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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Less Historic, More Ancient Crimes

The halfway mark (depending how you want to judge it, it's not quite a linear year) for Project 10/52 (starting v. soon) is Project Six - Historic Crimes.  It's a serious play - a funny in places, but also very dark.  It's based, in part, on the current scandals rocking British broadcasting, schools - anywhere where people in positions of trust have been found to have abused their positions - where people in whom we have invested public affection turn out to have dark secrets in their pasts.
I think the two possible reactions can be summed up neatly thus - when Jimmy Savile - DJ, television presenter and clearly a seriously dodgy bloke, turned out actually to be a sex offender, everyone sort of already knew or were not in the least bit surprised and so went - NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.  However, when another celebrity was accused of a similar crime, (accused, not convicted) the reaction among all my friends was - NO, NOT HIM!  This was because we liked him, liked his work and we don't want his work tainted by accusations or, if prosecuted, convictions.  (Note my careful wording to avoid libeling anyone.)
And these are the reactions to minor celebrities - what would happen if it was someone really important, someone who had real cultural capital?

Happy Birthday Shakespeare.

The play's about how a group of people would act if they found out that the secular god that is Shakespeare was guilty of some very historic crimes?  Would they tell anyone?  Would they let the truth out or would they keep silent?  If a crime is committed in the distant past, is it our duty to stand up for the victim (who cannot be helped) or leave well alone?
It is one of a long line of plays that I have written which I would call morality tales.  I tend to be a very moral writer - though only in the subject, not in the action of the plays sometimes.  To write a morality you often have to show very immoral things - show the things that the audience must judge (or not judge) as right.  Incidentally, this play will not show any of the crimes I'm forcing onto the greatest writer of all time - it will deal mostly in ideas, characters, emotion and Norman Wisdom (who will, I must assure fans, be a force for good - not that I can't libel him, he's dead - I just wouldn't, that would be mean).

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