Thursday, 15 November 2012

TORQUE: The Performance

Right- so!

Yesterday was Bush Bounce, an event in association with IdeasTap, held at the Bush Theatre and curated by Sabrina Mahfouz. It brought together artists of different disciplines and offered us an opportunity to showcase our work in response to the stimuli of sight, society and sound. Sounds great, don't it? It was! The other artists' work was absolutely incredible - poetry, performance installations, music, monologues and Mars bars!

My response was a play about the relationship between a deaf man and a hearing woman and it came from a desire to see more sign language in theatre and in public consciousness. Why are sign translations of television programmes only on in the middle of the night? Why isn't British Sign Language offered as a language option in British schools?

So, with this play I wanted to ask the difficult question of whether a relationship between an 'able' person and a 'disabled' person is equal. How do we define what is 'disabled'? This is an incredibly challenging thing to approach, and I'm still struggling with it, but I feel it is important. Discrimination is something I can't make peace with, but it will exist until people stop thinking in terms of 'able' and 'disabled' - also race, religion, nationality, background - and start thinking in terms of the person; the human.

A month ago this was all theory, but last night a short exploration of these themes was performed. It has taken a month of hard work, arguments, laughter, worry, #BSLbanter and I'm pretty sure I've bruised a rib... but the performance went really well! We got some feedback from Madani Younis after the dress rehearsal and made some very last minute cuts. I was so proud of Kate and Dwane as they performed it seamlessly as though the scenes were never there. Clever sausages!

The audience gave us some great feedback - encouraging comments and useful criticisms - and said that they would like to see it developed into a full length production, which I am so pleased (and relieved) about!

It has been wonderful to have the support and critique of people who really know what they are talking about and I've learnt a lot. I set out to create something brutal and beautiful, and I feel as though we have made baby steps towards this.

In terms of the future, I'm going to keep working hard and hopefully one day you'll be able to come see TORQUE as a full-length play!

I'll keep you all updated...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

TORQUE: The Last Rehearsal 2

Okay I know I said that the last post was the last post, but I can't resist.

I've just got home from tonight's rehearsal, in which we revisited every scene adding in more detail and clarity. And then we had a dress run! And I am so pleased with it! Dwane and Kate have found an excellent balance between fun and sentiment; it has come to life in ways I never envisaged, and the music cues are fabulous. Honestly, I'm going to be embarrassing myself singing along and throwing some shapes during the performance.

And I'm really excited about how the audience respond to the sign language. It has been something I've always been around, but it will be completely alien to some of the audience members, so we've had fun playing around with how much is clear. Some he purely signs, some he signs with a bit of voice with it, and a little he purely voices and I think we've struck a good balance. Just got to wait and see what they say, I guess!

Follow me, Bradley, Kate and Dwane on twitter for the inevitable performance day updates and #BSLbanter.

TORQUE: The Last Rehearsal

Oh crap, it's tomorrow.

I've never had to write and rehearse a play within a month before. Naturally this means certain compromises needed to be reached and the script isn't perfection, but I never expected it to be. I have seen this event as an opportunity to experiment with the idea of a play that is half in BSL because it has always seemed absurd to me that such a theatrical language isn't used more often in theatre. So I am anxious for tomorrow to see whether it works how I hope it will.

It's scary because it's out of my hands (excuse the pun). There's not really much I can do now, the play is written, and any changes I could make would be more damaging than good. And with the last rehearsal tonight, all I can do is trust that Bradley, Dwane and Kate do everything they can to tell this story.

Now, to rid myself of this nervous energy, I'm going to take the piss out of our esteemed director! After the amazing response to The Science of Farting, I thought I'd share with you a few more of Bradley's choice quotes.

"When you go outside- It's like eating chewing gum. You pop it in and it's like 'F***ing hell that's fresh'."

"You can't do that, I've just seen her boob bounce up and down."

"KISS HIM!!! You can laugh, just laugh on each other's lips."

"No! Don't roll her! Do a spinny thing."

Anyone who has been directed by me before will know the nonsense I come out with, so here's proof that I'm not the only one! 

As we are in rehearsals at the Bush all day tomorrow, there will be no performance day blog but FEAR NOT. I will let you know how it all goes with my final post on Thursday. Until then! 

