Fighting out of the Fringes: The last of the lake
After talking about our current Rough Fiction project for almost a year now the first draft has finally been written. “The Last of the Lake” is finished, for now. From the first meeting in a steam room and sauna with a waterproof notepad many late nights have passed. Obviously with less “gadgety” stationery but equally as exciting. Christmas involved hauling up in a flock-producing mill and shunning the outside world – even during this chilly festive season – and the New Year has allowed the finishing touches as the weather thaws. And all this with little room to spare: our development showing is Monday the 28th February at The Point Theatre, Eastleigh. The play’s far from complete – a first draft always tends to be the craziest; honing and polishing will be required next but it’s done for now. Please note: it’s no accident that a tactile a word as “polishing” is being used here. Playwriting has more in common with carpentry than investment banking: it’s a craft. Playwriting doesn’t require gamblers (although obviously sometimes gamblers win, albeit far less frequently than they believe they do) – it’s a craft and the skills of the craft have to be learned. Since the admittedly unnecessary army-issue notepad through the long days at the mill I’ve been creating something that exists and that we can be taught by maestros to achieve.
Whether we rebel against them, or work with them, as much as is possible in any walk of life, the business of writing plays has rules. As David Edgar, the founder of and visiting lecturer on my Birmingham University Masters’ course points out “…however much playwrights may choose to ignore them, audiences have certain expectations of what they’re going to see in the theatre and they cannot be required to check those expectations in with their coats.” Writing requires blood, sweat and tears; it requires good fortune, creative passion, but unless you know what you’re doing, like a badly-made table the thing just won’t stand up. And I’m certainly not talking about this from a perspective of having achieved mastery. I’m talking about this from the perspective of an apprentice recently let loose on their own. I’m enjoying making tonnes of mistakes each and every time I make a play: as long as I don’t repeat them I’m happy.
Where the play will end up taking on the Goliaths of the industry is on the stage – the only place a play properly exists. This is why we’re preparing a development showing, a work in progress, a prototype. This is my chance to be humble about the whole thing and look when the audience appears phased or disinterested and improve it. This is also our chance to sell the play when it goes well though. A chance to say: “look what we’ve created”. A chance for us to put into practice all those amazing things those amazing people in our lives have taught us. A chance for our development showing of “The Last of the Lake” to become the first step in the road to fully crafted play.Tagged in: Fighting out of the Fringes, The Last of the Lake
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