Thursday, 1 May 2008

We're going to need a bigger boat

No it's not about Jaws. Though there is some fishing involved.

I did wonder how to write this one because I didn't want it to sound smug. But then I thought sod it. Just say what happened. The old timers can have flashbacks to their first paying audience, those also at the "weeee this is fun" stage can go weeee again if the mood takes them and the newbies can see what's ahead. Soon. As long as they keep tapping away and listen to Danny when he says "A writer writes. End of Story."

Anyway back to the boat. I went to see my short play Paddling last night. It was one of 11 being shown.

I left clear blue skies and warm breezes to drive through hail, floods, gales and some good old thunder and lightning. Someone clearly didn't want me there but I'm a stubborn old cuss so kept going.

Car park was packed but we managed to squeeze into a far corner. We then raced across the new river that had replaced the tarmac. OK they ran. I sort of waddled. Well its been over a year since I last wore heels. Finally we made it.

I did get some odd looks. Don't know if it was my clutching Dave in terror or the stuffed toy owl tucked under my arm. Ian Hinde, one of the directors, hadn't been sure if they could get a stuffed seagull so I brought back up. I raced, sorry minced, over and he just grinned and said "wait and see." Some friend. So I ended up nursemaiding the blasted thing all evening because Dave and my eldest refused to be seen dead with it. The baby of the family had already escaped to a sleepover.

We were in the Studio rather than the main theatre and I'd been told the turn out would probably be small. After all we were competing with Oklahoma. Imagine everyone's shock when we were only 12 seats short of a full house. That's nearly 90 people, not including the cast. And before you scoff remember it's relative. An angry mob of 90 berserkers = terror. A chirpy cluster of 90 cherubs = happiness. Or time for another trip to the detox clinic.

Maybe Oklahoma sold out and they didn't want to waste the coach hire. Anyway there we all were and center stage was a dingy. With a stuffed seagull on it. To my horror this meant mine was on first.

So I'd better explain a tiny bit about my play. The other director Daniel Bye (yep there were two) said it had the highest rate of props/second of any play he'd done. It was 5mins long and in that time the actor in the dingy, Wad Davies, had to manhandle a newspaper, oar, stilton drum, french stick, stuffed seagull, umbrella, bucket, trombone and anchor. The actor outside the boat, Ian Stokes, had a clipboard, pole and a big red button to deal with so got off a bit more lightly.

They had managed to get all the props except the trombone. In fact Ian S had made a lot of them, including the stuffed seagull!

Anyway the audience laughed... where they were supposed to laugh. The audience and cast didn't say anything bad at the scary feedback session so I could let blood back into Dave's fingers. I was pleased with what the directors and actors had done with it and the actors also voted it as one of their two favourites which was really nice.

So what did I learn? There's a lot of visual comedy in my play, hence the props, but the one thing I'd never done was imagine a pile of these things in a dingy. Lets just say it was a little bit of a squeeze. At one point the french stick got sat on so was rather bent when it got waved around. That got an extra laugh.

But Wad did have to do a lot of fishing about because things got pushed out of plaice. (I couldn't resist it, sorry). I apologised for burying them in props but they said that could be sorted with more rehearsal....or a bigger boat.

Comparing with the other plays.

Those that were self contained rather than extracts seemed to go down better with the audience. But then the extracts are a snapshot from a long story so it is really an unfair comparison. Personally there were several extracts that made me eager to see the whole work.

Some were more action. Some more dialogue. The comedy tended to be heavier on action with the dialogue much faster paced. Shorter sentences. Quick volleys between the characters. The drama was heavier on dialogue and bigger blocks of it from each character. I noticed several where the dialogue seemed quite natural for the stage but would have been binned by a film reader as too much black on the page. Talking heads.

So I've got to pay more attention to the difference in film and play. You can be more static and have more dialogue with a play. But I'll have to make sure I don't go too far and have two people standing there, static, rabbiting about nothing for 90mins.

Talking about rabbiting. I wonder if this is my longest post. I'll let you move onto something more interesting like the link in the post below. Go on. Disappear now. You have writing to do.



Congrats on the reaction to your play.

5 mins? Surly your post was longer than the play?!

Some very good points though, about the diff 'tween film & stage, etc.

Well done and good luck with the next!

Btw, "Fridays" back!

Elinor said...

Well done Rach. Nice one!

Rach said...

Thanks both.

Sheiky. Already working on the next. A lot longer (even longer than my post), more serious and hardly any props. It might turn into a thriller but there again it might not.

Elinor. Hope animation producing is, well, producing animated results. I'll send you feedback before the end of this relaxing? long weekend.

Elinor said...

Ta luv.