Show #3. Our first Friday night.
And we're beginning - just beginning - to assimilate and learn a few things about the show.
No crazy teenagers in the audience tonight. (But neither the free gift of the sense of a 'gathered' meeting we had with our very grown up audience for Show #2.)
Tonight's audience was as rich, in a different way.
And our cast (who are boldly learning where no cast have learnt before) are beginning to find a balance between two essential ingredients for doing this particular show (and many others no doubt):
First, a heightened state of awareness (that allows them to be with an audience, that audience, not one they've imagined.)
Second, a knowledge and understanding of the play, of what we're doing. A strong sense of why we're doing it.
So a few lessons learnt.
1. Just because your rehearse something doesn't mean it will happen.
So we rehearsed today, carefully rehearsed the music cues, the exits, the sequences of the play that need to drive through.
And tonight - many of the things we rehearsed actually happened.
And lots of them didn't.
Other things happened instead - things that couldn't have happened if we hadn't rehearsed.
So - rehearsal isn't about getting it right. It's about preparing it right.
2. Rules and Tools
Tools are useful things. And having the right tools makes doing difficult things easier.
It's like that moment when we have to insert batteries into a present on Christmas morning. We've all tried to use a flat screwdriver instead of looking for the crosshead one haven't we? Haven't we? And sometimes it gets the job done. Right then. In that moment.
But it messes up the thread a bit and it makes unscrewing at a later date impossible. But who cares - it gets the job done. And while we feel slightly guilty at the prospect of someone else (possibly even the gift's recipient) struggling to undo what we've done, we tighten it up anyway.
So - could Andy and I as directors use the flat screwdriver of just telling the actors what to do sometimes? Which word to emphasise? How long to count for a pause? Give them a line reading even?
Of course we could.
And it would get the job done.
But later, when we're not there with our outside ears and eyes... what do the actors do when they want to go back and change the batteries themselves?
So - no flat screwdrivers. We've taken time to look together with the cast for the right tools...
And we've given the tools names. And we've practised using them.
And we've developed a common language, some guidelines for doing what we're doing. A set of rules. And we've needed them too.
One rule is clear: don't trash the audience. Not ever. Not even in a funny way.
Especially not in a funny way.
So... how do you sincerely ask a question of an audience member and then let them know you don't actually need an answer... without 'trashing' them?
We found a tool for that.
And hopefully we'll all remember where it is.
3.That's not normal at all.
We were reminded today that what we're doing, how we're treating each other, isn't necessarily the norm.
Someone we know went up for an audition this morning.
They weren't listened to.
They were told that how they looked wasn't right.
They didn't get a chance to share their point of view about the script or even the character they were potentially playing.
And they left feeling a bit bruised.
And 'thoroughly normal'.
Earlier this morning I listened back to an interview Tim, Andy and I did for the Royal Court podcast a couple of weeks ago. It was useful - like going back to your written notes of a few weeks ago.
Something I don't do enough.
(Something Andy does all the time.)
Throughout this rehearsal period, I've written all my notes on the back pages of my script. Nowhere else.
Everything I've written during run throughs, on bus journeys home and in those few quiet moments I've taken to simply reflect... they're all on the back of my thirty-seven pages of script.
All the things I've learnt along the way.
All there in a present tense I've now forgotten about (like a podcast - proudly located in the present.)
Maybe one day I'll write them out neatly.
Maybe I won't.
Either way - I'm glad they're in one place.
And I'm glad too that even if I ripped them all up now, or lost them - what's been learnt in the past is finding its way into the present of the show.