Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Secret Adversary: First Reading

This paperback has been in my satchel for six months.
Historically, I have found it necessary or even desirable to be working on more than one piece at a time. This summer, however, one project in particular has created a distressing logjam, not only for my ability to write but also to think and conduct myself as an emotionally adult human.

During the past two weeks I held a rehearsal read of the work in question, a one-hour adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary, and then presented it to the unit this past Wednesday. Just completing the draft suddenly made it possible for me to think about an entirely other work, one which I began a year and a half ago, and discover what needed to happen next with that script.

In addition, there was another piece, a project we are working on within the unit, a five minute scene, which I was able to create in short order (the turnaround itself was fortuitously brief) and about which I will write in some detail in the days or weeks to come.

The reading at the CPH offices was happily well-attended. It helped that every single GLT actor-teacher was present – all eight of them, most reading and the rest to provide support and enjoy the read. But there were also CPH staff, most of the unit, and several of our kids.

Feedback was reassuring, that I have successfully adapted the novel into a script which flies along and is mostly coherent. RL for example is a great fan of Christie’s characters Tommy and Tuppence and expressed how much she looked forward to the reading (prior) and how much the characters satisfied (after).

In fact there was helpful balance of positive response and critical comment and suggestion to keep me moving forward. The small company (3 men, 2 women) put some in mind of 39 Steps, suggesting the piece is going to be even more humorous in performance then I had previously imagined.

CH stated the transition from what is Christie’s dialogue to what is mine is pretty seamless, and in fact most of the lines which popped for folks were actually mine (or in one glaring case, Evelyn Waugh’s.)

One issue of great interest is the McGuffin, the “draft treaty” which puts the entire adventure into motion. Where it passed hands - on the deck of the sinking Lusitania – requires some explanation to our modern, American audience. Even more important, however, is how such a document could topple a government. I mean, it really doesn’t matter, that’s not why the adventure is exciting. But it does give the entire endeavor some kind of point. Christie didn’t need to explain this, but I do.

Something else I need to do is create a calendar of events. The book takes place over the course of about a month. The way I have abridged it, it’s more like one week, but I’d like specifics.

It’s been a long summer. I remember writing pages in Montréal and in Maine, day after day in Cleveland. I thought I’d never produce a draft, but kept moving, one page after another.

I’m running a marathon in two weeks. Running a marathon is easy. Writing is hard. 

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