‘buckets’ is a very unprescribing script. As part of the pre-text, Adam Barnard writes that “Everything’s an option”. He gives you permission to change the gender and pronouns of characters; leaves lines without punctuation for you to make your own decisions, and allows you to perform the play with ‘any number and composition of actors’. This playfulness in the text is part of what attracted us to the play in the first place – allowing us to keep within the same realm as Base Layer but working with a published play.
When doing some research about the play and reading reviews about other companies who had taken on the production, I came across an article in Exeunt Magazine which mentioned the ‘buckets b-sides’ scenes written by Barnard but not published in the final production or script, and the opportunity to apply for your own. I’m not sure I registered what this would mean at first, but I mentioned it to Lucy and Tamsin and they thought it was very cool, so I re-read the article and looked through the first few pages of my script again, and sure enough at the bottom of the page, below the ‘Thanks to’:
For your very own limited-edition bonus scene from the ‘buckets’ b-sides collection, apply to… an email address for Adam himself
So, on Tuesday afternoon, we sent off an email to the playwright. We explained about the origins of Theatre of Minds, sent him a link to the blog, and asked (thinking it was a bit of a long-shot) about the b-sides. We also included a PS asking about why his title is uncapitalised, as this is something we have been greatly intrigued by.
Then, on Wednesday after rehearsals, we came home to a reply. We are SO EXCITED to announce that our production of ‘buckets’ will include TWO limited-edition scenes from the b-sides – one of which has never been read or performed by anyone else before!!! I couldn’t wait to tell the cast on Thursday morning but waited to do it in person because it was so huge! In fact, Thursday saw the staging of our first new scene called ‘Birthday’
The reply from Adam was better than anything we could have expected. He had looked at the blog and seen our first Rehearsal Video Diary, which was incredible news, and gave us such a lovely, detailed reply to the question about the title which I would love to share with you:
Why the lower-case title? Hard to explain except that it was a strong instinct from the off. The original plan for the play had been to write a more conventional character-led narrative called Bucket List (I didn’t know there was a mediocre Hollywood film of the same name) about a girl called Melly who knows she’s going to die young, and her family etc. I’d been given a bursary to write this play for a children’s theatre but I realised early in the process I was writing the wrong play. It felt mawkish, sentimental, exploitative. Why had I even pitched it, I wondered? It wasn’t a personal connection – I don’t (mercifully) have any experience of a terminally ill child. I tried to uncover what had led me to this curious pitch for a play I couldn’t write, and I realised I was interested in our relationship with time, in the different ways and rates at which we do or don’t grow up, in mental health as well as physical illness… The life-limited child was really a metaphor for the things I wanted to explore – not a subject. I was furious with myself. To let off steam I started to write little scenes – vignettes – snatches of dialogue – that were more what I wanted to explore. Somehow these scenes took a life of their own. Each scene (and, I figured, each life) was its own little container – hence, buckets. I liked the everyday mundanity of the word and the image (and suddenly the object itself seemed to be everywhere I looked). The whole thing seemed less self-important with a lower-case b, less like a Proclamation or Answer, less final. A fragment of a thought rather than the beginning and end of one. Maybe a little more comical. The way I came to the play was pretty haphazard – it wasn’t like I sat down with the title and a plan – if anything I was rebelling against my original pitch – and somehow decapitalising (is that a word?) reflected this. Maybe also a nod to the writer debbie tucker green, who I really admire, and who is basically allergic to capitals.
Thankyou so much to Adam Barnard for his time and insight into the play – it has made this week very memorable for all of us involved. We are so excited to be presenting a play with a completely unique script, in a form that no-one has even read before, and I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to tell this story with these people.
Tickets for ‘buckets’ are now available via the Abbey Theatre. In order to make a donation to Young Minds after the performances we need to raise some funds beforehand to pay the licensing fee for the play and for props/costumes. Any contributions at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets will be gratefully received, but if you can’t donate please share the link and help us spread the word of the project.