Tag Archives: release

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Completed script for Mrs. Hawking part 4: Gilded Cages!

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Categories: development, gilded cages, Tags:

I am delighted to announce we have completed the performance version of the script for Mrs. Hawking part 4: Gilded Cages!

This script represents a huge step forward for the series. A major goal of each successive installment is to bring something new to the series, to raise the narrative stakes or attempt a new challenge that we’ve never taken on before. Last year’s piece, part 3: Base Instruments, was our very first true mystery, meticulously designed so that all the pieces hung together and that the audience had all the necessary information to solve the puzzle. This year, our innovations were to be both thematic and technical, and demanded enormous work on our part.

First, we’re making use of a flashback structure, juxtaposing the events of the series’s present day in 1884 with significant from Mrs. Hawking’s youth, twenty-five years ago in the Bengali colony in 1859. This not only lets us to tell a piece of her origin story, how she came to be the person that we knew today, it also allows us to meaningfully comment on the events of the modern-day story. The challenge for us is to make this read clearly, to be sure the audience can follow the transition between past and present, and the connection between the events of ’84 and the events of ’59.

As for the thematic challenge, we’ve known from the start that it would lie in tackling the issue of Victorian colonialism. We wanted to pay proper respect to the fact that the period in which we are set was built upon the conquest of other cultures and peoples, often to devastating effect. It seemed disingenuous to attempt any storytelling in this setting that didn’t present a critique of that colonialism, and to deconstruct White Savior story tropes that so often accompany it. We certainly didn’t want to further the damages of this mentality by turning the struggles of these cultures purely into lessons or challenged for our Western protagonists. Writing this story demanded that we do proper research, listen to the thoughts of people who understood the situation better than we did, and question our own assumptions and prejudices. This was absolutely necessary to portray this colonial situation with honesty and respect, as well as create a character that an actor of color would be proud to play. This involves some of the heaviest concepts we’ve ever tackled in Mrs. Hawking, and it was incredibly important we spare no effort in our attempt to do it right.

As always, we could not have done it without our wonderful early readers, both frequent collaborators and thoughtful friends, whose input helped us make the script better than we ever could on our own. To readers Charlotte Brewer, Jennifer Giorno, Naomi Ibatsitas, Matthew Kamm, Cari Keebaugh, Tegan Kehoe, Marybeth Larivee, Shannon Moore, Isaiah Plovnick, and Circe Rowan, we extend our profound thanks for the insight and ideas they gave to make this piece great.

And on top of that, there are those very kind souls who took on the stern task of evaluating our efforts to portray a situation in colonial Asia and depict the journey of our new character, a woman native those circumstance. We could not have done that without those people who were kind enough to lend their time and effort to considering our play and making suggestions and critiques to help us make our portrayal and our new character the best they could be. Bernie and I want to extend a special thanks to Naomi Ibatsitas, Kara Kaufman, Michael Lin, and Mara Elissa Palma for their critical eye, for taking the time to consider our work, and the patience with which they delivered their thoughts. If we have captured any truth here, or done any justice to telling this story, we owe it to these people who guided us.

Finally, I need to thank my closest collaborator and true partner, Bernie Gabin. In addition to serving as technical director for every production, he contributes so much to the development of the Mrs. Hawking stories that he is as much as writer as I am. None of these stories would be a fraction of what they are without his help, and I am so fortunate and grateful that I have someone like him to help me realize these stories— on the page as well as the stage.

I am not going to post the script here on the website until after our performance. So you will have to come see us at Arisia 2018 to find out not only where Mrs. Hawking’s journey will take her next, but how we the authors tackled the challenges we set for ourselves.

So, make sure to join us at Arisia this January the weekend of the 12th-15th at the Westin Boston Waterfront!

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Mrs. Hawking TV show bible posted!

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Categories: development, supplemental, Tags:

The show bible for the Mrs. Hawking TV pilot is now available!

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As you may know, the Mrs. Hawking story could be adapted to many different kinds of media, but I can’t help but think that serialized television is the ideal form. To that end, the first stage script has been adapted into a pilot for a TV series on this website, now updated and in polished form.

