Over the past year I’ve been working on the first sequel, which I’m currently referring to as Vivat Regina. I like the idea of opening the next Mrs. Hawking story by showing the women at work, specifically of Mrs. Hawking teaching Mary about how to use observation and deductive reasoning (well, technically inductive, but whatever) in the process of working on cases. I wanted to bang out a draft of this scene for August 18th, 2013 just for the purposes of catching up on 31 Plays in 31 Days.
One thing I’ve learned in the course of writing plays, or anything really, is that it’s better to get SOMETHING down on the page, to get some draft just written, so that the thing exists. Otherwise you get so wrapped up in how you’re not ready to write it in its current imperfect form that you never end up writing it at all. At least if you have a draft, you have something, and you can always improve it afterward.
Day #18 – “Reading the Signs”
(A fancy Victorian society party. Women glide around in gowns with men in white tie. Waiters carry around trays of champagne glasses and push around serving trolleys. After a moment some peel away from the center, revealing a tall, dark-haired young woman holding a fan to her face. When she moves it aside, we see that it is MARY. She flutters it and speaks seemingly to no one under her breath.)
MARY: The timing is too coincidental. It has to be someone here. But there’s no sign of them.
(MRS. HAWKING in her stealth suit pokes her head out from her hiding place behind a drapery.)
MRS. HAWKING: Nonsense. The signs are there, you just aren’t looking properly.
(People approach and MRS. HAWKING hides again. MARY walks quickly away and makes a loop around the party. When people move off again, she returns to the drapery.)
MRS. HAWKING: Consider the circumstances.
MARY: The gems are heavy, and there are a number of them. Difficult to secret about one’s person.
MRS. HAWKING: There’s a start.
MARY: But there hasn’t been time to go far. They have to still be here somewhere.
MRS. HAWKING: Sound so far.
(Other guests draw near. She ducks back behind the drapery and MARY acts casual until they leave.)
MARY: They must have been hidden somewhere nearby. Somewhere within easy reach, but not where others are likely to find it.
MRS. HAWKING: And where would that be?
MARY: I… I don’t know.
MRS. HAWKING: Oh, come now!
(People pass by again and MRS. HAWKING hides. MARY moves to the other side of the stage. MRS. HAWKING pops back out of the drapery on that side.)
MRS. HAWKING: Think, girl.
MARY: In the flower arrangements.
MRS. HAWKING: Too conspicuous to disturb.
(Again MARY moves. MRS. HAWKING disappears behind the drape..)
MARY: The wall sconces.
MRS. HAWKING: Not enough concealment.
MARY: Under the banquet tables?
MRS. HAWKING: Rank amateurism.
MARY: The chandelier?
MRS. HAWKING: Now you’re being absurd. I would have seen them already!
(Someone approaches. MARY sweeps her skirt around so that MRS. HAWKING can hide beneath them.)
MARY: I don’t know!
MRS. HAWKING: I said think, Miss Stone! A place nearby, unlikely to be disturbed, easily accessed to recover the spoils!
(MARY looks about, shaking her head desperately. Then her eye settles on one of the waiters with a serving trolley.)
MRS. HAWKING: Now you’ve got it.
MARY: Shall we, then?
MRS. HAWKING: Quickly and quietly, now. Go.
(MRS. HAWKING gets out from under MARY’s skirts and back behind the drapery. MARY weaves her way to the waiter. Pretending to look away, MARY moves in front of the trolley and allows it to crash into her.)
(She dramatically falls over. The waiter startles and hurries to help her up. The other guests watch them in surprise. While they are distracted, MRS. HAWKING darts out of concealment and snatches one of the covered trays off the trolley. She disappears back behind the drapery.)
(After MARY disengages from the waiter, she makes another circuit of the part, accepting people’s concern and gracefully putting them off. At last she settles in front of the drapes again. Her body blocks from view MRS. HAWKING emerging, now in a black maid’s dress, with the tray in her arms.)
MRS. HAWKING: Mission accomplished. Reconvene at base. About time, Miss Stone.
(She hustles out. MARY smiles.)