Sunday, March 01, 2015

So, I've been compiling and formatting my plays, a rather tedious job, but one that allows me to reread them, in preparation for making final changes to them and publishing them. my goal was to offer them to Quakers in Philly to help them raise money for QVS or some similar Quaker foundation, but I'm beginning to realize that this would be difficult for several reasons. First, they are inconsistent; some are not even Quaker plays, yet they are pretty good, and since I don't write many plays, I want them included. Second, there's the question of historical accuracy. I've been kind of lenient with myself in that regard; I made them for the children, and it didn't matter how literally accurate they were. But if I were to give them to a national organization, it might matter. They might not savor the opportunity, for example, to misrepresent William Penn.

Not that I ever did it on purpose. I did my best research, put what I learned right into them, and even then sometimes it came out a little sideways. In other cases, as in Turning Point, research later uncovered a Quaker connection that wasn't there when I first wrote the play. With that one, I considered compiling a book about everything I learned about the bombing of Sterling Hall at UW Madison in 1970. But the very last book, of the three or so that I read, was the one I would have written; it was complete, dry, and inclusive, and I couldn't have done any better. I've always kind of wanted to write historical non-fiction, or even historical fiction. But I have this habit of clouding the real and unreal; it's not healthy. One wants to document every tangent from the truth.

If I sell it myself (promising to send profits to QVS), or give it away, it can be what it is, a collection of historical stories with interesting quotes pulled right out of history, that kids are then allowed to say, explore and remember. I'd like to know how much my kids actually remembered from performing these plays; they acted in about ten out of the twelve I have. In other words, I'd like to prove that drama is a good way of educating the young. But I can't. I know one kid who really didn't like performing in them; yet he always did, and it might have turned him against Quakerism, for all I know. My own kids are still at least nominally associated with Quakers, though the question, as I've said, is what effect the plays themselves had.

Then there's another question. There are two more plays that I could either write, or find. One, I did a lot of research on, and started, and this was maybe six or seven years ago. It was morphing into perhaps my biggest one. It was called Down in Our Hearts and was based on a book about CO's in WWII called Down in My Heart by William Stafford. But I lost it! I'm wondering how much I can recover, if any, and what it would take to salvage another play out of the situation.

The other is a modern version of White Feather, about a father who remembers the White Feather story and then realizes his son is reliving it, or that he himself is reliving it through his son. This would be a little easier to recover (though I don't believe I actually ever started it) - and could be added to this collection in the next month.

Here are some other ideas that have come to me over the years:
-Rufus Jones, famous Quaker during WWII
-Cadbury and the Quaker chocolate dynasty
-Scattergood and the housing of refugees in WWII
-the Quaker who became bad, spent money, went around the world, etc. (forgot his name)
-Quakers in Civil War

I'm leaning toward that option of self-publishing, but I'm obviously contemplating more writing. It's been fun writing these, even though my days may be numbered, and I certainly can't put them on as easily as I used to be able to.

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