A CLASSIC TALE – Family, Drama
A Classic Tale is a success story about how a troubled, inner-city youth, with the help of a down-and-out composer, overcame adversity, broke cultural stereotypes and societal boundaries eventually achieving stardom with their award winning symphony performed by the renown (Baltimore or Hamburg) Symphony Orchestra.
After a botched robbery somewhere deep in East Baltimore, petty criminal and ghetto superstar wannabe DAMON “DJ Kid” KIDLEY finds himself being a possible accessory to murder as well as discovers he’s a classical music fanatic—both secrets he desperately wants to keep quiet. Kids growing musical passion leads him to TIMOTHY T. JONES, affectionately known as “Teach”, a down and out, genius composer turned impatient music Teacher, who is depressed and often drunk since the death of his star student, for whom he feels responsible. Against all odds and despite despicable truths which threaten to destroy both their worlds, Kid and Teach embark on a journey that not only breaks cultural stereotypes and societal boundaries but also changes their lives for the better.
Act 1 summary
Living in another foster home in East Baltimore, aspiring star DAMON KIDLEY (15), known as DJ “Kid”, spends his free time making beats or at the beckon call of his degenerate cousin MAURICE (17), whose already been in and out of jail more times than anyone can remember. Maurice always has some new scam or potential trouble to get Kid in to.
Unlike much of Baltimore, the East-side is far from redeveloped with some areas bordering on lawless. It is these streets where kids like Damon and Maurice grew up. And like every night, Kid wakes up from a nightmare. He carries a big secret and it haunts him in his dreams. It’s always the same. A beautiful face. Blood. Her head. More blood. He knows he is innocent but Kid’s guilty by association. He’s guilty because he doesn’t come clean and tell the police what he knows. This guilt slowly eats away at him. But he’ll try to live with it because he is no rat. In his hood, rats get exterminated and the bad ass Maurice is quick to remind him of that.
Meanwhile, very few blocks away, TIMOTHY T. JONES, known to his music students as “Teach”, appears to have similar, reoccurring and gruesome images going through his head. He is depressed and using illegal drugs to numb his pain. A failed yet genius composer, Teach’s turbulent life came to a screeching halt when a loved one was assaulted and died. Since then, he’s lost any passion for life or his art, instead teaching a few students privately in his makeshift studio.
As for Kid, any other chance at getting any sleep is interrupted when Maurice barges in with the crew. He throws a rucksack at Kids head and comments how envious he is because Kids ‘Fosters’ are never around. He tells Kid that the rucksack and remaining contents are his cut from the recent robbery. Kid says that he wants nothing to do with it. Maurice reminds him, it’s too late now. He also wants Kid to come up with a new beat for him to rap on.
Later after everyone has left, Kid peruses the rucksack and discovers a number of CDs, a notebook (journal) and written music among some other things. He suddenly has flashbacks to that fateful night, similar to those in his dreams. He plays the CDs one after the other while reading the previous owners journal. He becomes intrigued and entranced with the notebook and falls in love with this new sound he’s been engulfed in–classical music.
Act 2 summary
A short time has passed and Kid has become a classical music fanatic. All of his free time is spent researching and listening to that music. His own urban beats seem to be influenced by his new passion. Unfortunately, it is clear that no one else understands Kids desire to explore this new “white” world and he keeps his dream a secret, until one afternoon while revisiting the stolen notebook, he notices an address and being curious, decides to go there. Upon arriving, he sees several people standing around the door reading what appears to be some sort of flyer. Needing a closer look, he approaches the door and the small crowd. He mingles for information. The flyer states that composer Timothy T. Jones is accepting a new protégé. Not understanding what the big deal is, Kid asks, NILA RAMSEY, a pretty girl with a violin case, “What’s going on?” Noticing the written music in his hands, she gathers Kid is a young composer or musician. She explains that Teach is the most famous composer anyone there has heard of and the fact he now lives in the area is amazing. He rarely takes new students. Working with him would make getting on the junior symphony a breeze, she thought.
The two decide to take a walk and they get to know each other better. There’s a kiss. Kid lets Nila believe that he is an aspiring composer because in his mind it’s not completely untrue. It’s also not completely untrue that he is new in town. He’s never hung around this part of the city, which is upscale and predominately white. And she’s obviously impressed by the idea. Just after, they encounter snotty CHESTER and some guys from Nila’s classical world. They are not thrilled by the sight of Kid and their classism is palatable. The subject of Teach comes up. He is not well spoken of, however Nila defends him and Kid defends Nila. Chester comments students must have top transcripts in order to even apply, so what’s the point? They insult Kid once again. Kid pretends to brush it off although he is devastated since he doesn’t have to deal with class or color issues on his side of town–everybody is poor and black. Dejected, he leaves wishing he had punched them but instead he internalizes it vowing to do something great.
The next day, Kid sets out to be Teach’s next student. But in order for that to happen he needs to meet his new mentor. Kid makes an impromptu stakeout as a car window cleaner, waiting for the moment that Teach leaves his flat/studio. A montage of days reveals that Teach never leaves. Kid learns that food and supplies are delivered, so Kid gets a job as a delivery boy.