But when you’re trying to a script for a TV show out there, a useful tool to have for pitching it is the show bible. That’s a short, five-page document outlining the important broad strokes of the series. It describes the setting, the major ideas, the important characters and their journeys, as well as giving an idea of the direction the storytelling is going to take. So we decided to put one together to accompany our pilot.

The bible is now posted on this website. It was hard to boil things down to their essentials, but actually all the writing about the characters and planning out the story in the blog was incredibly helpful for figuring out what to say! Check out the bible to get an idea of how we’d translate this idea to the screen.

Until then, there’s always the stage plays! Be sure to check out our shows Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina at the Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham on Satuday, May 7th! We’ll give you some cinematic action performed live for your enjoyment!

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A test pilot for a Mrs. Hawking TV series

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Categories: looking ahead, mrs. hawking, Tags: ,

The more I developed the Mrs. Hawking stories, the clearer it’s become that they’re probably not absolutely best suited to be plays. They are action-heavy and spectacle-focused, and as they grow in cast size and scope, it seems more and more that they would be best suited to some kind of cinematic format. I’ve heard many responses from audiences confirming this. Right now, producing them on film is beyond my capability, so for the moment I’ve been getting them out as theatrical plays. But I know someday I’d like to work toward some kind of serialized televisual medium.

I’ve been starting to explore what options might be viable to someday take the work in that direction. Producing a web series in installments seems a possibility worth investigating, but also preparing for any opportunity to pitch it to real production companies. To that end, to be prepared to take advantage of any chance of that nature, I decided it was finally time to take a stab at adapting the tale, or at least the beginning of it, to the screen. At long last, now Mrs. Hawking’s first story is available to read in the screenplay format.

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This piece is basically a reimagining of the plot of the first play Mrs. Hawking to fit the hour-long American television drama format. This was developed based on excellent feedback from John Benfield, Charlotte Brewer, Nat Budin, Viktoriya Fuzyalova, Matthew Kamm, Tegan Kehoe, and Shannon Moore. I’m so grateful for their input, as discerning eyes in the writing process helps me improve my work so much.

As a pilot, this is probably not a strictly ideal production example. In the context of a series, a pilot should set up the leads and their circumstances and prime the audience’s interest to see more. This version may give away a bit more of the drama that may belong in a pilot, rather than ration it out to set the pace for future episodes. But this is strictly a kind of audition piece, designed to be considered in isolation to demonstrate the potential of the series. Choices were made in this adaptation to not only whet a reader’s appetite for further stories, but also to pack enough narrative punch to make this one installment satisfying on its own. It would have to be adapted and reedited to work better in the context of a full season of episodes.

But consider this new pilot version not only an audition of the work but a test, to examine the potential of Mrs. Hawking in another medium. I think it brought a lot of excitement and color that couldn’t be represented with the limitations of the stage. Why don’t you check it out to see what you think?

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New Mrs. Hawking story posted: Base Instruments

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Categories: base instruments, Tags: ,

The third installment of the Mrs. Hawking story, Base Instruments, is now available here on the site for viewing! Click here to read it in the Scripts section.

The official synopsis:

London, England, 1883— Mary has been Mrs. Hawking’s protege for two years now, learning to the ropes of championing the downtrodden women of London with the intent of one day taking her mistress’s place. When Mrs. Hawking is injured in the line of duty, the press for Mary to master the trade becomes all the more urgent as a dancer in the St. Petersberg ballet approaches them to solve the murder of the prima ballerina. But as the team hunts down the truth, Nathaniel’s determination to be of use in his aunt’s work has consequences he doesn’t expect, and Mary begins to realize the heavy cost of taking on the life Mrs. Hawking leads. Join our team as they seek to reconcile the difficult path of the hero with the unraveling of the mystery and seeing that justice is done.

A few notes on it before you read:

The writing of Base Instruments was begun over the course of 31 Plays in 31 Days 2014, with the bulk of it structured and drafted over the course of summer and fall 2015. This version was finalized this past week.

