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Another piece for Base Instruments, the third installment of Mrs. Hawking!

This is a very important, high drama moment. This scene comes after "#11 Haven't I Always?" where Clara confronts Nathaniel about what he hasn't been telling her. Here she is reacting to the new knowledge of her husband's involvement in Mrs. Hawking's work.

Clara is an extremely clever, witty person. Up to this point I have mostly represented that part of her by making her be funny and biting, but that attitude is not really relevant for this intense heart-to-heart with her husband. Still, I want to maintain that level of intelligence in her in this scene. I'm hoping to represent it instead by having her make really astute observations, slicing to the heart of matters in a way Nathaniel may not be totally prepared to deal with.

There's a lot to unpack here. Because of how much there is to address, this is the longest scene I've written for 31P31D 2014 so far. Her worry for his safety and reputation, as well as the possible risk to their children and family, were obvious notes for her to hit. But as I was writing it, even more occurred me to me, such as her wondering if this is yet another attempt on his part to be like the Colonel, an admiration that always slightly troubled her. Deepest of all, and something I never thought of before, were the implications of her low opinion of Mrs. Hawking as a human being. She doesn't believe Mrs. Hawking is capable of love or loyalty really-- so what does she think that will mean for Nathaniel if he places himself in danger on her behalf?

So much to think about! I may have only scratched the surface here. But I think I'm off to a decent start. Also, I REALLY love Clara's last line here.

Look Where That Got Him
by Phoebe Roberts

NATHANIEL HAWKING, Mrs. Hawking's gentleman nephew and assistant

London, England, 1882

(NATHANIEL and CLARA sit on opposite ends of the parlor in their home, not looking at one another.)

NATHANIEL: And that's the long and short of it. I know how it sounds, but... there it is.


NATHANIEL: Please, Clara. Say something.


NATHANIEL: Scream at me, love. Call me a callous heel, and heave a vase at me if you like. Only please, say something.

CLARA: What do you want, Nathaniel? You say your funny old aunt puts on a mask to break into houses and stick miscreants with a knife, and you've been helping her to do it. To tell me a thing like that, what do you mean for me to think?

NATHANIEL: Do you believe me?

CLARA: I suppose if you meant to lie, there are a thousand things you'd have an easier time selling to me.


CLARA: Heavens. It sounds like something from a penny dreadful.

NATHANIEL: God, I know. That's why I kept it from you so long. It's so... impossible, I didn't know how to put it to words.

CLARA: Oh, come off that.

NATHANIEL: Beg pardon?

CLARA: There are always words, Nathaniel, and a man can always say them. That wasn't what stopped you. You didn't want me to find out because you didn't want to hear what I thought of it.


CLARA: How could you?

NATHANIEL: I should have told you--

CLARA: Not only that! To let her go on with this madness-- to help her with it! As if you haven't everything in the world to lose.

NATHANIEL: It was the right thing to do.

CLARA: The right thing? Playing at hero? Is this what that fancy about taking up boxing was all about? It's the way of men, isn't it, marching off to war when duty calls. But you're not a soldier, Nathaniel. Your year at Newcastle should have taught you that.

NATHANIEL: My place isn't in the line of fire, Clara.

CLARA: Your place?

NATHANIEL: Well, you see, I've some talent for... getting people talking, so to speak. I can find things out that make the difference between justice being done and a villain going free. All without a single blow being struck.

CLARA: And what if they discover why it is you're asking?

NATHANIEL: I'm... I'm good at it, Clara.

CLARA: No one is perfect. If you're found out, what do you think might happen? If her enemies are as dangerous as you say? What would they do to your name in this city? To say nothing of risk to life and limb!

NATHANIEL: I can't let her face it all alone. Clara, don't you see what this means? She trusts me. Now, after all this time, after everything I've done, she trusts me. I can't abandon her now.

CLARA: Is that what this is about? Finally winning that woman's approval?

NATHANIEL: Blast her approval! What about her life and limb?

CLARA: It's her choice to put herself at such risk! But what about the rest of us, if something should happen to you? You have young children, Nathaniel. They can't choose this.

NATHANIEL: I would never let anything happen to them. Never. And neither would Aunt Victoria.

CLARA: And what about me?


CLARA: It's enough that you kept something like this from me. But if something happens to you, what am I to do? And what would you have left me to thought-- that some terrible twist of fate struck you down from nowhere, when in fact you were putting yourself in danger's way? Because I would never have known. Who would tell me? Aunt Victoria?


NATHANIEL: Mary would.

CLARA: It is not Mary who would owe me that. It is not Mary that you do this for.

NATHANIEL: It isn't just for my aunt. I... I feel like I'm doing something fine. Something to the good of the world.

CLARA: You cannot be the Colonel, Nathaniel.


CLARA: Then you must stop trying to be.

NATHANIEL: It isn't about that anymore!

CLARA: Then what?

(NATHANIEL springs up and begins to pace.)

NATHANIEL: It was hard to see when we've been so happy. It's enough to make a man think that we might live in a fair world. But we don't, and not everyone is so blessed as we with such a home and a loving family and fitting into our place in things. Those people have nowhere to turn, except for Aunt Victoria. After seeing that, why wouldn't I want to help her balance the scales? Why wouldn't I want to see that good done in the world?


NATHANIEL: You ask how I could let it go on, how I couldn't stop it. I tried, Clara. As soon as I discovered it, I came down on her, God forgive me. To protect her, and because I didn't understand and didn't know what else to do. But it was wrong. She is so unhappy, Clara. You've seen it. Her life has been one bitter disappointment after the next, and the rage is has given her is terrible. But when that rage drives her... when she does her work against these terrible injustices until she rights them... all that bitterness, it's not for nothing anymore. Rather, it's... precious. I have to see that go on. She changes people's lives, darling. She saves them.

CLARA: She cannot really--

NATHANIEL: But she can, Clara! She is marvelous at it, you must believe that.

CLARA: And what about your life? Does that matter any less?


NATHANIEL: She wouldn't let that happen.

CLARA: No one is perfect, Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL: That is why she needs someone to help.

CLARA: And when she no longer finds you useful, what will she do then? When it no longer serves her, will she protect you?

NATHANIEL: I believe in her.

CLARA: The Colonel loved her too, Nathaniel. And look where that got him.

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

Latest Month

April 2017


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