This research and development project, funded by the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts programme, has been conceived with audience at it’s centre and it’s nearly time to test the work in front of a variety of people in two scratch performances.
The creative teams’ ideas for realisation are beginning to form, partner venues are developing outreach plans and the Dark Horse ensemble is working with me in the rehearsal room to explore exercises and acting scenarios around the world of the play.
The work is being nurtured, shaped and grown by an exceptional team of people working with energy to get it out into the sun, into the place where literature meets activity and dilemmas and crises are explored, where drama can live and breathe in the space between actors and audience, in theatres.
The first draft of I Love You Baby is written, auditions have been held and a strong cast of actors for the scratch performances are in place.
Here they are:
The first scratch performance is at 2.30PM on Wednesday the 14th October in the round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
The second scratch performance is at 2.30PM on Monday the 9th November in the studio at The Lowry, Salford.
So what’s a scratch performance?
A scratch performance means a performance with no- or very little- rehearsal and no production values (costume/lights etc.). The actors will be working in their own clothes and will be using rehearsal props and furniture, there will be scripts in hand and I will be saying the stage directions and giving lines when needed. The audience will know where we are and what the audience will look at eventually- in any future full production.
The audience for these test performances will be made up of all kinds of people and this is very important. I Love You Baby has been written and is being developed to appeal to groups of people who are often separated in theatres (as well as in life).
Mature people of both genders, women in their 40’s/50’s, young people who love gaming and fantasy drama, adults with learning disabilities, lovers of new work and classic drama, should all have their needs catered for in this play and the work should appeal to any/all adults who enjoy a good story well told.
Some scratch audience members will have a professional interest in the work and other people will be there just because they love theatre and want to see what all the fuss is about. People will be of all ages but there will be no one under the age of 11. There’s no swearing in the play but some of the content and themes are adult and not appropriate for children.
The actors will deliver the whole of the first act of the play, this will take about 50 minutes.
We will have rehearsed for a (very!) short time before the scratch performances so there’s likely to an electric atmosphere in the two theatres, generated by mild fear. As a director I work physically and usually silently, apart from the dialogue, and this allows us to develop a lot of on stage activity in a short space of time. We will be working with music too and the aim is for the audiences to get a taste of the proposed physical style of the production.
Audience members may be asked to join in with a song and join in with a dance. No one has to do this- but it will be great if people do.
This hopefully eclectic and adventurous group of people will watch and listen and experience the first act of the play and after the performances there will be a question and answer session with me and the whole team, including the designer, composer and digital projection designer, and audiences will be asked for feedback.
Finally everyone will be asked a question- What do you think love is?– It is of course allowable to consider this question in advance of the performance.
Both scratch performances will finish by 5PM and should be a very enjoyable, dynamic and entertaining experience for everyone involved.
I LOVE YOU BABY workshops
Themes of the play around moving on, coping with life’s changes, navigating relationships, coping with loneliness, the value of family and making sense of love are currently being explored through improvisation and exercises with the Dark Horse ensemble.
The ensemble is made up of 9 professional actors with learning disabilities with a wealth of experience in developing characters in premiere plays from idea through to production and national touring, in television, and in a variety of learning and training environments.
Toby Meredith, who plays Clarence in I Love You Baby, and his ensemble colleagues will work with me in a workshop prior to the scratch performance pitched towards adults with learning disabilities at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on Monday 12th October.
It’s also an opportunity to learn the song and the dance before the scratch performance.
A second workshop on Monday 12th October at the Stephen Joseph Theatre is planned for writers, directors, practitioners and theatre enthusiasts keen to gain an insight into the silent approach, working with the Dark Ensemble and some of the techniques I used to get I Love You Baby up into a draft.
Song learning and dance participation is in the mix too.
If you’d like to be a part of the audience at either scratch performance, or come to a workshop- or do both, please make contact by filling in the form below.
It’s going to be a great ride.