Special thanks to Jane Becker, John Benfield, Charlotte Brewer, Matt Kamm, Tegan Kehoe, Samantha LeVangie, Shannon Moore, and Circe Rowan for their invaluable feedback in the editing process. Their time, perspective, and review made wonderful contributions to the shape of the final product. And of course, my eternal gratitude to Bernie Gabin, my partner in life and in art, who helped me figure out how the hell this idea was going to work, and without whom I’d never have been able to make it happen. Mrs. Hawking is my brainchild, but we’re very much raising her together.

It is written for ten speaking roles, five women and five men, plus a small nonspeaking ensemble. As written, Miss Zakharova and Miss Sherba are designed to be double cast. It is also possible to double cast Arthur and Lord Seacourse, or Arthur and Kiril Chernovsky.

It takes place about a year and a half after the events of Vivat Regina, the previous installment, in the autumn of 1883.

All related posts on the topic of Base Instruments can be found in this category.

With this, the first planned trilogy of our story is completed. The dream of Mrs. Hawking being a true series has become a reality. This is proof of concept that it can be done, and I can’t wait to see where we go form here. I hope you enjoy it. All comments, questions, and responses to the piece are very welcome.

Read the new script Base Instruments here.

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 15th at 8PM and January 16th at 4PM and Vivat Regina by Phoebe Roberts January 17th at 1PM at the Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2016.

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New Mrs. Hawking story posted: Vivat Regina

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Categories: vivat regina, Tags: ,

The second installment of the Mrs. Hawking story, Vivat Regina, is now available here on the site for viewing! Click here to read it in the Scripts section.

The official synopsis:

Mary Stone is doing her best learn the trade of her mistress’s work as a covert agent for women victimized by Victorian society. Mrs. Hawking’s nephew Nathaniel, too, struggles to find what contribution he can make to his aunt’s work, and neither one seems to be serving to their mentor’s satisfaction. But when a mysterious lady under a false name comes to them with a next-to-impossible mission, Mrs. Hawking and her assistants must bring together all their varied strengths in order to see that justice is done.

A few notes on it before you read:

The original draft of Vivat Regina was written over the course of 2013, with the bulk completed in December. The revisions and most of the Clara subplot were worked in over the course of January and February 2014.

Significant input on the plot was provided by Bernie Gabin to my gratitude. I also owe a great deal to Gabrielle Geller, Ben Federlin, Aaron Fischer, Ryan Kacani, Stephanie Karol, Frances Kimpel, Samantha LeVangie, Charlotte Oswald, Eboracum Richter-Dahl, and Lenny Somervell for their reading and feedback on this script. Their input was crucial to the editing process.

It is written for seven speaking roles, four women and three men, plus a small nonspeaking ensemble. As written, it is possible to double-cast Clara and Mrs. Braun. It is possible to swap the gender of Herr Gerhard, in which case it could be doubled with Mrs. Braun but not Clara.

It takes place about nine months or so after the events of Mrs. Hawking, in the summer of 1881.

All related posts on the topic of Vivat Regina can be found in this category.

I hope you enjoy it. All comments, questions, and responses to the piece are very welcome.

Read the new script Vivat Regina here.

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“Like a Loss” – a ten-minute play in the Mrs. Hawking universe

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Categories: character, influences, scenes, Tags: , , , , ,

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I like how much potential there is for other stories in this universe. Most of them I hope to turn into full-length pieces in some way, but on occasion I want to tell a story that’s not centered around one of our heroes Mary and Mrs. Hawking. So I need to find some other ways to depict those ideas, and a ten-minute play is a nice idea.

So in this piece, I am giving you all the first-ever first person look at the most speculated-upon character in the Mrs. Hawking universe, the late Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking. I am not sure, in the grand scheme of the story, if it’s better to always leave you guessing about him or if your desire to know more about him should be fulfilled, but for scribbling purposes it’s all right.

One big question regarding the Hawkings’ relationship is how they interacted given the huge amount of silence, secrecy, and distance between them, and the one-sided nature of the affection. It’s a little hard for me to conceive of, as it’s tough to imagine how little talking and communication there would have to be to allow that, but this scene is my attempt to show a bit of how it might have been.

