Maybe everyone who has spoken to me within this last year knows this, but I’ve been working on a play. Now I will tell you about it so that in the future if you’re ever wondering what I’m thinking about while I’m in Malawi, you’ll know, and if I want to talk about this, I’ll not write all this context again.
Context: Prometheus is a Greek titan and one of the first tricksters in recorded human mythology, who was super tricksy in his dealings with Zeus. For example, he stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. That was a big one. There’s also other more stories to explore, and I recommend it. So he has humiliated and defied Zeus multiple times and so Zeus, who takes these sorts of things not lightly, chains him to a rock for eternity. Every day an eagle eats Prometheus’s liver. Every night his liver grows back.
The Greeks loved Prometheus and this story and his sass and this punishment and instilled this love into their Renaissance descendants. They would paint lots of pictures of Prometheus having his liver eaten as their new innovations in perspective could finally do justice to his rippling muscles.
Learn trivia and impress your friends! The oldest surviving written play we have about anything is about Prometheus! Prometheus Bound, by Aeschylus. I’m not that into it, honestly. I think I need to give it more time. I promise I’m not into not liking things in order to look smarter, I don’t think I’m better than the play or Aeschylus. People love it, including very smart people, and I’d like to give it another few good focused reads. My dear friend Carl has really logged some hours digging into it and going to Greece and picking it all apart and has felt deeply rewarded for his time. He’s also working on a musical version of Prometheus Unbound. But that is not my play.
Edit: Okay, so I guess The Persians by Aeschylus is an older play, so maybe only use this false trivia to impress people who don’t really know Greek drama and won’t fact check you.
My play is called The Prometheus Gig: A woman named Eve gets a temp job eating Prometheus’s liver each day. When pressed, she lies about it and claims she’s taking care of him. People think she’s a hero by being a quiet caretaker of a classical hero in defiance of the gods. As the public heightens their opinion of her unto sainthood, her private actions become more cruel. In other news, when she was 16 homelife was crazy, so she left home and never called or wrote or looked back. As the play opens ten years later, she learns that her mother is terminally ill and needs some cash or she’ll die. My main character returns to her, flush with cash from her strange job and bracing herself to renegotiate with her past. Since this is a story, there’s all sorts of parallels between her job and the relationship with her mother.
I started kicking around this idea about three years ago and letting it fester. Last year some dear friends (of different artistic disciplines) and I started meeting weekly in order to hold each other accountable for our goals. This meant it wouldn’t be feasible to continue to let it fester forever. In roughly a month that summer I wrote the first draft. In a month and a half or so I wrote the second draft, with some major things filled out, expanded, made clearer. That was finished around November, after which I started rehearsal for shows, often overlapping, until about a couple months ago. While it would have been possible to keep writing and working on it during that time, it seemed perfectly reasonable to not push it forward. I also didn’t totally know what to do with it.
A few short weeks before I left NC, I gathered some beautiful talented supportive friends to read my play with me. It felt scary and exhilarating & I was a little depressed afterwards at the thought of really attacking these problems. Now I’m in Malawi and working through this each day. I’m relearning focus, I’m refamiliarizing myself with these characters and what they want, I’m starting over. I’m releasing them from where I thought they were going. And I am trying damned hard to find a new ending.
I’m deeply frustrated with this play. I also have an idea of what it’s becoming and what it could be, which is my favorite play. I’m in love with it, that play that doesn’t exist yet. And I’m also looking forward to the day (soonplease?) where this draft is in a complete kind of place, that I can move on.
Before I return to the States in August I’ll have it. A complete third draft something which I can give to someone (you?) without any disclaimers. I’ll still work on it and workshop it, but it won’t be protected by me in the way its predecessors have.