I’ve just had a rare four-day weekend, the result of the Easter/Passover holiday. As is often the case on these occasions, I feel a little conflicted now that it’s over. On the one hand, I’ve had a busy few months both at my day job and as a writer, and the need for rest, to just lie back and do nothing, has been overwhelming. On the other hand, these past four days have been full of time which I could have been using for writing. I did use some of that time for writing, but it never feels like you’ve used all of the time you had available. It’s hard to shake the uncomfortable, gnawing feeling that you’ve just been slacking off.
On Saturday night, while wrestling with all of this, I went to HB Studios to see a reading of a new play. It was directed by my friend Arthur French, and was written by his son, who’s also a friend, and who’s also named Arthur. (When both are in the room together, we usually refer to the younger of the two as ‘Arthur 3,’ so that’s what I’ll be doing here.) I chatted with Arthur 3 for a few minutes before the reading began. We spoke about the piece I was there to see; I’d seen scenes from it workshopped already. And then he asked me, “you’re working on a piece two, right?”
And I stopped and thought for a moment, trying to figure out what he was referring to.
Because the day before, I had indeed finished a draft of a new one act play. But I hadn’t mentioned anything about that, to him or anybody else – I haven’t mentioned it here before. It’s a topical piece, so I’d wanted to get something down on paper as soon as possible, and had taken advantage of a break in the work on my other projects to do that.
As to those other projects? Well, there’s a solo piece I wrote a few months back for a friend of mine. It has enough real-life figures that I need to deal with rights issues and clearances before I can start thinking about getting it produced. I’d sent an inquiry a few weeks ago, and am currently waiting on a response from that inquiry before proceeding.
In all likelihood, Arthur 3 was referring to The Tragedie of King John Falstaff, whose rough draft I’ve just completed. I’d originally hoped to submit the piece to the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries competition at the American Shakespeare Center by February 15th, but that deadline was impossible to meet given the complexity of my script. But American Shakespeare Center has rolling deadlines for the next several years; they’re seeking contemporary riffs on the entire Shakespeare canon. The February 15th deadline was for riffs on Henry IV Part 1Henry IV Part 2 (a more appropriate one for my play anyway) is August 1st. That deadline I can make.
The thing of it is, that August 1st deadline is also their deadline for riffs on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which means it’s perfect for me to submit my long-gestating play Philostrate. Which means I have to revise two rough drafts, both mock-Elizabethan verse plays, in four months.
So I responded to Arthur 3, “well, actually, I’m juggling…um…four…”
At that, Arthur laughed behind us. “Only four, Michael? Man, you’re slacking off.”