Day One, Tuesday 31st January.
I’m so excited.
After 10 minutes, 2 workshops, 1 chat with the Literary Team at Live Theatre (Where I spilled tea on myself. My advice – never accept a hot beverage in a meeting), a few further chats, numerous drafts, and a read through – we are here! The first day of rehearsals for ParkLife.
We began as a 10 minute play as part of the first ever 10 Minutes to.. at Live Theatre in 2014. It’s so exciting to have the original team back together, which includes director Melanie Rashbrooke, actors Chris and Amy Foley, and myself (Mhairi Ledgerwood, the writer).
I’m doubly excited as this is the first time I’ve had more than a few days of rehearsals on a project, so I’m not sure what to expect. Luckily, Melanie eases things in gently by asking me what music I was listening to as I wrote the play. As the play takes it’s title from a song, it’s clear that music should be quite an influence on the production. Ironically, I spend a lot of time writing in silence. However, I did occasionally listen to a few things. This included podcasts (I find The Royal Court podcasts where playwrights talk about their careers to date particularly inspiring), the La La Land soundtrack (I fear Spotify are going to ring me up just to remind me they do have other albums – I’ve played it that many times), or instrumental music (Ludovico Einaudi being a favourite).
We have a read through of the script. We had met for a read of the script the previous week. It’s been a year since our last workshop and since then, the play was developed through Live Theatre’s Writer’s group. This allowed Chris and Amy to become familiar with it and let me take away the script and make further changes over the weekend. Our reading today is attended by Gez Casey, Live Theatre’s Literary Manager, who is keen to hear how we’re getting on.
Despite reading it cold, Chris and Amy do brilliantly. Afterwards, I am asked questions. Lots of questions. Some I can answer. Some I can’t just yet. Some I will have to think about. And that’s ok. Its hard to explain sometimes that writing isn’t black and white. It’s not a case of handing in a play and getting it back with marks out of 10, so I can go away and make corrections. It’s a much more collaborative process. That’s why I love playwriting so much. Some of the best ideas in my plays haven’t come from me, but from the rehearsal room. I’m sure many playwrights would say that.
In the afternoon, we discuss the concept of memory. Memory is a huge theme in our play. We look at the idea of false memory. We watch a TED talk from psychologist Elizabeth Loftus called ‘How reliable is your memory’ which you can watch here. We watch YouTube clips which deal with another theme of the play, which I can’t talk about now because spoilers!
We think about the Science Fiction. We find out that everyone in the room’s most recent Sci-Fi reference is The OA on Netflix. We find out that everyone has finished this apart from me, who is somewhere on episode 5.
I go home tired, happy, and vowing to binge watch the rest of The OA.
ParkLife is written by Mhairi Ledgerwood and will be on at Live Theatre on Wednesday 22 & Friday 24 February in a double bill with Cloakroom Theatre. Find out more
Presented as part of Live Theatre’s Live Lab Elevator festival celebrating new work in the NE. The show is supported by Live Theatre and by Arts Council England.