Tag Archives: 31p31d

31 Plays in 31 Days 2017, #31 – “True Gentleman”

I powered through and finished! EARLY too, the earliest I’ve ever finished the 31P31D challenge, but I had the time and I wanted to knock it out.

This last one deals with an idea I’m surprised I’ve never noodled with before. One little character bit in the Hawking stories that I enjoy is the fact that Clara and Nathaniel met through Nathaniel’s older brother Justin, because Clara dated Justin before she and Nathaniel got together. Their mild romantic history is alluded to in Base Instruments; it was Bernie’s idea and he pushed to include it. Basically, as they are the same age (three years older than Nathaniel) they came out in the same year, and so met while attending the same parties. They courted for a little while, until Clara got fed up with his interest in other girls and broke it off. She and Nathaniel got together gradually after that.

This little scene is from five or so years before the first Mrs. Hawking play, and depicts how their relationship began to change into something that would lead to falling in love, getting married, and having a couple of babies.


Day #31 – “True Gentleman”
By Phoebe Roberts

NATHANIEL HAWKING, a young gentleman, early twenties
CLARA PARTRIDGE, a lady his brother courted, mid twenties

London, England, 1875
(A twenty-three-year-old CLARA PARTRIDGE dashes in and paces, fuming with the beginnings of tears in her eyes. After her comes a twenty-year-old NATHANIEL HAWKING. Both are in evening wear.)

NATHANIEL: I say, Clara! Are you— are you all right?

CLARA: Why, Nathaniel! What are you doing here?

NATHANIEL: Pardon me, but I saw you dash out of the ballroom, and worried something might wrong. When Justin didn’t go after you, I thought someone ought to.

CLARA: Well! That’s very kind of you. Justin shan’t be following after me, not if he knows what’s good for him.

NATHANIEL: Whatever do you mean?

CLARA: I mean I don’t think I shall be seeing so very much of Justin anymore.

NATHANIEL: You mean— oh!

CLARA: Yes, well.

NATHANIEL: I— I’m quite sorry. He hasn’t— done anything ungentlemanly, has he?

CLARA: He’s Justin, isn’t he?

NATHANIEL: That prat. What’s he done?

CLARA: Oh, never you mind.

NATHANIEL: If he’s hurt you, miss—

CLARA: Oh, you know him! It’s only that he has a wandering eye. One grows weary of feeling like the plainest girl in the room.

NATHANIEL: Goodness, Clara, you could never be that!

CLARA: Oh, my.

NATHANIEL: I mean— forgive me, but— as you said, that’s his way. It’s no fault of yours that he’s an absolute rake.

CLARA: Perhaps not. But I’ve no patience for it any more.

NATHANIEL: Nor should you.

CLARA: I only hope I haven’t made a perfect fool of myself. Losing my calm with him and dashing out of the ballroom for everyone to see. Certainly I’ve ruined the last dance.

NATHANIEL: Not at all. I’m sure no one paid it any mind.

CLARA: You did. You had to run out here after to me.

NATHANIEL: Well— I hated the thought that you might be alone in your distress.

CLARA: Thank you for that. It’s quite kind.

NATHANIEL: Think nothing of it, miss. And, please… never think that my blasted brother’s conduct means you’re not beautiful. If I may say so… I don’t know how any man courting you could look away from you.

CLARA: Why, Nathaniel…

NATHANIEL: Oh, that was dreadfully impertinent. Now you think I’m just as much a rake as he is.

CLARA: Not at all. Quite the contrary… you are a true gentleman, Nathaniel Hawking.

NATHANIEL: It means a great deal that you’d think so. Is there anything else I can do?

CLARA: You’ve been a great comfort to me tonight. Indeed, I think I shall be presentable to return. You ought to go out and enjoy the rest of the ball. You’re shipping out soon for your tour of service, aren’t you?

NATHANIEL: If you can call it that. They’re sending me to Newcastle, of all places.

CLARA: Sounds as though you’re in for an adventure.

NATHANIEL: Indeed, fighting off boredom as I keep the logbooks.

CLARA: They’ll make a soldier of you yet. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I had best find a place to freshen up. I’d like to make my return more dignified than my exit.

NATHANIEL: Certainly, miss.

(He bows and turns to go. Just before he exits, he turns back around.)

NATHANIEL: Miss, since it will be so dreadfully dull away in the armory, it would be very cheering to hear a word from home now and again. When I have a moment, might I write you? Some letters might be just the way to pass the time.

CLARA: I would like that, Nathaniel.

(He smiles, then bows again and exits. She watches him go with a new interest.)

Reflections on 31 Plays in 31 Days 2014

This year’s 31 Plays in 31 Days is, in my opinion, my most productive and useful yet. I decided to use it to focus on the particular projects I wanted to develop.

When Bernie and I were working on Adonis, we mostly worked well, except we experienced the occasional clash over how how we generated ideas. I tended to be very targeted and to the point— perhaps over-influenced by my dislike of wasted effort —whereas he often needed to work up to things, spin details that may or may not be useable just to see what might come from them. It often frustrated me if I needed an answer to a specific story problem, but he often was able to think outside the box to find solutions when I was getting stuck in it. I bring this up because I notice even in 31P31D, I had a resistance to working on any scene I didn’t think was going to work in context. But experimentation of that nature often brings up things you can’t think of if you only stay in your current paradigm. A thing like 31P31D lowers the barrier for me at least a little bit, and helps me break out of that mindset. Which I definitely think is good for me.

