I brought some friends into the studio today to play around with the show. It needed an injection of energy and some fresh ideas, and the games and interactions of course needed some serious playtesting. Plus, I needed to just muck around a bit — theatre is all about play, even when it’s not a show with games in, and one of the big risks of making a solo show is that it’s hard to have as much fun by yourself.
We tried out a few improvs to warm up the group’s ideas about class. A classic drama game is assigning status by playing cards and setting up improvisations, simple scenarios that actors can work with; I tried some similar scenes, but gave each actor a bank note to represent their wealth, telling them it had to be on display at all times. The results, even in old standards like “waiting for a train”, were pretty hilarious, and helped me figure out how to work some similar tricks on the audience. I won’t give away any more.
Then we got to grips with a game I’m calling The Great Money Trick, because it’s based on Robert Tressell’s classic game in The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists. Our game is more in-depth, and sillier, but is demonstrating much the same points. We spent a good two hours simulating capitalist economics with lego and fake money (see these pics on the Ovalhouse site for a glimpse), and the results were pretty satisfying. The group gave me a bunch of ways to tweak the game, both adding new dynamics to make it clever, and in and improving the rules we already have. I think it’s going to be a blast.
In the last past of the day, we got to flip roles. A number of the team were actors I’d previously directed, but I wanted to try some of the monologue sections of the play and see what they thought — get their direction on me. This was a great experience, and surprisingly nerve-wracking. I don’t usually get embarrassed or nervous as a performer, but performing for my actors was really strange that way. Of course, as expected, they gave me some really crucial feedback that’s helping me bash the monologues into shape — making them more engaging, better for the audience, more fun to perform.
You’ll note that this blog is more practical and less philosophical than the last one. That’s the effect that mucking around and doing the performing bits tends to have — it’s good to get out of my head and just make the show work. Tomorrow’s going to be more about getting the technical aspects (light, sound, set, &c) ready, which is long and bitty work, but really necessary. So hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have everything in place for next week to be rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal.