Playwright – and ace Standard Issue contributor – Alison Carr’s new work Hush premiered this week. She wanted to tell us about it, and we were all ears.
Last year I had a call from James Grieve at Paines Plough theatre company inviting me to write a new play for their co-commission with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I said yes before he’d finished the sentence.
Rather than have its graduating students stage established plays, the college commissions brand new ones. It’s pretty incredible really, and is a unique opportunity for the writers involved. I could write about whatever I wanted for a cast of eight (four female, four male), all of whom needed their moment in the sun.
To give you an insight into how the writing process went, about a fortnight before the deadline I had a complete meltdown and decided my idea was shit, the 30-odd pages I’d written so far were shit and I needed to start again from scratch. What followed saw me in a state of constant panic and not sleeping, because that was time lost trying to force a new, brilliant concept into my head.
After a week of this I crept back to my original idea like a guilty lover after an unfulfilling one night stand. I read over what I had again, and realised it wasn’t that bad after all. Fortunately everyone was very understanding and I was back on track.
Maybe I shouldn’t admit any of that. Maybe I should pretend it all comes easily, I barely break a sweat. But it doesn’t, and I do.
After that, the redrafting process was pretty straightforward. I like redrafting, because there’s something to work with rather than a blank page staring at me accusingly.
I went to Cardiff to meet the students with director Hannah Banister, and then I was in the first week of rehearsals back in February. A rehearsal room is my favourite place to be. This might be surprising as I go very quiet and can be (more) awkward (than usual), but I love seeing a play come to life.
The characters appear and their words, previously typed on a page, become a conversation. It’s why I write. Not to sit at my desk alone for hours, days, weeks, but to create stories and people that become real on a stage and who I get to share, live, with the audience.
I suppose I should tell you what the play’s about, in case you want to come and see it. It’s called Hush and tells three stories all linked by a missing boy. It’s about coming home, guilt, friendship, love. It’s about identity and secrets and loss. There’s some jokes in it, too.
Hannah, the actors and the whole team are so talented and hardworking. There’s a real passion for the work and for theatre; it’s been a joy to be part of.
Hush is on now at RWCMD and it heads to the Gate Theatre, London, next week. I’m very excited for people to see it. And for me to see it, because I haven’t yet.
For more details head to www.painesplough.com/play/hush.2882 Views
Alison is a playwright and would-be tap dancer. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.