This week in Quartz, as well as developing work from previous weeks and adding new dimensions with some vocal work and singing, I challenged these actors to become writers too.
They had all brought a ghost story they thought was interesting, some had brought more than one, but for this exercise they picked one. They all had paper and a pencil and I asked them first of all to distil the story into one sentence. A task that is harder than it sounds but I believe all great stories can be said in one sentence.
From here I let them increase their word count so that they had 3 sentences. One to describe the beginning, one for the middle and one for the end. One that describes the situation before - the set up, one that explains the event or main events that happen, and one that describes situation afterwards and how it has changed due to these events.
They then had just 10 minutes to write their monologue, without any more planning, just dive straight in and begin. This is an exercise called automatic writing and is often, I find, where I get my best ideas. The only limitation I gave them was that their monologue had to be no longer than 40 seconds.
After ten minutes of the most intense silence and concentration I stopped them and they performed their monologue to a partner who listened and offered some constructive feedback. Then one after another they performed these monologues to the group. I don’t know if you’ve ever written and performed anything but it is very exposing and takes an awful lot of bravery, particularly if you’ve only had 10 minutes to work on the thing!
These monologues were all very different, very interesting and very entertaining. The young actors - and now writers - got up and performed to each other without a shred of fear and rightly so, as an audience they were equally generous and supportive. These monologues will be developed through rehearsals and used as a basis in the show. But with this blog I wanted to acknowledge their efforts and I am in awe that this group produced 15 diverse monologues and performances (in less than half an hour!) with such immense confidence and conviction.