Well, I just thought I’d write a bit about the process that has been happening for A Good Night Out in the Valleys.
The project has been on-going for a while and started with a tour of South Wales institutes and kind of concluded with a woman in Blaengarw asking “anyone here from Ogmore? If so, would you like to make a lantern?”
It has been an eclectic, fun and largely random experience.
So, from the start, this is what we did:
Myself, John McGrath (director) and Hannah Bevan (intern – I know that sounds a bit odd and American but I think that’s the official term) toured the Valleys for a week looking at the spaces we are going to put the show on in – Blackwood, Pontardawe, Aberdare, Blaengarw and Bedwas.
We hired a car which made us look like more sinister than we are (a big Ford thing with tinted windows that seated about nine. John had a bit of a sweat on as he’s not the most confident of drivers and he thought for a while we would be sharing the driving. Luckily Hannah was so competent and we got into a steady pattern of Hannah driving, me staring out the window and John sending texts/emails on the back seat).
We met lots of people, had lots of food in places with names such as the Tuck In café - where everything on the menu had a price except anything that contained salad - and tried to set up some links with the communities. It was then down to Hannah to organise a load of workshops.
We did a lot of workshops. Basically what happened is that we devised a strategy for the workshop depending on the group we were going to meet (usually a youth group or a mixed group of people from the area) and divided the work up between us (John would do the first bit, then I’d do a bit, then John etc). In reality what happened was that we would introduce ourselves and then I’d sit back and let John get on with it – it would have been unfair to stop his flow when he got motoring at a youth theatre session.
So I collected stories. Oh and by the way another place we visited was Ammanford to do a session with Mess Up the Mess, a company based there. I’d never been to Ammanford before and liked it. Especially when we noticed it has some brilliant shop combinations; there a laundry/bike shop; a shop that sells women’s lingerie and accessories such as watches; a fancy dress/dry cleaners and a taxi cum carpet shop.
After the workshops were finished and I’d gathered a load of material, I set about writing a series of scenes based on the things we had been told. In the end I wrote five scenes, two short stories and a few pages of one-liners/scraps of stories.
Then, with four actors, we rehearsed them for three days before going out on the road again to show them to the people who we had originally met (and anyone else we could get to come along). The actors were great and even “performed” the short stories and snippets.
I got a lot of feedback. I’d purposely played the scenes quite straight stylistically, put in one monologue and plenty of jokes.
There’s plenty I have missed out in this process (the problem of not blogging regularly, I should have started earlier and done short, sharp ones) but will continue to blog as the writing continues.
If you are writer or just have an interest in the show and have any questions/comments about this process then please do get in touch. Also if you have any stories of A Good Night Out it would be lovely to hear those too.
I’ve got a first draft deadline of just after Christmas but have given myself a few mini deadlines between now and then. The first was to start blogging, so that’s that one ticked off.