Vera Shrimp – week #2

So, where were we?

Last time we met, Rosie and I had just finished our week at Live Theatre and I had a script to re-write.

Well, re-write I did. Or tried to. Because sometimes I think I can do more than I can. I forget that my days can’t be 100% devoted to writing; that I have to do things like eat and wash clothes and sleep; that I am not an automated ideas-machine (how I wish I was an automated ideas-machine … sigh)

In the end, I managed about half of the script during a week that turned out to be extremely frustrating, tiring and generally a bit crappy. On the plus, the work that was done was the work that most needed to be done – fleshing out the opening and the character of Dad, as well as introducing new characters and hearing more of their voices.

So we arrived at ARC on Monday morning armed with what I had got done. I’ve worked there before with Rascally Scoundrels and they’re a lovely team who are hugely supportive, always very helpful and accommodating. We were shown to the Studio, our home for the next five days, and off we went.

Because the script is still in its relatively early stages, a lot of time was still devoted to studying and talking about it. There’s little point in starting to get it up on its feet if it’s going to change massively again. This meant a couple of late nights for me cutting/re-writing what I had re-written the week before, and continuing re-writing the second half that I hadn’t gotten to yet. It’s not ideal but needs must, and sometimes having a very quick-turnaround stops you agonising over every line and just getting on with it.

The other main thrust of our week was starting to think about my telling of Vera’s story, my performance. I have always known that this would be the harder side of this endeavour for me. I have ten years experience as a playwright, safely hidden away, writing words for proper actors to say using their proper actor training. But now I am asking to step out from behind my desk and putting myself centre stage.

I – how do I put this? – struggled. As I knew I would. But knowing I would struggle and actually being there, struggling, are two quite different things. It made for a difficult week for both me and Rosie.

We now have over a month until our week at Northern Stage. Of course, things don’t stop just cos we’re not in a rehearsal room – I have to write Draft 3 based on all of the work done so far and we have to start approaching practitioners such as designers and technicians, start thinking about things like props and music.

I’m trying to resist the temptation to run away and hide and am thinking of it like rolling down a (steep) hill in a barrel. I have stood at the top of the hill, climbed into the barrel and away I’ve gone. And there might be moments on the way down that I don’t like or make me feel sick, but there’s no stopping now. And when I’m at the bottom, only then can I decide if I want to climb up the hill again and get back in the barrel for another go.