In July I had the pleasure of spending two weeks at Theatre Deli’s Old Library to develop my new show Slap Back Echo. The piece is inspired by a personal explosion. It is about suppression, expression, finding the words, losing them, finding them again, not necessarily using them, saving them for the right moment, not knowing when that moment is, waiting, holding, waiting again, then realising that moment is now or that maybe it’s gone.
It’s about being able to say how you feel.
And the consequence of holding things in.
Both psychological and physical.
Working closely with composer Rosa Brook we used our time in the Old Library to translate personal, internal feelings into external movements, sounds, images and moments. The week before we had been at the Young Vic where a structure had been built and established and now we needed to fill it.
In order to generate material, I find it useful to go into rehearsals with at least one question. Something that doesn't have a single answer but opens up a conversation. There were three that stayed with me throughout the two weeks:
1. What is stopping you from doing what you want?
2. How can you find chaos when you’re fully in control?
3. How much do you need to tell?
Having these questions allowed for a friction. It felt very much like we were kneading dough. We were able to pull ideas apart, seeing how far they stretched before breaking. Not only did these questions relate to the content of the show but also the process behind it. It was a really good way to recognise restrictions, to celebrate them, to find ways out of them and see what happened if we stayed in them.
Our time at The Old Library was an enriching experience used to generate lots of material. We left with a real sense purpose and what we needed in order to drive the piece forward into the next phase of development.
Slap Back Echo has been developed with The Tank NYC, Young Vic, Theatre Deli and ARC Stockton. It will be touring Spring next year.
This piece was written for Theatre Deli’s website, for the original blog and for more information on their residencies please visit: www.theatredeli.co.uk/Blog/notes-from-a-resident-artist