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I Have Never...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Fourth Weekend Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th

After Wednesday, I'd got my fingers crossed about which story structure people would go for. Over Thursday and Friday, I got a drip drip response back from the cast. Results were as follows:-

9 of the 11 plumped for the Love Story as top choice. Of them, I think that 3 had seen through the fact that it was the same story as the Life Story. 2 others wanted to incorporate elements of the other 2 choices.

Duncan picked his own story. However, he was open to incorporating elements of the Life Story, and was quite self deprecating about the likelihood that anyone else would pick his story.

Sidrah picked the Life Story. I noted this, and aimed to check that she was ok with the majority decision.

Having been effectively given the go ahead on the Love Story, I had the following email exchange with Emma..

Heh heh, cool you're on the case.

When my mum initially wanted to get into photojournalism, she used to take the Manchester Evening News jam and bakewell tarts. Over a relatively short period, because they were amused by this eccentricity they started using more of her photos, eventually contracting her...
Don't really know why I told you that.

Anyhoo, dad's sandals. When I was at Mike Stewart's workshop last weekend, he talked about a story having a beginning, tension being ramped up, a climax and then resolution. I think for a while we've all been pretty much agreed that Raf's story blows everyone away. I thought that it would be a really down ending, though.

I want to give people hope.

When we went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Emily told a story about how, for a period of time, her parents split up. It was only a couple of months, but she stayed with her mum, and only saw her dad on Sundays. This was hard, because she admits that she is more of a 'daddy's girl'.

Then, he came back. It wasn't talked about, but she vividly remembers coming home from Guides and seeing his sandals in the porch. She describes in detail the embarrasment about the fact that he wears sandals, but how at that moment they resulted in the happiest moment of her life. That's how she knew he was home...

I've paraphrased considerably, but I saw this as the hope I was looking for. Hope I've not spoiled it...

R-)


Emma wrote:

I'm amused by your emailing me whilst I'm just emailing you...so I'll copy in what I was just sending....

Hi Everyone...

Right the poster/flyer....few issues...Claires off today and she was struggling yesterday with it...the image won't make a postcard....without distorting the image so for the postcard the image has to sit within the postcard with a surrounding area around it...where we can put text...confused...yes so was I till I saw it...but I get it now and its true....

The poster....we're still having problems with the logo....at the moment it isn't a cut out logo that we use its got a white background....and I don't like the thought of having a white blob taking up space on the pic....unless genius ideas flood through my email system in the next 20 mins....its paying for a designer downstairs I think (thats where inprint live!)

I'm on the case with jouno's too so thats good...I'm hedging for bbc online and jim greenhalf the T&A. The metro are being a bit tough to get through too....but I'm trying waving free tickets at them.

As for the story...I'm well confused....but I didn't think that I'd read it and understand it all...I'm most struck by dads sandals....

My initial email was...

The balance has tipped in favour of... Story B! (Surprise, surprise)

Em/Cat, here's the order of stories...
I Have Never... A Love Story

Foyer - What have you never done? (Michelle asking audience with dictaphone)
INTRO - Travelled In The Boot Of A Car (Nicki)
Audience ushered into the space - Cast Explanation of The Game played over the soundsystem...
Had A Surprise Birthday Party (Lucy)
(Game Starts - Blah Blah Blah Tea Party)
Had to Confront a Crush (Becky)
(Blah Blah Blah Shots)
Said it with Flours (Chris)
(Blah Blah Blah Wine Glasses)
Been Ballroom Dancing (Amanda)
(Blah Blah Blah Pint Glasses)
Flown Unaided/Swam with Sharks (Duncan)
(Blah Blah Blah Rugby Team)
Been Assaulted (Sidrah)
(Blah Blah Blah Torture Camp)
Seen a Rugby Game/Found A Lump... (Anne) - The lump is Nicki in the set!
I Will Never...Convert for Love (Raf)
(Blah Blah Blah Celebrity Detox)
My Dream/Happiest MomentVampires/Dad's Sandals (Emily)
END

Hmmm, thinking about it, may swap Anne and the torture camp around... Any thoughts? Feedback?

Conscious that some of this might not make sense... hopefully all will be clear over the weekend. Can you let me know what rooms we have booked for tomorrow/Sunday?
Oh, and how's the poster coming along? Is it ready to proof yet? R-)

Saturday rolled around. As many people had chosen to take this rehearsal off, I only had 4 of the cast to work with - Emily, Anne, Lucy & Michelle. With this in mind, I decided to focus on the end of the show - Emily's story about her dad.

