…or more like 400 to 2. Although what did happen to that comically addictive quiz show? From chariots and horses to cardboard cut outs with a sea breeze this week as I take to Cardiff to work on some movement for a new two-hander that opens at the Sherman Theatre next week. Having only worked on ensemble style productions, all with casts of 16 plus, to come into a space with just two actors and only three other people in the room was a hugely new experience.
It was intense. The actors have nowhere to hide and with a two-hour script resting on their heads, the pressure is immense. With all new writing, the process takes on a different structure to that of a tried and tested script as the actors and creative team have to find out how the story works. And at times, it doesn’t, which in turn needs more playing to try and realise the story on stage.
It was fascinating to see people working in this environment. In a cast of 400, people can perhaps hide amongst the chaos of galloping horses and visual trickery, but when you are left on stage with just one other actor you become exceptionally vulnerable with no escape route. You have to be so open to playing with the text and style of the piece and honest with yourself, your fellow actor and the director about how you’re doing throughout the process. The slightest hint of disbelief or not being ‘in it’ on the actor’s part is magnified ten fold to the audience with devastating effect.
Despite the intense nature of such a project, it necessitates a brilliantly close knit working relationship, which has been great fun to be involved with. We are also working in such an exciting studio space where I think the play will work beautifully.
Would be interesting to hear of anyone’s experiences with 2 handers or smaller casts? Are they always harder to stage? More dramas? Personality clashes causing problems?
In other news, I’m looking forward to getting back to the UK next year and creating some exciting new work- something different and physical and definitely creative. Watch this space.
Shocked to reach October so soon! 2009 is rapidly getting away from me. I hope all the graduates from this summer are getting on OK and finding their feet. Make the most of whatever you’re doing before next years hopefuls are let out, biting at your heels for that audition!
Lastly, I think its only right to pay tribute to Jackie Bristow, who is leaving Arts Ed at the end of the academic year. First year just won’t be the same. She will be missed by all. Enjoy your return to Wales, Jackie.