It's happened, I'm being published by the wonderful people at Methuen Drama. One of the few disappointments of my last play Plan D was that I wasn't able to secure a publisher to tie in with the production. It was however subsequently published in an anthology in the States so that was nice. Another couple of my plays have been published or are going to be published. I'm not showing off there is a point and here it is - despite being published this is the first time I've had a play published to tie in with production. And it's been a very different experience.
My play Scenes from 68* Years runs at the Arcola in Dalston from 6-30 April. We started rehearsing in the first week of March and a few days later I was charged with delivering my script in order for it to be prepared for printing. I was told some changes would be acceptable after that point but these would need to be delivered within an email rather than as a whole redrafted script. That was fine and actually the first days of rehearsal bore the fruit of a number of cuts.
Luckily I didn't have to worry about a cover image - the wonderful Aser Al Saqqa at Arts Canteen had drawn my attention to the work of Gazan artist Mohammed Joha and one of his paintings seemed perfect. To my delight Mohammed agreed for it to be used on the cover (pictured). Success. And then I delivered the script to Methuen Drama on time - another mini success although after I'd delivered there were a few more cuts and amendments.
But then negotiations and what I'll call the 'double script life' began. This must happen every time a script is being printed and produced but I think with a play like this one it's even more complicated. That's because it's quite a beast. 50 + characters 30+ scenes and no single narrative (bar the experience of the people of Palestine for over 68 years). As such it could be done in many ways: with a massive cast on a huge stage and different sets for each scene or with 6 actors and no set but the audience's imagination.
This wonderful production is not the former or the latter and has needs of its own. Six actors in the UK and one in Palestine via Skype, in a small perfectly formed studio theatre. And so the needs of this production had to be met with a nip and a tuck here and a cut there. In fact two scenes made their way to the cutting room floor, but for this production only - they're in the script as printed (see if you can spot them!). And so my confusion began - I'm messy in life and worse on my computer I have lots of folders but I never seem to be able to stick to a naming convention and with my usual 'pre rehearsal draft', 'rehearsal draft', 'rehearsal draft final' 'rehearsal draft final final' there also had to be another set of 'final draft Methuen', 'final draft Methuen with cuts' and so on. My poor brain. And every time I amended a script I had to think carefully whether that amendment was needed on both scripts - was it for this production solely or to be in the script for ever. And then I had to email those amends to my lovely editor.
I'm certainly not complaining I'm just sharing an experience that I hadn't thought about and was new to me. So what have I learned? I need to be neater with my labelling, if I want an easier life I should write single narrative plays with a more conventional structure... but most importantly that none of what has come before actually matters when you see your play on stage in front of an audience for the first time, or hold it in your hands. Both those things will be happening this week and I really can't wait.