Suddenly things happen really fast. Gareth Nicholls keeps saying 'it's getting there' and it is, it is getting there fast. The milk carton in my fridge has the date of the opening night on it, that's how close we are to being done. The stage is set, the lights are focused, beards have been trimmed, shoes are worn in, props finalised, music timed. Later this week the audience comes in for the first preview and then suddenly, suddenly the festival is upon us.
I love tech week, it's when all the teams involved in the show come together to work towards making the show as good as we can make it. You sometimes forget how many different artists it takes to make 80 minutes of entertainment until they all rush in on the morning of the tech. But a show is nothing without the audience and with this show, more so than any other I have worked on that doesn't include audience participation, what an audience will make of it is going to be so exciting to find out. Will you be thrilled? Angry? Shocked? Delighted? All four? How will you respond?
This is the first ever (super dark) comedy I have worked on. We've laughed a lot. But we've also got used to the jokes, so what we used to laugh out loud at we now smile at. Getting fresh eyes on it is going to inform us so much. Robbie Jack had a great way of describing David Ireland's work; he said that he gives you three ways to score the goal, meaning unlike a lot of comedy writing that has to be delivered a certain way for the punchline to hit David's work is funny whether you play it straight, big or with a knowing wink and nod. That is a brilliant gift to the actors and director but it means the work at this last stage is all about knowing where to pitch it, choosing the way to score the goals.
We know the characters, we know the play, we know everyone's intent, their flaws, the things they hear and the things they ignore for one reason or another, their relationships to each other, where the power shifts, what needs space and what needs pace. Now the work is about the arc of the show, and the flavour of it. It is about doing full runs and seeing the entire journey. Because it is funny but it is also about so many dead serious things. It is a rollercoaster that swings between the belly laughing ridiculous and the hold your breath harrowing and both those atmospheres must be created. I guess we'll only know once you've taken your seats and the lights come up. But I think we're getting there. We're getting there fast. See you soon.
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Insights from being an FST bursary assistant director to Zinnie Harris on A Number by Caryl Churchill at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival and being a JMK assistant director to Gareth Nicholls on Ulster American by David Ireland at the Traverse Theatre.