A Precious Thing

I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with a mentor a while back. Over a convention breakfast, I mentioned I wanted to move back into stage writing.

“Good,” he said. “Everyone wants to do screenplays…but you can always produce a play somehow.”

(I mean, mostly I write plays because film is a strange and frightening land to me. Theatre is my home country, where I cut my teeth. But he’s right, regardless. There’s some pretty incredible indie theatre in this city.)

Fast forward to last Tuesday, when I dropped in on a rehearsal for A Canticle of Light. At this point, I’ve met 3/5 of that cast. Then we had our first Six Stories, Told at Night rehearsal on Friday. We had a read-through a few weeks ago so I could tweak the script one last time; this was our first chance to get the actors on their feet.

Six Stories, Told at Night

 

Watching these plays come to life is magical. I’ve said it before: seeing my characters onstage is the greatest high I’ve had as a writer. And yes, hearing them in audio drama comes pretty close…but it’s not quite the same. Live theatre is such a different animal; it’s intimate in other ways. It’s a multifaceted beast that relies on many people, and it is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

I sit there in rehearsals and think – wait, really? You’re creating sets and lighting designs out of my words? You’re living in my characters’ skins? These people, my guys, who have only existed in my head?

We’re making them real?

It’s mind-boggling.

I mean, think of the way these stories start. For me, bits of mental lint stick together, growing larger until they’ve accumulated enough critical mass for me to start doodling notes. I write letters to myself.

And the ghost sister shows up sometimes, watching Rose.

It’s going to be dark and weird, I think. So far for characters we have five people: 2 M, 3 F.

This is the story of two girls…

Often the whiteboards come out:

“A Canticle of Light,” in its very early days…

 

It’s a very private, intimate, precious thing, this early dialogue between you and the story. And I’ve just realized: this is why I don’t like talking about new pieces until they’ve settled, until this part of the process is done. The early part is so fragile; it breaks like gossamer web, like dew in the dawning, like a faerie’s spell.

Whiteboards, notecards, random doodlings and crossings-out. Through all of that, the stories fatten with words. And eventually, they outgrow you. Even with prose fiction, other people get involved: beta readers, editors, illustrators, social media people, podcasters, readers. Plays go through a director’s interpretation, which filters through to actors, designers, publicists…

That’s the life cycle. All good.

Yet I get a prickle of nervousness when I realize that those midnight musings have somehow come this far. It’s almost like vertigo; I’m sure it’s partly imposter syndrome…

The best cure for vertigo?

Don’t look down.

Simple as that. Don’t look down. Just trust in the process and the people climbing with you.

Before I close out, I would like to introduce you to our casts. Missed Metaphor has the Canticle crew listed here. For those in Toronto, there will also be a fundraising event this Friday, May 11th. Pay what you can, doors open at 7:00. Live music, good food, general merriment – it’s sure to be a blast! Come say hi – details here!

And whilst we work on the Gangway! Theatre Co., website, you can have an early intro to the Six Stories cast here. We are very pleased to welcome Alexandra Milne as our Joëlle, and Isaiah Kolundzic as…well, all of the male characters, but mostly Coyote!

Until next time, my friends, be well.

KT

What I’m Listening To This Week

More Ralph Vaughan Williams! ALL the Ralph Vaughan Williams! This “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” is a beautiful journey that riffs on Tallis’ “Third Tune.” It’s a haunting melody that stays and stays…

Posted on May 7, 2018, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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