As an aspiring writer and theatre maker, I was thrilled when Cally, Harri and Phil – in their warm, generous, and open-handed way – allowed me to spend a day with them and their team at StageWrite. Thus it was that at 7am on Friday 10thMay I found myself, somewhat bleary eyed and coffee in hand, travelling to sunny Bedford (and sunny it was!).
The morning was committed to working on ‘The Murder of The Servants’, a new play by Martin Keady, based on two characters from ‘Macbeth’ who fail in their task of protecting King Duncan and are framed for his murder. The piece is pacy and filled with humour and high drama. My first impressions were of both the professionalism and laid back nature of the rehearsal room. Actors and director treated each other with respect and an easy trust. The pace was fast, there was little time for breaks, but the camaraderie and ready laughter made StageWrite a fun place to be. Excitement rose during the final run through. I was struck again by the power of stage lighting and the magic created by that collaboration of script, space, actors and tech.
The afternoon’s piece was totally different – ‘Play Lady K’ by Anne Atkins, loosely in the genre of farce, with quick dialogue, a cast of lively characters, romance, pathos, a touch of cross dressing – and even a butler in the buff! Unlike the morning’s play, the script relies on a large number of exits, and was dependent on these for comic effect. StageWrite technician Simon, in an unassuming stroke of genius, solved a particular absent-door problem with lighting and a sound effect. I loved the way that overcoming an obstacle led to such creativity. Observing Cally directing was also a privilege. I noted how little she intervened in the action, trusting in the skill and instinct of her cast, and remaining a calm and grounding influence in the process.
As curtain up approached, the atmosphere in the green room began to change. The relaxed banter stopped and a nervous energy filled the room. Some talked more, some talked less. Costumes were changed into, props located, make up applied. I left five minutes before curtain up to go and sit out front.
The pieces played to a full and appreciative audience. Writers joined the cast on stage for a short Q & A, gave the context to the genesis of their pieces and asked for audience feedback. They were given useful insights and ideas for development. Once the applause and the congratulations finished, it was back to the hard work of clearing stage and set.
With much gratitude to all for allowing me to spend a day with them, and be part of the thrilling rollercoaster that is StageWrite, I said my thanks and farewells. I felt proud to have been part of the StageWrite family for a day.