There’s more to these blogs than meets the eye. I wonder which way you read them…
Feeling of have to?
All of the above are fine and relevant to this up and coming PACE Project
National Theatre Connections is a huge undertaking not just performance wise but ‘personally’ too.
None of us enter these things with our personal boxes fully ticked – even I – who must bring this ” baby” ” to light ” sometimes struggle to tick the odd box or 2…
In fact – you should be confused, you should be intrigued, you should feel you ‘have’ to read the blogs and most of all, and not to bleat on about it, you really need to get the WHY of ” The Sheep” in the pictures and posts.
If you are “country” savy ( which I somehow doubt – a thing that comes with age, like not wanting to party past midnight ) If you are rustically ” au fait” then you will see that the title of each post refers -along with the carefully selected picture – to a theme common to all sheep.
They are rounded up – they are often put through sheep trials and then “sheared ” (their outward coat removed ) and then the final “cut ” – the mutton ( their meat) is revealed for all to see.
Okay – too many metaphors – I know…I know I need to ease up on the literary front and just tell it “as it is”.
So here – for all of those that like it “plain and simple” – is how it goes with Connections!
The basic mutton on the plate ( sorry! No more..)
We will treat the project very much like the Sheep idea and fitting really as when you come to read the text I hope you may have got the dramatic idea that these characters are essentially ” lambs to the slaughter ” ( however funny along the way).
Whatever metaphor or analogy works for you – a group of young people are rounded up – put through their waiting trail – sheared emotionally and cut from all they know to be true. Executed actually – kind of grossly with people watching.
They end up – as all poor sheep – following themselves – to some would say – an inhumane end.
“I thought this play was supposed to be hysterical ?!”
( I might have mentioned that in passing)
In truth it is – but hysteria comes in many forms – from the completely insane to the highly ridiculous and every “comic line” and LOLish motion in between
I liked how Claire Hubsmith commented on something that was written in The Trial Post – “that we live our lives as if we are free but that we are being directed by much greater powers all along ,without our even knowing it.”
Well picked up Claire. Insightfully put.
In Heritage by Dafydd James, the characters to varying degrees realise this and it is this confusion and misinformation that causes the hysteria at times in the action of the play and the interaction of the lines.
The characters try to live a “normal existence” – rehearsing a song for a May Day Celebration whilst dressed in Von Trapp like outfits and kept in a disused cattle pen – which incidentally has a live electric fence running round it – one even turns up as a dinosaur – one brings a weegie board and another is trying to conceal a dead cat( or is it ?)
This absurdity and the actual hard core truth of their existence in these 45 minutes of action is the conflict of the comedy and tragedy of this play.
To put it another way – it is funny because it is sad and sad because it is funny.
The comic/tragic circle meet at 2 points in the circle of drama and the action spins form one axis to the other with increasing regularity.
Why we laugh is sometimes what is most interesting to explore… and explore – we shall. Oh yes…oh yes…
The nature of any play starts with the background – the stories we construct to explain our action and our motivation is what helps the young actor deliver their truth on stage ( a performance that is less about ” them ” and how “they ” look or feel and more about their character and what they must change about themselves to be them or to connect with them.
I am not saying that DAFYDD James envisaged any of the information in the posts I imagined – ” the Round Up ” the Round Up Too” or ” The Shearing”
But what I can say- is that based on the information – I turned ( artistically) into the post – The Trial. I have been able to creatively let my pre-play imagination run wild
…and I need to do this – as a director – as a theatre enabler because I have to give you, my cast, a frame for your acting canvas – so you can paint your Heritage play in glorious imaginative colours ( oops their goes those metaphors again)
The Guffin cast of NT2013 will tell you the same – we workshopped the blazes out of the characters, the setting, the rules, the obscure meanings and even 2 weeks before the first show – we threw a lot of it out and started again.
Because it has to make sense.
It has to makes sense not just to me , but to YOU as a bright young cast and also and most importantly to our future audiences.
There will always be ambiguity in the meaning of a play for an audience – an audience is a whole host of personalities all from different “heritages” and to please them all – to get through to them all – to hope they all understand exactly what we intend – is never real.
