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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

TREADING THE BOARDS

"Players and the painted stage took all my love,
And not those things that they were emblems of."
William Butler Yeats 1865- 1939 "The Circus Animal's Desertion, II st 3

I've always loved the theatre and in my youth used to imaging becoming an actor. I did act, for awhile, and wrote plays, beginning when I was about 8 years old. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I had a major play successful produced. Since then I've been trying (in vain, so far) to get at least another reading of it as the dramature suggested if I did, I'd have no trouble publishing.

I started writing another play a couple of years ago, set it aside, then last Fall was invited into a playwright's workshop at the Playwright's Centre. This was a huge thrill and I was delighted to be included. There were six of us under the mentorship of the director of the Centre. I put aside my novel and concentrated on my play, House of the Muses, which is about the lyric poet Sappho. Unfortunately, it was a big disappointment when I didn't get the enthusiastic critiques I'm used to getting for my novel, so I decided to set the play script aside for awhile and take a new look at it later. Besides, I needed to get my novel finished.

This week there is a week-long festival of new play readings at the Centre. I attended one last night and it was great schmoozing with the theatre folk. I met up with two women actor friends and saw two of the playwrights who had been in my workshop group. Neither of them have finished their plays, so it made me feel like less of a 'failure'. I also spoke to the director who I was pleased to see again. I came away, after watching the reading of the new play, with some good insights into the things I can do to improve my own script. And I am hoping to attend a few more readings later in the week. It's all by 'donation' so it is a really excellent chance to see some wonderful new plays being presented. (And I will continue dreaming that one of these days my play will be read at one of the festivals.)

One of my destinations this June is to return to the island of Lefkada and take the boat trip around Cape Doukas to Sappho's Leap, the cliff where the poet reputedly committed suicide. It was on the beach below this cliff that I first conceived the idea for House of the Muses.
So I'm hoping that when I return there it will conjur the Muse and I will get some fresh ideas about how to stage it. My problem was, as a historical novel writer, I am used to including lots of information and what I need to do for a historically-based stage play, is to narrow down the focus and concentrate on only a specific aspect of the poet's life. I am considering using mostly monologues and trying to figure out which characters are necessary to the story.
I'm sure it will all come to me eventually. It's a great idea for a play and I've had some enthusiastic response to the early work. It wasn't my writing that was critiqued 'negatively', but the content of the story (too much and too large a cast). So it's just a matter of paring it down. I'll get it. I know I will. And hopefully will see it staged one day!

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players..." William Shakespeare "As You Like It"

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