John Byrne Award profiles: Catherine Expósito

In the first of a new monthly series profiling recipients of the John Byrne Award, we meet 24 year old Glasgow playwright Catherine Expósito

Feature by The Skinny | 27 Nov 2017

The John Byrne Award, now in the second year of its online incarnation, is a digital platform which aims to celebrate the creative expression of values by young people in Scotland. Each month a £100 prize is awarded to a creative work by a 16-25 year old resident in Scotland. The prize winning pieces are diverse, across categories of music, visual art, video and writing, and the judges are multi disciplinary creative professionals. The underlying aim of the programme is to provide a platform and encourage young creatives to engage with societal debate around values, fostering a greater articulacy around the expression of values in Scottish society as a whole.

In the first of our new monthly video series profiling the John Byrne Award recipients, we meet Catherine Expósito whose play Immaculate Correction has been highly commended by the panel. She says, "This is a short play about my values about education and equality. The story is based on some of my real-life experiences of Catholic education (specifically sexual education) in Scotland from my time at school between 2005- 2011. I believe that all schools should make all aspects of education accessible to all. In 2017, too many young people are not being taught about sexual health and relationships, with often the only readily accessible information being porn. This creates lad culture [and] unrealistic body image expectation as well as sexual expectations. I value education in combating issues with teen pregnancy, STIs and sexual consent.

“It is important to me that future generations are taught about sex and relationships fully; regardless of religion, sex, race or sexuality. Schools and education authorities have a responsibility to tell the truth to everyone, information should not be cherry picked according to what type of institution a person is part of. I want future generations to speak freely about all types of sex (heterosexual/ homosexual etc) without feeling that this is a taboo subject. The more conversation we have the safer future generations will be.”

You can watch a short interview with Catherine in the player, or on YouTube here. Read the full script below.

Immaculate​ ​Correction​ ​by​ ​Catherine​ ​Expósito

Stacey – 14 years old, Glaswegian female. She goes to a Catholic High School in Cumbernauld, (proud winner of ‘Worst Town in Britain’ in 2005 and 2007). Stacey is both sexually curious, and chronically self-conscious. It’s 2006 and Stacey is not being taught about sexual health and relationships, with the only readily accessible information being porn. 

Girls sing as Stacey gets ready

Girls: We are St Barbara’s Girls, we wear our hair in curls. We wear our dungarees above our sexy knees. We don’t smoke or drink... that’s what our parents think. We wear our bras up tight so we can punch and fight

Stacey is getting dressed for school. She’s got her favourite pink bra on. She is buttoning up her white shirt. She applies foundation. A LOT of foundation. It’s not her colour demonstrated by a very obvious line around her head. Her face is not the same colour as her neck. She doesn’t care. She’s got spots to cover. She gets sanitary towels for her school bag. She covers them with several layers of tin foil. She then covers the tin foil with an Asda bag, then triple knots the bag, putting the package carefully into a hidden compartment of her school bag. She inspects her bum in the mirror to triple check her sanitary towel isn’t visible.

She inhales and exhales.

Stacey: It’s Wednesday morning which is shit cos it’s R.E. It’s R.E and it’s the anniversary of some stupid arsehole Saint, so it’s double R.E with a mass. In yesterday’s school newsletter. Handed out at the end of the day like a warrant for my freedom. Another day, another mass. Newsletters. Nobody reads the things. But I do. R.E, mass and my period. God hates me. God can be a right arsehole. God’s clearly a man. I hate men, I hate boys. If one of them grabs my arse today I’ll go mental. Especially today. Please not today. God if you're listening can you make sure that the boys Jordy, Healy, McCabe, McCann, McIntosh, Mc Donald, Mc Whatever. Please. Please stop them touching, squeezing, slapping, sleazing today. I feel pure minging. Not today. My stomach is crunching in on itself, I can hardly breathe and now I’m late. Pure late. Gonnae get a punny late. Detention, locked up lunches late. I cannae breathe. God let me breathe. I’ve missed the bus. I can’t believe it, I’ve missed the bloody bus. And now, I’m running, and I’m running, and I’m running and I’m running and I can’t. But I keep going. Somehow I keep going. The pain, shooting, sharp, angry, stubborn. Ow! Agony. I finally make it to the gate. I pass the bike shed. I want to crawl into it, cry and hibernate all safe and cosy until the end of the day; until the bell rings and I can get on the bus and fly away. But I can’t cos I’ve got R.E and it’s Ms Campbell and she’s a pure Churchy, she’s basically a nun. I can’t. I can’t run. I give up. Can’t run no more, just when I feel like I’m about to die I somehow... can. I made it. I can finally stop. Ms Campbell stamped on the door, I shuffle in staring at the floor.

