My script is finished! (Or at least as finished as it’s going to be before I get started with the rehearsals). I completed it this week and did a little dance with my pet bunny in my room. She, entirely unimpressed by her involuntary participation in my victory jig, ran and hid in a cardboard box and stamped at me for the rest of the evening
About two days later, I felt like stamping myself. I was sat cross legged on the floor of the spare room, a cup of tea beside my knee, my script on my lap, staring into the mirror and trying to learn the words I had written. The recitation was punctuated by a (possibly) unnecessary amount of swearing. Eventually I stopped, put my head in my hand, batted the bunny away from the script, which she was trying to chew, and took a deep breath.
The problem with learning the script is not that it’s long, or that my memory is bad, or that I even mind sitting in front of a mirror for hours at a time trying to learn 39 pages of poetry. It was that I suddenly felt like I didn’t know the story at all. The words were a jumble, the characters were suddenly strangers. It wasn’t the 39 pages that were hard to memorise. It was the outline of my characters, all the words they might ever have spoken in their lives, their many silences, their fear and grief and laughter. It was trying to memorise their memories that I find hard. These words that I had written were suddenly heavy.
I said, a couple of blog posts ago, that creating a solo show was not a solo activity. This is still true. But there are solitary, and very lonely moments. This is one of them, trying to impress upon my brain the indefinable shape of a story that, in my opinion, needs to be told. Yes, that is very egotistical, because it is my story and it is less that I need to tell it, and more that I want to. But equally, it isn’t a frivolous story, (though those are no less purposeful or valid) and my ‘want’ to tell it expands beyond myself.
That’s why learning this script is so hard. The words go in. The words even stick. I can remember them in the shower But I worry that the better I know the sound of them, the less I understand what they mean. I’m frightened of losing the story inside the words. This is the challenge now. So I have made my mind up about something. Some evenings, I won’t try to learn it, I’ll just read it. I’ll read it, pretending that I didn’t write it. I’ll read it and absorb myself again in the story.
I’ll record it and I’ll listen back to it. I’ll listen to it alongside the music my brother is writing for it. That way, the story will hold fast.
Frustration is good, I suppose, it means I care. It gives me fuel. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain perspective. Occasionally, I need to step back, look at the story I’ve made, say out loud, yes. I wrote this! And treat myself to a biscuit.