Lynne asked me to sub for her this week, so…
As writers we often think we can do anything with words. Write crime, non-fiction, plays, poems…
That hubris usually lasts until we attempt it. Then, over time, that sense of possibility creeps back. I know. Instead of my usual historical crime novels, I’ve written a play, and it’s going to be performed next week.
It’s a one-woman show, with a wonderful actor, and the character comes from my series of late Victorian police mysteries. Actually, she’s the leading character’s wife, a force of nature.
But you don’t need to know the details of how it came about. Suffice to say that it’s here. We’re not performing the whole thing because we’ve had no money for a director and real rehearsals, having been turned down for a couple of grants. Instead, there are selected scenes, two love, scrip-in-hand, full costume. Another one recorded as an audio play, and the last recorded on video (by a pro, free!) in a Victorian pub at Abbey House Museum in Leeds.
That has meant changing the script around so the scenes will work in this context and yet remain coherent. Also, that I’ll be onstage between scenes, framing them.
With a book, you do most of the work alone. With a play, completing the script is where it all begins. Essentially, this has become a collaboration between the actor and myself. We have plans, and the possibility of money. She deserves to be paid – everyone involved deserves that. For now, though, it’s on a non-existent shoestring.
The play is part of Leeds Big Bookend Festival, which accepted it just from my description, a wonderful act of faith.
I plunged into this with my eyes closed, and I’m not sure I’m even learning to dog paddle yet. We have something with this play, I know that, and I want to help it go wherever it can.
But one thing I’ve learned is not to write any more plays.
Let’s see if I can remember it.