Up earlier this morning, George and Ants have organised a game of tennis doubles with their artist friend Hillary. So they picked me up and we drove out to a field in the middle of nowhere and there, sure enough was a tennis court. George “Damn it George!” Stiles, and I, Darren “Tiny Racket” Clark, made up one team and, though we played with gusto and a huge helping of incompetence, we were gamely beaten by Ants’ “The Spin King” Drewe and Hillary “Serve Queen” ‘s serve. I also learned that George had a gift of making his own name sound like a swear word. They told me how during the summer they would often come down and start a writing day with an early game of tennis. Lots of studies have shown that physical activity can lead to enhanced creativity, so apart from the fun, I can see why they do it. Both of them have a huge amount of energy.
Back to the village market to pick up some fresh mussels for dinner then up to the villa to get back to work. We set up at the kitchen table and I prepared to play them the new version of “The Wicker Maid” that they had helped me with the previous day. It was pretty clear that the structural changes were a big improvement. Then they delved deeper into the detail. There were some lyrics telling a story that was problematic and potentially going down the wrong track (away from the story), there were a couple of lines that didn’t scan as well as they could, there were little variations that could be made in the music that could really add to the excitement. Again, all excellent, knowledgeable notes that made complete sense. So I went away and got back to work on it for another couple of hours before lunch. Again, because of the clarity of the notes the writing came relatively quickly and I will play them the revised version again tomorrow for further feedback when Charlie is here.
After lunch I stayed at the villa continuing to work whilst George and Ants drove to the airport to pick up our director Charlie Westenra. Charlie arrived and was shown around and I had to pick her jaw up from the floor several times as we went round the place. It turns out that she has found love out here. The object of her affections, seems to reciprocate her feelings. I’m so happy for them both. But I fear their romance is doomed to end in sadness, the London based director and the France based cocker poodle puppy. Long distance and inter species love would always be difficult.
We went out by the pool to start working through the revised synopsis in detail, I was very happy to know that she also thought it was an immense improvement on the previous one. But as we went through she asked excellent questions, not letting a single moment pass without explanation and examination. In doing so I had to explain our reasons for making certain decisions and as a result my understanding of our show including the visual and atmospheric staging aspects of it became much stronger. It’s becoming clear that this sort of forensic analysis is so necessary to my practice as a theatre maker. You really need to be able to defend yourself with strong reasons when writing because when the work is in front of an audience, the work needs to be able to defend itself.
We worked through half of act 1 then popped in the pool for a swim to clear our heads a bit and to brush the dust off the days travel for Charlie. We then continued working through act 1, then went to the piano and I played Charlie some of the new material I had written, which she was very excited about and also had some more great notes about. we finished up just as dinner (Moules Frites) was put on the table and of course we toasted the fact that our mentors Stiles & Drewe’s hit show “Half a Sixpence” would be transferring to the west end at the end of October. We are hugely excited for them, and hugely deserved as it’s such a great show.
After dinner, we went back to the piano and played through a few more ideas then had a nice desert before skyping Rhys and filling him in on the various ideas that had been developed since he had headed back to London.
I was then driven back to my Gite and fell, exhausted into bed. Another amazing day.