Script and improv

Back to the self tape frenzy and I really should stop insisting on learning all my lines and just read them off an autocue like some of my friends recommend. I won’t though. I tell myself the learning and specificity will make me better at my craft, that it is helping keep my learning muscles flexed. Learning lines is a crucial skill for work where the lines are set in stone. That’s about fifty percent of the work I do.

I once wrote a letter from the heart to a major theatre company. I wrote a few back then, young and optimistic, thinking that my delight in my vocational medium would be enough on its own to recommend me. It was before I caught on that many of the gatekeepers to the jobs are not practitioners and never have been. I was talking about how I felt I was moving from apprentice to journeyman, but I needed to raise the calibre of my collaborations in order to secure the edges of my craftsmanship. Who knows what became of that letter. I’ve never been considered by that company. But I still think in those terms. This making things up stuff is a craft. Learning a craft takes time and practice. I was apprentice, learning to journeyman. Now I’m journeyman and looking to master, but for that shift to come I’ll need much more time at the coalface. I know some apprentices that tell everyone they are masters, and I’ve watched people believe it. But I’ve always played the long game, in every aspect of my life.

Right now it is really helpful for me to be in a collaborative process with someone as positive as I am but utterly different in priority. Sammy is fab and very different from me. I’m learning again and I’m never happier than when I’m learning. Theatre is community. We all have different skills and needs, but if we push together we can make live art that has some kind of a truth at the heart of it, hopefully.

I was supposed to have written something today but I had an audition with a hard line learn. I chose to prioritise that. There’s time. Not much, and I forgot that everybody doesn’t work like me, so suddenly someone needs a script in a small immersive experience. I just learnt a tricky script and played it back with every word in place for a self -tape. That’s one thing. Immersive theatre is the opposite craft and needs a very different head, in my opinion. You cannot be responsive with a script. It immediately makes everything all about you. And this actor is meant to be in a healing room. Eek.

I went on a date once where the lady was working through a “date script” – (if you were a colour what colour would you be and why aaaargh) – and by the end of it I had actually eaten both of my arms. I can’t bear that shit in dates or in immersive theatre context, and they are both similar in intention. Find points of contact, push a narrative, seduce or charm. But … my audience preference be damned, she’s gonna get a script, but not today, and I’m sure she’ll be able to respond within the frame of it. Her imagination is excellent and she doesn’t need the crutch. But which of us can say we haven’t relied on crutches from time to time, he writes, with a glass of lovely young Ferreret from delightful José Ferrer vineyard in Binissalem just hitting the spot as he finishes writing.

Bedtime now though. Much to do, much to do. Script? Humbug.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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