I’m excited to announce a reading of my screenplay Powder River on September 19th, 2013 as part of the Seattle International Film Festival’s Catalyst program by some of Seattle’s most talented actors.
Powder River is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth set during what was probably the last great range wars of the American Old West, the War on Powder River. I love great westerns and this story in particular since the War on the Powder River is widely seen as the event that ended the Mythic West and ushered in the modern age. Stories at the cusp of two ages offer so much opportunity for drama and there are several uncanny similarities between the actual events of the War on the Powder River (also called the Johnson County War) and the story of Macbeth.
This script is my first adapted screenplay (worth sharing anyway). I wanted to create a very bold adaptation that works on it’s own as a western but was true to the story of Macbeth. Shakespeare’s Macbeth is, in fact, an adaptation of Rapheal Hollingshed’s story of Macbeth in Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, and in my research I went back to that version as well to fill in some details.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth leaves many of the great battles of this Scottish general offstage, recounted by witnesses. In the screenplay, I’ve brought these on screen and tried to infuse some compelling on-screen action scenes into the bloody psychological and political drama of the play. It was a tremendously fun challenge to mash up the stories of cattle ranchers clinging to hold onto power in an increasingly settled West and that of a Scottish war hero driven to ever darker deeds in order to become and remain king. And of course, to retain some of the power of Shakespeare’s words while casting them into a western vernacular—all while incorporating real historical characters, horse chases, gun battles, and a high-noon shootout.
The Powder River reading will include actors Rich Morris, Jen Taylor, Tim Gouran, Jesse Lee Keeter, Andy Tibolini, David Hogan, Rik Deskin, Michael Patten, Brian Lewis, Brian Desmond, Trin Miller, Thomas Brophy, Ralph Fontaine and Chris Dietz. I’m thrilled with this cast. Some took part in my Dead Man’s Hand reading a few months ago and were brilliant. Others I know from working with on other projects, and some I just admire as actors and am thrilled to have reading the script. Staged readings are such an interesting and exciting way to experience a script–our imaginations must supply the visuals, as with a novel, but the actors give great life to the characters and dialogue.
Thursday Sept. 19 at 6:30PM at the SIFF Film Center (305 Harrison Street – on the Seattle Center grounds). Seating is limited. Tickets available from the SIFF Box Office under Catalyst First Draft.