The characters

Agnes

Agnes

Key characteristics

  • Innocent
  • Sensible
  • Hopeful
  • Happy to be a child…

Voice: Soprano

Johan

Johan

Key characteristics

  • Decent
  • Artistic
  • Equivocal
  • Trusts that good will prevail…

Voice: Counter Tenor

Ursula

Ursula

Key characteristics

  • Dramatic
  • Passionate
  • Charismatic
  • Fed up with being a child…

Voice: Mezzo Soprano

Pierre

Pierre

Key characteristics

  • Serene
  • Philosophical
  • Witty
  • Doesn’t know what he’s getting into…

Voice: Tenor

Class of 7D

Pierre’s classmates, which include Agnes, Johan, Ursula, Karl, Otto, Laura and Hans, become united in their determination to prove to him life has meaning. They embark on a journey that will lead them to an unexpected place full of difficult decisions.

The plot

Act I

Class 7D return unwillingly to their classroom on the first day of the new school year, everyone boasting about the summer holidays and wishing they were still there.

But one boy, Pierre, does something else. He suddenly stands up, declares ‘nothing matters’ and walks out.

Outside, he climbs up a plum tree, intending to do nothing with his life but eat plums and gaze at the sky. Because nothing is worth doing, or saying, or thinking, or knowing.

School ends and the rest of the class visit Pierre and they demand him to explain himself, but all he says is ‘nothing’.

The children think about how to get him down from the tree. Johan plays a song on his guitar, explaining that love is a good enough reason for everything. Pierre merely throws plums down at them all. Nothing matters.

Agnes has an idea: why don’t they make a big pile of things that mean a lot to them and set it on fire? That will make them all cry and prove Pierre wrong.

The children make a Pile of Meaning at an abandoned sawmill. Old comics, precious books, dolls, games, action figures, photos and souvenirs – all are thrown on the pile to be burned.

Agnes tells Pierre, but he says if you choose to burn it that proves it means nothing to you. A true test of meaning would be to burn something you loved suggested by someone else.

The class decide he’s right. Ursula suggests they each demand an item from one another to be put on the pile to burn. No exceptions. No excuses.

The game begins: Otto’s football cap, Laura’s parrot earrings and Hans’ shades are all taken from them and thrown on the pile. Then they demand Agnes cut off her pigtails and give them up too! Shocked, Agnes says she won’t, but children vote against her.

Distraught, Agnes goes to see Pierre. He tells her she’s wasting her life, which makes her determined to prove him wrong. She returns and allows the class to cut off her pigtails.

Now the game gets serious. Ursula demands the Danish flag that flies outside Karl’s house. Patriotic Karl is furious, but must abide by the rules. In revenge he demands something from Ursula. Something from the churchyard…

Act II

The class descend on the churchyard in the middle of the night and unearth the coffin of Ursula’s dog, Olaf. Ursula pretends she doesn’t care – she wants to nominate Karl next. But Agnes is next and nominates Karl – he has to pull down the plaster figure of Jesus from inside the church. Karl is forced to comply and the children creep back to the sawmill with the coffin and statue.

Pierre is still not satisfied. Agnes makes one last plea – what if he liked someone? And what if she liked him? Wouldn’t that give life some meaning? But he just laughs: love is nothing but a dance of DNA…

Back at the sawmill, the class think of ‘the last thing they’d ever do’. Johan nominates Ursula, who agrees to do ‘the last thing she’d ever do’ and they walk behind the sawmill.

When they return, Ursula whispers to the other girls it’s time for Johan to give up something. Johan thinks they want his guitar, but soon realises they want something worse. Ursula draws a knife and Johan flees.

Agnes goes back to Pierre and weeps for what has happened. Her tears finally bring him down, and he agrees to go and look at the Pile of Meaning in the sawmill. He tells the class it’s beautiful, but means NOTHING! He climbs to the top of the pile, but slips and falls. In an agony of rage and regret, the class sets upon him.

Years later, Agnes returns to the old plum tree. Ursula appears, then Karl and Johan, and the whole of the old Class 7D, all of them now grown up. They embrace and pay their annual tribute to their lost friend, Pierre.