I have an idea for a new play that has stayed with me for slightly more than a week now. Such longevity usually means it shall come to pass on paper in the near future! This idea presents a welcome challenge, in that it will have an element that I have never been able to devise with any clarity before; the backdrop. I am not referring to a piece of printed cloth physically hanging down the back of the stage. I am referring to the world of the play; the context.
This play will occur in a room that conceals the action and drama of the outside world; a world that will be the cause and effect of the characters’ lives (seen only within the confines of stage-dimensions, or the room). That is the tricky part for me. I have never written characters that have given a damn about what is happening ‘out there’. There has never been an ‘out there’ to concern themselves with. I am eager to change all that and put imaginary people in an unhinged world they cannot control, but can only react to..
This much I do know; these characters are based on a group of individuals who rose up and claimed their own identity in protest to their outside world. The action of the play will be driven by what has happened ‘outside’ and the aftermath will occur in this room I have the main set imagined. I have a few characters buzzing around in my head and have started research into my chosen historical backdrop. It will be colourful, rowdy and even has a soundtrack. Still, the notion of blindly exploring that outside world is intimidating. How do I bring it all centre-stage effectively? How do I engage an audience through hearsay? I have always found it easier to create the character and then build a world up around them, but for this piece, I will be doing the exact opposite. This is my challenge…
I would love to hear from any writers out there who have mastered the art of the backdrop.
I will share my opening scene as soon as it happens!