Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Oh My Brain In What A Labyrinth Art Thou

posted by James at 3:35 PM

Back in March Dámaso came to me and asked if I would be interested in helping adapt Furious’ first World Premiere. Of course I said “Hell yes!” Oh, little did I know. We were going to be working on a text that was well over 400 years old, fairly obscure, in excess of two-hundred pages, and written in blank verse. Sure no problem.

The process started by tracking down a copy of the complete unabridged Fair Maid of The West Parts I and II. Thankfully, due to such modern inventions as the internet and that was the easy part. Quickly after reading both full length plays Dámaso and I realized that we would need to do some major editing to get this down to a manageable two act play. We had a few meetings to discuss tone and style and agreed that we wanted this to be as exciting and easily accessable to a mass audience. We started watching pirate movies(everything from Pirates of the Caribean to Douglas Fairbanks “The Black Pirate”), reading every Pirate book we could find and scouring the internet. In doing so we realized that anything we could dream up from a fantastical story point was pretty much supported by history (i.e. Pirate captains finding their own Islands and ruling them as kings).

Dámaso and I started meeting about twice a week to read the play out loud and make various notes on what we wanted to include and what we definetly needed to cut. Pretty early on we decided we wanted the Chorus character to be a major role in the first act and turn into the Queen in the second. This allowed us to make some pretty major jumps in story and also have a way to entertainingly dole out exposition.

After we condensed the script to about 100 pages, we started to refine the characters and plot points. Then once we had our first table read, we made some more cuts (a few ideas that worked in theory but not in reality). When we started rehearsals we found a few more places to make cuts and revisions and settled on the final script. I have to say it has been an interesting a wild ride working in verse and on a piece of text and history that is over 400 years old. I look forward to continuing Heywood’s story in “The Fair Maid of the West Parts III and IV”.


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