Post production musings

Post production blues are in full swing.  In that haze, Neil J. Byden writes his musings on the whole experience.

Rewritten was a continuation of what we as a company are trying to explore in theatre. We are a new writing company, but we hope to put the writer at the heart of what we do, to challenge them to work in ways they haven’t before, to have them write for specific actors, to discuss their stories with directors, and most important to collaborate. With carefully chosen restrictions we hope to release their creativity, inspiring them to write in new ways. These restrictions, such as the same props, a simple set or the same group of actors began to have their own effect on the work we have produced as a company. Whilst we have always tried to produce theatre festivals of short plays that have a thematic link. A recurring prop, or a reversal of a relationship brought their own unexpected connections.

That is how Rewritten was born, we wanted to see how we could further connect short plays together into a longer play to reveal more connections. We gave them our trademark restrictions; the same actors, a few props and crucially on this occasion, a simple 3 page script. The script suggested nothing and everything, lines hinted at the hold our past has on us, the need to connect in the present and the desire to have a meaningful future. The writers mined the script to find their own stories: reordering, reworking, rewriting. The four plays that we chose were very different, but all had those themes woven through them. Like the word reincarnation, phrases reappeared with new meaning. We were surprised how often the blue cat kept coming up; it was a line that appeared in all four plays. Keeping the line straight and making sure you were having the right recollection was tricky but we got there! It made us realise how important that first teddy is to us!

It also became a challenge for myself and Laura as actors, something we welcomed. We like challenges; we believe these help you grow as an artist. We have stood there as producers and watched as we put our writers, directors and actors through it. Learning four scripts was a challenge enough but creating four distinct characters was also difficult. In the rehearsals however with our director Cat, we poured through the scripts creating back stories for our characters and importantly what the characters meant to each other. This really gave us something to hold on to: friendship, companionship, adulation and concupiscence.

One of the most rewarding elements was how over time, both through rehearsal and performance, the characters were still IMG_9052growing. On the last performance, as I removed a key piece of costume, I said goodbye to each one of them.  I had grown so fond of them. Playing four characters and having four emotional journeys is an amazing opportunity for an actor.  We are truly grateful for that gift. I loved working with Laura, she is a wonderful actor and together I believe we’re a pretty formidable team.

Rewritten has ultimately reminded us why we started this company.  Good stories simply told, which reflect what we all feel, and what we want are compelling and entertaining. After all aren’t we all searching for a connection, and to find our place in the world?

‘to feel that I mattered, to something, someone.’

Rewritten ran from 20-23 August, 2013 at the Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe Festival.

Thoughts from Cat

We were delighted to work with Cat Robey, our fabulous director of Rewritten.  Read on for her thoughts about the production.

IMG_8924Rewritten has been an interesting journey, the concept being so different from anything I’ve done before. When selecting the plays, it was fascinating reading the vastly different ways the writers had interpreted the bare-bones script and the number of directions a story could go. Creating a coherent full-length play out of four different shorts by four different playwrights was the main challenge; how to ensure the audience feel they are watching four inter-connected duologues in one play and not a festival of new writing shorts.

This was a main point in the selection process: finding a through-line through the four that the audience can follow. The four selected each tell a different story and explore different genres: from tragic drama to light comedy. As a director, this was a lovely opportunity to stretch my muscles and focus on working with a number of genres at once. Even though each writer’s story is personal and very different, moments from the original bare-bones script are clearly reflected in each piece, like a “join-the-dots”.

The transitions between the pieces are a vital part of the overall performance, and we have embraced the theatricality of them. We allow the characters to disappear and reappear as someone new in front of the audience’s eyes, never allowing a conclusion to each piece, but rather a vehicle into the next and ultimately four plays into one.

Rewritten ran from 20-23 August, 2013 at the Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe Festival.