Folks, it’s true – and imminent! Literary Manager of the Auckland Theatre Company Philippa Campbell and Artistic Director Colin McColl have green-lit a workshop of my plays (I say ‘plays’ plural, because Intimacies is comprised of two 1 act plays, both set in the near future and thematically linked). It will held on the 20th and 21st March, culminating in a public reading on the evening of the 21st.
This is a great opportunity for me to put the plays through their paces; make a final reassessment of the text and see if there are any further revisions required before we go into rehearsal for our season at the Musgrove Theatre in July. The second play, entitled ‘I’d Rather Be the Pope’ has been a particularly thorny and challenging piece. Maybe two days of intensive scrutiny by actors, director and dramaturg will throw up new possibilities for the piece – transforming it from intriguing titbit to theatrical tour do force!
Or maybe it’s fine as it is. We’ll see.
I’ve had pre-production workshops for many of my plays, including Blowing It, Drawer of Knives, The Bellbird and The Bach – the last two courtesy of the Auckland Theatre Company. Some New Zealand playwrights say they hate workshops; they feel vulnerable to criticism in a such a public forum, their precious creation getting knocked about by brusque insensitive thespians. But not me, I’m a believer.
Screaming Pope, Francis Bacon
It wasn’t always so. My first workshop, for the play Big Bickies, was at the 1986 New Zealand Playwright’s Conference in Lincoln, near Christchurch. It was an overwhelming experience. I’d had little experience of theatre or theatre practitioners. Most of the attendees seemed to have a poor opinion of the play – and of me! I guess I cut a rather unconvincing figure as a credible playwright. I didn’t know how to respond to suggestions, or deal with criticism – other than get uptight and defensive. In short, I was green and out of my depth.
Twenty seven years on, this crusty old New Zealand playwright is looking forward to the hurly-burly of the fray!