Monday, March 19, 2012


The start of another week and some writing progress to report.

First up, I have finished off two short stories for Write1Sub1. One is an old story I've dusted down and the other is a brand new one. Now for the dilemma: do I sub 2 or save one for next month and give myself an easier life? Sub 2 I think.

As for the performance in May, we have gotten our teeth into rehearsals and are half way through Act 1. As we only have two hours of rehearsals, twice a week, we're cutting it fine with not much rehearsal time, but we can do it. Tonight we ran through my main part where I threaten Poopay's life and nearly kill her. As the young lady acting the role has a bad back we've worked out how to do it without me throwing her around the stage.

And now, the play I'm, writing. I've reached Act 2, scene 1. All comments are welcome whether good or bad. I'm especially interested in your thoughts on the realism of the situation and the dialogue.


Scene 1 (John's house, evening)

The four of them are sitting. John reading, Margaret crocheting and the girls playing chess. Elena makes a move.

Elizabeth: You can't move that piece there.

Elena: Why?

Elizabeth: The knight doesn't move diagonally.

Elena: That's my bishop.

Elizabeth: Bishop's don't ride horses.

Elena: Yes they do. The bishop of St Albans has a white one.

Elizabeth: That's real life. This is a chess board.

(Pause. Elena takes the piece back to its original position and thinks.)

Elena: Why don't they have a man on the rook?

Elizabeth: I don't know. Why should they?

Elena: Because it's a castle and when you defend a castle you need soldiers. They put a man on the horse for the knight, so why not on the castle?

Elizabeth: Look. Are you going to play the game or just ask stupid questions?

Elena: I'm bored with chess.

Elizabeth: That's because you keep losing.

Elena: I don't. I beat you on Sunday.

Elizabeth: You beat me once on Sunday. I won the other games.

Elena: Mother, can you teach me to crochet.

Margaret: Certainly. Come here and watch me.

(Elena walks over to her mother and watches her intently)

Elizabeth: John, would you play chess with me?

John: I'm not much good at chess.

Elena: Elizabeth likes that. She only wants to play people she can beat.

Elizabeth: That's not true.

Elena: So why didn't you play father very often?

Elizabeth: He was always too busy working.

Elena: No he wasn't, he was just too good for you.

Margaret: Girls. That's enough. Elizabeth, put the chess set away and get a book to read, providing Mr Maynard doesn't mind.

John: When are you going to stop calling me Mr?

Margaret: I can't get used to that. You're my employer, not my husband.

John: You don't mind the girls calling me John.

Margaret: I do, but you insist, so I let it pass. But I can't.

John: (smiles) Very well, Margaret. Maybe it will change in time.

(Elizabeth puts the chess set away on a drawer, Elena watches her mother and John watches them all)

John: (to Margaret) Did you have any further problems in the market?

Margaret: No more than usual. Why?

John: (Looks down at the book on his lap) I've been thinking about moving away. From this town. Moving to Oxford. I have family there, a brother, who runs a clothing business. He's been asking me to move to Oxford since the deaths of my family and, to be truthful, he could use my head for business.

(The three women look at him horrified)

Elena: Does that mean we'd have to find somewhere else to live?

John: No. I'd want you to come with me. Not as my family, but as my household.

(There is silence as the three women look at each other and then back at John)

Margaret: I don't know. It would moving the girls again and after all that's happened over the past couple of weeks I'm not sure...

John: It wouldn't be immediately. It would take a few weeks to get everything organised, tie up loose ends here, not that there are many of them, so you have time to consider it. (Pause) I suppose you want to know why I'm thinking about this?

Margaret: The thought had occurred to me.

Elena: Aren't you happy here?

John: I haven't been happy since my family were killed, but I had nowhere else to go.

Elizabeth: Except Oxford.

John: My brother was being kind at the time, and, I have to admit, there was a part of me that wanted to make this town suffer for what it had done.

Margaret: Do you still want them to suffer?

John: Yes. But I've had enough of the memories.

Elena: What would you do if we didn't want to go?

