Thursday, February 10, 2005

Pardon seems to be the hardest word

Pardon seems to be the hardest word

WARNING: This entry may contain spoilers. If you're coming to see SSoB and don't want to find out random things then look away now. If you're not that bothered, and frankly I can understand why, keep reading. And to save confusion I'm calling all of the actors by their character names. Stops me getting confused too.

On Tuesday night I went to a four hour marathon SSoB rehearsal. Over the last four or five years I've been to endless rehearsals. Ones where I've kept book, ones where the director has made us play games with a large wooden stick that managed to bruise my hands, even one where two of my actors got over-excited and managed to break a window [explaining that one to the college porter was something of a highlight]. None of them, however, compared to Tuesday night's rehearsal. It was something of a combination of it being wonderful to hear people speak the lines I'd written, and my being self critical. I've lived with the play far too long not to be, I know where the lines go, where I've repeated something that I shouldn't have; I even found myself knowing instinctively when a line had been missed, or a phrase twisted. I became radically aware of bits I'd change. But I also became radically aware of how much of it seems to work. It was a rather pleasant feeling I have to confess. And it settled my nerves somewhat when everyone felt the need to say how funny the first act is; it's still the bit I'm unsure about - the second act rocks, the third act for two thirds I love, but the first act was always the more difficult. I confess to having my odd witty moments [I was rather heartened recently to discover that my 'girlband nickname' would be 'the witty one', it's certainly better than 'the pedantic one'], but I don't really do punchlines. But people laugh. Though I have to credit Harry with making the word 'socks' into the comedy moment of the play.

But I was very, very aware of my being the author. I resolutely don't want the cast to think that I have the answers, that I know why or how someone is doing something. And it was nice that, aside from a question about whether the characters were based on real people and if I'd support a reading of Harry which had Alan Rickman style qualities, I wasn't. I was surprised with just how accurate some of their surmises were, though. There were lots of Richard Curtis pieces of advice, and Sophie commented on how she felt herself and Jay had aspects of Monica and Chandler. I never consciously put that in, but Curtis and Friends are something which probably pound through my veins. There was always bound to be some that got in there. It also amused me just how reverant they were to the script. For some reason Harry had a total mental block on the word 'pardon'. Now maybe 'pardon' is just one of my quirks, but I've never thought of it as a particularly odd word. But for Harry it just wouldn't come out of his mouth sounding normal and I was asked if he could change it to 'sorry'. Given that the odd [or very odd] pardon hadn't been crucial to my artistic vision, I agreed, but I felt it incredibly sweet that it was thought necessary to ask. I also loved the fact that at one point they spent a number of minutes discussing why Will stumbles over a line and repeats the word 'more'. It's a times like this that I realise just how much of what a writer does isn't 100% intentional. If I'd have laboured over every line like that I'd have still been writing now. Lit crit can see wonderful things.

Yesterday was, officially, my only day off until next Tuesday. After a fairly late night because of SSoB buzzing round my head I slobbed around for most of the morning before having to go to the supermarket which I officially hate. I then spent much longer than I probably should have done writing a writer's statement for the press pack, which involved me being slightly pretentious and quoting the phrase "shit happens". Whether this will turn out to be a good thing or not, I'm unsure. It also emerged that the Border's Preview has been pulled forward to the morning of the 18th as all the writers and directors are having a workshop with Suzanne Bell [literary manager of the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool] in the afternoon. Some how even the chance to big up Virginia Woolf and Roald Dahl pales into insignificance at this.

Having some how managed to calm myself down I went for dinner with The Graduate. Normally I have enough patience to sidestep from any of the possible areas of major disagreement between us [and, Harry Potter aside, there are many, not least his view of blogs], but I was already tired and crotchety and if I'm entirely honest not entirely certain that I wouldn't rather have been in bed, reading one of my trashy magazines and so I doubt that I was at my most tactful. Thus I ended up revealing that I wasn't entirely surprised that his PGCE application had been rejected by Oxford and that I didn't think he had good enough motivations to go into teaching. I know I'm a fine one to talk having dropped my plans in that direction, but I seriously researched the whole thing and still consider it to be something that I'd enjoy doing. I just felt that his whole approach was a little naive and that the research really hadn't been done. I think we agreed to disagree, mainly because I didn't want to have an argument in public and it was starting to look like I was beating a puppy, and so we settled back into better territory of discussing our favourite Beatles songs. Which, naturally, we didn't agree on.

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