Bernie and I have come to think about the Mrs. Hawking play series in terms of what we call arc-cycles, or a series of trilogies that each complete a full arc within the larger story, each one building upon the last but with an internal completeness of its own.
The first arc-cycle, consisting of I.i Mrs. Hawking, I.ii Vivat Regina, and I.iii Base Instruments, is about the formation of our main superhero team, of Mrs. Hawking, Mary, and Nathaniel. This is where their relationships are established, as well as their working dynamic, with a stable understanding being reached by the end of part 3.
But part of serialization is establishing a particular sort of dynamic equilibrium, where new conflicts constantly arise to provoke growth and change, but the spirit of the premise is consistently maintained so that the series retains its identity. So the next arc-cycle has to move what’s been established forward by challenging the newly formed status quo— which in our case is that stable team dynamic. The stuff we’ve built in arc-cycle 1, arc-cycle 2 is obligated to in some way disrupt.
The difficulty of that is that you don’t want to wreck all the great stuff you’ve established just for the sake of having new story to tell. The development has to be maintained in some way, and explored further from there, but new conflicts have to be introduced to induce new growth. So, as we went into part 4: Gilded Cages— or II.i by the arc-cycles —we went in with the understanding that the basis of this second trilogy was going to have to a shakeup of something the audience had been led to desire and become settled with.
After all, when your thesis is the formation of the team, the antithesis that is only natural to meet it is to put stress on that formation. We’ve established a sort of Mrs. Hawking mythos— she is a ferocious, complicated hero with some very particular strengths and weaknesses— now it’s time to deconstruct some of that persona, and in a way, put our money where our mouth is when it comes to making those strengths and weaknesses real.
That means, as often happens in part two of a trilogy, the story is going to get a little darker.
More to be elaborated on this later.