As of last night, I've committed all Shakespeare monologues from the first half of my one man show to memory. I still have to add in my own line between them, which are half-improvised much of the time anyway.
For those of you who need reminding, I'm developing a one-man show based on the history plays of Shakespeare. I've always admired those plays, and regret that they are performed so rarely. I figured that if I ever wanted to perform some of the great speeches from the histories, I'd have to create my own show around them, and perform it. So that is exactly what I've done. I've been working on it for most of this year so far.
It takes places in sections that are dedicated to the specific history plays. The first section, about Richard II, is by far the longest, because it establishes the premise of the show, introduces the audience to who I am playing, and sets up the plots of the histories. I've been running that to myself at regular performance speed for about a month or so now, and it regularly takes about 40 minutes. Now that I've for the most part committed the Shakespeare in section 2 (Henry IV) to memory, I'll be adding my own lines in throughout the next week or so. My hope is that the second section takes no more than 20 minutes to perform. With blocking and pauses and audience reaction added in, my goal is for the first half of the show to last no more than one hour, ten minutes. It will be a while before I know how long section 2 will take, however.
There's still a lot of work to do, to be sure. But now that I have all of the Shakespeare for the first half memorized, and it will be only a matter of a week or so before I can perform both of the first sections with all of my own lines added, this is a milestone. Being off book for the first half of a show that I've created and studied for most of the year will go a long way in establishing momentum for the rest of this process. Just something about being "halfway done," even though some of the longest speeches await me in the second half.
At this rate of progress, and considering other projects I'm working on, I'm guessing it will be ready for performance by mid-autumn of this year. It's designed to be easily transported to just about any venue, but in all likelihood it will make its debut at the Black Box Arts Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. (Of which I am one of the managers.) Eventually, though, a traveling affair. Or something I can due annually for a weekend or so. That's the beauty of it being a show that easily travels and has a cast of one. There's more work for me but I'm also only responsible to myself, and that has its advantages.
May seems to have been a month of first halves, as I also completed act one of my standard play, "All the Admirals." That has a cast of five, and is related to some short stories I've written here and there. Takes place in a television studio. It's mostly a character study, and I look forward to finishing that, which I plan to do before the end of this calendar year. (I doubt it will require the rest of the year, if I truly apply myself to it.) I hope to gather some actor friends for a test reading of it once it is done and I've completed the first round of edits. But that's quite a ways into the future for now.
So my theater writing had proceeded at a steady clip in 2014. Except for this blog, of course. I continue to collect articles and other theater miscellany about which to write here, but with everything else going on, (plus my actual paying writing work), I tend to fall behind. Don't give up on me though. You know I always get back eventually, loyal blog readers.
In the mean time, I'll go work on acr one of my one-man show, (which I hope to name by the next time I talk to you about it.) Until then, loyal blog readers.
Anyone out there write their own plays? I'd love to hear about that.