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Monday, 23 January 2017

Rehearsal Spaces and Lateral Thinking

I promised I was going to share an online diary about making a solo poetry/theatre show so here it is:

Last week I was walking up Saint Martin's Lane. I was on the way to Soho Theatre to see Marisa Carnesky's show about menstruation when I noticed a sign advertising 'Room for Hire'.
Marisa Carnesky's Incredible Bleeding
Women show was passionate and powerful.
It cost £55 for four hours and could be used for anything from meditation to life modelling. I started pondering whether this was expensive when a woman popped her head out the front door. We started discussing how I needed a rehearsal space when she encouraged me to step inside the building. She was quite insistent that I go in then and there and my knee-jerk reaction was to say I didn't have time, in case she was from a cult. She explained that the only caveat for me to view the space was I had to stay for a minimum of three minutes and sit in complete silence. She further explained that a silence-in-the-city session was going on and it was this that convinced me that maybe I did have time to go in and see this room.

Screenshot of The Rabbits,
Inland Empire series of films by
David Lynch
Sometimes I embrace life when it makes a suggestion of David Lynch. So, in I went to find a long oval shaped room with five strangers sat motionless, eyes closed. Immediately upon entering the sound of silence, I sat and closed my eyes in relief. Then when I opened them there was one man with his head resting sideways on a rucksack, another with his shoes off, twiddling his socked toes. The only woman was dressed in a timeless old lady outfit; old woollen coat, buttoned up collared blouse, navy shopping bag, nothing to pinpoint which decade she was in. She was wringing her hands silently, almost, but not quite in tears. A balding pink fat man with his bare white tummy sagging from under his t-shirt was sleeping, happily, with his head dropped towards his knees.
I became unsure how many minutes I had been there, but guessing it was at least five I left the room to find digestive biscuits on a saucer. Tea cups were turned upside down side by side arranged for a meeting. From the leaflets I realised I was in a Quaker meeting house and as I left the same woman who'd brought me in reappeared in the doorway. She said, thank you so much for sitting in. I thanked her back, genuinely pleased I had stopped for a spacious moment. I rejoined London and was planted in it, rather than skirting through the street in a headless rush. I had a smile on my face. I hadn't found a rehearsal space, but I'd connected with strangers. This long winded approach to discovery is how I approach most things. I wish I had a quicker process, but often I find what I'm looking for when I've stopped searching so hard.

The rehearsal space question still wasn't being properly addressed so, I decided to ask people on Twitter and Facebook. Stella Duffy did not dissapoint when she came back with an immediate suggestion of Arch 468 I've now hired the rehearsal space for my first work-in-progress rehearsal in April as, not only is it very affordable, but it has black out facilities and is conveniently situated in Loughborough Junction. I like to keep to South London if I can and have re-remembered that it's important to ask for help, rather than going it alone.

Last Monday I went to Camden People's Theatre to attend a 'marketing your show' talk. You really
Camden People's Theatre near Euston
could do a full-time MA on this subject but we had only an hour and a half. In this we covered how to put together a marketing campaign. The most important thing is that you have a PLAN and a time frame, something quantifiable that you can measure your project against. It's not just a question of whether you're making good or bad work, it's much more useful to apply lateral thinking. What are you trying to do and who is it for? What is the aim? Do you have a message? Is the message that there isn't a message? What is your mission (statement)? What's happening in the world that makes your show so important? Remember your aim at each step of the way. Keep going back to your mission (statement).

Ask yourself 10 questions
Another good thing to try to understand your practice is interview yourself (in the bath works for me). Barbara Taylor Bradford said on Woman's Hour last week that she had started four novels but not completed any of them and put them all in a drawer. This was all before she wrote 'A Woman of Substance'. One day she decided to take out her yellow pad and pen and as a practicing journalist decided a good thing would be to interview herself. She asked, "What do you want to write about? What kind of novel? Where is she going to be set?"

I came away thinking about what kind of world is it that I am producing this new show in right now. What is it about human identity, selfhood and failure that I think is so important to talk about in a supposedly post-truth world?
Is it enough just to create laughter? Am I asking to admit my connectivity?

Put yourself on your own map
 When the script's finished I'll send answers on a  postcard to myself, or rather, maybe a series of  letters. I bought this set at the British Library as  an early birthday present to myself.
 Maps: a writing kit with 50 stickers.
 Penge is even on the map on one of the sheets  of writing paper of London in 1887.
 Thanks for reading.
Up next on the blog: The script writing  process and Scratch Showings


  1. I reckon a good "mission statement" would be to live life with "a suggestion of David Lynch"... Jx

  2. Thanks Jon - you're very right! x