Re-drafting a play is like re-ironing a shirt. You can’t decide how to do it and can never avoid the creases unless you make more in which case, the task is endless like the boulder being pushed up the hill like Sisyphus did.
(Read to the end and you’ll see why)
Okay, so you’ve skipped to the end and you’re back. Well done.
In another life, I used to teach Drama and Theatre Arts to groups of students who thought it would be easier than Politics or Philosophy or Applied Maths. They found they were wrong in every case as Theatre is all of those things and one of their many tasks was to devise a piece of theatre together and show it to an examiner. They needed something to say. They needed to know stuff. So not such an easy task as originally thought.
But they remained in the captured prison of creativity until they had the realisation that everyone has an imagination and everyone can think. They extended these beliefs over a two year period; they realised they didn’t know everything so they researched a bit and then a bit more and finally they performed the piece with confidence and pride, knowing that they had created something all by themselves. I am happy to say that these memories remained with them, though the work of course was over. It is true to say in some cases possibly forever; I still hear from some now who tell me in different ways that that time for them was important and that I made a difference. And yes, I do glow with pride. Mainly because it enforces my belief that theatre changes people.
The reason for this tale is that I am engaged in elongating rather than cutting a play and I stumble metaphorically over the various creases. One is ironed out and another appears. It is endless. Much easier to cut or “kill your darlings”.Though painful, it is a tidier way to work. But I am creating a longer play so a decision has been reached that old scenes long since archived are to return.
As the decision was taken by me, the chorus of indecision in my head is in full voice.
It is only drowned out by the other chorus which tells me to leave well alone; it’s fine as it is and no-one’s going to sit still for two hours to see a play which is no longer “new writing”.
However, I am encouraged by the fact that two films recently released took ten years to develop and produce. They are the Freddie Mercury story and The Happy Prince; both biopics as is my play and both concerning punishment and suffering as is my play but for entirely different reasons. And nor does my play contain Rupert Everett in the cast.
I am now engaged as an actor in my fourth production for 2018, all of which have fallen into my lap pretty easily. Since moving back to South London there has been a shift in self belief and a more positive “can do” attitude. Just wish it would stick around long enough to get that shirt ironed.
Sisyphus was deemed guilty of hubris in his belief that he could outsmart the gods, and that he had betrayed Zeus’ secret as if it were his place to be involved in the affairs of a god. As punishment, he was condemned to spend eternity rolling a boulder up a hill then watch it roll back down again. .