Since January of 2017, during the tumultuous past year and a half, the bulk of my writing energies have been focused on one major project – a pair of entries for the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries playwriting competition at the American Shakespeare Center. I was actually working on this before the contest was even announced – I’d already started my riff on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, entitled Philostrate, at the beginning of last year after preparing it for more years than I care to mention. (Though I did already mention it.) When the overall contest was first publicized in April of that year, I resolved to forge ahead with the stalled rough draft, figuring that I could revise and polish what I had whenever the contest round asking for Midsummer submissions came around. In the meantime, as a result of a monthly private Shakespeare reading series, I hit upon an idea for a riff on Henry IV Part II, which I call The Tragedie of King John Falstaff. Since Henry IV Part I was part of the competition’s first round, I figured I had time to write this new play for the second round – only to discover, when it was finally announced, that the second round was looking for riffs for both 2 Henry IV AND Midsummer.
So. Two full-length, mock-Elizabethan plays, both with the same due date of August 1st. A year and a half to write both of them. A year and a half in which rather a lot has taken place (you might have noticed). A year and a half in which everything else I’ve wanted to say, everything else I’ve had to do, everything else that’s happened, has taken place against the backdrop of this looming deadline.
Well, the lunacy of the rest of the world is still going on. (Remember those babies in cages? Yep, still a bad thing. Getting worse, too.) However, this vast project of mine is finally coming to an end. The Tragedie of King John Falstaff is finished, and was formally submitted to the competition on the fourth of July (seemed a fitting day to submit a play about a disastrously incompetent monarch). The script for Philostrate is finished as well; I have to put together some final materials for the application, and I’ll submit that play later this week.
So I’m done. At least for now.
It will be a few months before I have any idea what’s going on with these submissions. However, I have received the first confirmation email from the theater, saying that they have the first of the submitted scripts.
An emailed which filled me with unfathomable joy.
It’s not that hard, of course, to input the title of my play into a form letter, electronic or otherwise. Hell, I could have done that on my Commodore 64 back in the day. That email, however, represented the first tangible piece of evidence from an outside party that this script of mine exists. After spending a year and a half – this momentous, horrifying year and a half – toiling away by myself, even this tiny measure of acknowledgment served to push back the nagging fear that I’d been wasting my precious time. I wasn’t doodling for nothing – I’d created an actual thing that at least one other person is going to read.
This year and a half is concluded.
There’s much more to come.