Off on a dig

I'm currently working on a page one screenplay rewrite. I did a lot of brainstorming last week, and came up with some exciting ideas. Those ideas led to other ideas, which led to other ideas... and suddenly everything connected back to themes and arcs that were already in the script. I never realized what they meant before. Even though I wrote the script.

My sister made the following comment, "Rewriting a story is like working an archaeological dig." I'm going to add a bit: Rewriting a story is like an archaeological dig; everything's in there – you just need to dig it up, clean it off and figure out what it is.

Of course, good acting and directing is archaeology too. I remember a Royal Shakespeare production of The Taming Of The Shrew I saw at the Kennedy Center in 2003. Most modern interpretations of the play wink at the "difficult," "misogynistic" text. Some work – I enjoyed Kevin Kline in an Old West version in Central Park years ago – but most don't. The RSC production played the text absolutely straight. And yet they found emotional connections and character motivations that made the play work in a way I have never seen before. Now this is a play I know well. It is the first play I ever saw performed live and I ran straight home and reenacted it with my dolls. I KNOW the text. Or I thought I did until I saw the RSC production, in which they discovered gobs of previously buried information.

The first time we meet him, male lead Petruchio mentions that his father has died. Most productions gloss over that information; they take it to mean that the guy has an inheritance and is looking to settle down. But Shakespeare didn't write a lot of accidental stuff. If he says the guy's father has died, he means the guy's father has died. Which should be important. It would be important to me. Maybe Petruchio is in, I dunno – pain? – the first time we meet him. Maybe he sees a mirror of his misfortune in Kate, a woman who lacks her own father's love... and suddenly, we're off to the races on a whole new, fascinating play, filled with all kinds of interesting, emotional stuff that Shakespeare left there for us to find. It only took the nice folks at the RSC a few hundred years to dig it out, dust it off and figure out what the heck it all means.

By the way, considering how many RSC actors have been cast to lead American series lately, how is it that Jasper Britton hasn't found a home on American TV? Somebody give that man a lab coat, stat!

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