Before that, I thought I'd try out something which I had seen on Celebrity Extreme Detox on Channel 4 the week before. In one of the groups, they'd had to do an 'Angel Walk'.

This basically involves blindfolding someone, then the remainder of the group have to lead the blinded member through the space. While doing this they focus on soft contact, stroking the person, holding their hands etc. On top of this, they also have to make positive comments about the person. The intention is to leave people with an intense sense of well being.

The group met this suggestion with some cynicism. However, they all went through with it, and strangely, there did seem to be a truly positive feel to the rest of that day's proceedings...

We sat down and listened back to Emily's story. I had forgotten all about the dream element of the story, where Emily is with her dad and they have to dip a crisp into a dip, eat it and turn into a vampire/werewolf. We focussed on this element initially.

The transformation when people demonstrated changing into a werewolf proved fascinating. There seemed to be a compulsion to dip in the dip, but the knowledge that it would lead to something bad was writ across each cast member's face. Pain was expressed, before people fell to all fours. The movement around the floor reminded me most of Sadaka coming out of the TV from the original Ringu (the scariest horror film I've ever seen on video). Eventually we had all four approaching the audience, reaching the audience's feet, before howling as if at the moon...

This is not at all where I'd expected the story to go. It was deeply uncomfortable, for me as audience, but also for the cast. The natural reaction was to break the tension by laughing. So that's what we did. Then, Lucy came up with a game to move us into the next part of the story.

I'll call it Sit, Stand, Lean, Lie. Each of the 4 cast members have to assume one of the four positions. No two can assume the same position at the same time. There is a pause each time the 4 reach a Sit, Stand, Lean, Lie moment. Then 1 person breaks it, and the other 3 have to adjust into a different set of positions.

Lucy told us that this had been a game she'd played at Guides (at least I think that was the case, I may have misremembered this). As Emily's story about her father started with her coming home from Guides, it seemed appropriate. I asked them to try and work out 9 different set ups, before moving onto the next phase of the story.

This was the discovery of the Sandals. The cast each waved goodbye to Emily, leaving her alone on stage. She moved stage left, where Emma had placed her trainers (to represent the Sandals). Emily took her own shoes off, saw the 'Sandals', placed her own shoes next to them and then moved into a 'lounge' area. There, Carl pretended to be the Dad. Sat on two chairs to represent the sofa, he stood up, and him and Emily embraced. They then returned to the 'sofa' and held a 'hug position' with Emily on Carl's lap. I imagined a fade out on this, followed by a light just focussed on the shoes...

Maybe Carl as 'Dad' could be sitting in the fron row of the audience? I'll have to give that some thought. Helby (Co-Producer of Blue Remembered Hills) and Cheryl (Random Theatre Group Member) popped into the rehearsal, so we played back the whole section we'd worked on through the day.

We finished up. A group of us went to see The Lad Lit Project at The Mill (Third Angel Theatre Company - A great one man piece, defined by someone as 'A Male Vagina Monologues'). We then were invited back to Amanda's, and spent the evening chatting and drinking.

This weekend's pics from Carl (http://gust.no-ip.com/ihn/weekend1/).

Onto Sunday. I'd decided that, as we had all the cast today (bar Nicki) we'd work solidly on two stories which two cast members had sent me by email. These emails were proof to me that both the cast had 'bought in' to the show...

EMAIL 1

Hey ric

This is my story of something that I wish I'd never done.

Its something that was so amazingly heart breaking and embarrassing at the time and something that I've never really told anyone.

I was 13, at secondary school. I've always been quite an emotional person and at this age was very very quiet and shy. It was at that stage of life where you start to fancy boys. My friends fancied several boys at once and they changed every day!

I didn't though. I liked a lot of the boys as friends but I never really fancied any of them.

Then one day, I fell in love, it was love at first sight.

It was during a PE class and some sixth form students were helping out as part of their own lessons. We had to do several exercises and then take our pulses. I was finding it really hard to find a pulse and people around me were taking the piss that I was dead.

Then...he came towards me. His name was Jonny Lee. He was so amazingly good looking, not a pretty boy but just handsome. He had curly hair just past his ears. He came and took my pulse. He joked with me that I shouldn't worry because it can be hard the first time. His fingers left a mark where he had been taking my pulse because my skin was sweaty. He apologised and tried to rub the mark off my wrist.

