Saturday, March 15, 2008

Attempts on her Life

Attempts performed a week ago, for a mere four shows, but I'm only now able to think and write about it, not least because ever since I've been laid up with a very dicky stomach - which I don't think was a case of post-show depression.... I mean, it wasn't as if I didn't have stuff to do!
I feel very proud of what a group of students were able to achieve, and very empowered by what I've experienced with them. One of the joys of working in a drama school is that the "permission to fail" which we all go on about in theatre, but which in reality doesn't really exist, is actually present. Because the institutional priorities are educational rather than artistic or commercial, you don't have to make something that's a sure-fire hit. You can take risks. And so, for me, directing in drama schools allows for a space of experiment, where I can try things I wouldn't dare try professionally.
And what I learn, of course, is that I should do them professionally. In this case, the key has been the complete open-ness of the process - of allowing everybody in a very diverse group a real voice, and encouraging those voices to be different from one another. It's also been really interesting in terms of the way text can be part of what is actually a devising process. We touched this a bit with Dis-Orientations, but I feel I can find ways of going much further with it when we re-visit that play and make its sequel. Attempts on Her Life is an authored play, of course, but one completely open to many, many interpretations. Maybe I could ask a writer or two to "seed" a devising process with some massively open scenes like this.... maybe this would be a way towards giving our devised work some of the textual wealth and dramaturgical discipline of our scripted pieces. I often feel that the devised work is the core of the company in terms of its cultural and political-artistic agenda, but that the scripted work is often more critically successful, and that this is why.
On the other hand, maybe only Martin Crimp knows how to write these sort of scenes.....

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