Production Diary (4)

Couldn't believe just how much the play had "gelled" yesterday. There are two more days of rehearsals, friday and saturday, as well as a run through before the performance on monday, but I will be leaving them to it now. I think at this late stage the writer can be a hindrance rather than a help. I have answered every question I can possibly answer about Rab and his relationship with Jean. I've watched a couple of runs from beginning to end, and although I am now in that state of panic that all writers get into at this stage, it is all to do with my own insecurities about the play and nothing to do with this production. You get so close to something that you just can't see the wood for the trees. Then you start to see things you would have done differently. Or you start to notice all the things that the play doesn't address, rather than what it does address. Then you remember that this is a 50 minute show, so what else can you do? On the other hand, I love writing for this length and this space. It concentrates the mind wonderfully. And there is no reason at all why a shorter play shouldn't be as complex and emotive as a longer piece. More so in fact. The discipline involved in fitting it all into a restricted time slot, and a simple space means that you can't be over indulgent. Something has to happen. It has to happen soon. And it has to go somewhere pretty quickly.
The piece is potentially controversial for a number of reasons. There are scenes in there that - when I actually saw them on stage - brought me up short. There are interpretations of the poet and his life that might be deemed provocative. I haven't written any of this just to provoke a reaction however. It was simply that I wanted to explore some aspects of the relationship between Rab and Jean that are all too often glossed over. It helps enormously that the cast are so young. Their attitude to the poet is refreshingly down to earth. And because of that I hope that both Burns and Jean begins to emerge as a living, breathing people.

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