The stage filled with all the actors who had performed, the applause rapturous and so, what I imagine, was a hectic weekend came to an end.
Here was the idea: writers, actors and directors all together. They work throughout the weekend to produce a series of ten minute shorts. The culmination of this, was the seven shorts which were performed on Sunday evening.
A quick introduction and explanation then the evening was underway. If anyone was standing behind the curtain with any sense of trepidation, they needn’t have. The audience surely was going to give a warm reception. The excitement was almost palpable as we all anticipated the first performance. Why wouldn’t there be a sense of excitement? Seven brand new, never before seen pieces of work, two arduous days to pull them together. You couldn’t help but admire such a feat.
10 Minutes to…Reach Inside was showcasing the best of up and coming talent. If nothing else comes of the work we saw, the show in itself was entertaining. Following on from the introduction, the first short was performed, the set then adjusted swiftly and slickly to be ready for the next. No pause. The pace was quick but not rushed and it meant the audience’s attention was held, and energy levels maintained high. In the blink of an eye the interval was upon us. Time to take a breath. The second half carried on in much the same vein.
Each short was based on the theme ‘Reach Inside’. I’m not sure how I would have interpreted that. I can only wonder at the array of different interpretations and performances though.
The theme conjures up so many questions. You reach inside for what? Reach inside yourself in the hope that you can discover where you really need to be. Let the world reach inside to try to make sense of it.
We grapple with these questions in many ways. The ways in which each short play grappled with these questions offered up gloriously funny moments as we were taken through a motivational speech by a character wholly unqualified to motivate anyone in The Speaker. We were party to the confusions and angst of people trying to understand their world, or come to decisions about where they belong in the world in the beautifully written shorts Fragile Clouds, Goodbye Fish and Being Alone With U at 4am.
Perhaps you reach inside for the forgiveness you need to correct your mistakes. Perhaps that is only possible when someone else helps us to consider the things we have done. The well observed Kings and Queens and Metal Sandwich use the conflict that people having different standpoints or agendas bring, to slowly reveal that there is a truth that needs to be acknowledged if the characters are ever to move forward.
The final short, Winner Stays On gave a unique and again hugely funny take on the theme. To reach inside for answers or understanding might be futile if all is pre-destined and we end with no more intelligence than when we began.
It’s important not to forget that what was being showcased was not just the talent of the writers but actors and directors. Their contribution can change everything. It comes down to understanding intention. Being appreciative of when less is more or the moments when the slightest of gestures or nuance can be thick with meaning.
I could imagine anyone of the shorts as excerpts from much lengthier works. They left me wanting to know more, which is not a bad thing. I wanted to know about the characters. We witnessed them making decisions, coming to new realisations, battling through their confusion. After that, though, what comes next?
I’m curious to see how these pieces of work could be progressed. What are the stories that are going to unfold? It might be interesting now to play around with the characters and dynamics between them. What would happen if the roles of the characters were reversed? How would the dynamics change if gender changed? Or it was another place another time? Surely, also after this, further collaboration between those who came together over one weekend could be possible. Quite an exciting prospect to consider.
Valerie Speed, Guest Blogger