIONEER. Someone has spat on the ground and refuses to accept criticism. Unless he cleans it off, I am not going to let him go.

MOTHER (recognizes the passer-by). Oh, is that you, Comrade Ch’en?

PASSER-BY. Er — yes, it’s me, Teacher Wang.

MOTHER. Hsiao-ying, who is it that refuses to accept criticism?

YOUNG PIONEER. Mama, there he is.

PEOPLE’S POLICE (addressing mother). Comrade, do you know which unit this comrade belongs to?

MOTHER. He is the accountant of the cotton mill. He is Comrade Ch’en Jung-fa.

PEOPLE’S POLICE. Good, thank you. (Addressing the passer-by.) I think there’s only one way now. (Draws a circle round the spittle on the ground with a piece of chalk and is about to write down the name of the passer-by and the unit to which he belongs.)

PASSER-BY (frightened). Comrade, don’t! Don’t write down the name of my unit! (Addressing the crowd.) Comrades and my young friend, please pardon me this once. You may write my name there, but please do not write the name of our mill too. Our mill has already signed a patriotic health pact.

PEOPLE’S POLICE. Yet you break the pact?

PASSER-BY. All right, I’ll clean it, I’ll clean it. I promise not to do the same thing again.

YOUNG PIONEER. Here, take this piece of paper. (The passer-by squats down to rub the ground. Crowd, satisfied, disperses.)

PEOPLE’S POLICE (to mother). Comrade, your child is really a good Young Pioneer, a young heroine for the elimination of the seven pests [mosquitoes, flies, rats, sparrows, and so forth] and for public health. If everyone eliminates the seven pests in earnest and maintains public hygiene as she does, our cities and the countryside will be rid of the seven pests sooner, disease will largely be wiped out, people will be healthier than ever, and the nation will be more prosperous and stronger.

MOTHER. Hsiao-ying, hurry home to your meal. It’s already cold.

YOUNG PIONEER. Mama, my group leader isn’t here yet. I’ll go home when he comes to relieve me.

MOTHER. Oh, well, I’ll have to warm the meal again anyway.

YOUNG PIONEER (speaking through megaphone and coming toward crowd in the street or toward audience in theater). Dear uncles and aunts, please do not spit at random. Spitting at random is a most deplorable habit. . . .

We wish to qive special thanks to Peggy Durdin of Hong Kong for her invaluable aid in gathering the material for this issue and for her translation and editing of some of the pieces. -THE EDITOR