The monologue, I've been told, should be published in a book of monologues. I hope it will some day. In the meanwhile, it was performed as part of a graduation ceremony at The College of St. Andrew's in Canada. William Scoular, one of the masters of English at the College, arranged for it to be performed for the parents of the graduates. "It went down a treat." He later used another play of mine in his classroom. But I get ahead of myself. Mr. Scoular is very active in English theater. You can read about him by Googling his name. I was very fortunate to get his encouragement.
Locally, the monologue "The Great Will Shakespeare Speaks" had gotten someone else's attention, J. Sibley Law, one of the co-founders of SquareWrights. He hadn't been able to attend the April show when the plays about Shakespeare were performed, but people kept telling him about the monologue. So, a few months later, when SquareWrights produced a 24-hour play-writing event, and I agreed to participate, Mr. Law, as the producer, had a surprise for me.
Have you ever "done" a 24-hour event, as a writer, actor, or director? Have you ever gone to see the show that comes out of this intense and compressed period of creation? Here's how it works: Everyone involved arrives at a location for a brief period of socializing. Then the business end of the meeting takes place. And a very efficient process it is. Actors are matched with a director; that team is matched with a writer. They quickly discuss what skills and interests they all have. A topic is then announced by the producer for each writer, and then the group disperses. The actors and directors get some sleep. The writers stay up until their plays are written, and they have sent them off by email to the actors and directors. Then, they fall into bed and try to sleep for a while. And good luck to them! The following day, the actors and directors rehearse. That night all the plays are done before an audience, as fully produced as possible. No scripts, minimal props, some costuming if possible.
We all met at a home in Stratford. J. Sibley Law, our producer, had been there for a while already. I was curious and game, not really knowing quite what to expect. I was introduced to four people: my three actors and my director. The actors were: Mark Frattaroli, Lucy Babbitt, and Jason Basso; the director Christopher Caltagirone. The first two actors are highly gifted Shakespearean actors, who have their own company that performs classic works. Jason Basso was a very young, good-looking actor and game for anything. The director was experienced, talented, and serious. When the topics were announced, mine was "Shakespeare in the Dark." Amazing. Mr. Law was giving me the chance to write a short one-act play about Shakespeare on the spot. And he had given me some amazing people to interpret my work.
When I got home, I spent the first hour doing a little research, with the books I had on hand about Shakespeare. Then I wrote, and edited, and wrote some more. At four in the morning I emailed the script to the three actors and to the director. (Lucy wrote back: "Mary Jane, Fabulous, Lucy." I will never forget that and what it meant to me.) I tried to sleep, but there must have been too much adrenaline in my system. I felt as if I didn't have blood in my veins but jet fuel, and I swear I hadn't taken anything.
That night, accompanied by my husband, our daughter Annalisa and our son Nick, I went to the Square One Theater in Stratford to see the show. I had had about 15 minutes sleep; so I was already in an altered state. But I couldn't believe what happened when my play began. There was music. What music? I wish I could remember, but it was something lovely and romantic. And then Jason Basso stepped onto the stage dressed in Elizabethan costume (yes, the Shakespearean actors had costumed the play!) and began to speak. As the play unfolded, I felt elated but so odd. It was as if I had had a dream the previous night and now I was watching it on the stage. The actors were wonderful! And the director had noticed everything and highlighted the play with great care. They had all given me such a gift, this magical experience. . . .as J. Sibley Law had planned.