It is during deliveries that Kid learns what he can about Teach and makes the best impression that he can. At one point Nila is at Teach’s when Kid arrives and the awkward moment leads them to pretending they don’t know each other. It appears that Nila is a fan/groupie with visions of being Teach’s muse. Later she explains she thinks Chester was right and she would never be good enough so she’ll do whatever it takes to make it. Kid shows empathy because people don’t think he’s good enough for other reasons.
As the two grow closer, they each share a secret. Nila admits liking girls, something her parents could never live with. Kid shares his story and explains that one night just after moving into the latest foster home, his cousin Maurice pressured him to join the crew on that nights events. Reluctantly, he went having no other choice. The night was a montage of juvenile acts ranging from vandalism to petty theft leading to stealing/crashing a car. The night came to a head as the crew accosted a woman trying to snatch her purse. She broke a heel and violently slipped hitting the ground. Barely alive, the crew wanted to leave her for dead. Kid on the other hand, grabbed the woman’s telephone dialing 911, leaving it in her hand. When doing so, their eyes met. There was a moment. He then fled the scene with a guilty conscience and the memories of the blood pouring out of her head.
Nila, amazed, shows support for Kid and suggests he should go to the police. Not long after that, Maurice shows up. He reminds Kid that something they ‘have to do’ is coming up soon. Then he makes an overly macho play for Nila but she is not interested and instead, insults him. His ego bruised, he punches her in the stomach and threatens her before leaving. Nila, curious about what Maurice and Kid have to do, now expresses some second thoughts about Kid going to the police.
In an expose about Teach, Kid learns of his humble beginnings. It’s almost as if reading about himself, Kid thought. Armed with this new information he makes his play to be the new student/apprentice. At first, Teach dismisses the request and finds it ridiculous. Kid is relentless and does not waver. He keeps asking until finally, by some accident, a piece of Kids music catches Teaches attention. There is an immediate connection. It is a song that Kid has written reworking music from the stolen rucksack. Teach agrees to take on Kid.
As if by the push of a button, Teach becomes a new person. Invigorated and inspired, he immediately begins composing new music together with his protégé. He soon interacts with the world around him again and clearly Kid has become his muse. He visits the conservatory together with Kid and during one encounter, Chester is debased while Kid is praised by the legendary alumni. At the height of their friendship and as the symphony is nearly completely written, Teach opens up about the reason for his alcohol and drug abuse. He tells Kid that someone very special to him was killed here. She came prior to his arrival to help find a home/studio. He said that he was meant to be there with her but for some unimportant reason he did not go and she was killed most likely because she was alone, he thought. She was attacked by some men and they hit her in the head, or something like that, he said. The guilt ate away at his soul and he lost himself. What’s worse, it was his daughter. She was a gifted, award-winning pianist.
A sickness erupts in Kids stomach as he puts the pieces together in his head realizing he’s the one who’s killed his friend and Mentors daughter. He makes a genuine effort to come clean however Teach is interrupted by a phone call from the music press. The two decide to talk later. But before they can the music studio/school is ransacked and Teach is badly beat up, landing in hospital. During Kid and Nila’s visit there, Teach explains how the criminals seemed to know exactly where to look for his money. Lucky for me, I just happen to start using a bank last week, he jests. This causes Kid to remember saying something he wish he never did. He told Maurice once, ages ago, about wondering why is new boss has money just laying around. Kid was certain Maurice was to blame. It’s time to come clean, he thought. Just as he begins to explain, two police officers enter the hospital room and arrest Kid. Teach, unable to move, demands an explanation. The police say that his fingerprints are all over the school/crime scene. Teach says that makes sense because he spends all his time there. Then they explain Kids prints are also on the telephone from a cold-case homicide, that of his daughter. Looking shocked and deflated Teach asks “you killed my Jamie?” Kid looks at Teach and tries to explain but the police aggressively pull him out of the room. Nila, somewhat surprised, assures Teach all is not as it appears.
Act 3 summary
Some time has passed as we are focused on a television playing some live performance. As the view expands it becomes clear it is a prison and they are watching this television. In the prison audience Kid is seen watching the live event admiringly. It’s a performance of the symphony orchestra led by none other than Timothy T. Jones. Having never spoken again, Teach takes a moment during his live concert sharing some meaningful words and dedicating the next song to DJ kid, wherever you are. The orchestra performs the piece of music that sparked the friendship between Kid and Teach.
The story ends as Kid is a bit older, seen teary eyed staring at his iPad. It appears to be a live video feed. A closer look reveals RIP to Timothy T. Jones. Nila is seen holding a child and standing around with other musicians showing their respects. Kid is jerked out of his trance by a phone call. It’s from the prison asking if he will except the charges from Maurice. Irritated, he hangs up the phone, turns off the ringer and puts it down. He continues watching the funeral until a cute child grabs his arm. Kid returns to enthusiastically teaching classical music to some children of color. On the video feed Nila is seen making a phone call. A moment later Kid’s phone rings only he doesn’t hear it. UNKNOWN is shown on the display. Back on the iPad Nila is seen trying to call for some time, eventually giving up and putting her phone away. The ringing on Kid’s phone ends.
Original Soundtrack Compositions
417 East Road