The Common Room Animation Project is a collaboration between 13 animators, based on Talia Randall’s spoken-word poem Common Room.

Each of the animators chose a segment of the poem that inspired them the most, and brought their own unique style, technique and interpretation to the poem.

The animators are (in order of appearance) Yael Ozsinay, Nir Philosof, Maayan Moreno Erlich, Shimi Asresay, Inabl Breda, Noa Evron, Inbal Ochyon, Yuzefovic Valery, Dekel Oved, Adva Rodan, Dan Berger, Sivan Kotek and Tal Rachmin.

Here are the words

Common Room, by Talia Randall

I’m in the Year 8 Common Room,
bunking Maths and chatting fraff.
Room splattered with the pattern of backchat
bodies covered in Reebok, Kappa and Naff Naff
we are the spotty faced riff raff.

Baffed by the complexities of our pulsating pores
we try to bolt the door on our hormones
but we can’t keep this metamorphosis at bay,
can’t articulate our dismay at this change.
So we cope with the throb of wet dreams and the perforation of first tampon
by throwing ice pops at each other and breaking each other’s Tamagotchis.

Beneath this deluge of puberty I stare at the boy I pretend not to fancy.
Despite the messy way he masticates his chips, cheese and beans
his curtains and tracksuit make me weak at the knees.
He doesn’t see me.
I’m not part of the clan of underfed and well-bred girls
that get invited into teenage beds to wrap soggy hands around newly formed glands.
At age 13 my desirability is yet to be acquired
so he evades my gape.
He does not reciprocate.
In a few years time I’ll seek revenge and reject him on facebook
but right now I’m upset that I’m not one of his favourites.

In the panoptic space of the Year 8 Common Room
the walls are covered in self-conscious slogans that tell us
‘Drugs Are Bad’ and ‘Vegetables Are Good’.
As if we can’t figure this out for ourselves.
But these walls are wiser than they seem.
They have seen generations of teens cut their teeth.
When the teachers don’t look the bricks pull us close to their lips and whisper:
‘These walls will confine you for longer than you think. These years will define you’.

But we don’t listen.
Because we’re too busy flirting and bullying.
Learning these traits that will help us succeed in the workplace.
Here, we scatter the seeds of teenage dreams
that we will never reap.
We will get distracted from these ambitions by curriculums that care more about
grades on a page than what is actually in our brains.
By teachers who will define what is ‘realistic’ for us to aim for.

Some will get set up to fail by a system
that favours compliance over freethinking
and some will slip through the cracks
and be swallowed by the earth
till they erupt in a volcanic violence
that will burn everything they touch.
They are the Lost Boys taught to graduate to the status of wastemen.
The Lost Girls who are taught to cut out their tongues because sometimes their words are ugly.
They are the children of parents who don’t have sharp elbows.
The only blades they have are made from the shards of the windows they smashed
because they were ignored
but they turned those knives inwards
instead of severing the shackled mindset
that ambition is a luxury they can’t afford.
They inhale that glass; it shreds the protest from their tongues
with harsh punishments we miseducate our young
and they can’t climb above the wreckage to free their lungs
because that social ladders broken at the bottom rungs.

But there are those who will succeed
and they will learn to shut up and listen.
How to copy from textbooks and be part a system.
How to form an orderly queue outside a classroom
that will extend through time into a never-ending line to board the tube at 8:25am, everyday.

But back to 13.
Fumes of first fag fill the music room
her nose twitches as she enters
and I wonder if Miss knows what I’ve been up to.
So I hide behind giggles fuelled by Dr. Pepper and Salt n Vinegar Discos
scared I’ll get caught.
My adolescence is wrought with these meaningless secrets
then the music teacher screeches,
“A proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot”.
In choir practice we’re made to repeat this
over and over again till our individual voices blend into one shrill sound.
Here we will learn how to be part of a crowd.

But what about those who can can’t sight read?
Those that can’t keep beat?
Those off-key people will get pushed to the sidelines
because they don’t seem quite right.
Those that stand out like sore thumbs will have to lower their voice till it’s insignificant.
They will hide behind dumbness and indifference.
They will be pushed into a humdrum future where they can’t be too loud
because they boxed up their voices and lost the keys behind classroom doors.

And I’m not blaming any teachers,
because their dreams were traded too,
for instant coffee and rushed lunch breaks in the staff room.
The weight of red pens crippled the fingers that once pointed to stars.
The passion of inspiring young minds was dampened
by streamlining children into hierarchies,
thereby marking out their destinies.

I’m in the Year 8 Common Room.
Sewing adolescent fantasies into the upholstery of state issued chairs.
But these hopes will be superseded by a pattern of hierarchy
that will see classrooms transform into office blocks
and teachers into bosses.
At age 13 I’m to naïve to see my future.

In the coffee room.
Bunking work and shirking my duties,
room splattered with the pattern of chitchat
bodies covered in pin stripe, skirt suits and ties
we are the white-collar riff raff.
We flirt over spreadsheets
in the hope that we’ll get to dirty our bed sheets.
We stuff our dreams underneath mattresses where no one can see,
but like the princess we’re kept awake by the pin pricks of the pea.

We keep these secret buried deep.
As walk the life that was mapped out for us at age 13.