Monday, November 07, 2011

readthrough of "Tree Of Knowledge"

nov 7th 2011

Writing plays, as I've always tended to do it, is a solitary kind of thing to do.

Once the theatre's commissioned me, I'm generally on my own. (I'm starting to find this quite an oppressive and unhealthy state of affairs, and I'm trying to change it. But that's another story...)

That's how it was for this play, at least. I read the books I could understand, about Hume and Adam Smith and Edinburgh and the Enlightenment, and I heard the stories about domestic abuse... But after that it was up to me to try to feel and imagine it all.

Try to imagine the set, too. Which, as usual, I couldn't. I tend just to hear the words in my imagination, and feel the feelings that go with the words. But I never have any vision of how they'll be staged.

This time, I didn't pretend otherwise. So the first stage directions just says:

"ALL I ASK OF THIS PERFORMANCE SPACE IS THAT IT BE INTERESTING.
AND PREFERABLY UNUSUAL."

And then I added, even more unhelpfully:

"THAT IT IS NOT ASHAMED TO BE A THEATRE."

- just because I get cross with all the plays that look as if they really might as well be on televisions.

Then it gets worse. The dialogue makes it clear that sometimes we're in David Hume's new town house, that he was so proud of, and sometimes in Eve's Glenrothes new town house, that she was so proud of too.

And then sometimes there's a stage direction that says:

"WE HEAR THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES".

The great thing about the first day of rehearsal is that I meet up with the people who somehow have to make all this happen.

So there's the designer, Ali Maclaurin, with her beautiful model, and Tim Reid, who's doing the projections - and there's suddenly back projections to think of, and front projections, and where they're all going to go, and I'm face to face, yet again, with all the difficulties i cause other people.

Witht he fact that a stage direction, that can only take half a minte to write, can cause hours and hours of serious head scratching.

But I generally know the stage direction is right. And collective the head scratching is just part of a wider creative effort.

I also get the strong sense that what’s going to emerge from all this will be something very special.

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