Saturday, 12 September 2009

Who Do I Envy?

So - the end of Week 2 of rehearsals of The Author.

Part of me doesn't want to talk too much about it. Part of me wants to talk about it a lot.

So - I'll keep it as simple as I can. And (b)log my thoughts as a series of 3 remarks and observations and I'll call it:


1. Not working too hard.
After a run through at the end of our development week back in May, I was told by a good friend - and someone who understands the way that Tim, Andy and I work - not to rehearse too much. I sort of knew what he meant. So here we are, two weeks into a rehearsal period and we've translated that piece of advice slightly into: don't work too hard.

So what does 'work' mean in this context?

Sweat a lot? No.

Get stressed? No. Not much.

Exhaust ourselves? No.

We've done good hours - more in the morning than the afternoon.

9.30 - 1.30pm with fresh morning energy.

An hour for lunch. (For the actors anyway.)

And then maybe two hours in the afternoon.

(Much more productive than many sweaty, stressed 18 hour days I've done in the past. And much less exhausting.)

2. Treats
At the end of each afternoon, before we leave rehearsals: a treat.

Each one of us (the directors and the cast) have taken it in turns to have 45 minutes to share with everyone else... something.

Andy shared his one man show. A 40 minutes piece called The Next Two Days of Everything where he just spoke to us. And we were gripped, compelled to listen by the simplicity and sincerity of his storytelling.

I did half an hour on the principles of dialogue and then handed out iPod shuffles so everyone could have a listen to one of the conversations I've recorded and edited at The Dialogue Project.

Then, Esther got us to draw pictures of each other that in some way reflected what we felt were positive characteristics of each other. I got Adrian. Adrian got me.

Then, Adrian played us a DVD of a documentary of his trip to Tel Aviv to perform his show An Evening With Adrienne where we all got a glimpse of how being gay isn't exactly universally celebrated.

Then Vic taught us an ancient game called 'carton' where - joyously - you celebrate failure as well as success.

Tim gave everyone (except me and Andy) the chance to conduct us all singing our nonsensical hearts out.

And then, Bryony and Fran brought in a delicious fruit tart.

Delicious. All of them.

3. Listen
There are lots of moments in a rehearsal room - in any working process in fact - when what you expect to happen doesn't.

And when the unexpected happens often our default setting isn't to listen.

Often instead the impulse is to act immediately.

Or talk immediately.

Or keep going immediately and pretend it hasn't happened.

We've had plenty of the unexpected happen - and when it's happened, we've often listened.

It's taken patience sometimes, rigour sometimes and nearly always generosity.

And as a result, new things have emerged. New ideas. New possibilities.

It may not be a perfect process or a unique one - but it's careful and (at the very least) unusual.

Rare. And full of care.

I envy us.

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