Live Theatre residency for Demeter In Winter – day 3

IMG_0021Whoosh! That went by quickly!

So today I read back the whole thing so far to Gez Casey from Live, who was kindly giving me the benefit of his considerable dramaturgical experience, and Matt Cummins, who directed my first show. And then they told me what they thought. Terrifying. The upshot is, it’s worth me continuing with it, and I have a set of very interesting questions to attempt answering when I’m in residence at ARC next month.

Matt thought you might be interested to know what I did each day, so if you have a nerdy kind of desire to neb about in my ‘process’, here’s what my To Do lists looked like…




Day One, 10am – 5pm

  1. Set up different writing zones/locations around the room for different scenes/characters I want to explore
  2. Physical and vocal warm-up
  3. 30 minutes solo improv exercises – I used these ones – filming them
  4. Do I know my characters and their back stories? Talk about it to camera
  5. Free write Marian and Vic, their stories, bodies, and attitudes to rape – on large paper at the “M’ and ‘V’ writing zones
  6. Free write monologue each for M and V, in notebook
  7. Read monologues out loud to camera
  8. Film myself doing V monologue on-page, but moving, finding her body
  9. Film myself improvising V monologue off-page
  10. Type up dialogue I had written on the train up from Hartlepool
  11. Walk around the room, stopping and free writing on large paper at several different writing zones, for different scenes
  12. Create a series of scene cards using old Rolodex lined cards
  13. Upload video and write blog

Day Two, 10am – 4pm

  1. Physical and vocal warm-ups
  2. 30 minutes solo improv exercises
  3. Read whole script out loud to camera
  4. Type up yesterday’s improvised Vic monologue by watching the video back
  5. Transfer large paper free-write notes to notebook, continue to expand on them in a loose way
  6. Look into open source field recordings of birdsong
  7. Annotate scene cards with sound effects needed
  8. Research peonies for a poem in Marian’s voice, do some writing towards it
  9. Write blog

Day Three, 10am – 3pm

  1. Physical and vocal warm-ups
  2. 30 minutes solo improv exercises
  3. Re-read script
  4. Annotate scene cards with research needed
  5. Lay out scene cards in the right order, identify gaps
  6. Type up new dialogue created from V and M monologues
  7. Tweaking and formatting script
  8. Read-back and take notes
  9. Write blog



Live Theatre residency for Demeter In Winter – day 2

No more video, no, no, nevermore!  (Turns corvid, flies off).

If you’re interested, mostly today I have been putting into practice some advice from Nick Field about generating material when the blank page of the empty studio fills you with an atavistic urge to curl up and catch up on whatever sleep you should have been having last night, when you were in fact fighting your husband for the duvet and mumbling something about cities under tree roots.

The technique is simple – take a bunch of disparate things you’re trying to write about (in my case, three scenes of dialogue and two poems). Put them as headings on big pieces of paper. Put big pieces of paper around room in various places (in my case, four walls and a desk). Walk/run around between them, jotting thoughts and moving on whenever the train of thought dries up (in my case, after a maximum of two sentences). Did this for a couple of one-hour sessions, it really helped me keep my energy up. And got me started with the ‘proper’ job of writing.

Then I capitulated to extreme brain-drain, and spent quite a bit of time researching birdsong field recordings, in case this turns out to be a radio play. Found this fab resource from the British Library – enjoy!