Also, I’ve been watching Downton Abbey so this sort of master-servant relationship is in my head right now. It was from this that I created the character of Henry Chapman, the Colonel’s batman and valet. I think, after the Colonel’s death, Mrs. Hawking got rid of Chapman so fast it made his head spin. Which did nothing to improve his opinion of her. I think he works for Nathaniel or maybe Ambrose or Justin now, but he’s still bitter.

This piece was originally written on August 2nd, 2013, and was expanded over the course of November 2013. Some very talented, discerning theater friends kindly workshopped a reading of it for me, with Ben Federlin as the Colonel and Eboracum Richter-Dahl as Chapman. As a production note, this piece is intended to stand alone and can be performed completely out of context. Though I do warn you, this contains spoilers for “Mrs. Hawking.”

Like a Loss
by Phoebe Roberts
~~~

London, England, 1862

COLONEL REGINALD HAWKING, of the Indian Rebellion, late thirties
HENRY CHAPMAN, his batman and valet, early thirties

~~~

(CHAPMAN sits in the dressing room, brushing a top hat. He stands when his master THE COLONEL enters.)

THE COLONEL:
Evening, Chapman.

CHAPMAN:
Good evening, sir.

THE COLONEL:
I think I’ll turn in now.

CHAPMAN:
Very good, sir.

(He takes THE COLONEL’s tailcoat and helps him undress.)

CHAPMAN:
If I might ask… is she any better today, sir?

THE COLONEL:
Much the same, really.

CHAPMAN:
I’m sorry to hear it.

THE COLONEL:
I expect she shall be for some time now.

CHAPMAN:
I see. A shame.

(CHAPMAN makes a face as he assists THE COLONEL.)

THE COLONEL:
I know that look.

CHAPMAN:
What look, sir?

THE COLONEL:
Come off it, now. I know you don’t approve.

CHAPMAN:
Sir! I would never presume—

THE COLONEL:
Of course, of course.

CHAPMAN:
Far be it from me to judge the bearing of the lady of the house—

THE COLONEL:
Spare me, old boy. Just that I’ll thank you to keep it to yourself.

CHAPMAN:
Of course, sir.

THE COLONEL:
Well. I’ve had enough of all this. Tell me something new, Chapman.

CHAPMAN:
Something new, sir? Well. You’ve had another letter from your brother.

THE COLONEL:
Have I? I suppose he won’t be put off, then.

CHAPMAN:
May I ask what he wants?

THE COLONEL:
A visit, it seems. A long one.

CHAPMAN:
Hmm. It would be quite understandable if you weren’t keen on having company.

THE COLONEL:
I think he means to take my mind off things.

CHAPMAN:
Well. That’s kind of him.

THE COLONEL:
Ambrose always looks out for his little brother.

CHAPMAN:
Perhaps you might find him a comfort.

THE COLONEL:
Perhaps. She won’t, though. He’s never cared for her either.

CHAPMAN:
I’m sorry, sir.

THE COLONEL:
He can think whatever he likes. I only hope he doesn’t teach it to the boys.

CHAPMAN:
Will they be joining him?

THE COLONEL:
I expect so.

CHAPMAN:
You don’t seem pleased.

THE COLONEL:
Don’t I?

CHAPMAN:
I thought you were quite fond of them.

THE COLONEL:
I am. They’re fine boys. Ambrose is very lucky. But— I fear they may wear on Mrs. Hawking’s nerves.

CHAPMAN:
I see.

THE COLONEL:
With her mood this black, that’s the last thing she needs right now.

(Pause.)

CHAPMAN:
It must be difficult.

THE COLONEL:
What must be difficult?

CHAPMAN:
When the family doesn’t get on.

THE COLONEL:
That’s putting it mildly.

CHAPMAN:
Well… it isn’t as if we choose our brothers’ wives.

THE COLONEL:
No more than we choose our brothers. Like it or not, Ambrose is stuck with the lot of us.

CHAPMAN:
I suppose not every man would choose a woman so… ah…

THE COLONEL:
Yes, Chapman?

CHAPMAN:
Fierce, perhaps?

