What To Do When Accidents Happen In The Theatre

I now know what that word “dumbfounded” feels like. Just the other week I was told a one-act play of mine was about to go on in a one-act play show minus its last four pages. The play, Dreams of Justine, had been acquired by the director who assumed that the perusal version was the final version of the play – and that’s the version he’d been rehearsing with his actors.*

With little time to waste I decided to distill those last four pages of script down to half a dozen lines and a few actions so as to better tie off what I thought was a comedy, because as we all know, comedies end with the guy and the girl together at the end after a lot of tooing and froing, ups and downs and roundabouts. (Or so the traditional form tells us.)

Luckily, the director and the cast were able to rehearse my concluding snippet during the first half of the program and put on my version for the audience. When I saw how things had turned out, it seemed as if the play was meant to finish where and when it did, and the audience, I think, was satisfied. (Thanks to all concerned for their efforts.)

So what have I learned?

1. Theatre is always about risk – or should be (otherwise, why do it, right?) – but please remember, your script will usually conclude with the words Fadeout or Snapoff;

2. While the response of some was that it wasn’t my problem, being in any group – theatre or otherwise – is always about finding solutions and working together;

3. I have a new idea for a one-act play about a writer who learns that their one-act play is about to go on minus the last four pages…

You can get your hands on the perusal copy of Dreams of Justine here – and if you’d like to get your hands on the shortened version I’ve just written let me know!

* (If nothing else, a great pat on the back to my writing: even truncated, my script still made sense to the director and the actors!)

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The Latest on The Little Play That Could

The Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (RAODS) in the UK produced my play Two Women & A Chair just last week. They used two casts, who rehearsed separately and didn’t know who the others were until the first night they performed with them, so the performance was literally two strangers walking into a room together. This takes the idea of Method Acting to new levels!

Theatre is always about about taking a risk, so I’m delighted to hear that their risk paid off. Artistic Director of RAODS, Clare Groome, has let me know they’ve had a fascinating week performing the play, and that it’s left both audiences and performers alike with plenty of questions, the main one being (because the play ends on a great cliffhanger): What Happens Next?

Maybe I could write a sequel to Two Women & A Chair, but if that happens, I’ll wind up losing some of the mystery.  The point of theatre is not necessarily to present the answers, but prompt the questions in the first place.

And besides, if you get into sequels and prequels (like George Lucas did with his Star Wars saga) you might eventually wind up writing a character like Jar Jar Binks and no-one wants that.

Another theatre group have sounded me out about reversing the ages of the characters in Two Women & A Chair, so the novice (Jessie) is played by an older actor, while the experienced one (Martine) is played by a younger actor. I look forward to hearing how that comes off.

If nothing else, this little blog is simply a call-out to say how gratified I am that my work is still being performed, still being tinkered with, still able to stand up and be reworked and moulded into new and exciting shapes for new audiences.

Two Women & A Chair is about two female actors caught up in an audition for a mysterious play called Le Jeu, only there’s no director present, and they find themselves locked in the audition room. It’s been performed all over Australia, at the Edinburgh and Prague Fringe Festivals, the UK, New Zealand, and the US. To check out what the fuss is all about, click here.

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