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Light is like – final r&d

Next week is the third, and final, r&d week on Light is like….

Copy of reaching-up

Last year  we spent a week making initial explorations of the material and language we were working in – visual, aural, verbal, humour etc.

In May we spent a week at Pontardawe Arts Centre, delving further into particular parts of the (potential) narrative, looking at the relationships and crucially working with young people from Mess up the Mess, to test some of the material. At the end of that week we spent the final day reviewing footage, talking through sections and trying to make sense of where we are going and what we’re making.

Q – Trying to make sense of it – shouldn’t you know what you’re doing already?

A – No – if we knew what we were making, what it would look, and feel like to watch – we wouldn’t need to have an r&d period.IMG_2207

In a previous blog I tried to explain why r&d is important, but for me the outcomes of the day we spent talking at the end of week two demonstrate this best.

When we spent time envisaging (individually) what the piece might be like we came up with very different ideas of how it might work – but at the core there was a shared sense of what we were making and how it might work for an audience. Most importantly there were complete surprises – eureka moments – where our “…floundering in the dark” payed off and we suddenly realised what we’d been searching for and looking at.

There’s now a narrative structure and a framework to go into this last week with – so that when people see a sharing on Friday – whilst they wont be seeing the show – we can give them a much clearer sense of what they will see/ sense / feel next year when they come back to see the show.

The other thing that r&d allows us to do is have a conversation with venues, and audiences we wouldn’t normally be able to. So an artistic director/ programmer can come to a sharing and get a sense of what we’re about and the work we’re making instead of being asked to programme the work unseen from a 1 side pitch. We can also start a conversation with a potential audience about the work – so the input from Mess up the Mess has fundamentally altered the work and will hopefully continue into the next stage.

So we head into next week with the lights on, knowing what we’re looking for and at – though this could all change of course…

We Made This: Matt Ball, Paul Burgess, Catherine Dyson, Cis O’Boyle, Nia Skyrme & Morgan Thomas

We Made This gratefully acknowledge the support of Pontardawe Arts Centre, Creu Cymru, Mess up the Mess, WalesLab and the Arts Council of Wales.


Why do you need R&D?

light is like sharing

Next week, six months after an initial R&D supported by WalesLab, we return to the rehearsal room to begin a second phase of R&D on Light is like, this time at Pontardawe Arts Centre.

Its amazing how quickly it time has gone – the end of May seemed an age away when we first discussed it, but now its already upon us. The books have been read and the material digested. Ideas, which once shone brilliantly, now seem clichéd and dumb. This is the point where an R&D period finds its purpose; let me explain.

I am not a playwright; that’s not to say I don’t write words that are spoken on stage but I co-author those words, and the ideas behind them, with a group of people in a rehearsal room. It goes back to the idea that two heads are better than one, or the power of the crowd/ collective. By working in a way that gives (hopefully) equal prominence to others ideas, I’m acknowledging that I don’t have all the answers. I have lots of questions, and lots of gaps in my thinking. I will use the phrases “I’m not sure” and “I don’t know” a lot during next week, but these will be counterbalanced by the “I see” and “that’s great”.

As a theatre maker, rather than a playwright, I work in a space with people’s bodies, minds, eyes and voices. For me theatre making is a plural process, which can sometimes be frustrating for everyone, and one which I sometimes describe as floundering in the dark to find the light switch; it’s about looking for clarity and the most elegant way to express the idea. In science and design we understand what r&d is about – and structured processes have developed which are about the end goal. In the arts r&d should have the same focus; testing ideas and refining them for the audience. So we wont be doing a reading of a script, or performing a version of the play – we’ll be working with test audiences to try out the ideas, we refine them based on feedback and try again; research and development.

For more info on the project go to click here

We Made This: Matt Ball, Paul Burgess, Catherine Dyson, Cis O’Boyle, Nia Skyrme & Morgan Thomas

We Made This gratefully acknowledge the support of Pontardawe Arts Centre, Creu Cymru and the Arts Council of Wales.