Happiness Ltd Reading

I’m currently wading through the thick sludge that lies between the first and second draft of any new play.  From initial idea of the-play-currently-known-as Happiness Ltd to first draft, it’s been a fairly slow process – I know I can rush things and I wanted to take my time on this one.  This will be my fourth full length play and the process is in many ways very different to when I sat on the charity shop-bought sofa in my student bedroom writing what would eventually become Static – I have the strange sense that I might finally know what I’m doing for a start.  But in many ways it feels very similar.

For every hour spent beating fresh hell into my keyboard, another seems to be spent drafting emails and having phone calls in the hope of having some way of getting the words into the mouths of actors (there’s also a third hour which is spent playing Playstation but it’s a play about video games so… erm… erm… research!?!?).  Which is why I’m incredibly excited that tomorrow I’m heading into a rehearsal room at Theatre Royal Plymouth with David Prescott, TRP’s Artistic Associate, and a bunch of professional actors for a closed reading of the play.

I have a feeling I might feel a little big-headed sat there listening to four actors read out words I’ve written to a total audience of two yet in any artistic process the safe space in which to iron out flaws is an important one.  It’s essentially a chance for me to hear the dialogue out loud and find out what zings and what is more disagreeable to the ears.  It’s also a chance to share the work with a group of artists who will be able to spend the day focussing on the journey of one character through the play, reporting on whether their journey feels complete and/or their decisions justified.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s about sharing the story with a few more people and finding out whether it’s one worth telling, whether it feels exciting, gripping, emotional or at all important.

Playwriting can often be an incredibly literary activity, sat in front of a computer scene impressing words onto digital paper.  Days like tomorrow break that potentially dangerous routine and reignite the performativity in a playtext.  So, if taking this one slightly slower leads to opportunities like this which allow me to improve this play and my practice as a playwright in the future, then I’m really excited to see what that may hold.

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