Friday, December 31, 2010

MORGAN update

In February of 2010 I submitted a post regarding the (then) present disposition of a play I had written years before, but until then had never released. The play is titled MORGAN and to this day remains a passion in my life.

It’s funny how some things come into being. My young daughter and I had been watching one of the many dreary King Arthur movies on television, when she turned to me and asked, “Morgan le Fay? Who is HE?”

I answered as best I could, but in the back of my mind I was already envisioning a play that would justify that question.

Before I put a single word on paper, I spent three years reading every novel, history, and commentary I could find regarding the literary Arthur Pendragon and his estranged half-sister, Morgan. (There’s reasonable evidence to suggest that an “Arthur” actually lived, and that he was so far removed from the legend as to be almost unrecognizable.)

I made a couple of interesting discoveries.

The first – a somewhat humbling realization. In 6th century England there were both crude and sophisticated civilizations, religions, and codes of conduct. Intelligent thought was in evidence. My country has yet to HAVE a 6th century. During the time of Arthur, where I live was swamp lands – Indians hadn’t even reached here.

The other discovery was more to the point. Throughout most of the narratives, there is a recurrent theme along these lines; Morgan was evil, a schemer, a witch, jealous of her half-brother, and constantly plotting his downfall for never fully explained reasons. Eventually Arthur “wins,” but only after prolonged struggle and cost (including his life.)

I soon realized the problem started with Arthur. He was ultimately the winner, and history is almost always written by the last group standing. The truth, as I discovered, is that Morgan was the victim in every sense of the word. As a child she witnessed her lands taken away, her father killed, and her mother raped. To put it in modern terms, Morgan witnessed a terrorist attack.

So that became Act I of my play.

Act II chronicles Morgan’s rise to power. It seems reasonable (as literature) to suggest that Druids existed at that time, that Merlin was a Druid High Priest, and that they wielded real mystical power. Morgan, being a woman, realized her only opportunity to effect justice was by embracing black arts. She became second only to Merlin, and outlasted him.

Act III follows her descent into madness and the suggestion of recovery. She became an absolute power, and “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” She became Hitler at his worst. With the death of Arthur she loses her powers and there is an implication that she could eventually regain a degree of sanity.

The play ends with an irony. Without her constant prodding, Arthur would have been nothing. If left in peace, he would have been an insignificant king of a lackluster kingdom, one in a long line of dusty footnotes. Instead of destroying him, she directly and indirectly created the legend.

Now you have the picture. It’s a large and complex work. No theatre I know is capable of producing it. (Key words here are “I know.”) About a year ago I was discussing the language in the play with a friend who produces mainly Shakespeare plays. She asked to read it, and a month later asked if I would allow the work to be considered for production by them.

I agreed, made note of it in a blog, and then forgot about it.

A couple of days ago one of my favorite commentators asked for an update. Here it is.

In November the Shakespeare producer contacted me and said her company would produce the play if I would direct. Since at the time I was neck deep in the RICHARD III production, I postponed answering.

And that’s where I am now. I don’t know if I want to do this.

I just don’t know.


1 comment:

Views from Malmesbury said...

On the other hand, Britain was nothing more than warring tribes when the Romans invaded around 50 AD, about the same time the reign of the Pharaohs ended when Egypt became a Roman province. By that time The Egyptian civilisation had lasted about 3000 years. Now Britain is in decline after a relatively short period of time. Your turn; do you reckon you guys could beat 3000 years? As regards the play, I love the outline. I'd say go for it but you're the one who'd have to do the work, so...?