From March 2019 to Febuary 2020, I worked as a pastoral officer for sixth formers, readying to go to university. I found that none of the students had been offered theatre as an option as A-levels, even as an extracurricular.
I went about fixing this by running a twelve-week after school drama club, and we had great ambitions to do a play with them before I departed. My time there would draw to a close, what with being on a maternity contract.
And so, I wrote for them The Emperor. An adaptation of Julius Caesar set in 1920s New York and everybody would get to be a gangster. Because it’s damn fun to play a mobster. I wanted to put these kids, with such a natural talent for acting, up on a stage with the same material I’d give to adults.
I did cut the worst swear words and all the kissing for the version they were meant to perform. I cannot even imagine the uproar from the religiously conservative parents had there been boys kissing in the drama studio. Imagine, if you will, the scandalised gasps.
Sadly, we didn’t get to do The Emperor, instead we switched plays twice (once to Child of the Grey) before we settled on a showcase of short plays (The House of Silence). I won’t get to do The Emperor with those kids, but I can share it with all of you.
My hope for this is to one day make it into a film, inspired by Joel Edgerton’s work with The King. That’s something to keep in mind too when having a read.
(Click here to read The Emperor)