Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Matthew Friday's diary (4)

On 5 October Matthew Friday's first play, Che Guevara's Motorbike or How I Found My Father, which he is also directing, will open at The Rosemary Branch in London. You can read the background on the Writers' Guild website and follow his trials and tribulations here each week.

Week 4


A difficult one today. We did the full play for the first time. It wasn't a proper performance, or anything close. The actors are still working from the script, getting to grips with the new lines and the more complex blocking. And I'm still making changes. Little ones, of course. You can't make dramatic changes to dialogue at this late stage and expect the actors to remember. It would be like trying to spell a word which kept changing its letters.

We discussed what the right tone of the play was. Do we go all-out for entertainment, or do we try and develop the dramatic through-lines and character motivations? It's a difficult one. Being a comedy, the main criteria for the play is to entertain them for two hours. Anything else is a bonus.

This is not to say meaningful drama cannot be achieved in comedy. A great comedy has both. It depends a lot on how much the audience believes in the characters and whether they care for them or not.

So, will they care?


Much better today. We really got stuck into the scenes. I was pleased to see bigger emotions and reactions coming out.

Simone - who is exhausting herself with other work - developed her character well. Joan brought along some of her costume and that helped bring out her character. We got some really nice moments between 'Gary' and 'Alberto' at the end of the play, though I won't detail them as it would spoil the big surprise.

The highlight of the day was Paul's birthday party, in a Thai Karaoke restaurant in Turnpike Lane. Paul went home early to prepare. Joan gave us a lift back to her lovely flat in Tottenham, where we spent an hour chatting and drinking mead - the genuine and ancient alcoholic honey drink. A first for me.

As was singing Karaoke.

Paul is a consummate singer and the audience could not get enough of his rocking voice. Then Kevin and I stepped up. We opted for Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - William Shatner style. That is, speaking the lines, not singing them. Kevin and I performed the lines, like the talented entertainers Kevin is.

I did it very, very badly.


Kevin ended up at the Rosemary Branch theatre, when Simone, Joan and I were at Goldsmiths. Not sure what happened there. It was my mistake for not providing a written schedule, with locations and dates. Kevin may have drunk too much or wanted to avoid me after our 'singing' together.

Still, it was worth the few hours we had.

On the way home I worked out a strict time table for the next (and last two weeks), listing exactly which scene would be rehearsed when and where. We will be moving to the Rosemary Branch next week. Goodbye Goldsmiths and the Goldsmith Coffee Shop.

It's time to get intense.

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