From Document To Drama

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By Ashmore Visuals and Peter Marsh

The last two weeks have been filled with rehearsals all over the ruddy shop, and on Sunday we had completed most of Act 1; only a few scenes remain to be finished in there; the Colonel and the Breakfast Table and most of the Metroland Party need to be finished. Simon’s monologues need some coverage. Bits here and there need work but, over all, a successful run considering most of the cast were unavailable.

Above is a photo taken by the wonderful Peter Marsh of our first run of the opening scene, a version of ‘Sing Sing Sing’ involving dance, a cappella singing and dialogue. In the above extract, Miles (Euan Kitson) and Agatha (Alice Whitehead) gaze down upon the dancing masses and announce them all too, too sweat-making.

One of the most electric parts of the rehearsal process thus far- beyond getting to know the cast and the combination of art forms coming together- has been developing the script. When one mind sits and writes a script there is bound to be discrepancies. With 17 further minds, each taking one, two or three characters and filling these people out with everything they need to become real people, the script takes on new life. Part of the fun of a student-written script is also the liberal way one can edit dialogue. Several times actors have turned round and said they don’t feel a character would say that line. Syntax is constantly being edited. New jokes and levels and elements to the play are added in regularly. In tonight’s rehearsal, we sat about for ten minutes as we tried to find a suitably cutting line for Adam to end a scene on. 

More than anything else, however, it is startling to see the words already on the page come to life. Although the book and the film both lent themselves hugely in the conception of the project, the speed of its completion required me to usually write scenes entirely of my own, as did the theatrical staging of the book. 80% of the script is effectively my own work, and to watch these words come to life feels as it does in any play that I have created from scratch. Slowly but surely a land of aristocrats, brusque Americans, racing cars and sexy jazz music has begun to appear from the murky pool of a script, and it is thrilling beyond compare.

As week 4 nears, and my role in the show will have to diminish slightly as I finish another project, I cannot wait to see what happens by the end of this intense three week period. 

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