Friday, 1 July 2011

Auditions, read-throughs, and cold sweats

Since my last update on the mayhem of Lost In Mozart we've achieved quite a lot although the list of stuff do sort out before August seems to get longer every day! Also, although it's a great intention to blog the process of producing this play, the reality is quite frustrating because of certain things it would be irresponsible to write about on the internet. These include the fact that we've been in talks with a couple of exciting names in Grime music about contributing tracks, but of course until that's settled I can't say who. Also, we've been doing some work with young people from youth clubs in the areas the play talks about – I was at one of these a few days ago, one I hadn't been to before, and found that the workers were more than willing to help, but also very nervous about certain place names even being mentioned, especially as the previous week a stabbing had taken place as a result of the kinds of postcode territory rivalries that Lost In Mozart centres around. So as much as I'd like to talk more about this process, suffice to say that, with the help of Urban Mission TV, we're well on the way to getting the soundtrack sorted with young people right at its core.

The other big news is that auditions took place during the past couple of weeks, and we now have a solid and talented cast! (that's a couple of them in the picture above being put through their paces by Nicole). Now this IS a process I can talk about. I found it all at once extremely exciting and extremely uncomfortable to watch actors performing scenes from my play for auditions, then a week sitting in a circle for a full read-through. Previously the only time this had happened was using scenes from the screenplay version workshopping with some of the young people who inspired the story – brilliantly in this case they relished the opportunity to play versions of themselves, and crucially, recognised the world and characters as authentic. My one great fear in that case had been that months of carefully thought out story construction and rationalising would be destroyed by just one Nelson Muntz-esque 'Ha hah!'. However, and I promise this was due to logistics and not cowardice, I couldn't be present at that session, and watched it a week later on video. For the auditions, and the read-through, I was present and cringing. The cringing wasn't constant I hasten to add, and reflects not at all the competence and talent of our more than capable cast; but their raw interpretation of sentences and dialogue that I have hitherto solely given life within my own head, frequently shone a harsh and unforgiving light on nasty clusters of long neglected and festering sores on the page, the pain of which I had perhaps simply learned to live with.

But in a way, resolving some of these issues is what I'm looking forward to most about the process we will now begin; rehearsals. The script can, and will, be modified and tweaked, but I have resisted the urge to spend the days following the read-through slashing and re-writing as I could very well have done. Instead I hope to enter into much more of a collaboration from this point onwards – listening to the views of the Director, and the Cast. Of course there's a very real possibility that I might strongly disagree with all their opinions, but that's still collaborative right?

This Sunday we're filming and promo with three of the actors using the grant the nice folk at IdeasTap gave us specifically for that purpose. We'll be sure to take lots of photos too, so my next blog entry might be (mercifully?) more inclined towards showing than telling!

And cold sweats? Well we still have to get those pesky lyrics written, we need a stage manager to take on the gargantuan task of getting all the buttons pressed at the right times during the show (ipods, macbooks, and yes, VCRs!) and we haven't yet recruited the classical musicians we need... it'll be fine, won't it Nelson?

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