Hard at work, running chunks of the play now, and indeed the whole play, and although I know all the lines (AND, I think, am saying them in the right order), there is still the little matter of the choreography of the crates to master – the nine wooden crates that are now playing such an integral part in the production.
When the action of the play shifts to France, I have to move them from where they have been assembled to suggest a prison cell in Richmond Castle, to create a French pier or jetty, while some evocative accordion music plays. It’s almost like doing a dance…but myself and director Ros Hutt soon realise there isn’t quite enough music in which to achieve this ‘scene-change’ … so Ros suggests ten seconds more of accordion. But the play is already a minute or two over its allotted length of 75 minutes for Edinburgh, so I say, ‘Let me try it with just five seconds more,’ – and that does seem to solve the problem. Apart from Bible and the spud.
Wonderful recording session this week with two musicians, and four singers from the Helen Chadwick Song Theatre to record music for This Evil Thing.
There is a congregation singing a hymn in chapel at one point in the play, there is a burst of ‘In An English Country Garden’ at another, and ‘I do like to be beside the sea’ when the conscientious objectors are surprised, once they’ve been shipped to France, by being given 24 hours liberty in Boulogne (to ‘think things over’ – whether they really want to carry their protest all the way to the threat of being court-martialled).
How to suggest simply but evocatively so many different locations in my play THIS EVIL THING? A ten feet deep pit in which a C.O. is imprisoned, a Methodist chapel, a work camp outside Aberdeen, a hospital tent, a seaside pier, the House of Commons, an English country garden, a prison cell in Richmond Castle… the list goes on…
Sunday July 3rd
Ros Hutt, the director of THIS EVIL THING, and myself were hoping to get up to Richmond Castle in Yorkshire to visit the very cells where Bert Brocklesby and other conscientious objectors were imprisoned in 1916.
There is still graffiti on the walls of one cell, drawn by Bert himself with a piece of charcoal he smuggled in – that graffiti being a rather fine drawing of his fiancee Annie Wainwright; as well as an image of a man bearing the weight of a cross. (The graffiti is being restored and preserved by English Heritage.) Timetables wouldn’t permit our trip however.