I've started compiling a list of what I need to pack for this Friday's little adventure...
1 x Plastic Carrier Bag (you never know when one is going to come in useful)
Sensible Walking Shoes
A Multitude of Snacks
Swiss Army Knife
Maybe I'm being a little bit over overcautious...
In case you hadn't heard, Sherman Cymru have invited (or should that be coerced) a group of 20 writers to take part in a project this coming weekend entitled 'Sherman Swingers'. Those of you who are fearing that the following paragraphs might be a little too racy for you, please do read on – it's just a clever title. And those of you thinking “This sounds like my kind of event...”, don't get too excited. It's not that sort of a night. Sorry to disappoint.
'Sherman Swingers' is the brainchild of recently appointed Associate Director at Sherman Cymru, Roisin McBrinn, and the project will see 20 writers, 10 directors and around 40 actors collaborating over one weekend to create an evening of short, sharp and responsive theatre that is set to take over the entire Sherman building.
From what I gather, the masses will gather at Sherman Cymru on Friday night to launch the project. There'll be a bowl of keys (hence the 'Swingers' label), 1 for each writer which will open a room somewhere in the building. (I think) We'll also be paired up with a director and some actors and at the end of the night, they'll all return to their cosy beds at home, maybe a little sozzled. However, 19 other writers and I will have a night of hard graft ahead of us. We will be ensconced somewhere in the bowels of the Sherman building, filled to the very brim with as much caffeine as we can bear, and by 9am the next morning we will need to each deliver a (very) responsive short play to be performed in the room that fits our key. This is where my earlier list comes into play.
When Roisin first mentioned the project to me at the start of the year, I jumped at the chance to be involved. The disproportion between the number of jobbing playwrights in Wales and the number of production opportunities available to them has always made for grim reading, so any project that gets 20 writers' plays (albeit short ones) realised gets a massive double thumbs up from me. However, once the idea started to sink in of spending a whole night in a massive, dark, possibly-haunted building with 19 other caffeined-crazed, unpredictable, creative sorts...I did have few pangs of anxiety. The Shining is one of my favourite films and I have a very active imagination. Maybe I'll scratch the hatchet of my provisions list...I wouldn't want it getting into the wrong hands.
In all seriousness, there are a few items that I never write without, which I'll need to cram into my overnight bag – my lucky pen (I'm a write-then-type sorta guy, I have to admit), a hardy jumper (I find being cold is always a major distraction to me getting any work done), my workbook (a journal of snippets, clipping, photos, overheard phrases, postcards – always a source of provocation should the dreaded 'block' take hold), something fizzy and caffeinated, some veggie Haribo and...well, I'll leave you to guess the other contents. I always like to leave a bit of an enigma.
I'm really excited to have been included in the 20 writers selected to take part in 'Sherman Swingers' (“some of the hottest talent in Welsh theatre” - lifted from their blurb, their words not mine). Many of the writers I consider very good friends, and the others I have admired from afar (I'm sure we'll get to know each other a helluva lot better come Friday). I've had the pleasure of working on plays by many of them during my time with Dirty Protest over the past year, and a select bunch I would probably hold responsible for making me want to write in the first place...so if my piece is rubbish, I guess, technically, it's their fault.
Should we make it through the night, our pieces will then be rehearsed throughout Saturday and Sunday and will culminate in a walking-tour of one-night only performances set to take over the entire Sherman Cymru building – a mini festival of responsive playlets, a micro Latitude dedicated solely to theatre and sans mud (my kind of festival, I've never been a big fan of camping). I, like a lot of writers involved I'm sure, always find it easier to work towards a definite deadline but this really does take the biscuit. I'll be doing my damnedest to get in as much beauty sleep this week as I possibly can and I hopefully won't be having too many anxiety dreams (a reoccuring one features me dressed in dungarees riding a child's tricycle around the corridors of the Sherman, whilst being pursued by a bloodthirsty, axe-wielding Alan Harris).
Suffice to say, I'm mildly terrified, thoroughly excited, absolutely petrified and hugely looking forward to being part of 'Sherman Swingers' this weekend.
Details can be found here: http://www.shermancymru.co.uk/performance/theatre/shermanswingers/
Hope to see some of you there. Please be nice – we won't have slept much.
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