Monday, 24 September 2012


Question. At what point do you stop creating, and accept that a work is "finished"?

A bit of context: I'm working on a play that is created from about ten different drafts written by the original playwright over forty years ago (and who is, sadly, no longer with us). It's not that different from working on a brand new play, with re-writes happening on a fairly regular basis. This is tricky for the actors (and, in some cases, the production team when key design/atmosphere/costume factors are affected) as entire passages that have already been learnt are suddenly disrupted by the addition or subtraction of a line or two (or, indeed, full speeches).

There are famous incidences of productions running in 'preview' for months before they officially open - using an audience's response to help mold the show until it is locked down. And some plays are such classics you know the script will not change from day one.

Now, the obvious answer to my original question is that you never truly stop creating - that's the magic of live performance, that it is re-created every night and can never be the same. As such I'm not sure it is possible to have a "finished" live performance. But when that live performance relies on the confidence and skill of performers and technicians, at some point you do have to say 'this is it', 'this is what we're going with'. So, when?

Or is the work never done?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Another year, another post...

One year on, and it's fascinating to look back through my previous posts. The good news is I am still Directing, and it's been a VERY busy year. This doesn't equate to a healthy bank balance, but one step at a time. In no particular order (although a vague attempt at being chronological), here's what I've been up to:

1. The Importance of Being Earnest - very well-received and we considered touring it but lack the logistical and financial support so that idea was binned. Great reviews, including my first 5-star critique, from WhatsOnStage.

2. Joined the Rondo Theatre as its first resident Directing Intern. This is a part-paid position that involves learning all the aspects of running a receiving fringe theatre - from contracts to programming to bar-work. I still have three months left (my term is up in December), and I think I can safely say that being there, meeting the visiting companies, and being able to talk in-depth one-to-one with my employer and mentor Ian McGlynn (the Artistic Director) has had a big influence in not only what I want to direct, but how I want to present myself in the industry and the power of new writing.

3. I have so far, in 2012, directed three productions, with a fourth on the way. First us was a new writing event called 'Alliance', which was a huge challenge as I was effectively producing as well as directing, as my first big task at the Rondo. It was a pretty stressful rehearsal period, and the importance of casting was very acutely demonstrated - good and bad. (oh for a decent budget!). Then there was 'Fertility Objects' by Alison Farina - a great little show about infertility. A lovely company and a successful production. Finally, most recently, was the biggie: my first ever attempt at the Edinburgh Fringe. More on that later....

4. I am currently working in Bolton, at the Octagon, back in the role of Assistant Director. It's really interesting to go back to, largely, observing in a rehearsal room. It's great to watch everyone working, although I do worry that I'm not doing enough (but then, I'm used to running everything!). 

I'm in Bolton for another three weeks, then back to the South West for a brief break before leaping into 'Product Displacement' at the Rondo. 

More soon :-)