Robin Holden, a fellow actor in last month's The Duchess of Malfi, four of us from that cast are now scheduled to appear at the Solo Festival of one-(wo)man shows at the Lord Stanley theatre in London in July. It was Robin who read the first-person narratives in my short story collection First and Fiftieth, (cover left, extracts here) and who suggested that several of them would make good monodramas (including a comedy). He wanted to act one, why didn't I do another? and from there the idea grew. Bringing in more actors meant that the more pieces we performed, the more publicity we would get. And of course the more pieces we performed, the more publicity I would get as the writer.
So far, so easy. But nothing is achieved without work and work never comes without challenges. The first problem I faced, as featured in my last blog, lack of a director. I'm too new at this acting game to direct myself and I need someone to provide an outside perspective and to help me stretch myself. But since that posting, some names have come up and I'm confident that I'll soon be able to announce who I'm working with.
The second problem? Getting everyone involved together to confirm our roles and how best we can work together. The expression herding cats comes to mind. Just getting a reply to an email can take several days and finding a time that five people can meet together seems more difficult than developing a means of time travel. I reassure myself - perhaps prematurely - that we have three months to get our various acts together and - cliche warning - I'm sure it'll all be all right on the first night(s).
What I should be turning my mind to is scripts. First-person narratives that work well as short fiction don't always translate easily onto the stage. With two of the pieces, there is little problem, because they were written as a story told over dinner or at a bar. The other two, however, are stream-of-consciousness, which allows for more arcane vocabulary and long sentence structures that would send the average audience either to sleep or towards the exit. My first task should be to rewrite them in a style that appeals to listeners and watchers rather than readers.
The most challenging piece is the one I have chosen for myself. The setting of Angel moves from a priest's house to a car and from the car to a restaurant in a way that may not be easily recreated on the stage. The story also features a second character who will have to be suggested, not acted. Most difficult of all, the "reveal" comes in the middle of the story as it now stands. To solve all these problems, I can foresee several drafts before I get the tempo and the ambience right. Perhaps I should begin now ...