She inhales and exhales.

Eurythmics – Sex Crime

Sex education in R.E. Stacey is writing down about sex ed as it plays in the background. She tries to listen her stomach is in agony. She looks around. She tries to have a sneaky moment of shut eye as the teacher has turned her back. She shoots back up awake. Apologises. She tries to stay awake. She tries to understand, to take in what Ms Campbell is saying but she is confused.

(Music stops abruptly).

Stacey: Sex is bad. Dirty, filthy, ugly, neddy, slutty, wrong. Sex is wrong. You shouldn’t do it until you’re married, that’s what Ms Campbell says. If you do it and it goes wrong you could die. Pregnant and alone forever. Ms Campbell has a vein on her forehead that pops when she’s pissed. I wonder if she’s a virgin? It’s funny to think that teachers and priests are so important but if you think about it they shit and piss like the rest of us. I try not to laugh at the image sprouting in my heed of Ms Campbell in the lavvy. Concentrate. She’s talking about abortion about how if you do it you’re a murderer, a baby killer. She looks serious. (Beat). Would I be good at sex? Jamie McKenzie said I had good blow job lips once in P.E. Blow jobs are easy to understand. You blow on the penis like you would hot soup or a toasty, it’s in the title. But what about the rest of it? My sister Kelly’s had sex, everybody knows about it, up the venchy on a Saturday night. She’s shagged a few lads. Lassies call her a slut she says they’re stuck up. She cries a lot the now. People think cos I’m Kelly’s sister I’m the same. "Get yir tits oot fir the lads." Kelly says lads are wallopers cos they hump and dump. What is two girls one cup? How do you know if you’re doing it right? Sex. One minute you’re fine, the next you have a disease because of a poison penis? If it’s that bad why do folk do it? My ex boyfriend Paddy once said ‘Imagine putting your gums around that thing’ pointing to his bits as if he wanted me to...You know. He was obviously joking. He found it disgusting too... I think. Anyway he’s with another lassie now, brags about how she’s just like porn. Sex. People do it. They do it all the time. It’s on the internet. It’s in the Hollywood films, men and women, rolling around naked under the covers kissing. It doesn’t look that hard. I listen and listen to see if Ms Campbell talks about blow jobs about actual sex. But she doesn’t. She doesn’t talk about sex in sex education class. She doesn’t talk about condoms, or the pill or the femidom or any of it. But I’ve seen condoms cos they’re used as balloons. But nothing. Just God, Immaculate conception, sinning and the usual bollocks. Bored. Bored out my skull. I get up to sharpen my pencil. Turn, turn, turn the pencil, just about to walk back to boredom when I hear it. Sharp and shrill like a siren. "Stacey" I raise my head. Ms Campbell. Is she talking to me? "You shouldn’t be flaunting a pink bra like that at school, it’s a disgrace, you can see it under your shirt. What kind of girl are you?" I can hardly speak "But Miss"
"It’s not the school uniform, it’s inappropriate." I’m burning my face is burning, my insides burning with rage, burning hot pink like my bra. I want to set her on fire. The lads stare and the girls glare. Inside I’m screaming, scratching, biting, kicking, slapping the fucked up bitch. But I say nothing. I sit. I sigh. I go home that night and I cry.

