ARGONAUTICA, Act I / The Joy of Good Tools

Act One of Argonautica is done, at least in current form. It’s ten pages long. Act II and possibly Act III will fall in quick succession to my pen today. Acts II, III and IV currently contain another ten pages of material. I planned and plotted at Victoria Station for a couple of hours yesterday while I was writing, and managed to get the outline of all the major dialogues. Currently, I’m guessing the script will run about forty pages. I’m going to try to add an additional eight pages of material, so when printed on 11 x 17 paper, it will fill six sheets of paper, entirely reasonable for printing and photocopying.

A talk with led me to believe that performance time may run forty-five minutes to an hour, which is fine, though perhaps shorter than might like. I don’t know. I may try to do another couple of chorus songs, and actually work in a couple of “backstory” songs for Orpheus to talk about his journey to the Underworld, and the earlier parts of the story that we don’t have a chance to hear in this version. It would be nice to have the whole play run about an hour, without intermission.

I think the story suffers from not having enough women characters. Following traditional Greek tragic form, there are only four characters with speaking parts: Jason, Aeetes, Medea and Orpheus. I’ve also split the chorus into two, a chorus of Colchians (divided into men and women) and a chorus of Argonauts (divided into port and starboard). This means, though, that nominally there’s only 3-5 women in the play, and the rest are men. Awkward. On the other hand, the tragic format is a great platform for my rhythmic and metrical skills. There are places where the text is uneven, but on the whole, the thing’s in iambic pentameter, and follows either canzone, villanelle, sestina or sonnet form.

I’m doing the layout for the play in Pages, which is the writing platform from Apple’s iWork suite of tools. It’s not exactly intuitive, but I’m discovering how powerful it is. When I started, I just made a few memos, and then a couple of mini-newsletters for class. Now I have a twenty-page book, with line numbers to enable a director to point actors at a specific place in the text. The line numbers aren’t continuous in each act, unfortunately; they run 5 to 45 on each page, and include the stage directions. They’re still helpful for navigation, though, I’m guessing. I’m also trying to create a layout for a second version of the book on 8.5 x 14 paper, so I can print out 11×17 versions for the director and principal actors, and a smaller book for sale after performances. suggested I also do an audio CD, which would be cool but require tons of rehearsal. might be interested.

H.A. and I are going to Victoria this morning to talk about curriculum for her upcoming trip to Korea to teach English, and European history. We worked out a daily plan for her eight weeks over there, and today I’m going to see what sorts of digital images I have that she can use. Again, Pages has proved very helpful here: I can download images from the web or select them from my scanned portfolio of book plates, and incorporate them into little 1-sheet/ 8.5 x 11 “newsletters” on aspects of history. So far I’ve done five or six of these newsletters in color; one on the space race, one on Vietnam, one on the Korean War, one on ancient Greek ceramics, and one on the Cuban Missile Crisis (can you tell I taught the cold war this spring?). The newsletters can be printed, or they can be put up on the web as .pdf downloads. The Greek Ceramics one is actually an 11×17 format, since it’s 4 8×11 pages. Pages is a pretty sweet tool for the things I need to do.

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