Production Diary (2)

The first read-through is invariably nerve racking for the playwright. Mainly because it's where you spot all the shortcomings in your script - the things that you thought you had fixed, the infelicities, the words that you hadn't realised were so bloody hard to pronounce, and the ideas that you thought were as clear as day, but now you are not so sure.
I love my cast, I love my director, I love my designer, and - glory be - they've found me a professional fiddler. I'm happy with all of them. Right now though, I'm not sure about the play. But then, I think that's pretty much condition normal, for any writer. You find that you expose so much of yourself in writing. You work away at something, and see it and hear it in your head in a very definite way, but at the point were it begins to go public, you always get cold feet.
The thing to remember at this stage, though, is that there is a long long way to go.For the actors, and director, it must be the equivalent of somebody looking at a writer's very first draft, and judging it. Can't be done. All you can say is - yes, it feels right, it's heading the right way, and then let them get on with it for a bit. There is, too, something of the feeling of sending your child to school on the first day. That nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach!
I hadn't realised how much I knew about Robert Burns: anecdotes, stories, opinions, relationships. And places. And the language of the time. My task was to communicate that time and place to the cast as clearly and vividly as I could. You can read books till they are coming out of your ears, but they are no substitute for a human enthusiast, and that was my role. The informed enthusiast.
More later.

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