Dear Writer - a critical letter

posted 19 Jun 2013, 08:55 by Gareth Morgan
Dear Gareth,
You're writing this after the show at the Northcott - you began writing it the day after. You are entirely decaffeinated after spending the last three weeks on a coffee and sugar free Relentless high. You ache, but you're pleased with how Notes… went. You're pleased by the willingness of others to support you when you asked them to. You are pleased with yourself.

Hopefully you are reading this after the completion of your dissertation, it may have been marked. I hope we did well. Notes… has been locked away in a drawer for a few months, stewing.

That said, there are several things that have been raised by audiences, by Kol, by tingles in the back of your neck, nagging feelings in the back of you mind.

That's not to say that people didn't like it - They did. Audiences liked the bits with the performer talking about the dates and the bits on the penguins and courgettes - the detail here helping the drama. People enjoyed the research elements and the idea of changing who you are in front of an audience, and they enjoyed the film idea and particularly how you staged it with a level of symmetry.

But, it needs a fine dramaturgical tooth-combing.

The show's 'signposting' of where we are as an audience, where we are going, perhaps needs developing - a little more clarity around the structure of the piece, although did you mean to do this? In terms of feedback, on the one hand the audience said that they sensed that you were drawing together disparate voices through the metaphors and it was great when this became clearer as the frozen/melting and presentation of self ideas really began to come through.

On the other hand though the audiences did feel, at times, a little lost - especially at the beginning - as to who you were talking to and what you were trying to achieve from a theatrical perspective. Maybe something was missing here in the demonstration of what you were trying to achieve in the meta-theatrical elements.

The audience said that they weren't entirely sure how drawing attention to the theatricality e.g. with the microphone and asking to turn down the lights was meant to achieve? In a way it occasionally overcomplicated the overall journey of the piece. Equally, the accusatory elements of the show maybe leave the audience feeling 'a bit of a mug' when the total breakdown happens. You might be a little too rude.

The main suggestion here would be just to look through it and ask if a couple of moments need clarity or simplifying

Also, your intentions:

Remember why you think you wrote it - you wanted to write about expectations - what people should or shouldn't do. What we shouldn't talk about 'as a man' - again, you're writing about feelings or not talking about feelings, your dad. The expectations dictated by polite society, the painfulness of being British, closed off and compartmentalised.

But also the idea, the expectation, that stories perhaps having to have a beginning, a middle, an end. What happens if the middle goes out of it? Do we still crave a second ending even if the 'real' ending has happened already. An end come prematurely.

Consider the themes, both of your work - male relationships, saying what you normally hide away, your crippling inability to write female characters - and this piece specifically - hypocrisy, society, a web of referencing. These are key to you solidifying what you want to say with the piece. What do you want to say with the piece?

Sleep on it, for a few months and let the whole thing bed in a little. Then take it out of the drawer, dust it off and redraft, but not too much - people liked it! Finally, well done - you know you put in a lot of work, and yourself, into the script and its performing. That needs commending - even if by yourself.



PS: I've put plenty of photos on this post from the show as they are all really great and these few are my favourite ones - Thanks Theo for the shots.

Photo Credits: Theo Moye