A Word From the Writer Alison Carr: The Soaking of Vera Shrimp

“Hello. My name is Vera Shrimp. I am going to talk to you tonight about my project.”

So, here we are, under a month to go until Vera Shrimp takes to the stage.

And it is very much Vera taking to the stage, because this is her telling her own story in her own unique way.

Soaking of Vera Shrimp Rehearsal shot Alison and Jaclyn board

You might be wondering why I’m so keen to stress that, but for anyone who saw the work-in-progress previews last year then this Vera Shrimp is a very different beast.

For a start, she’s got a new face! Tessa Parr takes over the role from … well … me. I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores (you can read my blog about it here if you want) but it’s absolutely the right thing for the character and the show. Vera is feisty, funny, resourceful, determined. She doesn’t need a detached narrator to tell her story for her.

This of course means a new script. Because not only are we changing the perspective, but also the way the story is told.

Vera is a girl who likes her facts, her statistics. Her ability to read the raindrops is not some mystical, airy-fairy metaphor. For her this is deadly serious; her future, her family are at stake. So she’s prepared you a presentation. There’ll be science, there’ll be things about Vera, and the science will help you understand the things about Vera and vice versa. So you might want to bring a pen and paper!

The set design by Emily James couldn’t be better and has everything Vera needs (plus a few surprises). We’re so excited for you to see it.

This has been a much more collaborative process than I have done in the past.

Rosie Kellagher (director), Tessa and I have been in the room together discussing and devising. It took various forms. Sometimes drawing pictures of the characters and attaching character traits, or maybe devising experiments for each other to express what ‘grief’ or ‘heartbreak’ might feel or taste or sound like.

(And yes, I’d dismiss that as wanky, time-wasting bollocks too if I hadn’t been part of it and know how much it has informed finding the characters and the story!)

I then took the notes and ideas away and crafted them into a section or scene which we would return to and discus, try out and edit some more, until we had a script.

Soaking of Vera Shrimp Alison's notes

The process hasn’t been without its challenges, but equally its rewards. And as we head into this final stretch we can’t wait for you to meet Vera Shrimp …

The Soaking of Vera Shrimp is at Live Theatre from Wednesday 15 to Saturday 18 October. Tickets cost £8 and £6 for concessions. Find out more and book tickets.

By Alison Carr  

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