At last! After all the talk and form filling in we finally got to some fun stuff – our first official week working on Vera Shrimp.
I packed my trusty notebook, pencil case and a shed load of Post-Its and headed off to Live Theatre where we’d be spending the next four days ensconced in the Benfield Writers Room. I also, importantly, had the first draft of the script as we’d decided to focus our efforts while at Live on the text. I may be writing and performing this piece, but before we even start thinking about getting it up on its feet we need a story and a script that is up to scratch.
The first order of the day was to read it out loud. This might sound like the most basic of the basics, but it all has to start somewhere. And as I hadn’t really looked at the script since finishing the first draft in January, it was a good way to get my head back in to the story and its ideas. Some distance can prove to be a good thing – you can get so wrapped up in something that you sicken yourself – so to have some time away clears the head. Rosie and I took it in turns reading and listening, and almost immediately queries and gaps became apparent. Along with the fact that I had scrimped massively on commas!
And so we set about questioning and exploring the story and its characters. I’m not going to detail every moment, but we did lots of talking and asking and made lots of notes. We talked about Vera. We talked about Vera’s Dad and how he is a key player who needs to be brought more to the fore. We talked about Vera’s Mam and her friends and their neighbours, and Wendy and Aunty Karen and all the other voices who we might come to hear. We looked up cremations and spoke to a former police officer about procedure following a sudden death. I was assigned homework. We navigated timelines. And at last – hurrah! – we broke out the Post-Its and mapped out the story.
To sum up, we did a lot. And I think we both came away pretty knackered but pleased with what we had achieved. Not to mention wise to the fact that two people shouldn’t, really, try to eat a whole box of Tesco flapjack in one afternoon.
We now have a week before we head to ARC where we are going to concentrate on performance. No time for slacking, though, as I have to take all of the notes and the ideas and the questions and the Post-Its and start shaping them in to a second draft. I won’t lie, my head’s spinning a little – but it’s better than it lying dormant and trying to kick it in to gear.
All in all, we’re out of the starting blocks and on our way. And there’s no stopping. Not now. Plans are afoot – exciting announcements to follow …