I just couldn't stop staring at him. I was mesmerised by him and everything about him. I felt as if a huge sigh was passing through my entire body. This was the first time I had ever felt love, and it wasn't just that I fancied him...I truly had fallen in love with him. This may sound really stupid, I know I was only 13, and after such a short unromantic meeting how could I have been in love but...I just knew I was.

I'd see Jonny Lee walking around school occasionally and my infatuation just got more and more. I wished desperately that I was older so he'd look at me. Or that I was one of those girls who look older. But I was just a flat chested, specky geeky looking kid. I knew that I could never get that love back..but part of me believed that I might.

Eventually pretty much everyone in my class knew of my huge love of Jonny Lee. Some people thought it was funny but as they heard me talking about him more they began to realise that I didn't just fancy some sixth former, I was in love with Jonny Lee.

I'd always see Jonny Lee when I had my weekly geography lesson. He had a class at the same time and his class room was opposite mine. I'd never ever dream of making contact with him, or make it obvious that I was staring at him. I was far too shy for that. Also part of me knew that I would get rejected at the first second and this would break my whole fantasy so I was too scared.

Him and a couple of his friends were standing outside his classroom and me and my whole class were waiting outside ours. I was talking to one of my friends about how much I loved Jonny Lee.

Unfortunately, the complete and utter bitch face cow of my class, Jodie Allison overheard our conversation. She of course knew of my love for him but didn't know what Jonny Lee looked like. In her loudest, most screechy horrible shreek, she shouted

'Oi Becky, is that Jonny Lee, that one [pointed at him] that one who you reaalllly fancy'

( I proceeded to go red and try to hide behind my friend)

'Yeh thats him isn't it(Jonny Lee looked over)that one that you fancy, that you love, that you dream of kissing'

[horrible screechy laughter]

'Don't hide from him _____, go kiss him if you want to, everyone move back so Jonny Lee can see who fancies him'

[proceeded to push everyone back and pushed me into the space so Jonny Lee could finally see me]

'yeh Oi Jonny Lee, this girl reaally fancies you'

[horrible screechy laughter again, followed my laughter from everyone else in my class and Jonny Lee's friends]

Jonny Lee didn't laugh though. I was standing their exposed, my deep and true love on show for him. He just looked at me. Not with a returned love, not with understanding, not even with sympathy. With contempt. He had been embarrassed in front of his friends, because of me...the geeky kid. If I had had any looks of any sort then maybe it would have been different. No, in front of him was a ugly 13 year old, and behind him were his sneering friends. He looked mortified that I would even think I was in his league. That I could even imagine that I could fancy him. If only I was older, if only I was pretty. But, I was none of these things.

I felt heart-ache, embarrassment, remorse and rejection. I'd lost a love that I guess I'd never had but really I had. It was foolish for me to carry on loving Jonny Lee because he knew my secret now and any vague hope I'd ever had was carried away. But I felt heart broken because I had lost a love.

He walked into his classroom, I walked into mine. I saw him occasionally, around school. My first love was gone.

I sometimes wonder if he ever realised how great my feelings had been for him. I often wonder what kind of person he really was, because I'd never spoken to him properly. I wonder what he looks like now, if I would even recognise him.

It sounds stupid I know that I could have loved someone that deeply. It was a naive love and a young love and so stupid but I had the greatest feelings for him, the biggest infatuation. It was undoubtedly unhealthy. But still...something that always sticks in my mind.

So, what part of my experience is it that I wished I'd never done? That I'd never gone to that PE class...no. That I wished I'd never fallen in love with him...no, no way. That I'd never told anyone...yes...but I needed to face reality at some point but....part of me still wishes that that horrible incident had never happened. I would have got over him at some point...I think.

So thats it, the story of Jonny Lee, my first love.

EMAIL 2

I Have Never…
Been to a rugby match.

This may seem quite a reasonable thing for a woman to say (especially with current state of Scottish rugby). The funny thing is that I went all the way to Ireland a few years ago with the specific aim of going to see a match (Union of course, not the glorious League type game).
My boyfriend at the time (Ian) was a big England fan and paid for us to go (on Valentines weekend) to see England v Ireland at Lansdowne Rd as part of the 5 Nations (as it was then). He was still living in Glasgow and me in Bradford so we travelled independently and I met him at the hotel late on Fri evening to discover that none of us (he, me and about 6 of his mates) had tickets so we were going to brave the ticket touts on the Saturday morning. That made me feel like Id arrived a little on false pretences, but since I wasn’t too fussed about actually being AT the game where my least favourite team (can you guess who?) were playing the home team.

