An extract of True Brits is going on at HighTide Festival this year. Having spoken to the director, Ellen, I’ve decided to use the opportunity to see how the switches between present day action and the past can work in a monologue (or if they work at all). Before I send off the final extract to be used, I’m spending today and tomorrow tightening it up.
I’ve been reading about pitching lately (yeah, I know), as a way of clarifying what I’m writing before it gets too ahead of me, and one article asked: “What’s your question?”. I realised I didn’t really have one yet, but I usually always do. Well, I had lots of “questions”, but they were all theoretical, not emotional.
I think writing feels “right” when you take a concept, be it a set up or a structural device, something that operates on the intellectual level and swirl it around an emotional question. The first part is easy to do, the second asks a lot more of you.
With True Brits, I’ve dug into my memories and I’ve decided that the question for this play is:
What does it mean to love your country when your country stops loving you?
That’s the essence of the thing. It’s not so much an exploration of violence or racism or prejudice but of heartbreak. It’s a bit late to run that solidly through the second draft, though it is strongly in there, but now I’ve settled on that I feel excited about using that question to focus the play. Should bring it down from the monstrous fifteen thousand words it currently is.
EDIT: Here’s the entire clumsy pitch:
“True Brits is a comedy-drama monologue that charts the coming of age of a young man through Millennial Britain, into paranoid post-7/7 London and finally the euphoric city of the 2012 Olympics.
Rahul spends his days chasing girls, dodging fights, and trying to get in with the cool kids at school. Just like everybody else.
But the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings shears his world apart, and his fervent attempts to stake a claim for himself as a member of British society – a society that now distrusts him on sight – draw him into ever-darker places. What does it mean to love your country when your country stops loving you?”