Script Frenzy – Day 4

Four days into Script Frenzy, and its going pretty well.  I’m 16 pages into the play, and doing pretty well, considering that this being my birthday weekend, there were …interruptions:  on Saturday I went out with some Friends, Sunday was birthday dinner with the parents.  But considering the circumstances,  I think I did pretty well.

One thing that I’m trying to keep in mind as I write, is that this is a first draft.  It doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be fully realized. It can be flawed.  The important thing is to just keep writing. I’m pushing myself to hit the 25 page milestone as soon as possible, because that’s going to be one of the problem pages for me.  I know from experience that’s where my focus will wain, where I’ll be tempted by other ideas.  Which is why I want to get there as soon as possible. The sooner I can encounter this, the sooner I can push through it.

I’m satisfied with my progress so far.  Anxious to keep going.

Script Frenzy – Day 0

Tomorrow is the first day of Script Frenzy, an international writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material in the month of April.  I’m participating this year, and I’ve been spending the last few days getting prepared to write my script.  I’ve been getting my outline ready, defining some wants and needs for my characters, and gathering my reference materials.

Really, this is all “busy work” because I’m keeping myself from starting the play until the official start on April 1. Once SF starts, then its all about discipline: keep writing, don’t get sucked into video games or other time wasters, just write.

Want to see my progress?  Check the progress bar in the sidebar of this site, or click on the banner below to go to my Script frenzy profile to see how I’m doing.

History Plays and Writing For A Large Cast

About a year ago, I wrote about a play that I was “mulling over“.  In addition to mulling over the idea, I’ve also been doing a fair bit of research, reading different accounts of the Upper Canada Rebellion, and soaking up as much information I can. Recently, I acquired a book I’ve been wanting to find for a while, The Rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada, which contains excerpts from letters, newspaper articles and the like that were written as the events were occurring.  This book has been invaluable as a research tool.

When I first conceived of this play, it was as a small cast, single-set play, the kind we often see in small to mid-sized theatres these days.  There’s a reason why most plays that are produced have a small cast, and a single set: money.  Its expensive to produce a play that has a lot of actors, something that can really only been done for plays by Shakespeare or for musicals.  For new plays, it can be difficult for theatres to be able to afford to produce plays with a large cast, since the play a) may have a limited appeal/audience or b) employing actors and building sets may take away from the funds available for other shows.   As I have progressed in my research, however, I’ve determined that confining the events of this topic to a small cast, on one set does a disservice to the topic, and to the drama of the thing.

I have given myself “permission” to write big, to not worry about how many characters and the scope of the play during the writing phase.  That’s “thinking like a producer”, which I think I should avoid during writing phase of the project.  So, I’m going to do that.

The play is shaping up to be structured like a Shakespearean history play (though I won’t attempt to write in iambic pentameter, that way leads to madness).  Right now, I’m plotting out the play (selecting the “historic events” and writing down how the scene will be structured around those events).

When the play is written, then I’ll worry about how to deal with a play that has such a large cast. But for now, I’m just writing.

Pet Peeve

I have a pet peeve when reading or working on plays: I hate reading a play that consists entirely of male characters.  Now, granted, there are plenty of great plays that are entirely made up of male characters (Glengarry Glen Ross comes to mind), but when I read these plays, I end up thinking about all the women actors I know (far more than of them  than male actors) who aren’t getting into the play.  When I write, I always like to ensure that there is at least one female presence in the script I create.

So, imagine my distress as I begin to work on my history play, and find that I cannot find a way to work a woman into the play.  The action of the  historic event in question (the Upper Canada Rebellion for those keeping track at home) was orchestrated and perpetrated by men.  Yes, most of those men had wives, but the wives themselves were not involved in the Rebellion at all. Additionally, there are no references in any of the historical documents I’ve looked at of any direct female involvement.

Of course, this is unsurprising.  The Victorian sensibilities of the time would not have allowed any of the men to permit a woman near this dangerous affair, but I’d love to be able to find some evidence of some direct female involvement.  Otherwise, adding something in feels both like an obvious fabrication and a betrayal of the actual events (which, I have previously indicated, I want to be careful with).

I think I have to accept the fact that the rebellion was a man’s affair, and that the woman, though loved by their husbands didn’t directly participate.  This does pain me somewhat, but there doesn’t seem to be anyway around it, that doesn’t involve adding participants that were simply not present.