Phil Setren’s play Pretext from 24 7 Festival 2013 opens at the You Are Here Festival on sunday in Canberra. Here are some reflections from a 24 7 writer at the Australian Festival.
The first meeting with the director of one of my plays is always a harrowing experience. I have learned to be very positive and take the ideas away that I hear and think about them.
Considering that we spend so many hours writing our plays, the first meeting will always be two theatre artists at different stages on a piece of work. Me, the writer is at the end of the creative process and pleased to have been selected, and the Director is at the very beginning of their creative process.
I keep reminding myself… the playwright writes the script and the director writes the production.
And, I’ve only taken my writing seriously for the last 5 years, so I haven’t had that many productions yet.
So, I calm my nerves as I am introduced to Sammy Moynihan, the director of my play Pretext, and we are given a tour of the newly built theatre space together.
We head to a cafe, and he speaks enthusiastically about the rehearsals.
‘I want to add a prologue’, says Sammy. I sit quietly with a smile pasted on my face thinking, what’s wrong with my writing of the opening? But I listen and don’t say anything just yet.
“I have taken some lines from scene 3 and staged them at the beginning of your play to help make the ending more clear,’ he confidently shares. I am thinking all of this over, but must confess that my mind is racing behind the positive and patient face I am wearing.
My interior thoughts:
I have spent ages on the opening of my play, and that’s how I want to greet the audience with my characters. Willy nilly, don’t mess with my lines. If you were a writer, you’d be a writer, and you could re-write your own lines… not mine. Besides, its most polite to ask the writer before you move a speech around… isn’t it?
I keep this all to myself, and am pleased to report that I think its a good idea. It’s exhausting… all this ‘writer decorum’ in the middle of the trendy Essence Cafe as tattooed waiters with dread locks serve us flat whites, and I’ve certainly sweated for England. Isn’t it nice the way Australian waiters smile. Their smile is much like mine as I am giving birth in my chair, wondering if any other sections of my play have been moved around.
Panic over. They haven’t been. It has been an excellent meeting, and I will see the rehearsal on friday and will be able to feel this prologue idea fully. Who know’s. I may even add it to the published draft. ( well, I can dream!)
We walk back to the theatre space at an advanced stage of construction. A large silver box truss creates a proscenium arch in front of an elevated platform stage. Very exciting.
A group of three ‘dot artists’ are creating an artwork representing Australian territories in the foyer entrance. They draw from a projection on the wall with intensity.
The Festival opens tomorrow with 5 shows…dance, poetry, sculpture, a sound installation and even an opening group bicycle ride. The bikes are self decorated with lights and ride through the city in celebration of the Festival’s launch! The 10 member producers team are all so fit and healthy, I am certain that even after working 14 hour days, they will all be on their decorated bikes.
Yes, I’m going… secretly praying that we get a pub break for a pint and a fag. Ok… I know….I’ll keep those thoughts inside as well.
Australia is such a healthy place. The super market sells a brand called ‘life changing granola bars.’ While doing my morning writing outdoors in a city centre square, armed with my daily battalion of strong coffee and cigarettes, there seem to be an army of fit, exercising people circling around me.
Yes, Australians truly view the body as a temple.
In the UK, I think we view the body more as a lobby.