The one upshot of procrastination is that the longer I delay really hammering away at writing Havisham, the more the concept evolves and matures. I've been thinking for a while that this musical might not be for high schools. Most of my shows have large casts, which makes them ideal for big school groups but impractical for professional theaters. But the more I think about Havisham, the more I think it should be tight, small, and a little edgier than my high school stuff.
Yesterday I had an idea: what if the show starts with Charles Dickens reading from Great Expectations, and he gets heckled by a lunatic Jules Verne. Verne has been following and harassing Dickens for months, showing up at all of his readings. Verne is NUTS. Completely unhinged. He gets up onto the stage with Dickens and keeps messing with him, ultimately pinning Dickens down on the ground and wresting the manuscript from him. Then Verne basically takes over the story and creates a new backstory for Havisham - one where she lives on an air ship, is a spy for the British against Napoleon, and where jazz was born a hundred years early and effectively put guys like Beethoven out of business. Havisham is a kind of Holly Golightly, dating French military officers and breaking hearts. Verne will play a series of characters, and Dickens is kind of forced to play the role of Jaggers (from Great Expectations), who loves Havisham. So there's an interesting layer here that appeals to me: on one level, Jaggers suffers because of Havisham, but on another level Dickens suffers for his character, whom he created and loves. There's a lot of fascinating, cool stuff to work with here, but it's just not going to be for high schools, I think. Anyway, I just wanted to share those thoughts. I'm really excited about writing a lunatic Jules Verne. I saw a bizarre play called "Heddatron" at Stray Cat Theatre in Tempe a while back, and one character really captured my imagination. I can't remember his name, but he is basically off his rocker and drives Henrik Ibsen out of his mind. Anyway, we'll see where this show takes me!
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