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A major issue in Mrs. Hawking part 4 is Nathaniel finding out the Colonel was offered a knighthood that he turned down— and Mrs. Hawking never cared to learn why. Bernie and I discussed what that scene in the past must have looked like, and though it will likely never feature in any actual show, I thought it might be fun to explore for curiosity's sake.

A major thing people wonder about is what it must have been like in their home when they were married and living there together. He spent a lot of time abroad when he realized how little she wanted him around, but when he was there, things were... frosty. Quiet and stiff. We decided that due to her resentment, Mrs. Hawking developed a profound mental block when it came to all things related to him, a resistance to making any connection or taking any interest in him. And he lacked the tools to communicate directly with her enough to even try to address their issues.

Still, I could imagine him making occasional forays into getting her to talk to him about SOMETHING— in this case, what to do about this knighthood he felt so bad accepting. Here I tried to imagine what that conversation must have been like. To wit, mostly him attempting in his indirect way to solicit her thoughts, and her shutting him down at every turn without ever actually becoming aggressive or rude. At least not overtly.

Day #14 - All the More Reason )
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This was one of the scenes I felt was most successful in all of part 4 during the first reading. It directly builds off of Day #1 - "Stakeout Date" and immediately follows Day #11 - "Showing Up" One of my big resolutions for every piece in the series is that each of my three leads— Mary, Mrs. Hawking, and Nathaniel — get a meaningful personal issue to deal with. It's okay and indeed expected for who takes center stage to shift, like how part 1 is mostly Mary's journey and part 3 primarily features Nathaniel's, but they all need an arc every play whether it's the story's most important arc or not.

In part 4, I was concerned that Mrs. Hawking's is so big that it might completely force out the other two. So I made particular effort to clarify what Mary and Nathaniel's journeys were in my head in very specific terms so I could focus on them. Mary in particular is all about taking steps of a journey that spans the entire series— going from ignored and agency-free nobody to a full-fledged hero in her own right. So each play is her navigating a step along that way. In Base Instruments, she decided she didn't want to be a clone of Mrs. Hawking, with nothing else but the work in her life. Now in Gilded Cages she's dealing with people prospect of what that's going to look like. She knows she wants "more," but what does "more" mean?

She struggles because before coming to Mrs. Hawking, she had no meaningful history, nothing that she did or was that mattered. She has very little to build upon, like any important relationships or ties. It's all being formed from scratch for her. This gives her a good struggle for this story, because part 4 is ALL ABOUT history. Her lack of it does just as much to shape her as Mrs. Hawking's abundance.

The other thing was, at the first reading, this particular scene was read by Charlotte as Mary and Matt as Arthur, and their performance knocked it out of the park. Matt in particular has done so much to shape the character of Arthur in my mind with his excellent portrayals, and hearing it in Arthur's actual voice with all the meaning he brought to it was such a thrill.

Also, the last line is total fan service. BUT I LOVE IT.

Day #13 - Making Room )
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This is, to me, one of the most important scenes in Mrs. Hawking part 4. Drama has to move fast, so every moment has to pull double or triple duty if possible, advancing the plot and teaching you as much about the characters as you can pack in there. I knew I could only fit four scenes in the past, and I had to establish everything you needed to know about Reginald Hawking— who he was, what he wanted, how he came to marry Victoria, and what all was wrong with it. That's a lot to pack in, especially since I basically had to have him meet her in one scene, fall for her in a second, and BE DAMN IN LOVE WITH HER in a third. That's all I got to make you believe it.

This is the second of those scenes. It needs cleaning up, but I think I'm on to something here. A goal of mine in all their interactions is to make them simultaneously endearing and understandable AS WELL as kind of fucked up if you think too hard about it. I want you sympathizing with Reginald, even as you think the whole thing is wrong. A tricky thing. I think it's in the neighborhood.

