Celebrity 10: Transformation

London, The Arts

We’re rehearsing the play upstairs in a pub that seems to be slowly filling up with furniture. This week it’s chairs, not any old chairs but ones that look like they’ve been shifted off the set of a King Arthur movie. They weigh a ton and all have to be moved, along with King Arthur’s many Round (and Oblong) Tables.

It’s time for the first full rehearsal minus scripts, and I found out that the actors were quite nervous of having the writer there – which is funny, because I’m in awe of them. I’m not nit-picky about words – we work out whatever sounds natural between us – but this is where the script really start to mean something.

Although I’m a theatre newbie I’ve worked with plenty of actors over the years, and I know that a change occurs when actors start performing your words. Today, the transformation is remarkable. Suddenly there are all kinds of things I only hinted at in the script, the chief one being sexual tension. The play is quite physical, so the cast is thrown into intimate proximity with one another.

The actors suggest a change that improves the overall play, even though it reduces their roles; so much for all actors being selfish. What began as a bit of a set-up/punchline/set-up/punchline piece now has a fully developed character arc and some delightful moments, but I would never have been able to bring these to the script by myself.

Which makes me wonder about books – perhaps I should consult others as I write book dialogue, because from this outing at least, it’s obvious how immeasurably improved the dialogue is by having someone else read it aloud and making comments. It’ll be interesting to see if the experience changes me as a writer of fiction.

One comment on “Celebrity 10: Transformation”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    The reason it sounds different in someone else’s mouth is that the reader can’t hear what went on in the writer’s mind and they interpret it in whatever way their own mind sees it. We always told kids to have someone else read their stuff, but you have an editor to do that, right? The actors are your editor. (Boy, does that sound patronizing! but it’s true, I think)

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