Monday 8th August
So, I have opened THIS EVIL THING at New Town Theatre, Edinburgh, with the help of my brilliant team, director Ros Hutt and sound designer Mark Noble. Various teething problems with lighting boards and so on, but the incredibly mature and experienced Mark (aged 24) has dealt with them all.
First two performances last week went very well, including the two who travelled down from Dunblane and were very moved by the whole experience.
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.
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 June 26th
Had a quick tot up today of all the characters I will portray in This Evil Thing (some with only one line to speak) and it came to 52. Phew. 52 characters in 75 minutes!
Monday June 27th
I am working with brilliant young sound designer Mark Noble on the soundscape for This Evil Thing. Some of the 52 plus characters I will be playing will be pre-recorded – for example, prisoners who were subject to the infamous ‘No Talking’ rule: we want to record some of their ‘thoughts’, what they would have said could they have spoken.
Well my insect bites have finally gone down!
One week ago I had a brilliant photographic session with the wonderful Simon Richardson at his house outside Bedford. We were trying to get some good images for the play I’ve written and will be performing in Edinburgh this August – THIS EVIL THING – the compelling and inspiring story of the young British men who in 1916 said no to war.
One conscientious objector in 1917, James Brightmore, had been imprisoned by the Army in a ten feet deep pit, as no cell was available at the time. Simon didn’t have a pit in his garden (we could have dug one, I suppose) but he did know of a nearby well that had been cleaned up and might prove to be a good approximation.