Monday, 12 November 2012

TORQUE: The Beast

So when I said "Saturday we are having a mammoth rehearsal day", "mammoth" was an understatement.... Thirteen hours. And we only left then because it's Sunday and the last tube was leaving at half eleven. What a beast.

You will be pleased to know that we used those thirteen hours effectively. The morning was spent working on the remainder of the final scenes and get them up and running. We managed to get them on their feet, with a good bit of discussion as well, but by 2pm I was definitely ready for lunch.

I wasn't the only one having this thought; when lunchtime came we all rushed next door to the pub and ordered a roast! And when our food arrived, silence descended on the table as we marvelled at our bounty, particularly the Yorkshire Puddings that could quite easily be worn as a hat.

"Oh bother"
Back in the rehearsal room, and stuffed with food, we all got a bit silly. Bradley got stuck in the set like Pooh Bear, and none of us could hold it together through the fart scene. But we managed a stagger through, and a couple of run throughs. We had a  visitor in the room for the later part of the evening to give us fresh eyes and to see if everything makes sense and he raised some interesting points. Now we can see the piece as a whole, Bradley and I can tell the bits that need tweaking, and Dwane and Kate can feel where they're not quite sure of things and what character stuff they need to develop a bit more.

"Character stuff" that was articulate. It's been a long day, okay!!

Keep up with the #bslbanter on twitter.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

TORQUE: Rehearsal Photographs 2

Last night Mike emailed me the photographs he had taken on Monday. I was on the train when I got the email, so proceeded to spend my journey fighting against poor signal and an old phone to look at as many as I could. Eventually, I admitted defeat and - resentfully - learnt patience.

They were worth the wait.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

(All photos by Mike Delaney)

I love the mixture of candid with more posed feeling shots. Very pleased with them! What do you lot think?

More photos will be uploaded to twitter.

Friday, 9 November 2012

TORQUE: The Science of Farting

It's a play with a deaf character, of course there's going to be a fart joke! What do you take me for...

This led to some of the funniest discussions and directions I have ever heard, and it turns out Bradley knows a frightening amount about the science of farting...

It all started because I had asked whether Bradley had a sound effect for the fart, which he didn't as none sounded realistic enough. So, for the purposes of rehearsing, someone would make the noise when needed. The scene was set, we were serious and ready to go, and then Dwane made the most realistic fart noise I have ever heard in my life and we all fell apart. Especially when in response to one which particularly made us cackle, Dwane turned around and said "I don't think I can do that again. That one even surprised me."

With a lot of laughter, Bradley was then asking Dwane to offer him options, so Dwane was let rip making all different types of fart noises, whilst Bradley sat there with his head back and eyes closed saying things like "too tight", "too loose" and "too much like a trumpet".

It's Kate's character who actually does the fart, so we then had to pair the fart noises with 'fart acting', which is when Bradley started dropping his knowledge bombs. For example, you can't fart on a flat surface, you have to have a little lean to the side in order to relieve the pressure for it to escape. To demonstrate this Bradley's direction was "There is that moment of [he leans] 'oh there it is' and carry on."

Also, apparently you can't breathe and fart at the same time. I reckon that's one to test at home, kids.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

TORQUE: The Countdown

SIX DAYS TO GO until the Bush Bounce performance!

It feels a little bit like going up the ramp of a log flume - excited, terrified, and repeatedly questioning why I have done this to myself. But it's too late to get off now!

There's still a lot to be done. Tonight we're getting the final few scenes on their feet, and working on the transitions. As I've said before, the play is split into two 'realities', one of which is set in a club, so Bradley has been busy editing music to go with those bits, and I have absolutely no idea what music he has chosen. I do know it will be music with a heavy bass, and we spent one evening playing songs on YouTube to each other so I'm sure he's picked songs I will be happy with!

On Saturday we have the RADAR Festival 2012 Meet and Greet party, which should be fun. Dreadful timing though, because on Sunday we have the mammoth of all rehearsal days. Seriously, our rehearsal is about eleven hours long, and I don't think I'm even exaggerating. But it is our last rehearsal before the tech and dress rehearsal the day of the performance.

Oich... There's that log flume feeling again.