A preface, 5th May 2013

posted 13 May 2013, 14:05 by Gareth Morgan   [ updated 13 May 2013, 14:05 ]

I started this project back in October, it sort of collided with my starting of my MA [playwriting and dramaturgy at the University of Exeter]. Notes... has been a companion through the course, which I am now in the final straights of. The last act of Notes…, or at least a first draft of it, was submitted as part of the playwriting module and it was the first thing since the play about my dad I'd actually been pleased with. I've written things since too, I've not been pleased with them. The second act came from a writing exercise myself and my fellow student James Tapp did in February and parts of act one have been plodding around in my mind for a while although finding someone to enact them with in real life has been more of a struggle.

As a script Notes… is an attempt to stratify my approach to autobiographical writing. Or to put it another way, it's basically me and things that have happened to me with just some key details changed and removed. It's autobiography once removed. With this in mind, and aware of sounding a bit of a ponce, there's a lot of me in the writing and I am tied to it in a certain way. That's not to say that I'm precious or sacrosanct about the script, dramaturgical development and assistance are always needed and encouraged. It's more that I feel a connection with the character David that compels me to want to perform him within the script.

I have had discussions with colleagues and academics at Exeter, who have been invaluable in the formation of the show, but, wary of sounding like a bit of a prick, I have always wanted to steer this project using my judgment. That isn't to say that I will ignore good advice or not consider their views but this feels right to do as me. This show is a piece which is geared toward my development as a theatre maker, making work myself with collaborators sure, but being less focused on traditional theatre relationships of actor-director and the script as sacred relic rather than an adaptive roadmap where one can perhaps chose to take the scenic route. This will hopefully be more performance-y, in the Hatch definition, than traditional theatre, although the old adage of 'say your lines and avoid the furniture' still rings true. However, this will be me - Gareth the theatre-maker making a show by me, about me, with a vision that I want to achieve outside of the putting on of a play.

To return to the 'play about my dad' - Births, Deaths and Marriages*, this was the last piece of work that I felt truly proud to make - I happily list it as my proudest achievement, along with making it this far and this was a project borne out of my working in a similar vein. Whilst Births, Deaths and Marriages did have a performer, not myself but the wonderful Mr Dickie Garton, this was something that was taken out of my hands due being 6000 miles away during the performance and has now become part of the fabric of the show - an actor performing the piece when my dad is present for his walk on part at the end, or me playing myself with a 'stunt dad' and my real dad being banned from being there. This process was one akin to that which I'm embarking on here and only removes the actor - subject relationship as I certainly didn't work with Dickie as a director, rather a creative collaborator in the roadmap sense I spoke of earlier.  We worked together for a period before the show making the script and performance glue together with Dickie's input key to the final 'what you see on the night and this something that will happen on Notes...too

As a project won't and can't be a one-man band; there will be other people involved to call me on my flights of fancy. I have two brilliant friends, Beth Shouler, who worked with Dickie and I on Births, Deaths and Marriages, and Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir, a fellow (and very insightful) Exeter MA, acting as outside eyes on the process - pointing out what I'm missing and questioning what I'm doing and what I've written. Thanks also must go to former housemate and all-round performance good egg Ollie Smith who did the first read for me as David and Will Platt, another Exeter colleague, who played Voice when I tried it a second time. There is also support from the drama department and the Northcott. These are all super helpful.

 I'll be updating this page as I progress through rehearsing and realising the project, but to begin with I want to share with you this: 

With that all said I'd better get back on with the third draft.

Theatrically yours,


* You can read more about 'dad play' here, here and here

Image Credit: Barbara Morgan