Friday, 1 October 2010

Stop Press: John Denver is Alive!

Well, in that I went to a read-through of the script on Wednesday night. It's been months since I've looked at the script - having presented it to Suzy (the director) back in March, so I couldn't really remember details of it. Although once they started asking me questions about them, the characters' motivations and quirks started to flood back.

So I settled in to listening. And how surprised was I? I hadn't remembered the humour in it. Not a poking fun kind of humour but the comedy that arises from two strangers meeting, coming from very different backgrounds, living with a very different set of codes, not entirely 'getting' each other, but connecting through one person (yep, Mr Denver).

It was a great experience to feel so removed from my work, yet recognising my intent in there as I listened, feeling these characters are very much separate from me, that the actors brought their own backstories and foibles to their speech and mannerisms.

And the cherry was hearing Chris Bannister sing the songs. I, as regular readers may remember, am not over-enamoured with JD's music, but Chris brings a stronger, perhaps rougher voice to the songs that moves me and - to coin a phrase Mr D might well use in a song - sends shivers down my spine. Which all serves to remind me that some of them are absolute classics. (And believe me, I can't quite comes to terms with having said that)

We're having an open session in December, playing more with the script and more actors so see what else can be drawn from it. The age of the characters are currently under scrutiny - one's in her fifties, the other in her sixties. One of theread-through actor's on Wednesday (24 years old) questioned how much she could bring to the role. She said she was fearful without having any experience to draw upon, she could provide only a stereotype. How is the company going to deal with this? When most of the actors in it are in their twqenties. Use them or invite older women to audition?

Personally, as I guess the audience will predominantly be older (a younger work-colleague, when I mentioned the read through, said to me, "he's a singer, isn't he?"), I'd encourage the use of older actors. Since we're looking at empathy between strangers. And one of the themes is death, dying and grief. Why shirk from that with younger faces? We get enough of them on the telly, in mags, ads for plastic surgery blah blah blah. It's the one inevitability and we're surrounded by images that hide it. I don't relish the prospect of being part of that. But (perhaps for the best) the choice is not down to me.

1 comment:

Jane Eagland said...

From what you say I think I'd agree - better have older actors playing the parts if possible. Such a world of difference in experience between twenties and fifties - not just length of experience but from living through different times...

Presumably we'll get to hear when and where we can see this!