One of the plays I’m working on at the moment is a historical drama. Â I’ve been toying with this in one form or another for many years. Â One of the problems I’ve had with this particular story is that I wanted it to be accurate. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â History can’t really work as a verbatim piece of theatre. Â There’s no main character in history, and the story is not clear; there’s no narrative. Â 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. Â To do this, I’ll have to make a compromise. Â 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. Â 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.