Capitulatio – a play that lost its head

Roman helmetDid I mention that I’m a lapsed archaeologist? Half of my university degree was Ancient History and the other half was English. I gave up archaeology shortly after I graduated (month after month of digging in the cold, driving rain eventually took its toll) but I’ve always retained a keen interest in it.

In the back of my mind, I always had a niggling urge to write a play set on an archaeological excavation… perhaps with a murder involved, like an Agatha Christie mystery… with enough history involved to get people thinking about Britain’s past.

When I finally bit the bullet and started writing (having taken a week off work in 2006), everything seemed to flow and out of my fingertips poured a 70-page play. I wasn’t happy with it, so I gave it to a few carefully selected friends for some feedback. After hearing their thoughts, I went through a few more edits and I still wasn’t happy.

Time passed. I moved on to other things. I lost interest in my story and in how to fix it. I decided that the project had lost its way, dumped it on my hard drive and forgot about it. Until now. I see this script as an exercise of sorts – it taught me that I need to have a proper story mapped out on paper before I begin to write… and that it’s hard work turning history into drama.

The play is called “Capitulatio”, a Latin word meaning “beheading”. It deals with a present-day archaelogical dig taking place on a remote Orkney island. At one point, it flashes back in time to Roman Britain where we see a Centurion angrily beheading a helpless Celtic family. Cheery stuff!

Here it is. Feel free to have a read: Capitulatio – Final Draft


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