2022: a play, and a book.
..with these promises to myself, I feel today is ‘independence day’, one in which I grab past intentions, especially with the novel, and accept ownership to the actions that have given presence to two, deeply determined ambitions.
As I’ve previously blogged: completed in January 2020, the full-length play By Me You’ll Never Know had been curated, into 2021, as a practical journey of 3 Frames -the only way of intentionality, for sighting of a canvas of theatre work in pandemic!
Now, firmly across the threshold of a year on, 3 Frames will have its concluding bow in live (fingers crossed)presentation at Cross Currents Festival, this May 2022, hosted by The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics.
And then, a day after that presentation: there will be a 1st reading of the complete full-length play, to inaugurate momentum towards pre-production of the work, infused now with the scope of fine tuning that had been accomplished in its curated fodder across 2021.
With regard to the play: I’m committed to its initial process of reading as pre-production; then workshop (putting it ‘on its feet’, so to speak), in an environment where we can test its walk; and then into some manner of ‘pre-performances’, in shaping for an initial run.
Which leaves me to speak about “the book”.
In the last days I’ve been trawling into my file folders..
I’ve notion of the book on my plate since 2006, not only as various complete outlines, but also as iterations of chapters and narrative.
This material began life under the title La rea incognita (‘the unknown wretch’; but “rea”, being feminine, gives subtext in gender), out of imagination and the fodder of two historical occurrences: an act of arson at the Venice opera house, ‘La Fenice’, in 1996, and, in 1835 at the same location, an opening night fiasco- orchestrated to shame a well-known composer, who’d precipitously gambled that night’s reputation on greatness!
I started writing out La rea as a novel in 2008..
-which then accrued as 9 versions/edits, by 2012.
My agent at the time, encouraged this; made edits; cheered me on; until: she pivoted, and insisted in its worth as speculation in its being prime material for a screen/tele-play, as serial.
And there began the iterations of In the Shadow of the Phoenix -first: as a 3 part serial; then mooted as 8; but written out as 6 part serial; alighting, ultimately (and currently) as a fully written screenplay and 4 part serial.
..-but back to last week’s trawling the archive of La rea..
It reminded me of the novel I’d been excited to imagine; the twisting twine of politics, opera, egos, an industry -past & recent.
The work remains an incredibly original idea; but is now even more grounded as timely in its central character, the adventurer/musicologist, Leslie Welsh, who is African American.
With this unique character as lead in the narrative transit of 1996, and further, embedding the 1835 storyline in Venice’s historical spectrum of ‘cultures, races, and colors of that time’, fractious and fraught in navigating oncoming revolution against occupation (by Austria, and France)..
..well; we’ll see; though Phoenix does feel in tempo with appeal.. as costume panoply, fantastic social revelation, and representation of color in organic setting of the period.
But artistically, The Play & The Book are the two works for my reach in 2022.
..while gestating in the zeitgeist..-