Help! Deadline approaching!



REGISTER TO REMOVE ADS

Ordeith

Great Old One
Joined
Sep 22, 2007
Messages
5,661
Awards
4
Age
23
  • 2013 Roleplaying Awards
  • Alter Ego
  • Writer of Writers
  • Retired Staff
My university is gathering material for a show called Shakespeare in Mind, a pastiche of scenes and soliloquies written around the theme of "Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century." I've been working on a submission for some time, but after a long break from writing, I returned to a confused mess of a script...

I've already requested criticism from a few friends, but I'm in need of whatever input I can get. The deadline is July 15, and I'm nowhere near finished. Please—whatever comes to mind, say it without hesitation.


To avoid formatting the entire thing, I'm just going to post a link for viewing and downloading. Many thanks in advance!
 

KingdomKey

Never See Me Coming!
Joined
Sep 25, 2010
Messages
6,260
Awards
23
  • Retired Staff
  • Graceful Assassin
  • The Gambler of Fate
  • Beauty Within
  • Cloaked Schemer
  • Whirlwind Lancer
Weirdly enough, I like what you have already. I don't know if this is where you left off but, page fourteen is partially blank and then you have page 15 with Harvey speaking. I'd like to know what the Director has to say to Meredith's changes. Honestly, I think its good and perhaps even brilliant. At first, I dreaded having to read something long in the beginning but, once it cut to the Director calling everyone onto the stage and wanting to change everything, I ended up liking it a lot. You should continue where you left off. I'd definitely read more of it, if you do. I'm being earnest when, I say this too.
 

Hidden

A boy named Crow
Joined
May 4, 2005
Messages
1,615
Awards
2
Age
30
Location
A world that never was
Website
www.freewebs.com
  • Character of the Week
  • Quack Attack
It's actually a fun read, but it bogs itself down--it's too easy to digress in a scene about talking about a scene. The 'logging' argument is a good example:

Meredith: I mean, the whole point of his character is to show the oppression of the working man...

Harvey: Wait, what!?

Meredith: ...and how he needs to refuse the big corporations! That scene where he's carrying the firewood--that's clearly a statement against the logging industry.

Harvey: There was no logging industry in Shakespeare's time! If anything, Caliban is an analogue to the oppression of native peoples by Europeans.

Meredith: Oh, people didn't use wood to build things in Shakespeare's time?

Harvey: Yes, they did, but there was no industry in the sense that you mean...

Jack: Well, do you know that for a fact?

Harvey: As a scholar of Shakespeare, I most certainly do. But this is all beside the point--
It's played for laughs and to show the 'pointlessness' of the digression, but the conversation itself is an over-long digression. The humor of the scene might actually benefit from cutting it to "Meredith: I mean, the whole point of his character is to show the oppression of the working man... Harvey: Wait, what!?" From those two lines, we understand the crux of the argument and how completely disconnected Harvey's and Meredith's readings of Shakespeare are.

Taken further, it seems like the scene is going to end with Harvey making a righteous declaration on the importance of understanding Shakespeare rather than just adapting him, which is fine--except that it makes everything between Harvey's first complaints and his last speech a digression. Meredith might have some interesting nuggets to share, and Jack and Mark may interject some comedic commentary, but if we're just going to circle back around to Harvey again, we are literally talking in circles. That's my main concern--that the scene (like the conversation) spins its wheels and doesn't go anywhere.

For some more constructive criticism, you might actually show how far some of these characters will take the Bard. Let Meredith play a scene as a class-conscious Caliban, let Jack sing his ragtime piece, and let Harvey play Richard III straight. I'm not sure where those scenes will take you, but they may give you more ideas than just letting the characters talk about their delusions in the abstract.

I'm afraid that's all I can offer right now, but I'll think about it more and let you know if anything else comes to mind.
 
Last edited:

Ordeith

Great Old One
Joined
Sep 22, 2007
Messages
5,661
Awards
4
Age
23
  • 2013 Roleplaying Awards
  • Alter Ego
  • Writer of Writers
  • Retired Staff
Weirdly enough, I like what you have already. I don't know if this is where you left off but, page fourteen is partially blank and then you have page 15 with Harvey speaking. I'd like to know what the Director has to say to Meredith's changes. Honestly, I think its good and perhaps even brilliant. At first, I dreaded having to read something long in the beginning but, once it cut to the Director calling everyone onto the stage and wanting to change everything, I ended up liking it a lot. You should continue where you left off. I'd definitely read more of it, if you do. I'm being earnest when, I say this too.
Well, thank you very much! I do appreciate it.

I probably should have explained that blank space, haha. As Hidden surmised, the scene culminates towards an explosive monologue from Harvey—in which he manages to express his indignation by mashing bits of Shakespeare together, a process that has totally eluded the company.

