Historical Drama

One of the plays I’m working on at the moment is a historical drama.  I’ve been toying with this in one form or another for many years.  One of the problems I’ve had with this particular story is that I wanted it to be accurate.  Its a story that has been misunderstood for many years, and for a long time, I thought that the only way to tell the story was to do it right, and be as historically accurate as possible.

This posed a great problem, however, because while history may be full of drama, presenting a historical events in a factual and yet theatrical fashion does not inherently create drama.  There’s far too much information that needs to be understood by the audience, and likely far too many people for them to keep track of.  And, although certain events or episodes were certainly dramatic, for the whole thing to work as a single piece, there has to be a story arc, and things have to resolve in some way.  History can’t really work as a verbatim piece of theatre.  There’s no main character in history, and the story is not clear; there’s no narrative.  Good storytelling needs these things.

So I’ve been thinking about how to represent history, and be true to the facts, while creating a unified piece of theatre.  To do this, I’ll have to make a compromise.  I’ll have to understand the facts of the historical events that happened, but give myself the freedom to deviate in order to tell the story, and keep the narrative clear.  I have to be true to history, without being a slave to it.

Right now, I’m concentrating on identifying the story arc, and once I’ve done that I’ll start writing the play proper.

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