Sherman Theatre, 27th October 2016
Yesterday at the Sherman Theatre, it was playtime.
Writers, directors and a company of actors came together to present new ten-minute plays to young people aged 10-12. Nervous laughter and anticipation quickly turned into belly laughs as accents, roars, animals and silliness become the shared language of each rehearsal room. The fourth chapter of TAITH (the Sherman and Theatr Iolo's new initiative to nurture and develop aspiring playwrights) had taken over the building. The artists had already begun to play.
After submitting, two days of intensive workshops and then weeks of redrafting - the three plays are chosen. The work is placed under a microscope, examined and when it remerges, it's reformed. Words are thrown about the rehearsal rooms like 'cute' and 'close to the bone' and discoveries are made at how much language is close to the process.
As such, much of the work is interrogated, probed and torn in the sheer purpose of writers discovering how work can develop in the rehearsal room. The writers are given the opportunity to follow the process from the initial first source to the final performance. Previous TAITH developments have been given more time on its feet, however the pressure of less hours in the rehearsal room in this fourth chapter has allowed directors to purely investigate the language with a fine comb.
All three plays attempted to lift the restrictions on what theatre for young people can be. What subjects lay underneath these plays that can be translated into ways they can understand? Having been present at the preceding workshops with Company 3's Ned Glasier, I know that central to the process for the writers was how to present pieces to children without the use of patronising.
But discussions of who wants to be in Hufflepuff or distinctions between butterflies and dragons or the existence of Father Christmas quickly morph into questions of social importance that then transcend the drama into other forms. The discussions of the rehearsal room's prioritise the life that lies beneath.
The Sherman was graced with the presence of 20 young people who spent much of the afternoon learning about the art of storytelling. They are actively asked - 'what makes a good story?' In response to this, they observed the plays and then, under the guidance and supervision of Tamar Williams, encouraged to articulate their honest responses to the plays. The question remains - are we to presume that every child aged 10-12 will like the plays? Even in that age group, it's subjective. Despite only being a reading, worlds were clearly evoked and in the confides of the static theatrical space, characters are given reign to fly.
The writers, Jeremy Linnell, Derek Palmer and Keiron Self have a shared viewpoint. It's agreed that the finished pieces are the result of many weeks research with enough space as possible to allow the piece to settle. Ultimately, they looked at themselves at that age. To future TAITH writers, they encourage individuality in their voice. They encourage them to allow their piece time and space to develop. They encourage to submit to a nurturing and supportive house where they will be actively encouraged to constantly question their work. As a previous TAITH writer, I can hold my hand up and agree that the process is a landmark stepping stone for anyone wishing to become a writer. It's a flagstone for any aspiring writers development in Wales.
One rehearsal room echo's the idea that theatre reminds us not to loose our imaginations and that writers should not loose the element of being able to play.
TAITH indulges in the art of play.
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