Ending on a high

By Karen Featherstone | Write to Play year 3, December, 29 2015

So onto our final sharings at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, the event that had been a hypothetical blip on our horizons for the past twelve months, but here it was already, looming up and making us feel it was coming around way too quickly. If you’d asked me last year how I’d be feeling about the last showcasing of our work, I’d probably have said nervous and excited, but when the day rolled around I found myself feeling strangely flat.

For one thing, I wasn’t looking forward to saying goodbye to the friendly faces I’d got to know over the past year, including those of my fellow writers, the Graeae team (especially Chloe Todd-Fordham, Amit Sharma and Jenny Sealey) tutor Mike Kenny and supporters from our partner organisations the Bolton Octagon, Liverpool Everyman and the Royal Exchange. For another, I think I’ve learnt to see the work as something apart from me – something that can have a life of its own – so I’ve let go of a desire to try to control how it’s received, hence the surprising calm I felt on such a hectic day.

I’ve learnt from the rehearsals and other sharings we’ve had that each time work is read out, it sounds different and has varying effects due to random factors; the headlines that morning, the general energy in the room, the time of day, the weather…Having said that, all of the pieces went down a storm. Every writer pulled off something amazing in that the excerpts were all distinct from one another. You could really hear each writer’s ‘voice’ in the readings and I would love to see each one of those pieces in full. They were funny, dark, surprising, political, relevant, personal and original.

Stunning performances in my piece by actors Narinder Samra, Karina Jones and Marc Parry meant the audience were laughing aloud, yet seemed subsequently gripped by the efforts of these wonderful actors to bring my characters to life. I got that amazing feeling; the feeling all of us writers are surely doing this for: utter jubilance mixed with gratification that after weeks of writing and re-writing, after the stressing and ‘productive procrastinating’, after the impacts of casting, rehearsing and directing under the excellent guidance of Selma Dimitrijevic, I just might have succeeded in getting something I wanted to say across to others in the room. It felt fitting to end my incredible time with Graeae on such a high.