Current Project: Update #1
On Thursday (28/11/13), the initial read-through for my first play took place with the actors chosen during the casting process. I learned a lot, and already have the feeling that I’m about to journey along a very harsh, but necessary, learning curve.
A) I have to let go of my vision to a considerable extent. I realised partly during casting that no matter how much I explain what I intended when I wrote the characters, no one else, in the entire world, will read my words the way I wrote them. During the read-through, I was surprised (both pleasantly and unpleasantly, depending on the line) at how differently the actors interpreted their pieces of dialogue. Humour was (effectively) inflected in places I hadn’t even intended to be funny, giving me that classic ‘damn, I wish I’d thought of that first!’ feeling. Additionally, the actors (all four of them) interpreted the sense of humour of their particular character in a way that differs to what I pictured in my head in terms of line delivery, but this isn’t necessarily bad. As long as a sense of humour is coming across (vital, since the play is a comedy after all!), I think the writing serves its purpose, and the actors serve the script well. It just means that when this play is staged, it is going to look and feel rather different to what I imagined during the writing process.
B) As a writer, I have A LOT of work to do and improvements to make. I was pretty pleased with myself when I was awarded a 1st for this piece last year for one of my undergrad modules. I was ecstatic when another lecturer from the university suggested we actually stage it. My primary dream is, and always has been, to see something I’ve written staged. I just could not believe my luck that someone else read my work and wanted to do something with it, and I still can’t. However, I’m not too proud but am embarrassed to admit that this started going to my head a bit. I’ve had a pretty shoddy five years or so, and the notion of getting to see my work realised lifted my spirits so much that I believe I may have floated above the Earth somewhat. After hearing my words read aloud, my feet are firmly planted back on the ground. Because some of what I wrote is not brilliant. Some of it isn’t as hilarious as I thought it was. Some of it…. is crap. I winced in parts because my writing, although it looked good on paper, sounded clumpy when spoken. I found a section in the first scene to be so long and uninteresting that I didn’t even care what was going on. One of my characters is so one-dimensional that in a scene I’d written in an attempt to expose his vulnerable side, my writing goes to all hell. I may as well have written ‘I may seem tough, but actually I am a layered character with complex feelings. So I am likeable and you can relate to me after all!’ I can summarise my feelings on these realisations in one phrase – face palm.
On a more positive note, I am relieved beyond words that it actually comes across as a comedy. The actors struggled through laughter with a couple of lines because they found them so funny, which made me breathe a huge sigh of relief. Quite often I’ve had the fear that my jokes are only funny to me…
The biggest lesson I think I’ve learned is that no matter how tight your final draft is, the writing process doesn’t really end there (not for me in this instance anyway). Having the work read aloud is so insightful that I can now begin re-drafting again, and fix the problems that I didn’t even realise were there. With a lot of hard work and my fingers crossed I think I can now begin to create something that is actually worthy of an audience!