Monday, 22 October 2012

Day fourteen - the elephant and the magic in the room

I'm writing this blog retrospectively. As you can imagine, the penultimate and final day of the process were busy, focussed and adrenaline fuelled. Subsequently I was not able to update the blog and I can remember few details of the two days now, even as I'm writing this only days after the performance.

The greyness of the previous day had definitely lifted. Despite not having slept I connected with some Buddhist guidance that reminded me that 'it is the heart that matters'. I realised that despite the fact that we'd stripped the work right back and despite the fact that the meaning of the piece was not clearly signposted and delivered to the audience on the plate, (and also despite the fact that yet again there were questions around intention - something which keeps coming up for me) the truth and the heart that we'd all invested in the work was still very much there. We just needed to reconnect with it and to start feeling good about it again.

There was still a residual tension hanging in the air. I recall Laura saying that she didn't know what the material was any more. At the time I felt very personally responsible for this tension but as I sit here writing this I wonder if it was simply a crisis point for the project, one that was needed for some reason. I definitely think it had a lot to do with the radical intervention during our mentoring. Eventually the tension came to a head and manifested in a disagreement between Anna and myself. Again, I don't remember details, though I do recall both Anna and myself expressing the sensation of fighting against each other. There was also a critiquing of my use of 'group advocated' strategic planning and I made notes in my notebook to ensure in future that these agreements were attended to even more carefully so that I'm not left open to this criticism :

'Quality of the agreements is important - establishing everyone's priorities, knowing exactly what is going to happen and who is going to attend to what. When the agreement is thrown out or the strategy shifts, it's important to identify that there has been a shift and why it's happened. Incorporate time frames and end goals.'

The disagreement subsided. I do recall explaining my position to Anna who I think felt I was stepping on her toes a little. I was concerned that the meanings in the work weren't clear and wanted to skip forward to certain sections which I felt were particularly confusing. In my notebook it says 'writer - meaning making, director - performance quality' - the summary of our re-iterating our roles.

From then onwards the day was rapid, exhilarating progress. The elephant in the room was cleared out of it and the blocking was fleshed out with dynamic enthusiasm in advance of a first dress/tech run to be shared with Theatre in the Mill's Iain Bloomfield and Ivan Mack. The magic is back in the room.

The feedback that followed this sharing was encouraging but indicated that some kind of narrative threading was required for the audience to feel 'let in' to the work. This was something I had been fearing, that only those of us involved in the work would understand  it and that the logic wouldn't resonate beyond the process we'd been part of.

Iain and Ivan both saw possible fixes and solutions, so all was not lost, but I was disappointed and acutely aware of some of the tribulations of my conceptual approach to writing and making work and the problems I am yet to solve.

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