I spent 2 days at the end of last week working (as a performer) on a new adaptation of a play.
I attend rehearsals as both as a performer, and as a director. I often attend as both when directing for The New Factory. Common to my experience as both a performer and director, is my ever present sense of excitement about being part of the collaborative process. In theatre we never work alone, even if you happen to be the writer, director, and solo performer, with no other creatives on board. There is always at least one other collaborator.
Bear with me.
We have, as part of the rehearsal/workshop process, the privilege of going into a space with others (performers, creatives etc) to explore the human condition. Not just an opportunity to put forward our own ideas (that sort of thing is best reserved for the pub), but an exploration of a way to jointly elucidate the ideas of others. The process can be joyful, annoying, frustrating, painful, and many other things in equal measure, but personally it always makes me want to put the work in front of an audience as soon as possible. They are the ‘one other collaborator’ in the process, and they can only join in the process when the work is put in front of them. That’s the beauty of theatre. We share our work with groups of (more often than not) complete strangers, and they become a part of the work… they complete the work.
Wallace Shawn wrote that “For me, a play is a form of writing which isn’t complete until it is interpreted by actors”. I think he is half right, because I believe you need an audience as well to make any play complete.
And last week’s workshops? They were joyful. Working with a group of fine actors, a director I have always enjoyed working with, and with both the translator and adaptor in the room. We read, discussed, argued, listened, and got on our feet. We triumphed and failed in equal measure. The play may never be produced, and even if it were I may not be in it, but I hope it is (with or without me). You know something is worthwhile when you want to get the other collaborators – the audience – involved.