John: I don't know. (Turns to Margaret) Would you consider it?

Margaret: I'll need to think.

John: Of course. (He stands) I'll retire and leave you some time to talk. Tomorrow we can talk further.

Margaret: You sound as if you've made your mind up.

John: I wish I knew. The truth is, at the moment I'm caught between leaving this place behind and all the memories that go with it and wanting to help you. If you decided to stay I'm not sure I would want to go badly enough to leave you behind.

Margaret: You pity us?

John: After a fashion. But I also respect you. You saved your daughters from death, brought them here and didn't give up trying to do the best for your family. (Pause) No one can live their life alone when they have responsibilities. Sometimes, not even when they have none. I feel the need of a new start, a new life in a new place. I think you need one too. Not to forget your husband (Looks at the girls) your father, but to carry on living. I've spent too much time wallowing and being spoon fed through other people's guilt. Oxford won't remove the memories of what happened here, but it will break the ties that hold me back. Goodnight.

John exits stage right

Elena: Can we go mother?

Elizabeth: But what if we don't like Oxford. What if it's worse than here?

Elena: Worse?

Elizabeth: We don't know anything about his brother, for all we know he could run a brothel.

Margaret: Elizabeth! Stop that. And in front of your sister.

Elena: What's a brothel?

Elizabeth: It's where women....

Margaret: (Stands up) ELIZABETH. (Elizabeth takes a step back, scared) Stop that talk at once. This is not a game of chess we're playing, this is real.


Elizabeth: Sorry mother. I just...I mean...I don't...(sits on the floor and starts to cry) I miss father. I miss not seeing him come home, I miss acting out plays and scenes from plays. I miss home. And I'm scared.

(Elena puts a hand on her sister's shoulder)

Margaret: (Angry) We all miss him, but not everyone is trying to put obstacles in the way of everything I try and do.

Elizabeth: (Angry) I'm not putting obstacles in the way of anything. I followed you here when I could have stayed at home and married Philip. I didn't have to come with you. I left MY life behind too. And now you want us to go off with a man you hardly know to a place we've never been and start a new life? All I want to know is that we'll all be safe.

Margaret: And that's what I'm trying to provide. But unmarried women with children can't just go out and do what they like. It's always been like that and maybe it always will. And at this moment, my options are limited, as are yours. Do you really think that Philip would take you as a wife after what happened to your father? Do you?

Elizabeth: He might have. You don't know for certain that he wouldn't have protected me.

Margaret: Do you know he would have?

Elizabeth: That's the point. We don't know anything. We don't know why father was killed, whether we would all have been hung, whether Philip would have married me, we don't know. (She collapses to the floor and sobs loudly) We don't know.

(Elena starts crying too)

Margaret: (Walks over to Elena and pulls her towards Elizabeth) I haven't made any decision about Oxford or anything else. I was hoping that we could stay here for a while before deciding anything. But I can't. I have to consider this and what would happen if we stayed here.


Elizabeth: Do we have any choice?

Margaret: Does any woman?


With that, I'll bid you adieu and see you on Wednesday.

And don't forget, the closing point for the competition is midnight GMT tonight, but if you're a little late I might be kind enough to enter you anyway. Ciao.


Karen S. said...

I think your dialogue makes this very believable. Especially the chess banter. I'm not sure if you've already posted something about this play before, it's my first time reading about them so I was a bit confused about John until you cleared it up, and I thought (mostly by their dialogue) that they were young girls, but then you mentioned them as being women. I know you certainly have my attention with all the talk of John's move and the past memories. I'd love to read more!

Kelley said...

I love it Martin. Submit 2 or save one.

Submit 2. Good for you.

And also, its good you're being kind to the woman with a bad back :)

Martin Willoughby said...

Karen: I've posted the previous act over the past few Mondays. They are young girls, so I'll have to check that reference to women. Thanks

Kelley: I have a bad back myself, so I know the problems, SHe was involved in a car crash a couple of years ago when a motorbike ran into the back of her car.