Monday, October 27, 2008

Albion - The ‘Meet the Parents’ version

Tash and her girlfriend live in the big city together. The girlfriend (I can’t remember her name – let’s call her Megan) wants the two of them to get serious. The problem is, Tash has never introduced Megan to her family. In fact, she never talks about them. From where Megan is standing, this is a serious case of someone not wanting to come out of the closet.

Megan lays an ultimatum on Tash – if they’re going to have a future together, Tash has to introduce Megan to the family. This is the day Tash has always dreaded, but not for the reasons Megan imagines.

Tash is actually the daughter of the ‘famous’ King Arthur, a nut who has been causing a real stir in the small town of Savage. Tash is terribly embarrassed by her family, and just wants to disassociate herself as much as possible. Relieved that she was wrong, but recognising that there's still some stuff here to sort out, Megan persuades Tash to take her to meet the parents.

Upon arrival, it’s very clear that the town of Savage is going weird. People are polarised between supporting ‘King Arthur’ and opposing him. All of them take him seriously, which is the weirdest thing of all as far as Tash and Megan are concerned.

Tash introduces Megan to 'King Arthur' and 'Queen Guinevere'. She doesn’t introduce Megan as her girlfriend, re-igniting Megan’s annoyance at Tash’s avoidance. Megan also meets Sir Jeremy, a member of the inner circle of the Round Table and Tash’s old boyfriend from Savage College. All of Tash’s secrets are coming out…

Where does it go from there? I’m not too sure, having to re-create this version from my memory. (It never got any further than the outlining stage…)

The King approves of a union between Tash and Sir Jeremy, and he and Queen Guinevere are working to make that happen. Tash isn’t willing to tell her parents where she really stands, when leads to Tash and Megan fighting, which drives Tash towards Sir Jeremy – who is a pretty good guy.

The main question of the script was whether the spell of King Arthur and Albion would fall on our two main characters, and whether Tash would get honest with her family, with Megan, and herself. It was really pitting honesty and modern day values against cultural expectations.

Why did I abandon it and move on?

I felt this version wasn’t quite right and there was something better out there for the idea. I also suspect I felt it was moving too far away from the original idea, and not focused enough on Arthur.

Ironically, I was probably drawn towards this version because I felt it was difficult to draw Arthur’s psychology, and there was an appeal in keeping him at a distance. I think I’ll blog more about that tension about the distance at which to view Arthur in a later post.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Albion - the problems with tone (or "How funny is madness anyway?")

One of the big problems I struggled with over Albion was tone.

In fact, if there's one thing that differentiates the versions of Albion in my head, it's the different tone to all of them. That tone basically runs the continuum from comedy to drama, and all those colourful spots in between.

The first version of Albion tried to mine comedy from the premise (using slapstick and a sense of the ridiculous), but was ultimately aiming to be an uplifting drama. The King himself summed up this attempt very well - he was a comic character initially, but still a man who could change the world.

Other versions took different tacks to him and the concept. Is the King comic, dramatic, or comic-tragic? Is his madness serious, or humourous, or both?

Trying to reconcile the tone between comedy and drama did take me down some fun roads.

Anton Chekhov is my favourite writer for combining the comedic and the tragic, and walking the knife edge between those two emotions.

One of my favourite versions of Albion (which I hope to post up in its entirety) was what I call my 'Chekhovian draft'. Basically I'd just read all five of Chekhov's major plays and was super-inspired by him. I rushed off the computer the next day and knocked off ten pages of script. The next day, the Chekhov inspiration wore off, and I abandoned the script.

I don't know whether it captured that Chekhovian tone - you can judge for yourself - but I did really like what I'd written. And going back to it recently, as a part of researching for these blog posts, I found I still liked it. I didn't really see the Chekhov so much, but I did like what was there.

So that was a cool experience!