Friday, 28 June 2013

First Date - or The Amazing Goat Gun

My play "First Date (It Ends Badly)" was staged as part of an evening called "Voices" at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. There were seven ten-minute plays on the bill, all written by the playwriting group connected to the theatre and performed by the DramaLab actors. Mine was a short-sharp-shock horror adapted from a short story that was first published ten years ago (hard to believe, it doesn't seem that long...) The other plays were quite a mixture, from tales of disillusionment and abuse to medieval monks and broken paving slabs. So there was something for most people in the friendly audience that filled the studio... and the lights went down.

First Date involved four actors, and the one who had been very quiet during rehearsals spoke up loud and clear - what a star! My main psychopath took a moment to get into the role, but then transformed into the uneven, unstable character, disappointed by the results of his search for love... until maybe the right woman does turn up - but will she like him? Well, I don't think she hit him in the head quite as hard as she did in rehearsals (me: "don't worry, actual blood will just look all the more authentic") so perhaps he grew on her...

Confusion and unintended comedy arose when the director manning the sound effects boards hit the wrong button. Instead of a gunshot, we heard a goat bleat (used in the play about medieval monks). Odd, thought the audience and we continued. But when we came to the next gunshot, the goat came over loud and clear again... I guess the audience assumed it was some kind of symbolism or statement rather than a mistake. And then we came to the final gunshot - it actually was the right sound effect this time - but too early. However, the quick thinking actress went with it, and it blended in near-seamlessly. So... it wasn't perfect, and I think we had better overall performances in rehearsals, but I guess we can say it was all right on the night. Perhaps death by goat provided an added dimension of mystery.

It has been a really interesting and useful process: attending rehearsals and seeing how my script has evolved due to issues about physical space available, props, and the actors themselves. I now have a much better idea what I need to be aware of when writing, what to consider and what practically can be achieved. Immense thanks are due to John Batty and the DramaLab actors for a brilliant experience. Now it's over, I'll miss them all ...

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