Collaborations 2012 – participant interview V

It suddenly occurred to me that it seems rather odd to ask others to share their experience of last year, without being willing to do so myself. So here goes: I (Emily Elphinstone for those of you new to my role as chief blogging elf) submitted a play called ‘The Lost Art of Not Blinking’ into last year’s festival, and here’s how I found the whole journey:

Q. How did you hear about the Collaborations festival? I can’t really remember whether the awareness of the festival we were organising, or the idea for the play came 1st; but either way I started the two at similar times.

 Q. What role did you play in your show? I was writer and actor. I suppose I was also the producer, as the play was most definitely my baby, so I sorted rehearsal times, costumes and posters etc. too.

Q. How did the idea come about and how did it develop? The idea came from quite a few bored hours in work, and a growing awareness of how much time people spend in jobs that they wouldn’t have chosen or expected. I like the thought of how many people spend their days hiding in a Chamber of Horrors, or standing on the street dressed as a hot dog. I started it with a plan to put into Fishamble’s ‘Tiny Play’s but realised quite soon that I wanted it to be a little longer so I could play around with the situation as much as the conversation.

Q. How did you gather cast/crew for your show? Initially I was nervous about approaching people in case they weren’t interested, but I eventually asked Stefanie Preissner to direct, and we discussed my ideas for the show before asking Jo Linehan to come on board as the other character.

 Q. How long was your piece?  About 20 minutes

Q. Did you see it as a work in progress or a fully formed piece? I think ‘The Lost Art of Not Blinking’ was a fully formed piece … I toyed with the idea of developing it into a 3 act play that would be about an hour long, but since it felt quite complete already I didn’t want to ruin it by stretching out the idea unless I came up with something that really needed to happen.

Q. What were the biggest challenges you faced? One of the biggest challenges was time. Since we were all working on other things, we didn’t get much rehearsal time; and as I was also working on the festival as a whole, pre-show preparation was reduced to throwing on my costume just before the first play in our block started. That said, I grew to like the spontaneity of it all, it was a fun little play so we didn’t really need hours of discussion about character motivation.

 Q. What were the greatest moments or breakthroughs? The greatest moments were the little milestones along the way: From hearing Jo read the lines for the 1st time in her Cork accent and it sounding even better than I’d hoped, to performing it in front of an audience on the first night of the festival and hearing people laugh.

 Q. What would you do differently? I’d get more of the other elements like the image for the programme, the costumes, and poster ready further ahead of time so that I didn’t even have to think about them when I wanted to be worrying about other things … panic did not help my sewing skills!

Q. What were your favourite moments of the festival? One of my favourite moments was hearing Genevieve’s show ‘Finding Fighting Words’ performed for the first time and getting an incredible reaction, after the stress of losing one of the performers and having to be rewritten only days before.

Q. Has your piece developed since the Festival? Well I wrote a 2nd scene as part of a writing course I was doing, but not sure it lives up to the original piece. I also submitted the script to the Theatre Festival’s Play On writing initiative and got accepted, but ended up writing a new script during the programme instead of developing that one.

Q. What have you been working on since? Since the festival I realised that I really do like writing, so I did a course with Fishamble, and Play On with Graham Whybrow where I started a new script; so hopefully something will make its way to the stage again before too long. And of course, I’ve been helping to organise the next festival!

Q. What words of wisdom would you like to impart to someone considering taking part? Just that one of the most important things is to believe in your idea, and do everything you can to make it what you imagined. And that you don’t have to over complicate things … sometimes the simplest and cleanest way of approaching things is actually the most effective, so you don’t need to get bogged down with over elaborate concepts, props, and technology.

Q. Any other thoughts? Take the risk and try it out and you might end up being pretty darn proud of it!

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