The sporadic ramblings of Emily C. A. Snyder - devoted to God, theatre, writing, and much randominity.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Artistic Director and Co-Founder of TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS. | Author of "Nachtstürm Castle," "Niamh and the Hermit." | Playwright: "Cupid and Psyche," "Math for Actors." | Classical director and educator.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

What's that old saw?

That the car knows when there's a little extra money by? Yeah. Never realised how much I depend on Glorielle until the muffler went the other night (see below). Am currently being ushered hither and yon as part of the great car shuffle that has taken hold of our house (thanks to the van being also out of commission). But, praise God, Dad got the computer job (alleluia!) so here's to a what little monetary help that brings! (And long life to the job! And much in the way of overtime!)

Finished Shadowplay and find myself desperate to a) reread in better detail those plays of Shakespeare's that I've been avoiding due to their insipidness as a piece of actable/directable drama (or so it seeeeeeemed.... *cue mystery music a la 80's synthesizer to the sudden camera zoom*) and b) to pick up pen and try my hand at...overt? No, conscious shadowplay. I think I want to do a nod to early Restoration-sounding theatre (not quite Shakespeare, not quite Wilde) that would allow me to have my hero address the audience in quasi-sililoquy, saying, "Thus shall I make a mistress of my wife." The basic idea is that of - oh, shoot, forget the martyr - augh, Sh. would bop me for forgetting - anywho, who had the audacity to fall in love with his own wife. So that model - at least the shock with which Elizabeth received the news - mixed with Chesterton's "The Man who Lived," Molieresque farce, a dollop of Shakespearean gender-bending to prove gender roles, and a requisite Wildean fop as the affected disaffected affecting narrator - and I think I'll be all set.

Right, so the thought is (totally brainstorming here - or perhaps merely brain-drizzling, seeing how it sometimes, as Julie has pointed out, gets later) something like this:

  • Begin with our requisite two gossips, we'll call them Lady Tattle and Lady Tellal for now, who are discussing the current gossip that our hero - Lord [Some clever Latin cognate...we'll go for now with] Astrophile, known perhaps to his friends as Errol or Tyrone or somesuch Christening - has had the bad taste to fall in love with his wife, Lady Anne or Clara [or some other simple saint name...unless she, too, be a clever Latin cognate - but not Lucrece or Philomel or anything long and beginning with A which would make reading difficult if he is Astrophile...so perhaps we'll keep to Anne for now].

  • Part of the scandal of course is that Astrophile was contracted to marry Anne (perhaps with a French or Spanish surname?) by the Queen (do we want Elizabeth or no? She'll do as well for now, anyway), to keep both parties close to herself: Astrophile as an accomplished ornament to her court and Anne as the daughter of an imprisoned or exectued traitor.

  • Naturally, the idea is that in that court it's common for one to marry for the title but to keep a mistress for "love." Hence, to fall in love with one's own wife is seen as simply absurd - or a nasty ambition, vanity or flippancy. Certainly it's seen as a betrayal of the Queen.

  • So, fearful of their position at court and pressed on all sides (by Tattle and Tellal as well as their husbands or others of the Privy Council), Anne and Astrophile decide to pretend that Astrophile has fallen out of love with his wife and is open to the idea of a mistress.

  • Anne then, aided by her staunch friend, hrm...Felicity, yeah, that'll do, or somesuch like...pulls of not just a double but a triple masquerade. She is, while still herself, as well a "jealous" wife as well as her husband's new "mistress," Stella.

  • Felicity aids Anne (Or should she be Penelope? Do I want a Perpetua?) by dressing herself as Stella when Tattle, Tellal or any of the court need to see Anne up close and Astrophile walking in the gardens with his "mistress" (Anne and Felicity should be similar in appearance).

  • But it would be good if Felicity had her own subplot as well, since I do not think she is married at the beginning of the play.... Perhaps it can be worked into the second half's fourth masquerade.

