Wednesday, 31 October 2012

TORQUE: Rehearsal Photographs

After such a lovely response to the photographs from Sunday's rehearsal, I thought I'd share a few more of the photographs so you can see a bit more of what we've been up to!

I couldn't make yesterday's rehearsal or this Thursday's rehearsal (sob) but it's good for the director and actors to get a bit of space from the writer... I suppose. They don't want me breathing down their necks like a dragon lady shouting "That wasn't the line!" at them. Even if I am wearing a Christmas jumper as I do it.

What's most exciting will be going to rehearsal next Monday and see what they've been doing this week. At risk of sounding twee, there is no better feeling than watching what you've written in your pyjamas come to life and, hopefully, affect people in some way.

And on that note, I'm going to get back to work on the script.

Follow us on twitter: here and here, and the Bush Theatre here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

TORQUE: The Celebration

Today is a very special day...

Today is Bradley's birthday! So everyone wish a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the old man.

Today is also the day we send off our Marketing and Production packs to the theatre. So, here is the poster for TORQUE at Bush Bounce, designed by James Thurman:

The overlapping letters background represents communication, the coloured hairline represents the club lights, and the people... the people. We played with loads of different arrangements and colours and all sorts, but this is the design that translated best onto print.

I tell you what, I am glad to have all the admin stuff done and sent off, because now I can put my full attention back onto the play, and remember what this is all for.

Keep up-to-date with the goings on of Unbound by following us on twitter!

Monday, 29 October 2012

TORQUE: The Third Rehearsal

On the advice of Sabrina (Mahfouz, Associate Artist of the Bush Theatre and mentor to the Bush Bouncers) I decided to take my big shiny camera to rehearsals last night to have some photos to send to producers and theatres once Bush Bounce is over. I've asked a photographer to come in for some rehearsals to take some good photos but I don't get to use my camera all that often so I thought I'd have a go!

We played some games with a pritt stick (resourceful!) with a bit of mind-bending 'throw-to-someone-but-say-the-name-of-the-person-on-their-left'. Kate and Dwane did some hilarious improvisations exploring how to communicate when all the rules of communications are removed, like trying to complete an objective but only being able to speak in opposites and positives, or only being able to speak in gibberish.

Dwane and Kate

The script is split into two 'realities' that interlink throughout, and so far Bradley has focused on the scenes that take place at a club/bar. I had some time to write yesterday and completed the club story, and we worked on putting them in with the scenes already worked out. At one point it got very complicated as Bradley and I - in keeping with the topic of course - hadn't understood one another, ending up in a circular argument until we realised that we didn't actually disagree on anything!

But, with the help of Dwane and Kate, it has all come together, and we spent the last hour of the rehearsal in the dark with music blaring to replicate a club environment. Twelve hours into rehearsals, it feels good to have the backbone of the play sorted.

Kate, Bradley and Dwane

Friday, 26 October 2012

TORQUE: The Cast

With two rehearsals under the belt, I think it might be time to share something with you...

The cast!

Kate Craggs                    Dwane Walcott

Kate is playing Woman and Dwane playing Man... obviously.

Although we've barely scraped the surface of the script and have mainly been doing communication exercises, I can already see the glimmer of characters emerging which is so exciting, and really inspiring. Although starting a rehearsal period without a finished script is terrifying, it also gives the leg room for the actors to have a say in their characters. I can't wait to see what more Kate and Dwane are going to bring.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

TORQUE: The First Rehearsal

Placebo were wrong; it doesn't all break down at the first rehearsal. Thank Heavens.

First rehearsals are always quite scary. It's the first time the 'team' are together, and in our case it's also the first time the actors met and the first time the script has been read out loud - triply nerve-racking! You put time and your heart into a script, but there is still no guarantee that it will work.

Bradley led some games, a few exercises and then we had a read through. And another read through. And a read through/sign through. Watching the sign through was incredible. It gives it an entirely new dimension, which is what I was hoping for! The actors were knackered by the end - Bradley is a hard-working Director and expects the same from his actors - but I was so excited I giggled pretty much all the way through.

A lot came out in the exercises and discussions that I would like to explore more, like... although it is so simple, when mirroring is done properly it is quite extraordinary to watch. So today I'm re-writing in preparation for the second rehearsal tonight. So stop distracting me, I need to write!

Tomorrow, I'll come baring gifts...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

TORQUE: The Crisis

You know that feeling of "Oh my god, what am I doing? I don't deserve this. I'm a big pile of poo"? I had that yesterday.

After spending Sunday working on the script, I realised it didn't work. What I had planned to be performed at Bush Bounce wasn't going to have the effect I wanted it to. By only showing the first 15 minutes it was all set-up and no pay-back, making it a whole lot of nothingness. Without the pay-back, there is no point to it. So, I had to find a way to give the audience something back.