But what we need to do – is have them leave their seat ” moved” :
Emotionally, mentally , spiritually – each show affects one of these things in every audience member – more in one …than another.
That is what theatre does – it offers ” a dramatic portal ” through which humanity can react.
Going a bit “theatre heavy” again (a thousand apologies ) but when you are as passionate about the stage as I am – it is hard not to want to just talk and talk and talk and talk and talk …
Some will now be feeling very “sheepish” and may already have half closed their door on Heritage “for fear of looking or sounding stupid.”
Maybe they are too confused even to try to read any more? Easier to shut off and not try any harder – to stick with what they know?
Stop! Open the Door! Don’t do it…Keep strong… Keep your mind building…
” ….just open up your mind and open up your heart …live for the moment …that’s why you’re here….”
( psst photo metaphor! )
I do not expect you to be brilliant at all THIS right away – (they don’t know this – but the first day I met my auditioned Guffin Cast I panicked and thought this will never work – too many levels – too many too experienced or inexperienced – too many divisions, friends, history. Aghhhhh how will this work!!!)
But it worked – it worked so well – we made the GUFFIN into a theatre legend.
It worked because the cast “worked at it” all the niggly, horrible misunderstood bits and they realised that this was not going to be easy – that they were going to have to change and get over their egos and their differences and their insecurities to come together for the good of the play; For me, for Howard ..For the Guffin.
NT Connections is about the connections you make a long the way – one of my first posts I did on this project ( in November I think) was called
” who’s next to join the theatre dots?”
It raised very little interest in the “comments” section – which surprised me because I really thought you may be excited enough to feel you just had to speak – even in Cyber drama space.
The theatre dots – the connections are not just the friendships , they are the understanding of how, why and for what reason we do what we do when we act and create a play.
For the connections project I will be honest:
I need ability ( I need acting )
I need good physicality, some musicality…
I need focus , energy and commitment ( the 3 Spires givens )
Passionate hearts…because I really, really really, need to be able to get on with my cast.
And the way that will happen – is when you take this project as seriously as I do.
When you really understand that to be part of this National Youth Theatre Event raises you to a wholly different drama level – not just a weekly drama class with your pals- a level that brings something unique and new and possibly “the best way it can be done” to a more “national” stage.
To move out your PACE fishbowl and swim with bigger scarier dramatic fish.
We will not work well together if you can’t get that, see that, or feel that way too.
So if that is sadly a “yes”on any of those 3 cant’s then you can now close the door – “what’s the point in going on ” …as Tubbsy’s brother says.
If you are still reading this then welcome to a great opportunity in your PACE theatre life!
Do not let your negative voice get in the way of you moving forward and experiencing something that may frighten you for all sorts of reasons.
You are following in GIANT creative footsteps – Howard Brenton’s the Guffin is going to be a very,very,very difficult act to follow – but I am confident you , we , together can do this.
Remember what my strength is – I am very very very good at what I do and if you give me everything I will give you a different world in return.
You don’t have to be perfect, very experienced or totally clued, you just have to be “hungry” and ready!
To lose your “hunger for more in PACE” is to lose your passion for what you do and Connections 14 is definitely all about firing the passion for what you do and letting it carry you as far as you can go.
Look at the sheep in the picture above – they are all different but they are the same and they happily follow one another as individuals just as the “13 “Heritage characters follow one another- but as strong and colourful individuals.
I cannot wait to begin this project. I am not going to give you details of dates or auditions till tomorrow’s final Heritage post – I want this post to sink in- what I will say is that the posts I have done so far “all ” have an importance in the audition process for this show – a process which will take place over a number of sessions at the start of January.we have to get this group of connected people – just right!
It is a pity “more” are not confident enough to comment on what is written in the previous Posts – as I always try to tell you – it is the discussion and reaction to ideas that make the posts interesting – the nods to you getting it ” in the right way” – the “I’m prepared to say what i feel regardless” that help me know who is keen and who is seemingly impassive or just not there.
But as sheep we “follow the crowd” don’t we ? And if the crowd doesn’t comment – so to the drama sheep….
Roll on the bah bah black sheep I know are in you all ( regardless of age , status or experience)
( last post tomorrow)