Mark is the director of our upcoming production Lightspeed
Francesca Heraghty-Smith, Mark Croasdale
Let’s get the usual stuff out the way – I’m Mark, budding creative artist and theatre practitioner. I’ve previously worked with Contact Theatre Manchester, New Theatre Sydney and organisations including Hercules Productions, Coalition of Mischief and Amnesty International. I came to Organised Chaos after directing four shorts plays for their annual Mid-Winter Ignition and now make my debut with them directing my first full-length production, Lightspeed.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could start this post with the words ‘Some years later”. Instead of writing about my nerves for opening night I could then write about the success the show achieved and all the audience feedback. I could post pictures from the tour and tell you all the funny stories knowing that I don’t need to worry because ‘some years later’ it will all have happened already. Only that’s not possible, because in real life I can’t move freely through time, i’m stuck in the present.
That’s the beauty of theatre. In theatre ‘some years later’ can come in two minutes or in the case of Lightspeed, ‘some years later’ can happen in the very first scene. A play that starts at the end and finishes at the beginning sounds like a good idea and certainly to watch as an audience it’s very engaging. However, to act or direct a ‘backwards’ play does present some odd problems – “what scene is next?”, “has Emma found what she’s looking for yet?”, “is this scene before or after the major event?”. Actually the answer is both really, In ‘play order’ it hasn’t happened yet but in chronological order it has – or sometimes vice versa. Then, as with all good plays, there are so many emotions to be dealing with too! In a typical play the actors can build on their character journeys and rise to a climax but going backwards on stage is harder, the characters climax has already happened – but then the play structure itself still needs a climax later on otherwise it falls flat! Basically it can be easy to get lost, but that’s both a problem and a blessing.
Luckily i’m working with two wonderful actors, Taran Knight and Francesca Smith, both of whom seem not to mind being lost with me. In rehearsals each of them have found themselves on stage being incredibly honest with themselves and me – getting giddy, going red from embarrassment, feeling awkward and anxious and sometimes shouting with frustration – and that’s all before we began looking at the script! This is because, as with any process, it all boils down to playing with what you have and because of it’s topsy turvy nature the script lends itself very well to it. I’m a firm believer in play, but also in shaking an actor out of their comfort zone because it’s when we feel uncomfortable we make more believable decisions and the magic happens. Sometimes this has proven difficult or seemingly unnecessary but it’s actually very important to get lost, to allow yourselves to lose all ideas of what it should be because then you can end up surprising yourself and either getting to where you wanted with more knowledge or, lots of the time, getting somewhere better! We’ve managed to create a magical, sometimes surreal, time-lapse of a relationship that i’m thoroughly enjoying.
With that in mind, combined with all the good things that come with an Organised Chaos production, this process has proven wonderfully anarchic. There’s been a bit of play and discovery and it seems that, just like watching the play, the process of creating it has always kept me guessing. Saying that, we’re on in a week so I’d better get back to making those decisions!
To see more information on Lightspeed and book tickets for the show, visit our website – http://www.organisedchaosproductions.co.uk