One of the scripts I’ve been trundling along with nicely is a commission for new theatre company, Soup To Nuts, which now has a name after being a heart symbol quickly followed by the word ‘play’ for an extended period of time. The play has now been christened, ‘The Thump You Feel When You Fall‘ and has been through many incarnations from the start including a completely new narrative. Soup To Nuts is a new writing company formed by Jayne Edwards and Laura Atherton, who met whilst studying at Bretton Hall College. Their mission is to develop work in an open forum similar to devising where the creative process is shared and discussed. As part of their ethos I’m allowing them to be parry to the writing process of the script so they can both see the decisions/changes as the script progresses from being a nub of an idea to a fully grown finished version through the different drafts. This is really interesting because where my role of a scriptwriter has normally taken me before is handing over the finished product at the end ready for rehearsals. So it’s a nice working relationship where the respect is noticed from the beginning and we’re all learning how we develop ideas in our own creative roles. What they’ve learned from me is that I write stern notes chastising my stupid ideas and demands to rectify them.
The writing process is a lonely one. You spend an undisclosed amount of time trying to fling your story onto pages and hoping that it will stick. Then you have to make it interesting. And then you have to find some actors to read it. And of course find someone to stage it. Soup To Nuts’ ethos of opening up the development process to all those involved is not only informative but incredibly useful. After talking to many actors it’s clear that they have many questions about the simple task of writing but never have the real opportunity to act on them. Having the opportunity to open up the development at such an early stage in the writing experience was slightly daunting but extremely helpful. It’s rare for a playwright to still have the script in an undeveloped state to produce before actors. And it’s even rarer for actors who it’s written for, to read it and give feedback. The initial anxiety of handing over a script knowing it’s not finished soon vanished after the readthrough started. It was actually quite thrilling having an open discussion about the themes, narratives and characters with the actors as if we were further down the development path. The feedback was being explored knowing that the script was in a state of flux and sometimes it’s good for an outside eye at such an early stage to point out slithers of plot that have been forgotten or not tied up. Being so close to a script can blinker your ability to see what’s going on. By having actors who are invested in these characters that you’re still forming, it gives you the incentive to carry on. But more importantly it allows the writer to have an explorative relationship with the actors without the constraints of a rehearsal period and the end goal of a production. In no way was this new method restricting or hindering on the overall genesis of the script, if anything it’s added depth to the writing process.
Soup To Nuts can be found on Twitter: @Soup_ToNuts and Facebook here.