A Play On Words
27 May 2002
Act II Scene 3.
Worthington remains fraught with worry due to his lack of artistic inspiration. His loyal companion, Earnest, offers support. Uncle and Aunt Jerome remain aloof. The two young men are as yet unaware of Veronica's scheming. They are about to receive disturbing news from afar.
Lights up on Uncle's study, which is in a state of disarray. Books are open on every surface, and there are many pages of notebooks strewn around. A typewriter sits on a separate desk, unused, with no paper loaded. Worthington, looking well groomed as ever, stands behind the main desk, arms folded. He is staring nervously out of the window. A movement behind the door distracts him. He moves quickly to sit back at the desk and starts scribbling intensely in a notebook. There is a knock at the door.
Worthington: Come in!
Door opens and Lucy, The Nubile Maidservant, enters with a tray of tea and ice-cakes. She places them on a small coffee table in front of a sofa covered in books, notes and papers.
Lucy, The Nubile Maidservant: Excuse me Mr Worthington, Sir, but Madame Jerome instructed me to bring you some refreshment after she missed you at lunch.
Worthington: Ah, thank you very much, Lucy. Yes, I was feeling peckish. All this creative energy does bring on quite a hunger. He laughs uncomfortably, looking down at his work.
Lucy: (Looks at the illegible scribblings over his shoulder). Yes, Sir. If you're wanting me, please just ring, Sir.
Worthington does not look up from his notepad. As Lucy leaves, Earnest bursts though the door after her. He is wearing riding gear and carries a horse-helmet.
Earnest: Ah, Worthers, how's it all going? You're elderly relations were positively probing me this lunchtime over your progress. They seem to be expecting quite a masterpiece...
Worthington: Irritably They'll be lucky if they get a single sentence, let alone the epic poem or political tract they're always asking for.
Earnest: Well, they are your patrons, old man, so they do have some right to demand work from you.
Worthington stands and walks to the window. Earnest moves over to the desk and starts flicking through the notebooks.
Worthington: sighs I am well aware of that, Earnest. At the beginning there was less expectation, my canvas as yet unmarked, and my ideas flowed easily. Now, although the experience I've gained over these last few years has improved my style, the content somehow feels less inspired. Every time I now sit down to write, the burden of my earlier successes weighs down heavily upon me. My new ideas, when they come, feel bland, even boring. I've even considered resurrecting some old characters and developing them further, but that would go totally against what I feel most passionately about my work - the need to be original.
Worthington turns from the window and looks up at Earnest.
Worthington: But I am having absolutely no luck in coming up with an original idea this time. Everything that half-forms before me I discard. Have I become too picky I wonder? You can judge for yourself - they're all there in those notebooks in front of you. Or has the regular pressure from my patrons now become too much for me to bear? Are they now in fact stifling, rather than liberating me? No, I feel not. I know that if it wasn't for the patronage structure around me, I would most likely stop writing altogether. So the pressure on me is an inspiration. Well, as much of an inspiration as a knife held at one's throat.
Worthington turns to gaze out of the window once more
To write a successful piece, one must have both content and style. What I strive for is content, but I fear I am thwarted. So therefore I shall consider style. Sometimes content can simply present itself when one considers a stylistic tool one has never used before. Perhaps a short play will satisfy my hosts this time. Surely I can force out a scene or two before dinner.
Earnest: Looking up from the notebooks I think you're trying too hard. In many ways, I'm in the same position as you - a young, ambitious writer with elderly and very demanding patrons. But I do not shut myself up in a room and try to force myself to write.
Worthington: So do you simply trust that the ideas will arrive just in the nick of time? I'll judge that your continued patronage is merely a function of good fortune, then.
Earnest: On the contrary, by being out and part of the world, frequenting salons and public houses, ideas fairly present themselves readily. The fiery outside world is a far better source of sparks than the damp interior of one's own head.
Worthington: Turning from the window, he picks up his hat and cloak from the sofa You have convinced me. Now, off to the pub for some fine inspiration!
Earnest: Indeed Sir!
Worthington and Earnest stride out of the room, in high spirits. Lights down.