I have been asked to write a play version of the book and the idea has both intrigued me and made me feel that I’m in danger of becoming a one-horse wonder. What will happen to The Lonely God [the story of Hades and Persephone] and Oh, Caroline, the book about Caroline Herschel astronomer, both of which are well underway? How can I afford to put these temporarily to rest in order to concentrate on this commission? Won’t I lose the spark that keeps me rolling?
There are several answers to this, the main one being that a commission is a positive move meaning someone both likes the book and thinks it would translate into a good piece of theatre. Probably I’d be a fool not to follow it through. Especially as the centenary of full female suffrage falls in 2028.
Yes, I know there were centenary celebrations in 2018 and a lot of fuss was made about it. But that was NOT full suffrage. It was partial suffrage for women of thirty and over who were home owners or who had a degree. What about all those working class women who threw themselves into the movement, risking their employment and a lot else besides? They still couldn’t vote.
And yet … I am stonking at some speed through the Hades story and loving it. Caroline – well, she was already on hold while I contact museums in Hanover and make arrangements with these to make a visit. Caroline can probably wait a little while.
So you see, I am conflicted. Very. But …
Today I made a start on the play, identifying the essential scenes and the main story threads. I have written plays before but these have been for school students, exam plays for casts of 3-6 characters or plays for younger students involving casts of thousands. Writing for a professional theatre is something completely different.
For a start, since lockdown theatres have been struggling with finances. Few can afford casts of thousands any more, or even casts of larger than 1 to, say, 8 at the most and preferably less. This is a problem with The Courage Game, which has a huge number of characters and many crowd scenes, especially involving suffragette protests and marches. Already the challenges are looming. Are they insurmountable?
Hmm. So I’m working on the idea of doubling, even trebling and more. I need to identify the core characters and then have all the others [reduced massively] taken by a ‘chorus’ who play many characters with very simple changes, a hat, a coat, a way of standing or walking so that an audience can easily identify who each one is in any scene.
It’s a start. I’m beginning to face up to the problems and to tussle with them so as to find solutions.
And for the moment, I’ll do my usual, which is to work on one project in the mornings and the other in the afternoons. That’s the idea for now and will remain as Plan A, until one or other grabs me by the jugular and gallops with me so hard and fast that I cannot leave it alone.