We spent ages looking for tickets and eventually got tickets for everyone. By this time 2 Swiss lads had joined our party, these were acquaintances of one of Ian’s mates. As a Scot Im not a particular fan of any national sporting team except Scotland, and as I alluded to earlier Im afraid I have the usual dread of supporting England (only non English folks can understand this). Therefore I knew I was going to be supporting Ireland. This may have explained why Ian decided to take a ticket for one of the better areas of the ground while leaving me with these 2 Swiss blokes in one of the less favoured areas.

Now I hardly know these blokes (having met them only a few hours earlier)… they didn’t understand rugby and seemed to think that I would be able to explain the game to them, how nuts is that!

Anyway when we arrived at the turnstile the first guy’s ticket, obtained under false pretences turned out to be a fake (bastard ticket touts) and they wouldn’t let him in. His mate then decided that he wasn’t going in alone with me (Im obviously too scary!).

This left me with a dilemma… to go in totally alone or to give my ticket to the bloke who’s ticket didn’t work and not go in at all. I thought about if for a short while and decided that I wouldn’t go in all on my own anyway so passed over the ticket.

I then spent the next hour or so shopping and popped into a couple of pubs to keep up with the score.

We had all arranged to meet in a pub afterwards and I did consider not fessing up that I hadn’t gone but in the end decided to be truthful.

Ian was EXTREMELY displeased.

However, what I would say is that if he had wanted me to go so badly then he could have taken a ticket that would let me stand with him.

So that’s why Ive never been to a rugby match!

My second story is prompted by your structure last night, particularly relating to support, or lack of it

6 years ago, while at a conference in the USA I discovered a lump in my breast. It was only tiny but definitely didn’t feel hormonal. I was with my PhD student and although I was quite close to her I didn’t feel I wanted to tell her. We had just arrived on our 2 week trip so every day and every night I spent thinking, shit this thing isn’t going away… this is bound to be something horrible! It also kept coming back to my mind that when I first arrived in Bradford a colleague who was 32 years old had been diagnosed with breast cancer, although of course I know from my line of work that it is extremely rare.

After 2 weeks of worrying about it and stressing over it I came back from the States and was picked up at the airport by Ian, who I was living with by now. In the car I was a bit quiet, trying to pluck up courage to tell him but finding it really difficult (and we were dropping off my student so I wasn’t going to tell him right there and then).

Finally after agonising over it for ages I told him that I had been really worried for the whole trip due to finding this small lump in my breast. His response astounded me (to this day). This was along the lines of “ well your breasts are often a bit lumpy, aren’t they” Not surprisingly we didn’t talk about it any more.

Now it may seem a bit cowardly of me but despite being a scientist and knowing exactly how important it is to visit your GP if you find anything that could be considered as sinister at all, I didn’t make an appointment to see my doctor. In fact I told no-one else for several days until my sister rang me. Immediately she could tell that all was not well with me and I blurted it out on the phone. She immediately then gave me such a telling off and insisted that as soon as I put the phone down I make an appointment with my doctor and she was going to ring back to check I had. That support, along with her telling me that her secretary at work (the same age as me) had just had to have a mastectomy because of a diagnosis of breast cancer a few months previously spurred me into action.

I made the appointment and told Ian. He didn’t offer to come along with me to what would surely be the most scary doctor’s visit of my life… and I didn’t ask him to.

When I went to the GP he referred me to the oncology unit - I knew he would.

Following this appointment I told several close friends at work, one of whom offered to come along with me to the oncology appointment.

My feelings about my relationship were in turmoil, I couldn’t get over the fact that I hadn’t had the support I felt I really needed. I knew that if a similar threat to Ian’s health had arisen I would have insisted on him making the doctors appointment and dragged him there, holding his hand every step of the way.

My lump needed 2 biopsies then an operation for removal before I got the all clear, although the oncologist was extremely nice and after the second biopsy was almost sure that it wasn’t a cancerous growth.

By the time I had the operation I had moved out of the house and my relationship was over.