Day #12 - Vivat Victoria )
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Accomplishment chart, 8/4 – 8/10


- had first reading dinner for Mrs. Hawking part 4
- drafted “Continual Practice” scene of Mrs. Hawking part 6
- drafted “Promises Kept” scene of Mrs. Hawking part 5
- drafted “From the Queen’s Archive” scene of Mrs. Hawking part 5
- finished final cycle for faction quests in Susurrus for EO Games
- 7 journal entries

- 2 fighter abs routines
- 3 two-mile runs
- walked 10,000+ steps 1 day

- finished editing 3 syllabi for Fall semester at Lesley

- listened to episode 121 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest

- made slow-cooked cannellini, steamed peas with almonds and onions, cornbread, and mixed berry pie in a puff-pastry crust
- made baked crusted cod with steamed broccoli
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This is just a short little bit from Gilded Cages, but it's cute enough I want to post it. Mary's relationship with Arthur is the catalyst for her personal journey in this one, about how she chooses to navigate her connection with him being a question of her priorities, intentions, and plans. This bit is barely a scene, but I like the various attitudes in it, and there's some lines that are both funny and illustrate the relationships between the characters. Part 4 is more about the relationships than anything else, with a greater focus on it than any of the previous four plays, so I want to have every moment tell you more about these people.

Day #11 - Showing Up )
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This scene piece comes immediately after Day #2 - "The One" in Mrs. Hawking part 4: Gilded Cages. It might be a little bit too much of "connective tissue" scene to be worth posting, but it takes us into Nathaniel's major issue for this play, his discovery that the Colonel turned down a knighthood— and that he'll never know why his uncle did it.

A small random observation. You'll notice at the bottom of this scene is a mention of Nathaniel's father. Though we've never actually featured Ambrose Hawking, it occurs to me that he's been mentioned in every single play in the series at least once, even the ten-minute companion piece. In part 1: Mrs. Hawking, our hero mentions "visiting his brother in the south country." In part 2: Vivat Regina, she tells Nathaniel, "All the men in the family have that look. Your uncle, your father, and you." In part 3: Base Instruments, Justin brushes off Clara's comment on his black sheep status with "We can't all be Father's favorite." In the ten-minute, Like a Loss, Reginald puts off a visit from Ambrose, and worries that his brother will teach his dislike of Mrs. Hawking to his two young boys.

I think he is the single most mentioned character who has never actually made an appearance— since the Colonel has now appeared in both part 4, and in the ten-minute companion piece Like a Loss. I've always wanted to do something with him, though I don't know if he'll ever be able to appear. He tends to mostly come off like a bit of an ass in his mentions, but in my head he's a bit more complicated, and it would be nice to get to portray him and his relationship to the rest of the family.

Here, Nathaniel communicates with him off-screen, and it actually would likely be an interesting conversation to hear. But sadly there is no place for it in the Gilded Cages script. Maybe for fun I'll bang it out and see what it looked like, but it would be just for an academic exercise.

Day #10 - Letter From the Queen )
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The very first piece of flashback to 1859 in Gilded Cages. This is where you first meet Priyanka and Elizabeth, as well as see what Victoria was like when she was nineteen years old. It comes just before "Day #9 - Spot Test." As I mentioned, I got feedback that I needed to change how the majorities treat Priyanka in order to better represent what her life is like, and I haven't made those edits yet. But here's the early version, as it was at the first read through.

Day #9 - In the Governor's House )
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This scene was banged out in like three minutes after being struck by an idea. I know I want to have Mrs. Frost holding Nathaniel captive as bait/a hostage/an information source as a big part of Mrs. Hawking part 5. It occurred to me that Mrs. Frost would have done her research into Nathaniel in order to effectively manipulate him. And she'd make sure to go in with a weapon.

This is extremely rough, and of course, having not even edited part 4 yet, I don't really know what part 5 is going to be like. Probably this ultimately won't fit the situation that I'll end up using. But I try to take down ideas when I have them, so I don't lose them for later. After all, I had about five or six scenes to at least be adapted already for Gilded Cages. Every little bit helps!

