“Are you working on something new?” (Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Sunday in the Park with George)
My writer self is working on:
- A screenplay of one of my short stories from the Something with a Crust collection called Next Door;
- A memoir, magic realism piece about Ireland and past lives, titled Portals;
- The experiential pedagogy of the Armagh Project, creative writing, month-long residency;
- The pedagogy of adding breath into curriculum, specifically blending Kristin Linklater’s River Stories exercises into writing workshops;
- A romance novel about an Irish smuggler and an American librarian rescuing arts artifacts from national heritage sites;
- and a full-length play about Elizabethan comic Will Kempe, beginning with his firing from the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and following his mad dance to Norwich.
I’ve been researching when theatre was illegal in the British InterRegnum between Charles I and Charles II for my doctorate application. In 1642, Parliament deemed theatre illegal; those in offense faced circumstances ranging from imprisonment to fines to banishment to maiming. Still, actors performed clandestinely in bars, abandoned churches, and private homes, dodging the circling Roundhead soldiers. (This history surrounds the story of my full-length play, The Mad Wooing.) Over the 18 years when drama was suspended, other performing arts forms still flourished: Sir William D’Avenant produced musicals (the predecessor of the English opera) in the late 1650s and the traveling shows (basically the circus with rope-dancing, bearded ladies, and exotic animals) continued their random loops through the countryside. Also, surprisingly, the printing of plays continued, although performance was banned. Somehow the written word was not as threatening as the spoken one. With the reinstatement of the Stuart dynasty and Charles II back on the throne, theatres reopened but were still censorsed by a Master of Revels.
Below, from rehearsal of The Mad Wooing reading, May 2015.