The Secret Commonwealth

Play rehearsals well under way now for The Secret Commonwealth, which will be opening the new Oran Mor 'A Play, A Pie and a Pint' lunchtime theatre season. Spent Monday and Tuesday in Glasgow - then came home and left them to get on with it for a bit. This is a single hander, so 'them' consists of the director, Jennifer Hainey (young and brilliant) and the actor Liam Brennan (a bit older, and also brilliant.) I've worked with Liam before both for stage and radio, and it is always a pleasure - he's such an intelligent, thoughtful and compelling actor with a huge breadth of experience, including a spell at the Globe, in London. There is also going to be music in the play, provided by young Gaelic singer and musician Deirdre Graham. Rehearsals are both stimulating and scary, in that all those involved ask difficult questions, and you had better be able to answer them! I always find myself stressing this to beginning writers when I'm doing workshops or courses in writing drama. Actors and directors will inevitably want to know all kinds of things about the text - and the person who has to have the answers is you. The buck stops fairly and squarely in your lap. No question, it's difficult, because quite often we do write instinctively, and find out why and how we've structured things afterwards. So sometimes, in answering these questions, you find yourself having to think on your feet - but mostly, you actually find out things about the play that were there all the time - just that you hadn't fully articulated them yet, even to yourself. If cuts are to be made, they are frequently to be found in sections that don't quite fit in. And it's during rehearsals that these sections will probably become self evident. All in all, an interesting and rewarding process - but always collaborative. If you don't like collaboration, the answer is simple. Don't write plays!


Bill Kirton said…
Yes, we're supposed to have all the answers but in a way that goes against the whole collaborative process of theatre. You must have had the experience of a director or actor deciding to interpret lines you'd written in a way you hadn't thought of and yet which worked well and even gave you new insights into your work.

And then there's the times when you deliberately leave something unresolved because that's part of the point. It happened to me once with a radio play. I wanted the listeners to be uncertain whether a book sent to a blind character was indeed from her long-unseen grandson or whether the person describing it for her simply wanted her to believe it was. The actor playing the blind character was quite upset when she asked me if it was from her grandson and I said I didn't know.

I'm still hoping to get to see the play. I hope you have a great, enjoyable, successful week.