Draft II is now under way, after the reading on July 20th and all the reactions it triggered.
The heartening thing is that the audience loved the play and seemed surprised by their delight. I have asked myself, and others, why the raw, first draft of this play, "Bloody Treason" (note the quotation from one of Marc Antony's speeches--"and bloody treason flourished over us") got such a favorable reaction.
The audience was the membership of The Theatre Artists Workshop, whoever came to the meeting that Monday night, which was the third Monday of the month and, so, playwright's night. I've been told that this play has a great dramatic thrust and lots of suspense. Also, there is humor and wit (more than my other plays?). One playwright said that its unfocused focus was a crowd-pleaser for modern audiences; that a play without a clear arc created suspense, surprises-- where will this go next. And that I should just trim it a bit and say to myself, "There. That's the play." Someone else suggested that the group has been familiarized with the world of my plays by the first two; so they were better able to assimilate all the history that is built into the plot.
Some people who gave the play a lot of thought think the play should be centered around Queen Elizabeth and that Shakespeare could go whistle, that Shakespeare can have another play to himself, but not this one.
I am processing all this advice, and the advice of Mark Graham to stay calm and consider the play's focus and how to make this play the third (and effective third) play of the trilogy. He suggested that Shakespeare become the narrator, which makes a lot of sense as Shakespeare was also the narrator of the first play, "Shakespeare Rising." I think I can make this work.