Play 200 and the Lunardi Bonnet

Play 200 at the Oran Mor - and an excellent review by Joyce Macmillan. I haven't been to see this - or my own contribution - yet, but plan on going on Saturday.  The show consists of lots and lots of 2 minute plays, loosely themed on Glasgow Then and Now. It's remarkably hard to write a 2 minute play without turning it into a comedy sketch. Mine was about eighteenth century balloonist Lunardi's visit to Glasgow. They tethered his balloon in Glasgow Cathedral, since it was the only public space big enough to hold it. I find that image enchanting! I've cheated a bit, though, since I've already used that story in a novel called The Physic Garden. Or perhaps I should say a 'half written novel' called The Physic Garden. Mind you, it's as good an illustration as any of how ideas germinate and grow and change. The Physic Garden started out as an idea for an Oran Mor play, which I even drafted out, but was never very happy with. At last, I decided where the problem lay. The whole idea was much too big for a 45 - 50 minute play. It kept fidgetting, pushing against the time constraints, desperate to break out. So then, I thought I might write it as a full length play. But I kept postponing it as a project, or tinkering around the edges, never feeling very happy with it. And all the time, I could hear this voice inside my head, telling a tale that - somehow - needed to be told. So I let the voice take me where it would, and some 90,000 words later, it turned into a novel. But that wasn't the end of it. Because - some months later - having left those 90,000 words to lie fallow, and having let one or two people read the novel, I now think that it's only half the story. So what I'm about to do is write the other half, prune the 90,000 words I've already written, interweave the two tales - and bob's your uncle. Or not, as the case may be.
Will it work? I've no idea. And if other, more pressing projects intervene, I'll probably shelve it and get on with more immediate work. But I know that it will be there, lurking at the back of my mind, waiting its turn. And I think that I now know what needs to be done. Just a case of getting on with it, really!
Meanwhile, I found the story of Lunardi and his balloon lurking in there, when I was looking for inspiration for a two minute play - so in a way, it wasn't only a response to a request for a contribution - it was also a small way of experimenting with the ideas in the novel, trying to find out if they might have a life of their own. I think they probably do!

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