starting to write

DSCF1026Writing is not a discipline I have ever tried, although as a theatre maker I have devised and dramaturged texts for performance. I have been a script reader for ten years and think I know a good playscript when I get one, the Drum theatre Plymouth most recently  produced a first time play, Forever House by Glen Waldon, that I read last Autumn. My problem is I have a tough time creating a flow to any written text, a story arc, I always have. I was never any good at writing essays at school and knew there was a trick to it (I always called it a trick because I couldn’t ‘see’ it). It’s just taken me three months to write an extended essay on  dramaturgy, my first two drafts being well and truely red marked by my supervisor. Just let me’ talk’ you through the essay, I’d be happy with that.              Having said all that I came to my performance script with a sense of excitement and anticipation. I knew that I wanted to include not one story, not two but an assortment of stories that weave together. How was I going to do that when I fall down at the process of weaving them together? Well, my performance will take place in a non-theatre space, it has a community attached to it, who have ownership of it – I need them on-board as collaborators. By interviewing the community members I can find stories and gather material for my score rather than starting to write from scratch. By recording conversations I can take dialogue from the interview, this is called verbatim – a method becoming increasingly used for the theatrical recreation of political stories and social miscarriages of justice, as used most prominantly in this country by the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, North London, under the artistic directorship of Nicholas Kent in the naughties, and by playwright David Hare for Out of Joint with plays The Permanent Way and Stuff Happens. Sometimes, like in the work of Alecky Blythe (London Road, The Girlfriend Experience) the actors actually wear headsets to hear the words spoken before they repeat them, in a ‘recorded delivery’. The technique involves recording interviews from real life and editing them into a desired structure.

‘The edited recordings are played live to the actors through earphones during the rehearsal process, and on stage in performance. The actors listen to the audio and repeat what they hear.They copy not just the words but exactly the way in which they were first spoken. Every cough, stutter and hesitation is reproduced. The actors do not learn the lines at any point. By listening to the audio during performances the actors remain accurate to the original recordings, rather than slipping into their own patterns of speech’ (taken from)

Thus creating a performance that has to be the same every night, unlike what we are led to believe about the beauty of live performance, that being ephemeral is different every time.

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