Following on from last week’s blog, I feel I should really tell you what came about as a result of all the face-pulling train travel! Between working, writing and rehearsing the time flew by, and I suddenly found myself facing a whole day of teching, last minute run-throughs and performing.
The Theatre Uncut event brought together a whole range of people, from The Brewhouse Theatre’s Director & Chief Executive Robert Miles and Box Office Manager Hannah Maun, to local college students. It was a fantastic display of local talent and the enthusiasm that so many people have for the arts, no matter what their social background, political interest or creative experience. Having read most of the pieces when discovering mine, it was great to see them so imaginatively put together and amazing to think that we’d all had just two weeks to prepare in between jobs and so on. It was great to see progression even from the techs to the shows, and everyone delivered entertaining and engaging pieces.
Every performance is a surprise, particularly when it’s a work in progress and you’ve only had one or two rehearsals in the actual space. Kelly Smith, who organised the event, said after my tech rehearsal “I really like the way you delivered that line, it’s really developed since last time”. Bugger. You see, that’s the problem with a work in progress: much of it is spent experimenting with what you have and then doing the hard bit of actually remembering what worked and weaving it into a concrete performance. But there was no time to lose, so a few more muttered run-throughs in the café and it was show time.
Over the years I’ve found that the nerves have decreased to a pleasant simmer in the wings, but facing a whole new challenge they really did fly back to me. We’ve all done short monologues for auditions and the odd speech in performance, but this was my first full solo piece. So there I was, on the brink of fifteen minutes of me and feeling a little terrified. Will I remember my lines? Will I rush through it too fast? Will I just look like I have no real skill at all? Not the most constructive thoughts to be having pre-show but somewhat inevitable I feel. However, one deep breath later, glasses removed and into position and I was away…
It’s very different going from practising at one person to being surrounded on three sides and I really enjoyed the challenge of maintaining that direct contact on multiple levels. Thankfully the text I had was split into a number of sections which really allowed me to keep control of the pace and prevent me from running away with myself. I realised that the speech was bypassing thought and the rhythm of the text was supporting the whole piece, so I relaxed and enjoyed it. I suddenly found myself at the end and with very little idea as to how I had got there.
After a group bow, Robert Miles gave a short speech about the event and the importance the whole movement will play in demonstrating just how much of a need and want there is for the arts in this country. One point he made, is that it’s all very well him (and I think this applies to us all) feeling angry and wanting to shout at the those decision-makers on the phone, but he actually needs to be able to communicate with them in a very composed manner to be able to maintain important relationships. A theatrical environment, on the other hand, provides a safe space in which we are all able to express anger at the cuts, or any other emotion or message for that matter. It is this expression which is imperative we fight for.
Following these performances I’ve been approached with various other opportunities, from community and education projects to possible theatre work, which all goes to show that the event had the desired effect and that the arts will continue in the face of hardship. What better proof of Ben Franklin’s words? “Out of adversity comes opportunity”.