Vera preview performances announced

Roll up, roll up!

I’m delighted to report that the dates for the Vera Shrimp work-in-progress performances have been confirmed.

Big thanks to our supporter venues Live Theatre and ARC for hosting us.

It’s a chance to see what we’ve been working on and where we’re at with the show after this development process, as well as offer your feedback for us to use moving forward.

Tickets are on sale now, so if you can make it then it’d be fabulous to have you there … x

THE SOAKING OF VERA SHRIMP

Written and performed by Alison Carr

Directed by Rosie Kellagher

For fourteen year-old Vera Shrimp a rainstorm isn’t a soggy inconvenience, it’s an exhilarating, breathtaking whirl of colours and feelings and words. Because Vera has discovered an extraordinary ability, one that might solve everything.

This is a work-in-progress performance of the first solo show by Alison Carr.

Alison’s  writing credits include Can Cause Death (National Theatre, Northern Stage); The Girls From Poppyfield Close (Live Theatre); Dolly Would (BBC Radio 4). As a writer-performer her credits include Mary, Jesus’s Mam (Trashed Organ/Live), Come To Where I’m From (Paines Plough/Live) and she has been a two-time guest on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb.

Live Theatre, Thursday 11 & Friday 12 July @ 8pm
Tickets: £5
Click [here] for more information and to book

ARC, Wednesday 17 July @ 7pm
Tickets: £3
Click [here] for more information and to book

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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.  

Vera Shrimp – week #1

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 …