  • Right, so although this will most likely fall into a classic five-act structure, the "second half" of the practical play ought to have another twist. Some news - perhaps brought by a pastoral (ha ha!) character who becomes Felicity's love interest - shall we be completely surface and call him Peter? Or should we instead christen him Adam or sommat more everymannish? We'll go with Peter for now, I think.... Anywho, Peter comes to Felicity with news of some trouble that Astrophile's gotten into - perhaps he's been compromised, perhaps there is someone or several someones working to actively seduce him whether through ambition or lust or both - and the upshot is...

  • Anne/Jealous Anne/Stella (no, not Anne. She needs a name that means constancy without being Constance...although Constanza might work...could that be worked into being a boy's name? Right, so what's the name in simple English that'll do the trick?) takes on a fourth persona: she disguises herself as - we'll go with Constanze, a young Italian courtier - replete with a questionable backstory - who causes quite an uproar in the court. I'm not sure how. But the main thing is...

  • While Astrophile has been surrounded by the corrupt Privy Counsellors, he has in fact been in some considerable danger. Although he has come home every night to his wife, and been indeed constant to her, and has never ceased to love her - yet by the very fact that those around him revile her and eat away at his time with her, they have grown more distant. I think the seduction he must be under is not a physical mistress but the fickle mistress fortune. (Perhaps tragedy struck their fortunes which is why he had to attach himself more "constantly" to his government work?)

  • Which is to say that Astrophile has obviously been "in" on Anne/Jealous Anne/Stella - I'm not so sure he's "in" on Constanze. (Yes, yes, I know - Merchant of Venice etc. etc. Look, I'm just off of Shadowplay, OK? ;P) I think, however, the other Privy Counsellors would make passes as her - at least one would, and others might try to align her with their daughters - while she endeavours to grab her husband and make him recognize her again.

  • In the final scene, of course, everything is revealed and the happy couple are happy and in love and in their correct places again (which is to say, not imprisoned by society's twisted "norms"), with the promise of Felicity and Peter doing well for themselves in a rustic (pastoral - ha ha!) setting.

  • There ought to be more. I'm sure other things will crop up in the writing of it - and I want the lovers (Anne and Astrophile) to be found kissing in the closet by the astounded and outraged Privy Council - mostly for its French farciness as well as other obvious connotations. Perhaps the whole thing will itself be called Shadowplay or Constanze or who knows what. One thing concerns me, though - although I don't know if it need...

  • I had originally conceived the idea as Astrophile's piece - but it has, in outline, anyway, become Anne's. Am I happy with this? Is the story happier with it? I think, perhaps so - at least at this juncture. Certainly, Anne's would be a wonderfully juicy role to play! And I think, as I've blogged before, that part of modern feminism and "free love" and all the ruination of the family and current licentiousness is due in large part to the fact that women have lost sight of who they are and the inherent dignity and beauty of being a woman - what being a woman really means. Perhaps, even more than the idea of a married couple remaining faithful to one another, I'm interested in the role a woman plays as herself and in her various incarnations and reincarnations as daughter, wife, mother, etc. How do all these faces merge into one complete woman? What happens to the woman who tries to be a man in a man's world and so sacrifices her femininity? But I want to make sure that Anne/Stella/Constanze or even Felicity or Elizabeth (if she even makes an appearance) don't eclipse Astrophile at least as a dramatic character. Granted, as Anne transmogrifies - selling her love and then selling herself before finding herself again and so regaining her lost love and her own constancy to herself - she weakens her husband by assuming his role. But even so, I don't want to completely lose Astrophile. My hope, at least dramatically, is to create as many juicy parts to play as possible. I hope I am capable of doing so.

  • O! For a Muse of fire! Or at least O for that Chimaera of Free Time.

    Mood: My nose is cold again, my back sore and my right calf threatening to Charlie horse. Bah. But my brain is running a million miles a minute - so some part of me is lithe.
    Music: Had been the second Buffy album, but will most likely be Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron and Wine in a second
    Thought: What? The above brain-drizzle wasn't sufficient?

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