For the past five months I’ve been working on an extended version of my play Now Is The Hour, originally produced at the Edinburgh fringe in 2008. It seems like a very long time to have been spending on it. By most standards I think it is.
I finished the first draft at the weekend, and emailed it off to the show’s original producer (and got paid instantly – thanks Peter). I had originally promised to get it to him in January.
The play now has two acts and a cast of 12 playing 20 speaking parts and a few more besides, and will run for about two and a half hours plus an interval.
The original version told the story of some of the people who found themselved marooned in a lifeboat following the sinking of the Laconia in 1942. The play began with the torpedo striking and the abandon ship, and ended when the few survivors sighted land. The new version keeps much of the original text, but adds a first act set mostly on board the Laconia while on its final voyage.
It’s a very neat separation (which wasn’t my idea), and means, in broad terms, that the audience will hopefully have a far greater emotional engagement in the lives of the characters whenever the second act comes and they are thrust into crisis.
It’s also meant that I’ve had to invent a lot more of the story: some very detailed accounts of the lifeboat journey have been written by the survivors; not much has been written about what happened on ship (other than eating, drinking, fighting and dysentery – all of which feature in the new script).
I don’t have enough distance from it yet to know how I feel about the new work, but I have a feeling that it’s a huge development on the original, which I have always been immensely satisfied with.
Once it’s been redrafted a few times and everyone’s happy with it, the next step will be to find a producer or production company and a theatre for it. It won’t necessarily be easy, as it’s not going to be a cheap production, but I’m confident.
Hopefully it will find a home somehow, and we will be able to have as many of the amazing original cast back together as possible.
Watch this space…