I started brutally cutting it, which was actually quite liberating! I got it down to about 16 pages and emailed it to the director before rushing off to work. Once back from work and with a big tin of soup in my belly I called him only to hear that this version didn't work either. Because the story ends at such emotional heights, it was hard to justify this in so short a time so that the audience would think of it in regards to character, and not just action. In terms of reaction, it's the difference between "wtf?" and "omg!"... if that makes any sense.

So, we had to find a different ending. I felt a little frustrated because I didn't want to just make up a whole new ending. I've always found that writing is more a case of discovery than invention - there does seem to be that perfect story out there and it's a just a case of unearthing it. In this case, the characters are always going to end up where they end up, and so the thought of just tacking on another ending is ridiculous to me. After some discussion, we've reached a compromise that will hopefully do the trick.

The plan as it stands is to end the piece for Bush Bounce about three-quarters of the way through the story, still at a peak but one that isn't so high that we'd be over-stretching ourselves to reach it in 15 minutes, and we'll save the 'proper' ending for if we decide to develop into a full-length production. The three-quarter ending needs a bit of work to leave the audience with the feeling I want to, as obviously it isn't the intended ending. What I need to do is slightly tweak the message we're leaving; one of listening rather than inclusion. It's a challenge, but I'm not one to back down.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

TORQUE: The Floor Plan

Heavens to Betsy has it been a busy couple of days!

On Friday night Bradley and I met with James, our poster designer, for a few drinks at the pub. James had some great thoughts, and some beautiful images already drawn up for us. We threw some ideas about, the boys had some boy-talk, James made dirty jokes, I ate some hummus, and I'm really happy with the design we've decided upon. I will upload the finished product here once we have it but, suffice to say, I'm excited.

And then yesterday we held auditions for the part of 'Woman' (I know, what an imaginative name...) which was very exciting. At one point during the six hours we were there, the building's caretaker turned up with a Henry Hoover and was effing and blinding in the corridor about the Saturday school spreading crisps crumbs everywhere, whilst our auditionees were trying to prepare in the next room... It was so absurd, we were beside ourselves laughing... the height of professionalism as always! I will put the cast list up here when it's finalised.

But today... today is a rare, WONDERFUL day where I don't have a shift at work, I don't have any meetings to attend, I have no need to leave the house and I can wear pyjamas ALL DAY. And by Jove will I. I'm spending today playing with the structure of the play, and working out what bits of the script will be performed at the the Bush, which bits will be for the development of the play as full-length, and which bits are just for me.

This involves a lot of printing, cutting and sticking, and then arranging and rearranging as takes my fancy.

Not all of that will be performed next month, as our slot at the Bush is only 15-20 minutes, but understanding the overall structure of the play helps me work out what those minutes will comprise of. And also, doing it like this is really fun. If I want to cut something, I literally cut it out. Old school stylee.

My printer has run out of black ink, so it's all in blue and green. I quite like that though - it matches the carpet.

Click me. Dare you.

Friday, 19 October 2012

TORQUE: Talk To The Hand

(Excuse the title, I can never resist a bad pun.)

It's astonishing how many phrases, parables and images all come back to our hands.

In many religions the right hand is considered to be sacred, or clean, and the left to be evil and dirty. Hands are also symbols of good, such as balance and praise. The things we consider to be precious we hold in both hands to keep safe.

I was recently directed to read this article. The implications are fascinating, but also it made me think about how everyone gesticulates when they talk. Without even thinking we emphasise, describe and imagine with our hands. It's such a natural instinct, it made me wonder whether it is the primary language... How did cavemen communicate before it was generally accepted that the sound "rock" meant 'rock'? I imagine they did it with their hands. And big sticks. 

There has always seemed to me to be something rawer, purer and emotionally charged in sign language that rarely exists in spoken communication. Try telling someone "I like socks" without words. You have to invest far more emotion - and effort - into what you are trying to communicate to them, than if you could just say it without thought.

The words we speak we throw away, but the words in our hands have remained precious and kept safe.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

TORQUE: The Space

Today is a busy day, so this is a quick one.

I went in to London this morning to meet the producer at The Bush Theatre and have decided that my new dream living location in Shepherd's Bush. Suck it, Clapham.

I have signed some paperwork, asked some questions and chosen a location within the theatre for TORQUE to be performed. I love the idea of it being in the round, the audience surrounding the actors like a moat around an island, leaving the characters stranded together, so the location we've temporarily chosen is the centre of the library, on a slightly raised stage. It looks like it's going to be a really exciting event, full of instillations and incredible ideas. I can't wait to see what the other people involved are doing!

