Two Gentlemen on Veronica
A Tragedy in Three Acts
An original play in the style of William Shakespeare by dannye, Lord Brawl, and ToasterLeavings
Our original outline, written by ToasterLeavings
- Helmut - cubicle rat, married man, Veronica's partner in erotic dalliance, embezzler, co-murderer of Probostickus & Nerdquo, and eventual murder victim.
- Nerdquo - cubicle rat, pornster extraordinaire, embezzler, panicked guilt ridden conspirator to embezzlement and knowledge of the murder of Probostickus, murder victim.
- Probostickus (PHB) - cluestick bereft boss, accidental discoverer of the embezzlement scheme, subject of a high velocity collision with a fax machine ("hes faxxed now" - german accent).
- Veronica - shark in a fetching business suit/skirt combo. Toys with poor Helmut, masterminds the embezzlement scheme, exhorts Helmut to murder Probostickus, does away with Nerdquo, eventually betrays Helmut. Escapes to Martinique or some such place, only to die in some tragic weird sex involving cricket (the sport) accoutrements.
I have worked on a couple of other joint fiction projects here on E2.
I look at them as an interesting form of writing exercise.
I first co-wrote with dannye on the Everything: In the Beginning project.
Later, I had a "guest shot" in moJoe and dannye's The Kim Li Diaries.
During that project, I became interested in writing in different styles.
I looked at "Kim Li" as a dime-store detective novel, and tried to fit my work to my vision of that genre.
So when it was time for a new project, I suggested we try for the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum: Shakespeare.
dannye suggested that we invite ToasterLeavings, having been impressed by the latter's for a boat of white bone, and we three. I forget which of us suggested that we write a tragedy based on the collapse of a dot com, but that became the kernel of the final idea. I wrote a quick treatment (much of which lives on as the first scene), and ToasterLeavings sketched out an overall plot in the Dramatis Personae.
From there the story has grown slowly, with the dot com collapse overtaking and surpassing us as we wrote.
Our original plan was three acts, with three scenes each. I would write the opening scene of each act, dannye
would add the middle, and ToasterLeavings would bring down the curtain. In practice, it didn't quite work out, as ToasterLeavings has been consumed by work and something he calls his "life". But his was the guiding story arc to which we've tried to adhere.
What we're posting today is a snapshot - we could have kept refining it, and indeed may do so, but we finally decided to post what we have and see what reaction we get.
ToasterLeavings ultimately left e2 and chose to remove his work. His brilliant Act I, Scene III can be unearthed via the Internet Wayback Machine. I've replaced it with a simple bridge, but I mourn the loss of the original work.
If you've looked at my work, you'll see that romantic, sexual or indeed interpersonal themes do not dominate it.
It's not really my forte. And as I originally envisioned this project, it would have been more about business, and less about monkey business. But some research and discussion about Shakespearean literature led to us realizing that the bard's works are pretty raunchy in spots (see Porn In Hamlet, for example).
Also, plays are about people, not things or abstractions like companies. So the story became about
our main characters, and the original plot turned into back story.
Writing the "seduction scene" in Act II was uncomfortable for me. However, challenge is the point of a good writing exercise, so eventually I had to step up to the bar. I hope it's not too hackneyed. It's perhaps a product of our North American culture that I could blithely write of murder, but was squeamish about trying my hand at sex. (As it were. Oh, behave!)
I also tried to think of this as a play, that would (yeah, right) be staged. I tried to keep the characters and situations contained to one room or set, and leave out anything but minimal stage instructions for props and movement of characters. Carrying the whole story through dialog is quite the challenge, and I was grateful for dannye's introduction of an unseen narrator to help explain events.
"Shakespearean" can mean a number of different things. Most people think of the sonnet format with rhyming couplets, although the most common speech in the plays is blank verse. Not being bards ourselves, the complexity even of blank verse threatened to overmaster us at times. You'll see, much more clearly than in prose like "Kim Li" that our individual sections read very differently, each with his own approach.
I decided to use mostly modern speech - modernized Shakespeare for a modern times topic. I originally started with only blank verse, but dannye preferred rhyming couplets. I eventually settled on a style where soliloquys are in blank verse, but dialogue is rhymed. I just like the flow of it.
I found that in trying to make my ideas fit the metre, sometimes the metre dictated the idea. The flow of my part of the story changed at times when an irresistible phrase suggested itself. You can't force this kind of text either. If the muses aren't with you, it just doesn't work. How Shakespeare got all that stuff written in a single lifetime, I'll never know.