There’s a month to go and it feels all right, actually.

So today is the 11th of April. It’s just under one month until the premiere of Volcano on the 10th of May and we’ve done so much reshaping, writing, shuffling over the past months that it would be ridiculous to suggest that there haven’t been times when this show has felt like a book that you’ve been struggling with: one where you’ve been staring at the words on the page for so long that not only are you not taking them in, they don’t even mean anything anymore. At other times breakthroughs have been sudden and thrilling, only to fall apart almost as fast. Conversely, there has been material that has built slowly and beautifully, creeping out, working well, growing each time we do it. And there have – thankfully – been moments where we’ve looked over our show (like Simba at the start of the Lion King – Aaahsavegnya!) and thought, ‘hey, that’s pretty good, y’know’.

Because it finally feels like this show is coming back together into something stronger and fuller than it was before. And that’s what we’ve been trying to do for a long time. And yes, it’s taken a long time.

Part of this is down to the strange conundrum of taking a show that was already in some senses in a ‘finished’ state – in that it was developed as my degree show, and presented as a final piece of student work – and pulling it apart again to make it something more. In hindsight that was never going to be easy. There were also the logistics of our new relationship with The Basement to negotiate, and of course, the huge drain on creativity brought about by attempting to write an Arts Council application for the first time.

And we’ve done some horrific things to the show in the process. We have. We’ve even done some horrific things to it in front of audiences. A couple of weeks ago we performed the weirdest, longest version of this show (ever) at the truly amazing //Buzzcut festival. And we’re sorry about that. We’d have loved to give you something better.

However, here’s a classic top-draw cliche for you: we learnt a hell of a lot from doing that. And from doing all the other horrific things.

Yesterday we did a run of the show for Kit, our lighting designer, and the folk at The Basement. It’s the first run we’ve done for The Basement in a few months, and we were pretty nervous but – it went well. I mean, we have to make sure not to get cocky, we certainly can’t afford to do that, but it really felt like it was getting there. Close. Close.

Mainly, the structure was good, and that has been the hardest thing with this show. As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s a very delicate balancing act. So now that it feels like we have something we can work with there, the rest seems wonderfully manageable!

Things  that are coming together:

1. We have a structure that works.

2. This weekend we will be working with Dr. Mike for the first time. Dr. Mike is a volcanologist and research fellow at the University of Southampton. He is going to be in the show giving a lecture! It’s bloody exciting.

3. Adrian is now the pilot. It feels like a bold thing to do, but really, really good. It’s probably the most drastic change we’ve made in terms of form and it could have really not worked at all but it does (we think) and we’re very happy with it.

4. Kit came up with some ace thoughts about lighting and it’s going to be banging.

5. There are more volcanoes in the show than before: Krakatoa, Vesuvius, Eyjafjallajökull, Mt. Pelee, Yellowstone.

6. We have a new website that is slick and cool and makes us look a bit like a design agency (but in a good way, hopefully)

7. We have a slick and cool and epic and really nice trailer that Ian Bucknole made for us when we were at The Performance centre in Falmouth. You should watch it and then share it with all your friends on facebook and twitter and stuff.

 

Those are the reasons it feels all right, actually. Thanks for reading. x

Reshuffling

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Making theatre is hard. Not hard like being a doctor is hard, or like climbing a mountain is hard, or teaching children is hard, but still, it’s pretty hard. Sometimes it feels a bit like trying to get blood out of a stone.*

At the moment our show is in a state of reshuffle. It works like this – each section of the show, of which there are many, is written onto a strip of paper and blutack is affixed to the back. The strips of paper then go onto a board or the wall in an order. And then we run this order and try to work out what’s wrong. And then we fix it.

This bit is ok, but the problem is always with balance. This show, particularly, feels like a very delicate balancing act. So when you move the bit of material that didn’t work where you’d originally placed it, suddenly everything else is wrong. You’ve now got a section where Jojo is talking for six minutes whilst Rachael just sits on the floor, or the pilot sections are too close together and we lose the sensation of weaving the story through.

And so then you have a lot of other bits of paper to move, rearrange, and you can sometimes forget what one you were moving in the first place. Sometimes it even ends up back in the same place with us thinking we’ve moved it and made the show better.

Then we run it again. Talk about it. Find new problems that weren’t there before. Reshuffle…

It feels like we’re getting there, but that feeling of the show constantly being *just* out of reach – we have all the ingredients, all the performances, texts to make an hour long show that we really rate – is infinitely frustrating. We know we have to make it work, there won’t be a golden solution (probably) where everything suddenly fits perfectly, but at the moment the little bits of paper are getting curly at the edges and the blutack is starting to lose its stick and something is always in the wrong place, and it can feel a bit like we’re going round in circles……………….

 

*A mountain doctor?