So today we’ve been getting used to the wonderful facilities on offer at The Atrium, which is part of North Walsham High School. We’re here thanks to Arts North Norfolk. We begun the day from a production perspective- loading in our equipment (mostly on kind loan from CEG Hire), looking over the schedule for the next couple of weeks and finalising some details around time, spaces and call times.
Next up was the arrival of April Hughes. We’ve announced her previously. But having April working with us on the first day has been a delight, and she brings a fresh energy to the piece.
So, we got on with the day. Introductions were a foot as in the room today were:
- April Hughes, Actor
- Stuart Mullins, Director & co-producer
- Karen Davies, Stage Manager
- Sophie Gosman, Project Assistant
- Emrys Green, Project Manager/Producer
We covered a bit of ground about recent other projects. For April these were about shows with a message from Freak (EdFringe and Theatre 503) being about the over sexualisation of girls in society now, to a play about sexting and gender equality called Girls Like That (Unicorn Theatre) and of course her Children’s BAFTA winning show, Dixi for CBBC. For everyone else it showed the diversity in the room too from Secret Cinema, Punchdrunk and Regional Panto for Karen to another major Young Carers focussed piece called Tiny Treasures for Stuart along with a variety of Producing for the University of Hertfordshire. For Emrys & Sophie it has been about organising Freefall, DissFest’ and working towards events nationwide for Arts Award.
There was also a poignant note about how we’ve come together, this is very much a side note. There was the chance meeting of Emrys & April whilst he saw Freak due to it being an old friend’s show (the producer) in Edinburgh and whilst this was purely helpful in inviting her to audition and it was the director & choreographer that made the selection, it is a learning point for all that networks count in the arts. Meeting people and having conversations are important. Secondly was how Stuart & Emrys met some 8/9 years ago. Emrys was about 16 at the time, Stuart and he have worked together on various projects since then, and it’s great to be co-producing such an important project all this time on. Showing how the values of supporting young people are instilled in the fabric of Unit Twenty Three because this is how the team work, and always have.
Following a warm up by Stuart & April (somehow the rest of us ‘looked like we were busy’ – we actually were) we all got together round a table and started a read through of the script.
At this point the script was dissected line by line, section by section. This went on all day, with the odd bit of action throughout, and we only got to page 40.
The importance of this was high. The team got to understand what made Jas tick, but also the rest of the characters we see. Anna, the writer, has done an astonishing job creating these characters, but now it was our turn to set-up some more back story, fill in the gaps. This leads us to preparing for the next two weeks and sets up detail like how the mother character would walk (due to her illnesses), what sort of food would we be looking to serve up within the play (a device for caring & compliance), and even design hints about the organised nature of Jas (our main character) and how she might use wall calendars even in her very digital life.
These seem like detail, and they are, but they are important details which will help influence the work created by our designers, choreographer and others as they join us through the week. Making the time both more productive and more authentic.
Then we learnt, thanks to North Walsham High School and Arts North Norfolk, we should have the pleasure of working with over 30 young people on Friday to learn about our process and provide their feedback as the target audience, informing our week of development and rehearsals thereafter.
We look forward to the next 2 weeks, and we hope to see plenty of people at our upcoming sharings in Ipswich, 6th & 10th of March.