I came in today really excited and full of steam. Not only was I going to be spending the day learning more about the craft of writing but also, I had actually written something! Armed with my pages and a nice feeling of having make something happen I really wanted to hear the material out loud. The scenes written had stemmed from a stimulus earlier in the week, a remembered conversation we had had. Earlier in the week i had gotten down to remembering a breakup and had written down a conversation as verbatim as I could recall. This seemed to receive positive feedback from the group and indeed, I felt much more confident in putting it forwards as a piece because I knew it was TRUE. So this new creation of mine was going to be a response to the reality of the first piece.
Not only would the scenes get read, BUT we also had actors in to workshops ideas with- AMAZING! So the lovely actors got up to read and i sat there listening. And i was cringeing totally. I realised that what i had written did not have enough meat in it for the actors, some of the lines may have sounded good at my computer and in my head but they were not actable. The scene was unclear in terms of unit and character wants- it fell apart like a house of cards. Thankfully though, Phillip Osment had a plan, he set up an improvisation with Sam and Asif- the actors who were playing the couple in my scene. They ended up doing a ten minute improv of the kind of relationship the characters used to have before they ended and what played out was a rather sweet scene of a couple in bed making shapes with their hands in the air- it was a really nice visual image and one i felt really inspired by. In terms of the characters- the actors did a wonderful job of fleshing them out more thoroughly for me and when i hit the keyboard again, I think this work will really inform my new scene. Fingers crossed.
My head was bursting by the end of the day, but in a good way. I am loving being in a group where not only are the participants really interesting creative people, but who also are supportive and constructive in their feedback. I am realising that actually, you can write the most lovely poetry, the cleverest dialogue or the funniest quips- but in theatre, if your character wants and needs are unclear then you may as well go home (As an actor, i knew this but as a writer i guess i needed reminding all over again!).
Susan Crothers – writer