Consumed by Flame

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:04 AM

One of my projects last semester was to do historical research on a period of Presbyterian history and present it in some form, be it a research paper, a time line, or something else. Starving for some literary time, I decided the obvious choice was to again dabble in the realm of drama. The result was Consumed by Flame. I've mentioned it a bit before, but here are the gory details.

The drama takes place in 1540s Scotland, at the beginning of the Scottish Reformation. The particular inciting incident is the arrest of George Wishart, the Protestant Reformer, by his adversary, David Cardinal Beaton. It is a very interesting piece of history not just for the showdown between them, but for its lasting and serious aftershocks. To what extent did these events bring about the good of the Reformation and to what extent the bad? To what extent did it shape the negative events of later Scottish religious history? The play tries to engage with some of these questions at their root.

From a formal standpoint, the play follows the classic five act structure favored by Shakespeare. It is almost entirely a prose play, however, unlike many of Shakespeare's works. Besides the Bard, the style of the play was influenced primarily by Aeschylus and Marlowe. Of course, I do not claim to emulate any of these greats well, I merely note where I got the inspiration. Weighing in somewhere between Kit Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice in length, I estimate a performance time of approximately two hours, if it were put on stage. I like playing with darkness and light, and, weaving a story that peers into the psyche, and this play follows on those themes, though not as much, perhaps, as Deafening Silence did.

Well, if this has piqued your interested at all, and you would like to take a gander at the script, please let me know. I am looking for some comments on what works and what does not in the play. If nothing else, you'll get all of the footnotes and the works cited page, which will give you some nice material to go on, should you desire to do some historical research.

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