Day #8 - From the Queen's Archive )
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A scene from the flashbacks of Gilded Cages. This moment was designed both to deliver some expository information about the state of affairs at the time, and to demonstrate where Mrs. Hawking's deductive skills originated. I like it because it establishes certain relationships as well as the provides that information. Priyanka's role in the scene needs some tweaking, as I've been advised to make everyone except Victoria treat her more like she's not a person to establish the difficulty of her position more. But the basic idea is there.

Day #7 - Spot Test )
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One of my biggest regrets about Mrs. Hawking part 4 is there's no room in it for Clara, who has become one of my favorite characters. However, I definitely want her to be an important part of part 5, going so far as to actually include her in the adventure. Since I'm thinking a major part of that plot is Nathaniel gets captured by their enemy in that, she can become the temporary third member of Mrs. Hawking and Mary's team to help free him and solve the case. Particularly because with her social maneuvering, she has a skill set neither of the other two do, and I love the idea that it enables them to work against their enemy on a totally different level— as they realize in "A Separate Battlefield", a scene that kicked off last year's 31P31D.

It's never a great idea to write high-drama, high-intensity scenes before I fully know the context for them, but they're the easiest to imagine when I don't know the story's whole plot. Here's from after Nathaniel is rescued, a moment with just him and Clara.

Day #6 - Promises Kept )
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This is a weird one. It's a scene I scribbled to see how it might work, as I had a wild hare of an idea that kind of works into something I want to deal with in Mrs. Hawking part 6. I want to keep the character of Mrs. Frost present-- I joke I might transition her story role from James Moriarty to Hannibal Lector --for several stories because I like her so much.

But this idea... it's a little twisted, and comes from a pretty deep dive into Mrs. Hawking's psychology. And, truth be told, a lot of my own. Mrs. Hawking is something of a power fantasy for me, so a lot of stuff I think about or wish I could do shows up in her. Still, she rarely reflects my issues so... directly, let's say... as she does here. While I think it's very in character, she's angry here about something I'm angry about. This idea needs more development, but I think I can use to to accomplish an idea I'll eventually want to include in the sixth story.

Day #5 - Continual Practice )
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Another scene from the first draft of Gilded Cages. This scene sets up Nathaniel's journey in the play, his discovering of the Colonel's turning down a knighthood and struggling with the fact that he'll never know why. Originally I was going to set this piece in 1885, pushing it a little farther into the future, but I looked at my timeline and realize that since the Colonel died in 1879, I should go with a year earlier to get that five-year milestone. I kind of wish it could occur a little later-- a historical event I'm planning on including in part 6 happens in 1888, so I'm trying to spread out the time jumps between episodes --but I think this shift was necessary.

The scene I posted for day #2 - "The One" is the next step of this story thread.

Day #4 - Five Years is Enough Time to Learn )
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Accomplishment chart, 7/28 – 8/3


- finished drafting GenCon-exclusive quests for EO
- drafted scenes 8a, 8b, 11a, and 11b for Mrs. Hawking 4, version 1
- finished drafting scene 8c for Mrs. Hawking 4, version 1
- finished Mrs. Hawking 4, version 1
- completed first editing pass for Mrs. Hawking part 4, version 2
- 4 journal entries

- put away costumes from The Murders in the Rue Morgue
- assembled “Mask of ferment” Susurrus costume for GenCon

- 2 fighter abs routines
- 2 two-mile runs
- helped Michael Lin move furniture
- walked 10,000+ steps 2 days

- listened to episode 120 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest

- made omelettes with sautéed peppers and onions
- made broiled pork chops with roast sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli
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This is actually NOT from Mrs. Hawking part 4. It's just an idea I had that I scribbled down, for possible use sometime down the line.

