I find that the overall plot of Base Instruments, which is a mystery, is proving to be hard to nail down. I’m very close now, though it certainly could still change as I test how everything works. The other day I worked out an important aspect of it through drawing a diagram and moving coins around on it that represented where the characters were at various points in the story. Proud of myself for figuring that out!
I wrote this snippet for Base Instruments as part of 31 Plays in 31 Days 2014. I got the major themes and journeys hammered out pretty quickly, so here's something, getting at the idea that as much as Mary wants to be Mrs. Hawking's protege, she may not be ready for everything Mrs. Hawking's going to expect. This will be Mary’s major struggle for the piece.
What If I Don’t Want To?
By Phoebe Roberts
MARY STONE, Mrs. Hawking’s maid and protégé
NATHANIEL HAWKING, Mrs. Hawking’s gentleman nephew
London, England, 1883
MARY: Did you know that Mrs. Hawking studied ballet when she was young?
NATHANIEL: Is that so? I'd no idea, how interesting.
MARY: Apparently she once considered making a career of it.
NATHANIEL: Oh, really? Was she any good, then?
MARY: I don't know. But doesn't that surprise you?
NATHANIEL: I quite honestly don’t believe there’s anything she couldn’t do if she cared to. Why, does it you?
MARY: It’s, well… Mrs. Hawking doesn't often like things for their own sake, now, does she?
NATHANIEL: She doesn't like much of anything.
MARY: That's not what I mean. Everything's to a point with her. She practices skills to hone her craft. She studies facts in case it might serve her to know them. For goodness sake, she only reads for the points of reference. To think of her dancing for only the love of it… why, it's entirely new.
NATHANIEL: Goodness. I think I see what you mean.
MARY: Do you think… she’s always been that way?
NATHANIEL: I’m hard pressed to imagine her before she was so bitter.
MARY: It could have been that. Or… do you think she’s found it necessary? For her work, I mean. To care for nothing but that which serves her purpose because that’s the only way she’s capable of accomplishing the enormous things she accomplishes?
NATHANIEL: Goodness, I hope not. I mean to be of help to her, but I couldn’t bear to live as she does. Devoting herself to nothing but her work.
MARY: What if that’s what it takes?
NATHANIEL: Well, then I haven’t got it. I’ve a family, for heaven’s sake, and a hobby or two I’d care to pursue.
(He laughs, but MARY sits very quietly, eyes wide.)
NATHANIEL: Are you quite all right?
MARY: What if I haven’t got it either?
NATHANIEL: Oh, Mary. I’m sure you too can do anything you want to. If you put your mind to it, I’m sure you could become as honed and dedicated as she is.
MARY: No, Nathaniel… what if I don’t want to?