Monday, February 06, 2006

"This is the story of the day..."

"This is the story of the day..."

As I've been working on the re-draft of Four Chords there's been one thing that's bothering me. Well two, but we don't need to go into my stinking crush on John Barrowman again. The problem's been that for all that I think that Four Chords has a much sturdier, more diverse first draft that SSoB did I didn't feel that it had some great magic moment that tips the story upside down and makes it wider and bigger than the words on the page. SSoB always had one of those moments. In the final act Harry and Kate - potentially on the verge of getting back together - talk about a trip to Paris they made together in 1997. I love their conversation just because it says so much about them as individuals whilst it collides with the much bigger, national story of that particular April. It gives the play a scope beyond the room it inhabits.

Four Chords has always been physically bigger - ten months as opposed to one evening, characters where there's a twenty year age difference between the oldest and the youngest - but its story is, conversely, more localised. It is about Ben, Jude, Ella, Paul, Hannah and Jess. It's a bit about me and my friends and some of the people I've met along the way. But the first draft was never more than that. And my reticence for undertaking the second draft has undoubtedly had something to do with that. In SSoB I could make changes that I now can't imagine the play without (Harry wasn't an artist in the first draft; it now seems unthinkable that he could be anything else). I can't change jobs or motivations or major actions in Four Chords, at least at this stage, without starting the play again. So I knew that for the play to work, for it to progress, I had to find out what it was really about. What it was trying to say away from the wrapping of my experiences over the past two years.

And this afternoon I found it. It had always been lurking in a half comment in the middle of the play, neatly hidden away in Jude's bluster:

Ella: "You talk about it as if it were a religion".

Jude: "Maybe it is. But with more opportunities for casual sex".

Without really recognising it I had been writing about Faith. And I mean Faith in all its guises. Maybe it was the Romantic ramble yesterday that led me in the direction (in which case, Byron, I owe you another drink). But I realised that what it's asking, what the play is really yearning for, is to know where - in a secular society - we channel our faith. What does belief mean to us?

It was the question that I've needed all along. Suddenly there's a new direction, new openings, new life for the second draft. And I realised in the same flash why I will have to do this for the rest of my life.

1 comment:

Billygean said...

I am feeling quite emotional (perhaps to do with the text...) but that made me cry! And want to write.