Physic Gardens and Uncommon Gardeners

Spent most of yesterday afternoon working on new stage play. This began life as a play called The Physic Garden, set (more or less!) in the old Botanical Garden of Glasgow University, or the old college, in the city centre, as it was in the early 1800s.
The play started out as a 'two hander' - a dialogue between a gardener and one of the lecturers in botany - loosely based on real people. I was interested in the fact that the physic garden was dying, because the university had allowed a type foundry to be built right next to it - and the fumes were poisoning the plants. Also, the gardener was about to lose his job, in spite of the fact that he was a good amateur botanist.
Somehow had it in my mind that lecturer would be much older than gardener. Some very basic research revealed that in this instance, lecturer (also rather distinguished medical doctor)was only a very few years older than gardener. This helps to explain relationship between the two which emerges as something verging on friendship. Difference between them - socially - was vast. Intellectually not so vast - a matter of education. More research opens various cans of worms and nature of the play changes, as I write and revise it and write it again (printing out compulsively between drafts!)
Relationship between these two men becomes closer than I had intended. Dialogue between them starts to delve into differences (and tensions) between botany and anatomy. Botany, the study of plants (sometimes for medicinal purposes) was part of a medical degree back them and not an individual subject. But medicine was already heavily influenced by anatomy, the impulse to know what was going on inside the human body. And anatomy had not just its criminal side, but an element of showmanship about it. There were bound to be tensions between these two approaches. Almost in spite of me-as-playwright, this is what these characters are starting to discuss.
Then, quite by chance, I discover the existence of an old book which startles me, distresses me, and - in terms of the play - means another rethink. The contents of the book - provocative on any terms - would be part of the experience of at least one of these men, possibly both. The big 'what if' has to be asked again. It's what writers ask all the time. What if this happened? What if that were true?
Rewrites and more rewrites are needed. This started out as a play aimed at The Oran Mor in Glasgow - consequently quite a short play, 45 - 50 minutes. Suddenly it seems to have the potential for something much longer. What to do? Not sure, but possibly try to keep it short, initially, with the potential to expand it in the future.
Will it ever be staged? Not sure about that either. I'll give it my best shot, but am seriously considering posting plays on this blog, and/or on MySpace in any case. Frankly, would rather see them 'out there' than languishing in folders!

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