Sunday, 20 September 2009

When is an audience not just an audience?

So today, we did our fourth run through of the play with an audience.

The first was in May.

The second was 4 months later.

The third was 10 days later.

The fourth was 4 days later.

The next run is tomorrow.

Then we'll have just 48 hours.

Then we open the show and the gap will become just one day.

We've deliberately compressed the time between our run throughs, gradually and slowly.

Deliberately and consciously.

The lighting, the sound, the cast and the directors have been allowed to try things out...

And so have our audiences.

They've told us what their experiences are - and we've responded I hope.

Sometimes it's been just about clarity of narrative - that the story isn't clear enough yet. (That one's been fixed - no question.)

Or that people can handle more than we think.

Or less than we think.

We've been listening hard to what people have said (and not said) after the show.

And we'll continue to listen. Not just after the show, but during it too.

Our cast are sitting with the audience. Our audience are sitting with our cast.

So Tim, Esther, Vic and Adrian can hear the intakes of breath, the gasps.

The silence of when someone stops breathing for a few seconds.

And because our audience (like our cast) are all lit - well lit, not in some cowardly half-light - we'll continue to listen with our eyes too.

Watching the body language. The shifts of posture, of position, of openness.

And if we continue to listen well, we'll continue to discover too.

So as we move into the week of finally opening the show, after many months of preparation and conversation and a few weeks of rehearsal, our core challenge is coming sharply into view.

There is no 'it'. Or 'there'. No final destination.

We're not moving towards a final version of the show that we're seeking to discover and then maintain.

Actually, our job as directors and as a production is to create the optimum conditions for listening...

To give our cast the best possible opportunity to speak - and to listen.

We're seeking to hear, and to be heard...

On behalf of a play that is very much about what is seen.

And what remains unseen.

So, directing The Author is absolutely an exercise in dialogue for me:

In a dialogue, you're seeking to bring out what might otherwise remain hidden.

And in the play - we're doing pretty much the same thing.

So, when is an audience not just an audience?

When they're being listened to.

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