“Not forever, just for now”

Things I have learnt since the last time …

  • It can be too early for a handful of chocolate raisins.
  • Terry & Marg did it.
  • It doesn’t take as much as I thought to set me off blubbing.
  • “Micey” means disreputable/creepy/there’s a rabbit off.
  • It hurts when you put teaspoons straight from the freezer on your eyes (although it is good for tiredness – you’re in so much pain you forget how tired you are).
  • Columbo will be sadly missed.

And thus, so ends The Girls From Poppyfield Close.

I say ‘ends’. Ends for now.

Because the three night run in Live’s Studio Theatre last week is part of the play’s ongoing development. I’ve come out of the rehearsal process and performances with so many new thoughts and ideas – I’ve gotten to see the play up on its feet, in front of an audience, and there is no better way to shine a spotlight on what works and what needs working on further.

I can’t sign off on this without paying tribute to the team. With only a week and a half rehearsal time, Rosie, Phillippa, Cheryl, Cliff, Sam, Rachel and Chris achieved something incredible. And the hard work, enthusiasm and humour of everybody made it one of the most enjoyable projects I have worked on. Not to mention the fact that ‘treats corner’ was never left empty, not once!

And credit to the production team, of course. Designers Verity and Kate; technicians Drummond, Craig and Tom who created such an evocative and atmospheric world for the characters and audience to inhabit.

Ok. So that’s enough gushing. They were all fabulous dah-ling, blah blah blah!

For photos, reviews and audience feedback from last week’s production, click [here]

Biscuits

Day -4 and I have learnt a number of things this week …

  • Banana skin is a cure for verrucas.
  • When you want a lighter to run out of gas, it resolutely won’t.
  • Lunging is sinister.
  • My next play shall be called The Peregrinations of Mrs Budge
  • Establish a ‘treats corner’ and everyone is happy.
  • Someone being thwacked with a plimsoll is funny, no matter how sombre the context.
  • Cheerios are an evening meal.

I could go on.

But I won’t.

It all adds up to mark Week One of rehearsals for The Girls From Poppyfield Close.

The cast and director met up for the first time on Monday, starting with a script read through in the morning. Unfortunately due to an unavoidable commitment (which shall be filed in the drawer marked ‘Sods Law’) I have only been able to attend rehearsals in the afternoons this week. But, I don’t think this was such a bad thing. For the first session it meant the script could be read and discussed without me folded up in the corner, so when I did arrive in the afternoon they had had time to digest it a little.

It is not a long rehearsal period so was a case of jumping-straight-in from Tuesday. The energy and attitude towards the play has been great, the actors seem engaged by their characters and the story. There are regular questions and ideas which is fantastic – I’m kept on my toes, never far from my editing pencil, but I love it. It’s great to be able to share these characters and this story, to see it ‘come alive’ (horribly cheesy, sorry), to have conversations about it, answer the questions (or not) and see different ideas played with and tried out.

I think a massive bonus is the fact that the director Rosie Kellagher has been with me for the whole process of developing Blood in to Poppyfield.

It was Rosie who rang me at the back end of last year to ask if I’d be interested in developing it in to a full-length piece and she has read every draft thereafter. It is Rosie who has assured me it’s “not shit” and listened to me doubt and fret. But it’s all been worth it, cos on Friday she saw me do a giddy little dance after the first stagger through of the Acts! I know that she knows this play and where it is in its development. She gets where I am coming from and gets me as a writer, and that is invaluable.

But don’t tell her I was being nice about her though, it’ll go straight to her head.

While I am being complimentary about other people (it’ll wear off shortly and normal service will resume, I’m sure) a big huzzah for the talented company of actors on board. I have looked forward to going in to rehearsals every day to see them and what they’re going to do.

And it’s been a great surprise how much laughter there has been – while there is humour in the play it’s hardly a ‘comedy caper’, but there is a real enthusiasm to the rehearsals. And biscuits. Biscuits always help. Kudos to Cheryl for bringing in the best biscuits so far – a sort of chocolate Hob Nob/cookie hybrid. Immense.

So then. Rehearsals continue next week, with the play kicking off on Thursday. I really hope it continues to be as enjoyable. Or at the very least, the biscuits keep coming and to such a high standard.