That whooshing sound I’m suggesting you pretend to hear is the metaphorical sound of this year rushing past: we’re now a week into our final term of the course. Classes finished last term and we’re spending every day rehearsing. For these first two weeks we’re putting together a show of the best pieces we’ve developed over the past year which is proving to be surprising fun.
I say “surprising” because a part of me, the part that thinks too much, hasn’t been looking forward to this final term. I knew that it would be eight weeks of Creation, the part of the course that has lead to my greatest frustrations. But my fears have eased slightly over recent months, as Heart of Darkness aside, I’ve been lucky enough to work in groups that have been fun and creative. And now that we’ve narrowed things down even more, to pieces that we want to work on and that are thought good enough by everyone else, it’s a pretty good time at the moment.
The process of choosing what to put in the final shows has been tricky. Not terrible — we’ve certainly had more awkward meetings in the past — but it’s taken several hours of talking as a group to winnow down the list. I don’t think we’re particularly good at being honest while in a large group about things. We’ve had a lengthy but fairly effective process of anonymous voting to pick a short-list, but narrowing this down further is slow going, and it feels like we’re continually putting off some difficult decisions rather than confront them (ie, anyone being bolshy enough to say in front of the whole group, “I don’t think your piece works well enough to be in the show.”). Maybe I’m wrong and we’ll slip by without this confrontation. And without having to present a three hour show.
Being at college is a lot of fun at the moment. Everyone’s busy working on pieces they like and rehearsals are scheduled nicely so there’s no conflict over space. It’s a bit stressful at times, with people coming straight out of rehearsing one piece into something completely different and we all have too many things whirling round in our heads, including the practicalities of organising a show (the teachers have little to do with any part of the process, other than offering feedback on the pieces).
On top of this, everyone’s thinking about the next part of the term. After this show we must each work on our final projects. We can develop a solo piece, direct other people in something, or be in something with other people. So there will be more than thirty pieces (plus more in the Afternoon Group) in development, with everyone performing in several as well as being responsible for their own. Then each of our pieces gets peformed at the very end of term.
I’m a little worried about these final projects — I have a bunch of ideas that aren’t bad but very little that jumps out at me as being a story I’m desperate to tell. I think I’m narrowing it down and the best candidate is becoming apparent, but it’s been a tricky few days as it’s left me feeling pretty uncreative. I have the opportunity to write / devise / direct / act in a piece of theatre about whatever I want and I have no idea what to do. Bang goes those teenage dreams of being an auteur director (one of the few teenage dreams that can plausibly survive past one’s twenties I think).
Anyway, I’m inching closer and trying not to think this must be The Best Piece Of Theatre Ever Created. And in the meantime I’m enjoying enjoying being at college.