April 30th, 2013
In the final week of rehearsals and prior to the debut performance of ‘Under Us All’, I invited my research participants along to a behind closed doors run through of the play. This was in recognition of the sensitivities involved in this piece of verbatim theatre, with accuracy to the script paramount as well as input from the participants themselves. Throughout the process the men of the study have been encouraged to comment on aspects of the script; and indeed they have with some fault (on my own part) being picked up on through inaccurate transcription. The occupation of Shipwright for example – incorrectly recorded as Shipwriter, a job which does not exist.
Unfortunately though it was only Peter who could attend the rehearsal with Victor and Simon busy. It should be said that this was a highly exciting and new experience for us all to meet together, it was the first time we had done so (Gwilym as director, Gordon as actor, Katy as producer, Peter as participant, and myself as researcher). It is fair to say we were all apprehensive. Peter told me there was a ‘cringe’ element to overcome in witnessing his own words – as well as those of his father and son – being performed back to him by a professional actor. Gordon told me he too was nervous; performing verbatim directly in front of the man whose very words he was speaking. Gwilym’s dramatic licence was being tested; would his creative interpretation stand up? I was seeing my ideas come full circle, sat opposite my participant looking at his reaction to his words spoken by the man I had approached to perform them. While Katy oversaw us all with a watchful eye to practicalities including hoping we sell enough tickets so people will see all our hard work come to fruition.
Gordon summed up the experience by using Victor’s own words from the script: ‘What you’ve been through is what we’ve all been through’. We had all felt apprehensive, nervous and excited; we were all out of our comfort zone. It is for this reason that this interdisciplinary work is so special.