It's actually a fun read, but it bogs itself down--it's too easy to digress in a scene about talking about a scene. The 'logging' argument is a good example:

It's played for laughs and to show the 'pointlessness' of the digression, but the conversation itself is an over-long digression. The humor of the scene might actually benefit from cutting it to "Meredith: I mean, the whole point of his character is to show the oppression of the working man... Harvey: Wait, what!?" From those two lines, we understand the crux of the argument and how completely disconnected Harvey's and Meredith's readings of Shakespeare are.
Duly noted. Finding opportunities for each character to shine has been difficult, and a few similar (and even less productive) bits have been added and subsequently cut. Thanks for catching another one.

Still, though I agree that the "logging" digression isn't necessary, I worry about reducing the script to the following:

- Director introduces strange concept, gives unintentionally funny commentary
- Cast reacts, objects to the director's ideas
- Director reacts
- Rinse and repeat

That's the challenge of scriptwriting, though—but I feel that you've already given me the start of a new approach, further below...

Hidden said:
Taken further, it seems like the scene is going to end with Harvey making a righteous declaration on the importance of understanding Shakespeare rather than just adapting him, which is fine--except that it makes everything between Harvey's first complaints and his last speech a digression. Meredith might have some interesting nuggets to share, and Jack and Mark may interject some comedic commentary, but if we're just going to circle back around to Harvey again, we are literally talking in circles. That's my main concern--that the scene (like the conversation) spins its wheels and doesn't go anywhere.
Agreed. I now see that problem more clearly than ever.

Lately I've been trying to shorten the initial conversation about revising the script—so as to reach the "everybody gets a turn" section sooner. That would allow for more character-centric moments, and force me to use those moments constructively.

Hidden said:
For some more constructive criticism, you might actually show how far some of these characters will take the Bard. Let Meredith play a scene as a class-conscious Caliban, let Jack sing his ragtime piece, and let Harvey play Richard III straight. I'm not sure where those scenes will take you, but they may give you more ideas than just letting the characters talk about their delusions in the abstract.
This is actually the approach that I wanted to pursue, in the beginning. The Richard III mishmash scene is an energetic, comedic high; and so it only makes sense to use other bits from the in-universe play for that same purpose.

For whatever reason, my writing deviated from that initial idea—but to have someone else confirm my first instinct is reassuring indeed. I'll try to replace some of the circular conversations with some actual excerpts from the company's play. All of your examples are very promising, actually. I already know where I could interject a few of them...

Hidden said:
I'm afraid that's all I can offer right now, but I'll think about it more and let you know if anything else comes to mind.
I greatly appreciate it, Hidden. Even when it was no more than confirming a hunch that I had, it helped refocus things.
 
Last edited:

Hidden

A boy named Crow
Joined
May 4, 2005
Messages
1,615
Awards
2
Age
30
Location
A world that never was
Website
www.freewebs.com
  • Character of the Week
  • Quack Attack
Ordeith said:
Lately I've been trying to shorten the initial conversation about revising the script—so as to reach the "everybody gets a turn" section sooner. That would allow for more character-centric moments, and force me to use those moments constructively.
Let me offer one other possibility then, just something for you to consider. Instead of centering the conversation (and therefore the scene) around revising the script, just jump right into it, starting with the director. Harvey, being a classically-trained Shakespearean actor, plays Richard too straight; the director jumps in and tells him 'No! You've got it all wrong, it's a "non-linear pastiche", a story in "brain-network format", etc.' Then he jumps in and performs that odd medley of Shakespearean excerpts we see at the beginning. When he gets to one particularly egregious passage (perhaps the "Jew of York"), Meredith or whomever jumps in and says, 'No! Shakespeare was not an anti-semite! He was writing for the disenfranchized proletariat, etc.' and then give the 'proper' rendition by her own lights. And so forth until Harvey (who has remained silent this whole time) can no longer abide it.

A few things a structure like this could accomplish: it completely cuts out the opening 'everybody on set' conversation and keeps the focus on one or two characters at any given time; it makes the director a more lively and engaging character; and it saves Harvey's feelings for the very end, where hopefully they will be more effective and affecting. Of course, you lose things as well, such as some of the cross-banter between actors, and risk it becoming a 'rinse-and-repeat' device if you play it too long without variation. So again, it's just something to consider in (re)writing the script.
 
Last edited:

Professor Ven

The Tin Man
Joined
Jun 12, 2006
Messages
4,337
Awards
3
Age
26
Location
Slothia
  • Kingdom Hearts χ[chi]
  • 2013 Roleplaying Awards
  • Alter Ego
There is nothing I don't love about this. 10/10 would pay top dollar, and buy the DVD+BluRay+Digital Download Edition
 
Top