After the third rehearsal, I have some work to do over Christmas!
. The ending needs a re-write as the practicalities of what I had originally planned just don’t work on stage. We tried, it can’t be done (unless it was to be created on-screen, but this is theatre!). I’m not altogether worried about this, as I have an alternative ending in mind anyway, but it does of course mean altering small sections of the entire script in order to lead to this new conclusion. Also, I am quite happy about changing the final image of the piece, as what I have in mind is now far stronger, (I hope!) as a lasting image for the audience to take away with them. I wouldn’t have thought of this ending without watching the cast though, in fact, a lot of ideas and opportunities for comedy have come to light through identifying what can be utilised from the actors themselves.
What I’ve found particularly interesting about realising things about stage practicalities is that to a degree, I sort of thought I knew all of this before. I’ve performed on stage myself, and through devising work have also co-directed amongst fellow performers. I honestly thought when I was writing, that everything I had written was not only doable, but very simple. When we realised that one of the key moments would actually be very difficult to perform effectively, due to a piece of simple equipment I had factored in, I was surprised at first. Then I thought, ‘of course that won’t work, what was I thinking?’. The director almost immediately asked if I could re-write this, if there was something else I could do. This has taught me something I think will be very valuable in the future:
If sections can’t be done, the play more than likely won’t be staged at all. In this case, as I am part of the production process, the director could quite easily just ask me to re-write this section. However, this wouldn’t be the case for someone who had read my script and then come across an issue like this. It would mean that the director or other people involved would have to solve this problem themselves, creating a lot more work for them, perhaps in an area (writing) that isn’t a part of their expertise or interest. I understand that there are playwrights who write the impossible (I recall a Sarah Kane play in which someone is to ejaculate flowers into the air…), and I understand that given a large budget, other problems can be overcome. Personally though, I think it wiser to simply write what can be done, and this has made me aware of limitations I hadn’t considered before. I don’t suppose that my job as a writer has been properly fulfilled if I create a situation that forces other people to take over writing and changing bits of my work.
. SPELLING MISTAKES. I actually just can not believe that there are a few spelling mistakes in my script. I drafted 4 versions altogether, and must have read and re-read this play a thousand times – sometimes searching specifically for errors. I can not believe that there are mistakes in there, especially since this is something I detest when I’m reading a published piece of work. I usually assume it’s down to laziness and carelessness, as I can’t imagine someone submitting something that isn’t perfect in this sense. Now I realise that I am quite wrong, as I know how hard I worked to ensure there were no such errors before submitting my own work… but there are still some in there. I suppose the lesson to be learned from this is simply to print out a version, then go through it a final time. The errors jumped out of the pages at me this way, whereas on a computer screen my eyes seemed to filter them out.
This rehearsal presented me with the same lessons learned from the previous two – that I must let go of the reigns a bit, and that changes will be made no matter how much I think some of what I wrote is important. So far, those changes seem to have bettered the piece though, and this is something I’m learning to accept and, actually, embrace. The next set of rehearsals will take place after Christmas, and I’m hoping the actors will be off-script by then so we can really get to work on the action.
Writing these updates is helping me in reflecting on the writing process a great deal, and I hope some of it is interesting to anyone reading. I look forward to updating you on this process in about a month – have a jolly good Christmas!