Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Rehearsals day one; or the huge pink trunk

I remember so many rehearsals as a writer. I’ve only been at a few as a performer.

And I do remember all too well the rehearsals for my “Sex Chips And The Holy Ghost” which was A Play, A Pie and a Pint at Oran Mor in Glasgow.

We had a fortnight in various rehearsal rooms and then the final dreadful Monday when we turned up at Oran Mor at nine in the morning for a technical rehearsal and a dress rehearsal and a preview all rolled into one until the opening performance and the press show all happened at lunchtime that same morning.

And the pressure of that morning is only a very extreme example of how we do theatre in this country - with rehearsals in the space with costume and lighting and everything all happening at the last moment and at the very end.

And I understand why it has to be so… but one of the good things about having your own company is that you can do things differently. 

And we are…

So the very first rehearsal week happened last month. And the very first day of the rehearsals happened in the space, in Summerhall, so we could carry the memory of it in our bodies.

And then end the week back in Summerhall again so we could leave with a very rough outline of how the show might work there. A very rough outline that we could leave to cook in our subconscious minds.

And while it’s cooking get the props together and the costume together, and be very grateful our work is set specific and doesn’t need a set, and then begin again this fortnight in the performance space.

Which is why I find myself this Monday alone in the Old Anatomy Lecture theatre, profoundly moved by the beauty and possibilities of it. And scared by it all too.

When I was young, I’m remembering, and forced to live as a boy, I ended up hating my body. 

That was one attraction of becoming a writer: I felt I could detach myself, somehow, and instead live in the imagination and in the much safer world of the mind.

And how natural, somehow, and yet how strange that eighty or so plays later it’s all led me back to the body.

And to more mundane practical things. Like Queen Jesus’ luggage.

She travels about with her Christlike paraphernalia, telling stories and blessing people and space. And sharing communion at the end.

Last year she carried it all in a rucksack.

But this year, for some reason, she needs something else.

Which is why this large pink trunk arrived in my house the week before.

We all loved it in my sitting room, it looked funky and playful, but now…

But now in the performance space it looks huge and pink and somewhat resembles an elephant.

And its wheels keep sticking on the lino, and it’s far too big for Jesus’ stuff so when you upend it everything just gets shuggled about and when you open it it looks ridiculous.

And it's so big. And so pink and director Susan says “It pulls attention away from you”.

Which means I’m being upstaged by a piece of luggage. 

That's a great start. Must try harder.

And should her scarf be blue or should it be green?

And all this matters. It affects Jesus and Jesus affects it.

And does she use matches or a lighter?

I say a lighter. Director Susan says matches.

So we try it out. And she’s right, dammit. Inescapably. Right.

And I swear a lot and we laugh a lot, her and me and Saint Claire of the Light Switches (Also of everything else you can possibly imagine. And quite a few things you can’t….)

And it goes on and on all this attention to details and at the end of the day I’m so tired I can barely stand.

But there’s also such a happiness, after years of writer’s isolation, to be so much and so deeply a part of this collective creativity which is where I should always have belonged, somehow, and which is leading us all God knows where.

And on my way home I see a T shirt in a charity shop window with a slogan on it that reads:
HAPPINESS IS NOT A DESTINATION. IT’S A WAY…”

And so it is.

And I’d have bought the T shirt: but the shop was closed.

And we all wear it anyway.


Wear it on our hearts....

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