(David Edgar's article appeared in The Guardian, July 11.)

Making a drama

Cinderella and King Lear, Jaws and An Enemy of the People, David Brent and Dogberry – they might seem to have nothing in common. Look closer, argues playwright David Edgar, and you'll find they all obey the same rules

1) A town is threatened by a malevolent force of nature. A leading citizen seeks to take the necessary action to protect the community from this danger, but finds that the economic interests of the town are ranged against him and he ends up in battle alone.

2) Two sisters are unjustly preferred over a third sister. Despite their efforts, the youngest sister marries into royalty and her wicked siblings are confounded.

3) A young woman is pledged to a young man, but finds that a parent has plans for her to marry someone else. Calling on the assistance of a priest and a nurse, the young couple plot to evade the fate in store for them.

4) A husband and wife are at war. A younger influence enters their lives, providing a sexual temptation which threatens the marriage. But ultimately, they discover that, although they find it hard to live together, they cannot live apart.

5) A man who has scaled many heights senses that his powers have deserted him. But a woman from his past re-enters his life, and provokes him to take one last, fatal climb.

6) With her father's encouragement, a young woman allows herself to be wooed and wed by a prince. Her brother moves a long way away. The prince behaves increasingly peculiarly, and, shortly after the death of the woman's father, leaves on board ship. The woman goes mad, alarms the royal family, gives everybody flowers, escapes from her minders, and dies in a suspicious accident. The brother returns, angry, at the head of a popular army. There is a contest over the funeral arrangements between family, church and state. The prince returns and he and the woman's brother end up fighting over the coffin.


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