The months have flown since I’ve been back. I guess it’s to be expected when you land home in the middle of festival season. We had a few days of shooting in Dublin to finish off “Dublin Berlin” and it wrapped in late September. Lovely symmetry as the final day of shooting was also Rob’s birthday. September and October are a cocktail of memories from some interesting theatre and a couple of great nights catching up with friends, all mingling with a sense of anticipation for what comes next.
I began developing the concept and script for ‘The Strindberg Project’ through writing and workshopping in September and it was great to finally get moving. It’s a project, an idea, that’s been sitting in my brain for a long time. It’s the first time I’ve attempted an adaptation (or maybe interpretation is more accurate) of a text like this and it’s a totally new way of working for me; I’m lucky to have the support of a talented group of collaborators who provide insight and feedback. It’s an unsettling thing to begin something completely new, with the express intention of keeping yourself uncomfortable, moving in unfamiliar ways, fighting habit. It’s difficult and overwhelming at times. And yet, more and more, it seems like the only thing worth doing.
I’ve been re-watching, re-reading and re-listening to this lecture by Charlie Kaufman for the last few months. It has found a way of burrowing into my brain and stays with me as I tackle the task of sitting down to write something like this. His approach and style feel in synch with the surreal, dream-like logic of Strindberg’s own work and it’s exciting to find a contemporary ally in reimagining the Swede’s themes and characters.
This extract isn’t going to give you more than a taste but you can download the full thing as a podcast here.
In early October I found myself in the similar position to Charlie, a virgin speechmaker making a sweaty address in my alma mater. I was honoured by Villiers School who invited me back to be guest speaker at the annual prize day ceremony. It’s a weird thing to stand up in front of 500 teenagers and teachers – most of whom would have been working there when I was a pupil – and speak about yourself, try to explain how you’ve got to where you are or why you do what you do. So I tried not to for the most part. I also kept it to 2 pages which proved a popular move.
In late October I was delighted to be asked to direct three short plays written by teenagers in a rehearsed reading for Fighting Words at The Abbey. The programme is one that I have personal experience with having worked there as a volunteer for several months after finishing college. It’s a really brilliant programme that encourages kids and teenagers to begin thinking imaginatively and writing creatively. I love the ethos behind the work they do and the atmosphere is pretty magic.
The opportunity to reconnect with the programme and work with some of their participants was lovely.
A satisfying few months and more to follow. Fionnuala Gygax is assisting me on ‘The Strindberg Project’ and will be guest blogging about her experiences over the coming weeks and months.