Mrs. Hawking – 12 – 39%
Base Instruments – 7 – 23%
– What If I Don’t Want To?
– Haven’t I Always?
– Your Vessel Has Not Betrayed You
– Look Where That Got Him
– Family Dinner
– Glad to Be Your Man
– The Cuff
Miss Stanton – 1 – 3%
– The Hand You’ve Been Dealt
Ripper – 2 – 6%
– Distinguished Matron in Widow’s Weeds
– Being Married
Otherwise – 2 – 6%
– A Few Days’ Leave
– Do You Miss It?

Disgraced – 6 – 19%
– Companion
– No One Knows You Here
– Repute
– Humiliated
– Adventure Abroad
– No One’s Cad

Brockhurst – 2 – 6%
– Because I Know You’re Not
– As Sisters Should

Fan fiction – 6 – 19%
Cabin Pressure: San Tropez
– Meet Trudy and Cliff
– The Bobsled
– Not Speaking to You
– Ordinary Level of Horrid
– Old Romantic
– Vibrant Rays of Sunshine

Adonis – 4 – 13%
– I Have Weathered You All
– The Stuff of Their Dreams
– Make History
– Burn Your Empire

Other – 1 – 3%
– Never Really Here

Last year I made a good start on Vivat Regina with 31P31D, so I wanted to do the same for the next installment Base Instruments. I wrote myself a whopping SEVEN scenes for it, and though they may not all be ready for inclusion, or even possible to use at all, I am pleased at the raw material I generated. As with that, I know I have a ton of work to do to figure out the overstructure of the plot, but this is a very good start on the trajectory of the characters.

My favorite scene I wrote for it was Look Where That Got Him, which was very emotionally important for Nathaniel and Clara. I also liked the ideas in Your Vessel Has Not Betrayed You. Though honestly there’s something I like in every single one. Of the non-Base Instruments Hawking scenes, I like the intensity and impending violence of Distinguished Matron in Widow’s Weeds, and the way the future Mrs. Frost lays the smackdown on the totally different young Victoria Stanton in The Hand You’ve Been Dealt.

The Cabin Pressure fan fic pieces were harder than I expected them to be. Humor is not my forte, and I was trying to imitate another writer’s distinctive style. Especially for the later pieces, when I was just struggling to finish them on time, I don’t think I did a great job. I plan to do a lot of editing, and hopefully I’ll nail it then. My favorite of them is probably The Bobsled; I think it’s funny and I got the most right in it.

Working on Disgraced made me realize just how little I know about that idea. I know pretty well what I would want for Elise’s trajectory, but other than that, I don’t know much yet. I want Rosaline to be an equal lead with her, and I need to figure out what’s going on in Newport at that time, and what other figures would be in that world. My favorite scene I wrote for this was Humiliated; I really love the character of Marcus Loring, even though he’s a total ass. I didn’t write nearly as much for Brockhurst as I thought I would. But I think there’s a lot of material there. I think I was a little stalled because I wouldn’t just want it to be a Downton Abbey ripoff.

I’m really excited to eventually work on the Adonis sequel, which is why pieces showed up this time even though I know like nothing about it. The shape of the first one required really careful planning, so I’m certain the subsequent parts— of which I think there has to be two more —will as well. Enough that I hardly had enough to go on in attempting scenes. But I just think there’s such powerful potential there. I think my favorite scene I wrote was either I Have Weathered You All or Burn Your Empire because I love the stark truths they reveal about two of my leads.

The characters I wrote about most frequently are, in order:
– Victoria Hawking – 5
– Elise Charnmore – 5
– Douglas Richardson – 5
– Martin Crieff – 5
– Mary Stone – 4
– Nathaniel Hawking – 4
– Carolyn Knapp-Shappey – 4
– Arthur Shappey – 3
– Trudy Cadwallader – 3
– Clifford Speedwell III – 3
– Clara Hawking – 2
– Arthur Swann – 2
– Rosaline Bay – 2
– Abigail Bellamy – 2
– Aidan – 2
– Diana – 2
– Morna – 2
– Saturnina – 2
– Elena Zakharova – 1
– Elizabeth Frost – 1
– Queen Victoria – 1
– Beatrice Hawking – 1
– Reggie Hawking – 1
– Daisy Marcotte – 1
– Eleanor Haverhill – 1
– Enid Brome – 1
– Marcus Loring – 1
– Rowan Loring – 1
– Christian Chase – 1
– Claudia Bellamy – 1
– Callisto – 1
– Beast – 1
– Maid – 1

Obviously property leads tended to appear most often. And some characters are just inspiring to me. I like having lots of scenes with the same characters, as it helps flesh them out.

Other trivia for this month. Longest scene was Look Where That Got Him with Nathaniel and Clara. Shortest was I Have Weathered You All with Aidan and Saturnina.

The one with the most characters is Meet Trudy and Cliff, which has all the Cabin Pressure lead cast plus my two original characters.

My favorite was Look Where That Got Him. My least favorite is probably either Make History or Vibrant Rays of Sunshine— I was struggling just to finish and it shows.

My favorite lines? Clara’s “The Colonel loved her too, Nathaniel. And look where that got him.” Douglas’s “Do you at least take the hat off for that? Or does she like you to keep it on?” from The Bobsled. Marcus’s “You didn’t scream for me because I was a saint,” from Humiliated. Elise’s “And I do so enjoy the, uh… the persistent cherub motif in the décor,” in No One Knows You Here, at least in context. And Morna’s “All that I did when I was only a slave. And now? Now I am a slave no longer,” from Burn Your Empire; her entire speech at the end, really.

I’d be curious if any of you had favorites, scenes, characters, whatever. Or anything you particularly hated. If you care to let me know.