Slowly but surely, we are moving through to the creative part of this project. We are putting our company together, and are very excited to work with the actors and crew members that we have lined up. As our rehearsal process is going to be so short, it would be almost impossible to devise a piece of theatre from scratch that would be long enough (and good enough) for people to come and see. Therefore, most of the story arc and outline of the piece will be planned out beforehand, and this process is starting now.
We want to use extracts from plays to give us a basis with which to sit our performance, so I have been reading and making notes on anything I can get my hands on. But another very important aspect of this piece will be music. Physical theatre and movement sequences will form a big part of our production, in order to highlight the abstract nature of mental illness, and these will most often be accompanied by a soundtrack.
Music has always had a big effect on me as a person. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember (right back to the home video of me aged 2 performing nursery rhymes to my parents in the living room) and is something that I turn to for help when I need it. Music in films always makes me cry; listening to music on car journeys gives me time to think; and the ’emotional outlet playlist’ on my phone has served me well providing distraction and escapism from whatever is getting me down. I am often teased at home about how ‘my life is a musical’ as I sing my way through stacking the dishwasher, but sometimes it feels as if it is true. I can document my childhood based on which musical I was obsessed with at the time, and certain songs hold very specific memories for me and can transport me back to a performance or celebration or time that I spent with someone special. Music is my brain food and recently I have been learning to use that to my own advantage.
As an actor, I have always reacted well to a musical stimulus. I love workshops where I can spend half an hour developing a character to a constant soundtrack, because I can completely lose myself in the sound and go off to some other world in my mind. For my most recent production, my ‘pre-show playlist’ had songs to get me into character before each performance. I listened to my character’s journey through the lyrics and emotions of the tracks, helping me to forget my own problems and step into Cathy’s shoes for a couple of hours. As the majority of my music collection is of the music theatre genre, most of the songs were telling some other story – completely unrelated to the play that I was in – but in each one, a specific line caught my attention and could be applied to Cathy’s story. I found that this allowed me to focus on the tiny details of my character and what was most important for me to be aware of on stage.
Theatre of Minds already has a youtube playlist dedicated to collecting tracks that could be used for devising, whether they make it into the performance or not. Music is such a personal thing, so I am very excited to see how the actors respond to the tracks and how our differing opinions culd affect the journey of the piece. I hope that we can use music to transport the audience to a world of their own, to involve them in our performance and perhaps create a memory which they can come back to in the future.
If you have tracks that mean something to you, or lyrics that stand out to you which you think we could use in our devising, please let us know because we are always looking for new ideas, new emotions and new inspiration.