Friday, 10 April 2015

Writing Little Eden – the co-authoring of a play

Bel Greenwood, co-organiser of Words And Women, has been busy in her other role as Director of Chalk Circle Theatre Company, working on the company's current production Little Eden
Little Eden is on at The Garage in Norwich next week from the 14th - 18th April, 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 and are available from the Theatre Royal box office, tel: 01603 630000.

Bel describes below how Little Eden was written:

"Most of the time, the act of writing a play is a solitary act.  We present the finished piece to a director and they take it, present it to the actors and the process of bringing the text to life begins.  It is a hierarchical system of creation which in the writing of Little Eden has been turned on its head. Adina Levay, the director of Little Eden, is interested in co-authoring and I found the idea of the writer living in the rehearsal room with the actors  exciting and also exposing.  Normally, we don’t reveal our early drafts too soon – what I call a first draft crafted in my cocoon is still a sketchy map and only a fairly safe revelation after I have made a number of journeys over the pages.  
Not so, in the writing of Little Eden. The play emerged from a single theme ‘identity’ taken into the rehearsal room. Character, situation, ideas and subtext emerged from the discussions of the entire creative team, the writer as one part of this, and the improvisation of the actors. The writer, in this process, witnesses walk-throughs, moments, characterization and is part of the debate of the feeling-forward of the actors as they try out different scenarios. Only then, from notes, would I write up a scene overnight, which would then be taken back into the rehearsal room and tried out.  The play was pieced together over 4 weeks. 
I am not going to say it was all easy. For a start, you end up leaving your ego at the door.  That particular, personal ownership of your characters, over their words, the stringing of the puppet, is not your decision or task alone, although you have the job of research, creating clarity and cohesion, the gluing together of all the parts, the layering of meaning, the fitting of words.  Initially, from one rehearsal to the next, the motivations of the characters would change, a dark secret would emerge, and the overnight scene would be redundant.  There was a danger in second-guessing, and for a writer it was exposing.  These early scenes were crude. There had to be a relationship of trust.

As this process went on, I forgot the anxieties of ‘true’ first draft exposures.  I could see that that level of exposure was part of the actor’s every day experience. I could see how everyone began to own the creation because we had all wrestled with the process of putting it together. The cooperative way of working had created a community out of everyone on the project.  
It is a dynamic and inclusive way of writing and has produced an absurd musical play which I guarantee won’t easily be forgotten.  Come along, I promise that you will never see Brussel sprouts in quite the same way again.'

No comments: