ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

A new chapter for ‘Unlocking greyscale’

The last two weeks leading up to the industry showing were a complete whirlwind. That feeling of exquisite pressure, you know, that notion so many artists talk about well it was present alright and constant. As they say, never a dull moment! And sometimes that feeling felt heightened beyond my own control and sort of morphed into something I’ll call exquisite dread.

Basically two weeks before the showing one of the actors Jesse was in a iron-shelf-falls-on-foot kind of accident. When it happened he really didn’t know how badly he was hurt and being a week out from teching this was a scary concept so a rash decision was made and that was to go on without him. Going on without him meant many things. Firstly, I had to understand that what I was now going to be present was essentially a one woman show with Katy as that one woman. This meant there was a lot of rewriting to do and restructuring of the original concept was now necessary. It felt like I was starting from the very beginning.

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t panicked. I was freaking, hard. To the point where I was very indulgently wallowing in my own self pity. After repeated ‘Shit!’/’I can’t do this!’/’I want to run away from this!’ moments, I went for a swim… ahh! The ocean, the ultimate healer, those negative ions. Feeling brand new and after a good night’s sleep I was ready to take the show head on.

Turning over a new leaf meant that I had to ask myself questions about what I was really wanting to explore, how I wanted to explore this and identify what was working as well as what was not working from the original process. In hindsight, I feel blessed to have been through this experience. It allowed me to really hone in on my process thus far and in some ways I believe I had more ownership over this presentation of work than if disaster hadn’t struck.

I was very lucky in that I had written almost everything down. We had actually done a lot of work over the weeks! A comforting truth. We had discovered and created a lot of very useful material along the way which meant I was able to be somewhat selective rather than just throwing together everything that was created since word go into a haphazard collaboration of ideas. The already present material become more useful as a way to propel the story forward rather than as a driving force.

Since the beginning of April I had been actively researching… errr… everything and then hoping  that it would eventually surface. It did, later than I expected but it did nonetheless and at crisis point. The knowledge I had ‘gained’  did surface and finally crystallised for me in those last ten days.

So there were a few light bulb moments and lessons that were affirmed: 1. work hard, even when things seemingly implode you will be in a better situation than if you hadn’t. 2. write as much as you can down. 3. fake it until you make it. 4. trust that things will surface.

The showing went well (more on that next blog). Katy performed beautifully, she is a wonderful performer and a dear friend of mine. Thank you for all your hard work.  ‘Unlocking greyscale’ would not have developed in the way it did without Jesse’s hard work prior to his injury. He is a talented writer and even though he was not able to perform a lot of the show’s direction can be attributed to his incredible mind.

So it’s now July and I am about to start working on At The Drive In (exciting!) and I have well and truly started to develop my own season of work, there is so much more to do but hopefully these building blocks take me above and beyond.  Heaps of things to think about, write about and do but after 2 weeks of semi-ignoring it I am back in the thick of it and thoughts swill round my mind more than ever before.

The fear of public blogging has dissipated slightly so I promise to write more regularly. Next couple of entries I will focus specifically on the showing and the show itself (story, concept, stylistic choices) but I think I have babbled enough for one day.

One last thing, if there is anyone reading this who saw the show or just wants to talk process please, please, please comment on this site or email me. I would love to hear from anyone who has advice, questions or comments. My personal email is sybellastevens@gmail.com

xx Sybella

Responses (2)

  1. James says:

    Because you said “anyone”…
    I’ve been following these blogs because of Aslam, and, having precious little idea of what any of your shows are actually about, I find these blogs tremendous evidence of people who follow through with what they want to express and give life to, *no matter what* is thrown in their way.

    It’s quoted that training as an actor is training as a human being (or something like that). It seems to me that any training as an artist is training as a human being. Intense and awesome training. Congratulations. You are a powerful human being.

  2. J. Higgins says:

    Interesting read!

    Glad it went well, and look forward to hearing more about ‘At The Drive in’.