Check out what it's all about. I'm out.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

TORQUE: The Sacrifice

I have been thinking today about sacrifice. When there is something you really want, how much are you willing to lose to get it?

There is a debate relating to deafness that I find incredibly interesting. If your child is born deaf, but they could hear if they had a simple operation like a cochlear implant, should they have the operation? (Obviously this is all incredibly simplified. Read a little more about it here.) From the hearing community’s perspective, there is only gain with an operation like this - music, voice, bird song, fire alarms and a million other sounds we don’t even register anymore. What is there to lose? But from the deaf community’s perspective, it’s a huge sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice of personal identity and a sense of community. What about privacy, and peace? Why should they change who they are?

Everybody changes when they’re in a relationship. We do it because we adapt to the other person, we compromise, we make room in our lives for them and we make decisions based on a foreseeable future with them. It happens naturally as the relationship grows more serious - it’s expected.

But on the other hand, it is a tricky thing to ask someone to change. Tell your girlfriend to get a boob job? Expect to lose her and one of your testicles.

But what if a particular change is needed in order to move forward with the relationship? I need you to get a different job. I need you to stop seeing your ex-boyfriend-now-best-friend. I need you to have that operation. Would you ask them to change, or would you change yourself?

Would you be willing to sacrifice who you are, your identity, to be with the person you love?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

TORQUE: The Blurb

Today, I have been working on the script and the Marketing Pack for the theatre. 

One of the things the theatre has asked of me is a short blurb describing my work in less that 150 words. I love writing things like this... there's something really fun about working out the balance of giving enough, but not too much information, whilst also making it sound enticing and sexy. I also like asking questions of the audience. This one has been the trickiest I've had to write purely because the script is still in development. I don't want to provide a synopsis because sod's law is the story will change by the time it gets on stage, so I've written it with the basic concept in mind:

"There are hurdles in every relationship. Some can be soared over. Some cause you to trip and fall flat on your face. Some hurdles seem so intimidating that you decide it’s not worth even trying.

A man is deaf. A woman can hear. Is it possible to understand someone on a fundamental level, without being able to have a conversation? What secrets might you tell if you knew the other person couldn’t hear a word you were saying? TORQUE is a story about finding a connection beyond words.

Both spoken and in British Sign Language, TORQUE is a play in development looking at the skin-deep nature of communication in a technology-centric culture, inclusion, and how sometimes when faced with hurdles, you just have to take a running start and jump."

(Thank you to Rachel, who kindly gave up half her lunch break to help me put words to page!)

So what do you think? Would you read this and think: "Oo, that sounds interesting, I'd like to see that"? Feedback welcome, I still have time to make changes.

Update on the script: We are at 22 pages, which is a little too long as I need to keep it between 15-20 minutes in performance length. It's at the stage now where it could be rehearsed and performed and be a nice, hopefully interesting, piece of theatre. It's not what I want it to be yet, but I've still got research to do and (I'll say it once, I'll say it a thousand times) I can't wait to get in rehearsals so that the actors and director can bring something new to it.

But more on that tomorrow. Right now I have to sort out the washing, shower and get ready for the afternoon/evening shift at work. Grumble grumble.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Last week I applied for a brief on IdeasTap called Bush Bounce, which wanted performance ideas (of any discipline) at any stage of development that responded to the words SIGHT, SOCIETY and SOUND. The prize was mentoring and development with The Bush Theatre and for the idea to be performed in the Bush Theatre as part of Bush Bounce 2 (RADAR Festival). A very exciting prospect!

I’d had an idea a few months ago that I wanted to develop, but wasn’t quite sure how it would work, if it would work, and life inevitably got in the way as I became busy with other things. However, it responded perfectly to the brief of Sight, Society and Sound. I wrote my bid, applied, and on Friday I found out I was one of six successful applicants! Honestly, I was so exited I did a little dance.

My idea, entitled TORQUE, revolves around a man and a woman; one character is deaf, and the other has never come in contact with sign language before. Is it possible to understand another person on a fundamental level, without being able to have a conversation? I’m interested in exploring the safety of communicating knowing the other person won’t understand. What secrets might you tell if you knew the other person couldn’t hear a word you were saying? Underlining this, however, I want to ask a difficult question: can a relationship between an able and a disabled person ever be equal?

Since Friday I have a director on board - Bradley Leech - who I have known for years and together we have started our production company: Unbound Productions. We also have an actor on board who signs and a designer working on a poster, so we have just the female part left to cast!

It's a terrifying prospect - take an idea from conception to performance in a month. Also, stage a play that is half in sign language for a predominately hearing audience. How much will they understand? How much do I want them to understand? It's a huge task ahead, but the subject matter means a lot to me. It will be my heart and soul on stage next month.

Tickets are free, but have to be booked, so if you'd like to attend - book now!