Hello. Today, the writer (Ned Hopkins aka Raymond) came to visit for today’s rehearsal. I had hoped to get him there on a day when all the cast were available, however, due to the ongoing availability saga, (don’t ask) it just wasn’t meant to be.
Up until this point, we had been working on the assumptions that the actors and I had made in the rehearsal room. Obviously, with traditional texts from established playwrights, you never get the luxury of having the writer in the room (unless you are very lucky, or are some form of spirit medium).
Having Raymond in the room gave not only me, but also the cast, the chance to ask him those important questions which we were still debating. There are two ways of looking at this. The first can be a little bit negative. When the writer has given a definitive answer, there’s no room for play left. Obviously, how the actor responds to what has been said will be different, and there’s a level of flexibility there, but mainly, once it’s been answered, that’s it, done.
However, the way I choose to look at it is that any information a writer gives can only give much more of a foundation for a character. Raymond was so generous in his responses and he handled it perfectly. He debated and questioned and gave his own input, but made it clear it was up to the actors to bring it to life in their own way.
For me, as a director, it was liberating to have him there. Before today, I had been emailing Raymond with questions from the cast and myself each evening , so it was great to have that interaction and conversation face to face.
Also, it has to be said, that he is just the loveliest, most supportive man you could ever wish to meet. When he wished us all the best, he genuinely meant it and he is as emotionally invested in this piece as we are, despite him not being here every day.
It was a pleasure to have him up for the day, and I can’t wait for him to see what we have done at the dress rehearsal.
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