It occurred to me that after deciding Nathaniel had better talents than learning to fight in Vivat Regina, he never really picked up any combat skills. Honestly, with the danger they face, that's something that he'd likely have to do eventually just to keep safe. It also struck me that he's going to go through a pretty serious situation in his part in part 5. So maybe that bad thing happening to him is the impetus to finally get him trained in some form of self-defense.

It also occurred to me that maybe he'd be the one person on the team to use a gun. I'm not sure how I feel about it, as I've avoided including our heroes using guns for a number of reasons, but it seemed like it fit, like it was something he could train at even though he wasn't suited to close combat. Here's a bit of noodling on that idea.

Day #3 - Learning to Shoot )
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I'm not totally posting these scenes from Mrs. Hawking part 4 in the order they were written. Sometimes that results in the connective tissue bits that don't have a scene arc to them. I also don't necessarily want to throw out the huge plot points, though I have drafted moments like that for 31P31D in the past. I'm not sure yet, I haven't decided. So I'm going to choose day by day what to show here.

But one thing I wanted to have in part 4 is a focus on character interaction. We've spent the three previous installments building these relationships into something you care about. It's time to pay that off a little, and just spend time letting the characters be themselves and interact. I hope this scene is interesting to audiences because they've become invested.

Day #2 - The One )
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Starting things off with the opening scene of Mrs. Hawking part 4! It's a cute one, one I hope that audiences have been waiting for— an actual date for Mary and Arthur! It also sets up a lot of issues to be explored in the rest of the show very subtly, the significance of which will unfold slowly as the story progresses.

Day #1 - Stakeout Date )
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Tomorrow is the first day of August, which means 31 Plays in 31 Days— the challenge to write a play of at least one page for every day of the month —begins for 2017. I've done it every year for the last five, and it's been incredibly important for helping me generate dramatic writing. I've gotten new ideas developed, ten minute plays written, and even larger works produced piece by piece by the need to create something. Plus, the list maker in me loves seeing all the titles of the scenes I wrote written out, along with the universes and characters they were for.

This year, however, I knew I was going to do something different. I wanted to write Mrs. Hawking part 4 this summer, and I didn't want to finish it as late as I would if I drafted it in August. So basically I did my writing for 31P31D a month early. But to keep my streak alive, I'm going to post it to my journal in scene pieces, one for each day of August, the same way I've done in previous years.

So if you care to follow along, you'll get an early glimpse of part 4 as I post it this month. Everything's going to be very rough— as it is in the initial drafting process —but it will be reflective of the work I did. I'm so proud of myself for how I finished the first version, I'm kind of excited to show it off.
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New post on!

"The elephant in every room"

We joke during rehearsals a lot— for fun, about each other, about the process, and even about the script. Even though these stories are my babies, I don’t want to turn them into some sort of sacred cows that are above critique or mockery. So I try to have a sense of humor about them, to keep a good perspective and in the interest of making them accessible and fun. The Mrs. Hawking drinking game rose directly out of this kind of joking.

One of the things that comes up a lot is how often characters talk about Mrs. Hawking when she’s not there. It’s a common occurrence in the scripts, so not only do we mock the frequency a little, we also mock the very fact. Lest you forget who the main character is, here are a couple of other characters who are here to remind you of how much we all need to focus on her all the time!

They're talking about her right now.

Read the rest of the entry on!
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Accomplishment chart, 7/21 – 7/27


- drafting for GenCon-exclusive quests for EO
- drafted scenes 9c, 10a, 10b, 13a, 13c, 13d for Mrs. Hawking 4, version 1
- 1 journal entry

- attended Querki demonstration, Hour of Controversy, and Sex Mechanics in Larp panels at NELCO 2017
- gave Advice for Writing a Game Wrap article talk at NELCO 2017

- 1 one-mile run
- 1 two-mile runs
- 2 fighter abs routine
- walked 10,000+ steps 1 days

- listened to episode 119 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest

- made omelettes with sautéed peppers and onions


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