Some things you cant get over.

---

I'd been genuinely affected by both of these stories. How could I do them justice? I decided to give the decision as to how to use the pieces to the cast.

Unfortunately, we had to wait for a while to get into our rehearsal space. It was freezing, so a warm up was essential. We went around in a circle, each person contributing a different warm up exercise. Someone suggested the hokey cokey. This was great fun, and a revelation to Raf. I'd never considered that it was a purely English game, and wouldn't have crossed the water to France.

I then split the cast into two groups. They were,

Duncan, Sidrah, Raf, Emily & Becky working on EMAIL 1
Anne, Amanda, Chris, Lucy & Michelle working on EMAIL 2

I gave them an hour and a half to develop a representation of their email. Each group had the originator of the email in their midst. This meant that if they wanted to clarify something about the story, they could. I'd also suggest they do 'See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil' process on each piece. Therefore, one person would read the story(SPEAK), one person provide sound effects(HEAR) and the other three would work on movement(SEE).

The results were fantastic. Highlights included:-

EMAIL 1
- Becky wolf whistling.
- Raf taking Sidrah's pulse.
- Duncan producing a heart beat sound effect, and clutching his goolies as a lustful sixth former.
- Emily attempting a whiny voice as 'the evil bitch face cow'.

EMAIL 2
- Amanda and Chris producing a movement motif to represent a couple together.
- Lucy coming up with a rugby scrum becoming a representation of the breast.
- Michelle as 'the lump', pushing and prodding Amanda.
- Anne recounting the last paragraph of the story.

We did a show and tell, each group showing the other what they had produced. I then asked each group to add themselves onto the imagery of the other group. We started by working with EMAIL 1.

Now instead of just Emily and Sidrah running back and forth in the PE class, Michelle, Amanda, Lucy and Anne joined them. Chris joined Raf and Duncan as the frustrated 6th Form boys tasked with overseeing the class.

In the corridor section (waiting outside class) we had the same groups, the added numbers giving a more realistic portrayal of schoolkids hanging about. The gang mentality became more established. Sidrah, as visual centre of the piece, appeared more isolated in her embarassment.

I added my own directorial tweak. I split the email into 11 pieces. The group had to pretend it was a love letter. A 'my mate fancies you' sort of a note. They would read an element of it, then pass it onto the next person. When it got to Jonny Lee's reaction, Raf as JL receives the note, reads the female protaganists reaction, then throws it to the floor. Becky, as next reader, picks this up, then passes it to Chris (whose story slots next into the overall structure).

I was chuffed, and let the cast break for lunch. Carl expressed concern about Chris reading the last bit, as it would affect the 'Fiasco' moment he had established with Sidrah. Therefore, we agreed that it would have to be recorded and played in at the end of the scene...

Over lunch, some of my cast and crew got lured into a workshop that was going on at the Mill. Local Theatre Company, The Escape Committee had organised an Australian Style Beach Party, and planned to recreate the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany. This was an entertaining diversion, but outside was very cold. Carl and Michelle had to go to another rehearsal...

Eventually, when we returned to the rehearsal space, everyone was frozen solid.

We pushed on with work on adding the extra cast to EMAIL 2. The extra bodies meant we could now represent a rugby scrum/breast much more effectively. Raf and Duncan became the two Swiss men. Libby (New Marketing Exec Member) came to see how we were doing, and I got her to play Nicki's part as 'the lump'. This involved her climbing around the backs of the other cast members, then disappearing into the centre of the scrum/breast from above. I let Emma run this part of the rehearsal, as she had seen a similar thing done before. I was slightly nervous that someone was going to land on their head and do themselves an injury. However, I kept this to myself...

The result was fantastic. Libby's legs disappearing into the throng reminded me of the moment that Ewan MacGregor goes down the loo in 'Trainspotting'.

It had been a long day. People were tired. I finished off with a couple of trust exercises.

-Stand in a circle of the rest of the cast. Allow yourself to fall, and the other cast members have to support your weight with their hands.
-Pair up. Person A lies face down on the floor. Person B takes A's arms and raises them above their heads. Count to 30. B then slowly lowers A's arms to the ground. A feels as if they are falling through the floor... Swap places and repeat.

It picked people up a bit.

I was knackered. I sat in the bar for a couple of hours, waiting for Carl's Salad Days rehearsal to end. I then took him, Duncan and Lucy home.

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