Is this real? I’m inside an actual rehearsal room. Rehearsing a full play I have actually written. Having clung on for dear life to a theatre career through a global pandemic with no financial security (ineligible for seiss), and with self esteem often at rock bottom and anxiety sky high. I’m inside an actual rehearsal room.
These people in front of me are actors. Real actors. Marlene, Judith, and Lily their names are, and Tricia - on Zoom, with Covid (legend), a stark reminder this shitshow is not over. Beside the actors are more real people - a director (Yasmeen Arden), assistant director (Lou Corbyn), dramaturg (Lisa Cagnacci), stage manager (Elske Waite), designer (Victoria Maytom).
I still can’t get over it. That we're here, IRL. My disbelief possibly at this point actually nothing to do with Corona, more to do with the isolation I’ve pressed on myself through the last 6 weeks of drafting and redrafting. Honestly I still feel like such an amateur when it comes to not losing my mind over a draft. One day maybe I’ll nail it. Maybe not. Who cares at this moment because…
In this room, in front of me, are the best kind of human - ones that listen, and vibe off each other, and give space to others to be themselves without judgment. It’s the pattern and ritual of many women-led spaces. It feels open and generous and safe in this room.
I don’t think I’ve actually said anything yet. Shyness plus wonder plus apprehension that everything I’ve been losing my mind over over the last 6 weeks is actual dog shite is making me quiet. Adrenal gland massively unregulated. Losing my shit.
Yasmeen asks us to tell the story of our name by way of intro and then the humans, the real-life best kind of humans in front of me, read the script. All seventy something pages of it. Ha! You’ve overshot your commission and are gonna have to spend the weekend on some fast edits and rewrites but who cares at this moment because you are in a real rehearsal room, with real people, and even though this is a cold read, these real people seem to have connected to the made up people you’ve put on the page, and…
This is why you do it.
This is why you do it.
Relief joy fear belonging love
Real people breathing life into made up people for a (currently) made up audience that in 3 weeks will (hopefully) be a real audience so that they (all of us) can feel together through story.
My subconscious always creeps into the shit I’m writing and I never notice it until after the fact. I realise, as these beautiful real people put their scripts down from the first ever read through of Tapestry, that I’ve subconsciously written a play that is trying to be everything the pandemic is not. I’ve written a play about friendship, about a group of women who love one another fiercely. I’ve written a play about closeness.
Tapestry is on at MKGallery Milton Keynes on Weds 30 March, 7pm and Sat 2 April, 8pm. It headlines The Play's the Thing's TAKING CENTRE STAGE festival celebrating women in the arts. It was commissioned by Play's the Thing Theatre Company. Tickets here