THE COLONEL:
I’m a soldier, old boy, I’m drawn to it.

CHAPMAN:
Of course, sir. But fierce is a two-edged sword.

THE COLONEL:
Precisely. You lot only see the cuts. You miss how bright the blade is. She really is a remarkable woman, you know.

CHAPMAN:
I’m sure, sir.

THE COLONEL:
No, Chapman, don’t nod me off like that. I know what she seems like to you, but you’ve not seen the other side of it. It means more than just that she’s difficult for going so much her own way.

CHAPMAN:
How so?

THE COLONEL:
She’s utterly fearless. Their judgment can’t touch her, and no man, woman, king, brute, or god can bow her. Have you ever known a woman like that? I hadn’t, not before her.

(He pauses, remembering.)

THE COLONEL:
The first time I ever saw her– I was only a callow youth, a green officer stationed abroad in the colonies. I was making a report to the lieutenant governor in New Guinea, and when I was on my way to his bungalow, I saw, of all things, a girl climbing up a tree. The lieutenant’s daughter, though I didn’t know it yet. I watched her a moment, then all of a sudden she dropped down. I thought she was falling, so I rushed over to catch her. But she landed like a cat, whirled out of my arms, and her fist shot out faster than I could blink. Like a striking cobra, she blacked my eye.

CHAPMAN:
She never!

THE COLONEL:
Quicker than I could blink. Damn near knocked me bum over teakettle.

CHAPMAN:
My word! Surely the lieutenant had something to say about that.

THE COLONEL:
I never told him.

CHAPMAN:
But your black eye!

THE COLONEL:
Said I’d had it boxing with the lads. He never knew the difference. I tell you, Chapman, I thought I’d frightened her that day, but no. She was just that fierce.

CHAPMAN:
I’m afraid I don’t understand, sir.

THE COLONEL:
No. You don’t. No more than Ambrose does, nor anyone else.

CHAPMAN:
Except you, it seems.

THE COLONEL:
Someday, perhaps.

CHAPMAN:
Sir?

THE COLONEL:
It would take a lifetime to understand her. I knew I had to marry her to give myself the time.

CHAPMAN:
I supposed you’ll have to forgive the rest of us if we haven’t done it yet either.

THE COLONEL:
Suppose I shall. If you lot can forgive her in turn.

CHAPMAN:
A fair point, sir.

(Pause.)

CHAPMAN:
Is that how you manage? You forgive her?

THE COLONEL:
Forgive her for what?

CHAPMAN:
For this.

(Pause.)

THE COLONEL:
You’ll not judge her for it, Chapman.

CHAPMAN:
It’s not that, sir. Not precisely.

THE COLONEL:
After bearing through that, she can do whatever she damn well likes.

CHAPMAN:
It’s only… what about you, sir?

THE COLONEL:
What about me?

CHAPMAN:
He was to be your son, too.

(THE COLONEL tenses and turns away. CHAPMAN is chagrined.)

CHAPMAN:
Forgive me, sir. I shouldn’t speak of it.

(Pause.)

THE COLONEL:
I don’t know why it should hit me so hard. These things happen all the time. To some people, over and over again. Nothing to be done.

CHAPMAN:
It’s normal to mourn a loss.

THE COLONEL:
Strange, though, to call it that.

CHAPMAN:
You held in him your arms, sir.

THE COLONEL:
Wonder if it wasn’t a mistake.

CHAPMAN:
A mistake?

THE COLONEL:
He never cried. Never opened his eyes. But he was whole, you know. Still warm. He might have been sleeping but for that he never drew a breath. Made it harder to remember that… we never really had him to lose, did we?

CHAPMAN:
Still. It feels a loss, to you.

THE COLONEL:
There’s the rub, Chapman. If it’s like a loss to me… what must it be to her? She would have been his mother, for God’s sake. If I feel like… like this… what must it be like for her?

(Pause.)

THE COLONEL:
Tell me, Chapman, how can I ask anything of her now?

(He pulls on his robe.)

THE COLONEL:
That’ll be all now, old boy.

(CHAPMAN bows and exits, leaving THE COLONEL there alone.)