Girls sing: We are St Barbara’s girls we wear our hair in curls,
There was a boy next door he got me on the floor.
He did it once or twice and it was rather nice.
He took me to the movies (Oolala!)
He fiddled with my boobies (Oolala!)

Stacey: It’s stinking. Like really stinking. My tuna sandwich from lunch swirls around in my belly like it’s in a washing machine. Eggy, sweaty, shitey, makes you want to whitey. Stink bombs. The really nasty kind. The kind ye get from up the shop. I try not to breathe it in. I’m walking with Kelly, she’s raging cos they’re calling her smelly, Smelly Kelly. But we laugh, they’re just boys. What else are we meant to do? Boys will be boys. Nothing we can do. Smile, giggle, walk, ignore. Smile, giggle, walk, ignore. Smile, giggle, walk, ignore until – "Hawl, Stacey.’’ It’s Jonny McGuire and he’s actually talking to me, know him well, used to play with him a lot, met in primary three. Nice boy, nice laddie. Familiar, friendly his mum’s in the PTA. He’s an altar server, probably serving mass today. He’s handsome, clever, I fancy him a lot. I can’t believe he’s talking to me so I smile, giggle, walk and turn to say "What?" He snarls, "Stacey, I can pure smell fish, can you?" I says "Obviously, aye." Then he "tells me to shut my legs then." I want to crumble and die on the spot. He could have said it to Rab or Chris, but I forgot willies don’t smell like fish. But I still wish he wouldn’t say it, just wish he wouldn’t take the piss. Just fannies, disgusting fannies. Pussies, cunts, twats, snatchs, pish flaps, clunge, gash, pootangs, beef curtains, beaver, vags, vagina’s, vajayjay’s, tuna tacos, sausage rolls. God, I swear, I’ve heard it all, but yet there’s so few words for a testicle or a ball.

Girls sing: We are the St Barbara’s girls We wear our hair in curls We wear our dungarees above our sexy knees
My mammy was so surprised when she saw my belly rise My daddy jumped for joy... it was a baby boy!

She inhales and exhales.

Stacey: Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been 3 weeks since my last confession. I lied it’s been four but I hope he ignores, the little white lie I just telt. Father McGrath nose is bursting with veins and sore looking. It’s permanent veins, no like Ms Campbell’s that only pop when she’s pissed. I can’t believe I’m here and it’s today. Compulsory confession, school makes ye. I catch him staring at my tits. Us girls are used to this. It’s just Father Mc Grath, it’s what he dis. Blind eyes. Blind eyes skimming over him, innocent as sin. I come out with the usual "I’ve been cheeky to my mum, I was nasty to my sister, I wouldn’t share." Bla bla bla. I watch him, I watch him stare. Watch him slowly calculating. Calculating all the prayers for me to say and him perfect probably. But something just turns and twists and I just think fuck it, I’m going to do this. It occurs to me. I have a voice. I can. For once I actually can say what I want. He can’t do anything about it. It’s against the Catholic Law, confessions are secret, confidential. Praise be the Lord. It’s between me and father now. "I’ve been shagging about." It just comes out. I watch his face drop, face plant to the floor. He can’t calculate anymore. I’m enjoying this. I’m finally free to fuck him, to fuck with the lot of them and there’s nothing he can do. I watch him sweat, filled with dread at what I’m about to say. "Father,I shag, I love a fag, abortion, masterbation, contraception, fuck the resurection. I love the gays, divorce the lot. So what if I want to marry a Proddy, a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Jew." I start to well up cos I realise it’s true. I don’t tell him I know his dirty little secret, though, that I never do. I laugh and laugh cause I don’t know what to do. Trapped in this confessional, in this school, in this town, in this body, in this life. He just stares at me now as if I’m mad, rotten, corrupted by a poor young lad. Still don’t tell him what I know though. And I’m lucky too. If this was twenty years ago he’d beat me black and blue.