Sunday, July 17, 2011

THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE BEGINS TO TAKE LIFE

On Friday I heard the words of THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE for the first time.

Ben Harrison, the director, had arranged for us to meet a lovely woman actor who could play the part of Eve.

I don’t normally get involved in casting , it’s difficult and painful and I hate the necessity to turn people down, but I go along largely because it would be a way of strengthening my communication with Ben.

I can't pretend this was a glamourous occasion. We meet in the Traverse, and do the reading in one of the subterranean dressing rooms. They are deep down underground and smell of drains.

The actor is on her way to perform in St. Andrews. She’s only had the time to read the script on the train.

There's the underlying awkwardness you get at any job interview, too, though we all do our best to overcome it.

But she’s the first actor to look at the script - and scripts are written for actors first and above all, not for the audience - and this makes it a real occasion for me.

I am beginning to weary of the process of writing scripts in isolation. The tension of it makes me a bit ill these days, and I forget why I love the theatre.

Forget there is such a joy in giving a script over, like a present, for an actor to exercise her skills on it. And such pleasure in seeing a script transform as it’s spoken by someone like her: skilled, intelligent, sensitive, and with a lovely presence to her.

Suddenly I begin to learn what the script is about. I begin to understand how it can work.

And I am reminded why it’s such a joy to write for the theatre.

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