14 April 2010.
it’s nice not to worry about some things. for example, the title of my play? it’s Robin Hood. that’s all. i was really worried i’d have to come up with a title before the play had been written, but when i asked Sarah Jane, she told me that’s the title: Robin Hood. and i honestly couldn’t be more relieved. title: chosen.
in thinking of how to approach my Robin Hood, i have a few immediate ideas that i am looking to consider. the first is that i’d like to have a kind of smart alecky narrator, someone who can provide the important information quickly (and hopefully eliminate lengthy set changes), get us from point a to point c while telling us what we missed at point b, and have fun with the concept of a narrator. i imagine a cross between Monty Python‘s authority figures and Arrested Development‘s excellent narration. i’m not sure how i’ll make this work, however, as i am keeping this play in its usual time period of the turn of the 13th century. i don’t want it to be too anachronistic. an example that pops into my mind is A Knight’s Tale: i liked the concept, but hated the execution. but what i want to aim for is similar: a modern sensibility for an “old” story. [note: this gets reflected in Lee Moyer’s great poster design: sort of a Robin Hood meets Usual Suspects look.]
i also want to have Allan-a-Dale, the musician amongst the Merry Band, run across a musical instrument right in the midst of each fight scene. so Robin and the Sheriff will be dueling at the castle, and someone will have left a guitar by the wall. Allan-a-Dale will pick up the guitar and then provide music to underscore that fight. ideally, the instruments get bigger with each fight (start with a recorder, end with a piano?) [note: this did not end up in this adaptation. i do really like this idea and it’s the one i’m saddest to see not make it. i do hope to play with it in some other piece (or in Robin Hood 2 (i’ve got a title already!)??). here, it just got more and more ridiculous. in a bad way.]
and the other immediate take is that maybe Robin Hood is presented as if it were a traveling band of actors, putting on a show in the local town square. they roll up in their wagon, which provides the backdrop and the players come in and out with costumes, etc. [note: once my plot is in place, this idea falls by the wayside as it’s just too much information to get across. i’m less bummed about losing this one.]
also, in adapting a centuries-old story, there are certain things that might be expected in a new version. i immediately think of Little John defeating Robin at the river crossing. i can’t think of many Robin Hood stories that don’t portray that. (even the awful (i mean horrible) Robin Hood : Men in Tights had that scene!). i think i have a way to include that in my version, but i also want to make sure that i’m doing it for this particular story, and not just because every version has it. that’s the danger in adapting a Robin Hood: i don’t want to make it a mix of what i think everyone wants to see in a Robin Hood. i want to tell an honest, good story in an involving way. i can tell you one thing, though: there will be no archery contest in my version. i think every single version i read has a stupid archery contest.
[note: this resolve lasts all of three weeks. i end up writing myself into a corner, and with no way to write myself out, i decide to put in an archery contest as a placeholder. “just for now,” i think. “then i can make it something else.” but then, after it’s there, it just works, ya know? it just works.]