here’s a guest blog from Sarah Robertson, writer of Ordinary Darkness, the new play I’m currently directing, that opens next week at the Hen and Chickens. Sarah’s work on the play has, I think, been an object lesson in how to be a playwright – generous, open, engaged, and so enthused by the everything everyone else is bringing to the piece.
I’ve had quite a few amazing dreams in my time. The Fassbender sex in the lift was pretty good. Or when I could fly. But I’ve not had so many dreams that have come true. Having my play “Ordinary Darkness”, about to have a three week run in London, being brought to life by an amazing, dedicated and downright sexy group of people is absolutely a dream come true. But from the page to the stage (yeah I’m a poet too. No, really) is never smooth sailing. There are lots of obstacles that come up and problems to be solved, that is not something I’d experienced in the past with shorter plays and public readings. There’s a lot that needs to come together beyond just actually writing something that tells a story. And that in itself can be hard enough. As a writer who works in a day job that has nothing to do with the theatre (though it’s rife for material) it’s important that I actually dedicate time and energy to writing. I can struggle with this. As much as I love writing, when you’re not feeling inspired it is difficult to sit down and work after 8 hours of sitting down and working. But you get there.
I started writing this play nearly two years ago. I remember working in Peckham library soon after New Year and texting my friend Stella and saying “I’d love you to direct my play.” Never let the fact you haven’t finished a first draft stop you asking the big question!
“Ordinary Darkness” has gone through a number of drafts, a title change (“Manboobs” deemed too jokey) and character name changes but the main story I wanted to tell has stayed the same. A story about the day to day evils that people inflict on each other. People who wield ideals, even good ideals, as weapons to dominate and humiliate and how easy it is to give up on your humanity. The play isn’t meant to be all doom and gloom though. There are definitely moments of dark humour, moments where you’re not sure it’s okay to laugh and it’s only been in the rehearsal room that I’ve seen that and seen how actors really breathe air into the characters that otherwise just live in my mind and on the page. And also the play has taken a life and a direction that I never would have imagined. Which might sound awful and scary and a bit like losing control but what I’ve found is when you work with people you trust, whose work you respect and who respect your work, and you truly work as a company, then the losing control is brilliant because it makes a piece of theatre that goes far beyond your own vision (if I can use the word vision without sounding like a mini James Cameron) and that’s why I do it. Because dreams come true when other people dare to dream it with you. And of course, when people actually put hours of their time into it. That’s what makes dreams come true too.
Sarah blogs and occasionally posts her poetry here : The Dirkest Hour