Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sketches and preliminaries

Visually speaking, what is a sketch? A rough preliminary to more crafted piece of work ~ equivalent to the writer's 'splurge' draft ~ or is it an expression of the artist's process needing no further development, in the way a theatrical sketch is a complete piece?  SKETCH is the current exhibition at Black Swan Arts, with 54 collections selected from open competition which between them comprise hundreds of glimpses of their artists' interior and exterior lives.  Words at the Black Swan writing group, led by David Davies, skirted definitions with a focus on individual pieces and the private moments they represent.  A stimulating session, producing thoughtful & delightful responses which will be displayed at the gallery and archived online here with the images that inspired them.

And on the subject of using words to sketch reflections, Philip Larkin's "statement" on why he wrote poetry was simple: to preserve things I have seen / thought / felt, both for myself and for others, though I feel that my prime responsibility is to the experience itself... Why I should do this I have no idea, but I think the impulse to preserve lies at the bottom of all art. It certainly applies to all writing ~ stories and dramas too ~ whether challenging, mourning, or fantasty-dreaming: at their heart is a desire to preserve what we have felt, whether through living or longing, or even dreading. Certainly everything I ever write is somewhere on that experiential continuum from intimately known to emotionally conceivable.
My play Fixing It, moving as it does swiftly back and forth along this imaginary continuum, has consequently left me giddy as rehearsals continue. I'm in awe of the actors who have taken these characters and given them dimension, colour, energy, and even private thoughts & emotions I never fully realised. It's like someone's turned up the heating on my inner world. Livi and Vincent are heart-breakingly convincing as the youngsters believing All you need is love, but Paddy and Robert are gripping as their older selves, still passionate about their ideals, but no longer in unison.
I'm loving the way Marc runs rehearsals: a combo of disciplined sessions on key aspects like transitions plus wonderful inclusive times like an hour listening to tracks from their era chosen by all the cast... what a great way to start a long day.  Sarah is still busy sorting out costumes, mindful that quick changes are vital. Here's Vincent as Rick, if this takes you back then you probably remember the summer of love too... So in case you've forgotten, we open for two nights' preview in Frome at the Cornerhouse on 24th January, with the 'proper' run (ie full set and lighting) at Alma Tavern Theatre from 28th January till 8th February.

And then, unbelievably, life will go on, and other things will happen... one of which is that Frome favourite Nathan Filer, who has now made himself a nation's favourite too by winning the Costa Debut Novel award for The Shock of the Fall is coming to Merlin Theatre to talk about his shift from acclaimed poet to acclaimed novelist ~ and also tell us why he was deported from his truth-finding mission in the West Bank. This will be a night to remember~ booking recommended, as it's one of our "Platter" nights with everyone onstage in a bistro atmosphere, with real supper option.

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