REELING - A play by Sean Gregory

REELING - A play by Sean Gregory
art by Angela Guyton (Click on image for artists website)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Proper Beginning

It almost feels like there's ten starting points to a play. There's the writing of the thing itself, then there's the getting it on somewhere, then there's casting it, finding a director, stage manager, set designer, rewriting, booking rehearsal spaces, and so on and so forth.

Monday, however, was the proper beginning for Reeling.

So, what did Monday bring? It was the first time everyone involved had been in a room together, and for some, it was the first time we'd met.

The read through was tricky. As the play relies on listening back to tapes, sometimes characters listening to themselves, there were these bizarre moments when Jo and Louise-Clare were left having to almost throw their voices, as they had to reply to themselves. Both were terribly good at it though, of course.

After the read through, everyone got a chance to talk about the script. This is my favourite bit, as it was with Donal Fleet last year, having everyone sit around and giving their ideas on how to develop the script. I know some writers are quite precious about their 'words', but I think several perspectives (especially from someone like Richard) can turn a reasonable piece into something much better. Having to spend five hours on the train back to Norwich yesterday, I finished the rewrite... I hope all contributions made it from my notes to the script.

After the read through, we tore straight into getting the recorded parts of the play done. Richard and Joel combined their duel director powers like something from a Japanese monster movie. It was quite strange for me, as the writer, to watch this take shape. Having written a play where taped recording would be used, I was relying on the fact that Joel would know how to put it together. And, as is so often not the case, I was right. Richard got fantastic performances out of all the actors. This is another oddity about being a writer. You put these things on paper, hoping that it's going to be somehow effecting/funny/tragic/poignant etc etc, but (at least I can't) you can never be sure. And then you have someone like Richard who, along with the actors, finds these extra layers to the words on the page, which left me asking the same question several times - 'did I really write that? And if I did, can I get away with pretending it was intentional?'

It seems a shame that Ruth was only with us for the day (though, hopefully, she'll pop down to a rehearsal or two), that Ted and David were only around for an hour or so, and that Hannah was in and out in about twenty minutes. However, their contributions are bigger than their time given.

What else did we learn? Well, we're a new theatre company, so we learnt that there are mistakes there to be made, and we are going to make some. We learnt that you should double check peoples names before putting them on anything. And we learnt that people are, in the main, superb. It's fantastic for us to have people like David, Ted, and Ruth give their time so freely.

So, next week is the eleventh beginning, when we start rehearsals proper.


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