A New Approach

Thank you Nancy, Tiffany, and Robin for your replies about the influence of people with MFA’s on the theatre scene.   It really is difficult to know what the situation is and guess all we can do is to keep on trucking.  Ideally, we could all get a big barn and put up our plays in rep!

I still don’t know what to write next and have to remove a few obstacles that I’ve put in my path; like how to produce something startling, innovative, never seen before, with a new structure, new insights, perhaps a revelation or two.  And some laughs, of course.

Maybe, I’ll take Shakespeare’s approach, just for fun.

It was normal procedure among all the playwrights of his time to start with an old plot.  Shakespeare went further and never used a plot from contemporary life.  Marchette Chute says, “He was no innovator, and to the end of his career, he was willing to take decrepit, old-fashioned stories as the basis for his plays while his colleagues dealt in glossy new inventions of their own.”

One of the accounts of his process that I like the best is that of Romeo and Juliet.  It was already a legend in Verona and an Italian, Luigi da Porto, wrote down the story in the 1520’s.  It was also in a book of stories that an Englishman named William Painter had collected and translated from the Italian.  Then, a poet named Arthur Brooke, who had seen a stage version in London, turned it into a poem in 1562.

Thirty years later, Shakespeare worked from Brooke’s version, sometimes following the characters’ thoughts, thought by thought.

But, Shakespeare’s version is significantly different because he invented and/or drew complex, bold characters, such as the Nurse and Mercutio, he refused to moralize, he gave his characters motivation, and he elevated and transformed the language.

Here is a passage from Brooke’s balcony scene:


“What if your deadly foes, my kinsman, saw you here?

Like lions wild, your tender parts asunder would they tear.

In ruth, and in disdain, I, weary of my life

With cruel hand my mourning heart

Would pierce with bloody knife.”

And from Shakespeare’s:


How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?

The orchard walls are high and hard to climb

And the place death, considering who thou art

If any of my kinsmen find thee here.


With love’s light wings did I o’er-perch these walls,

For stony limits cannot hold love out,

And what love can do, that dares love attempt.

Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me.”

There it is.  Piece of cake.  I’m on it.

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