Act I: DVD Commentary

I started this this five-fic series in May of 2006, when after 30 Padmé AUs my initial stream of ideas was starting to become depleted. I was in the thick of "'Till It Bleeds Daylight," but had written one fic from it the previous week so needed to do another universe, as at the beginning I adopted a strict policy of never writing in the same universe two weeks in a row, to keep myself from writing in any one universe too much. I decided to go with an out-there cliche of mysterious Sith minions, and turned Padmé into an actress because I'd had a vague idea of doing that at some point, and it was a suitable role for the lover of a mysterious Sith minion.
The idea of the ancient Naboo Passion Play is based off the ancient Greek tragedy, which obeyed strong conventions. Since it was an alternate version of them, I didn't have to keep very strictly to the rules for the content of each act, but I did follow the five-act format and the basic path of the plot. Much ink has been spilled already on how Anakin fits the format for the traditional tragic hero: he has the potential to do good, flaws, and his downfall occurs due to his own actions, but I think Padmé fits the format as well, between her nobility, her over-optimism, and her choosing to throw her lot in with Anakin despite the obvious warning signs. In this series, she alone remains the tragic hero: idealistic, but unable to resist her heart, and she succumbs to Anakin and kills Dooku because her emotions are so strong. The word "passion" here signifies both intense emotion and its original definition of suffering. I'm aware it can have direct Christain overtones as well, but I decided to invoke the "this is a galaxy far, far away and Christianity does not exist there" card, because I didn't really want to deal with those. I had in fact developed it as an idea to use in a story I haven't written yet, but I decided to let it out a little early.
The theater in this first ficlet is modelled directly after an ancient Greek one, and I had vague ideas, when I started writing, of using the format to fit the "Circle" prompt, because I'd already started worrying about how the hell I was going to write something to comply with that one. But when I looked the prompt list over again after finishing, I found the "Strangers" prompt fitted much better. I posted this on May 20th as the 31st Padmé AU.
As part of a meme later on, I supplied three more facts about Padmé in this universe. The first two were:

1. She started acting when she was still a child, and traveling away from her family, which she never saw much of afterwards. She never even met her nieces.
2. She was always dismayed by how apathetic everyone around her was towards the Empire, and felt that if only she could get someone besides herself to care, they might be able to do something, but never did anything herself because she couldn't find any allies.

By the time Padmé was fully in her costume, word has passed around that two special envoys of the Emperor would be in the audience. “I just hope they don’t try to kill each other,” said Rabé. “It’s annoying that you never know when they’ll try to do that.”

Though I wasn't sure exactly what would happen when I started writing, one of my ideas was that Dooku would kill Anakin, because Sith minions often kill each other, so I included this bit of foreshadowing. I had Rabé in the fic as a private reference; the story for which I originally planned out the Passion Play is supposed to star her.

“I wish they weren’t there at all,” Padmé replied, to which there wasn’t much to say. They all agreed with her at least a little, though not all of them dared say it.

“Gotta go," said Rabé finally, "I’m on.” The dancers always were first onstage in an ancient Passion Play like the one they were performing tonight.

For the first five handmaidens, I ended up picking and choosing what bits of the EU went into their characters, because I had developed them before reading much of it, but I did include in my own version of Rabé that she wanted to be a dancer and that her parents bullied her into trying for a political career instead.
Before the modern age, plays were usually preceded and followed by dancing.

Padmé heard the chatter of the audience die down, and the music start. She was on right after the dancers, so she left the crowd of actors who had gathered in the grove, out of the audience’s sight, and moved to the edge of the arena. She would enter descending through the audience. Before her cue, she stood just outside the reach of the stage’s lights; the dark night kept the audience from seeing her.

She could see them, however, and her eyes could not help but seek out the two envoys. Probably they were the two figures on the end of the aisle she was to come down, right in front of the stage, in their typical black cloaks and hoods. She supposed they really wouldn’t be too much of a distraction, provided they kept quiet.

The prologue was over, and the dancers were clearing off the stage. All lights had faded, save that which illuminated her aisle.

“I have never understood the King,” Padmé started, stepping into the light. All eyes in the audience were on her.

“All know he is prone to such fits...” Step, step, step. She’d rehearsed it countless times, carefully timing her words and steps so she would reach the stage at the right point in the monologue.

I was a theater geek in high school, and dreamed of becoming an actress, so I learned enough about acting to heavily influence this section. The opening monologue is typical of Greek tragedy.

Though all the audience looked at her, she kept her eyes focused on the stage, until she came to the front of the aisle. Then she looked down, intending to glance at the people on either side of her.

Her eyes met those of one of Emperor’s envoys, who had removed his hood.

Like the eyes of all the envoys, they were an unnatural golden color, one that unsettled Padmé in her soul. She couldn’t look away; they were so intense. The face they were set in was burnished, hard, framed by golden hair. He looked the same way Padmé felt: caught in some strange spell.

Time froze for a moment. Then nearly twenty years of professional training kicked in for Padmé, and she turned away, hoping noone else had noticed anything, and finished her speech: “I know when I express my concerns to him it is all the people of this city who speak my words.”

The Palo, who was the King in question, came in. She felt a little better then. Besides Palo being one of her closest friends, no longer being alone on the stage was always a relief to her.

I entertained multiple ideas about Palo playing a bigger part in the fic, of his possibly being Padmé's lover, what with his innocent puppy love relationship with her in the EU, and of Anakin killing him. But in the end they just didn't happen. I think that plot might have taken more than five acts.

“Princess of this city,” he started as the lights came up, and most of the eyes in the arena moved from Padmé to him. But Padmé knew one pair had not. One pair which she thought she might feel on her for the rest of her life.

I seriously considered ending the series here; I didn't particularly like it. However, this series in general has gotten a very strong response from readers, and I got too much urging to continue for that.