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Writing a piece of drama involves marrying the technical to the creative. The former demands the experience of having sat in the theatre, acted, directed actors, Interpreted a script, and written. Combining these well with creativity is a feat few have done great 1y. Shakespeare did. My own work was first conceived to be one of scholarship based on studying the Bard and his predecessor, Marlowe. I wrote an Elizabethan five-act comedy in the blank verse and prose language of the Elizabethan Renaissance, emulating Shakespeare in style, tone and mentality. Asked to rewrite the play in modern language, with more stage directions and perhaps character modification, I translated it while at the same time condensing the characters and simplifying the plot. But the final result may be better viewed if its evolutionary phase is also presented, giving the reader an idea of the process involved. The "madman" Lucio's blank verse soliloquies are unchanged from the original. So a comparison of dialogue in iambic pentameter between characters is in order here. In Act IV, Scene 1 Piroliss the young lover is wooing Suzanne; the country girl's love elevates her ability in language to the level of poetry: Piroliss: Thou art my best. Suzanne: And am I also fair? Piroliss: Most fair. Suzanne: Fair enough. And am I who you'd drone your life to? Piroliss: The bee is not like us.... Lady Grey is, unlike Suzanne, highly educated, and she quibbles when she slips out of poetry and into prose in the second act, as she and her servant girl look at Duke Turn's sonnet: Lady Grey: Indeed, that's sooth. Reading, I know not whether to laugh or eep for its compositor. But I descend. This pun on "descend" also reveals something about the nature of Lady Grey's thinking: it is vertical, and she is very aware of her position on the upper end of the social ladder. Some of the characters missing from the second draft were singers who, in classic comic tradition, were on hand to sing at the weddings at play's end: Baritone: Come then, elf, for we must prepare voice and song. Nasanna: What shall we practice, friends? Alto: ....Let's haste, for I long to seal these good lives in sweetness. Nasanna: Go before; I'll follow. In terms of characters who underwent changes but remained in the second draft, the Duke is more formal in his courtly speeches and more irritated with Murcry, but the "seems" motif is still present: Duke: Methought these clam'rous hounds signalled Hecate And her black morning; yet the day yellow Doth come minutely stronger, gaining greatness With quiet sun-shroud. Where's our Malory? Brisborne: Duke: Brisborne: Murcry: Duke: ...My lord, I think he's bathing. What, bathing? Ay, my lord, and trying to wake. He needeth bath and sleep, true sleep. No more. Well, this seems unusual. But the overall spirit of the original is mostly here, translated and compacted. The three couples still symbolize the three kinds of love: physical love (Marianna and Copurno); intellectual love (Lady Grey and Duke Turn); and spiritual love (Suzanne and Piroliss). And because love is in the play, the reader may yet find some learning and delight from it.
Languages & Literature