Rick Poppa’s blog | Write to Play year 3
Sitting there, gathering my thoughts whilst looking out of a window that overlooks the new John Lewis development in Leeds, my head was full of – stuff I guess. Today was a big deal, a chance for us as writers to show a room full of people, no, show the world, what we could do.
The final sharings, a day we had approached for months, a day for us to shine, a day that we would remember for years to come. As I sat, I will be honest with you, I just hoped what I was about to share was good enough. Five minutes earlier and we – by that I mean four awesome actors who were working on my piece, Amit (Sharma) my director and Richard (Hurford) my mentor – had treated the people sat in the bar area of the West Yorkshire Playhouse to a read-through of three scenes of my play. I am not going to lie, it was sounding good, fast, pacey, had that punch that in my head it needed when I was writing it. It was now all too real! “Labels” had grown, from a one-line note in a note pad, scribbled down on train journey to a full play.
“That jar’s been on a journey yeah, to get here. We put it on a shelf, someone picks it up, the journey continues.”
It was the end (or the beginning) of a journey for me. This was a real make or break thing. When I started the year in Newcastle, I remember being shy and timid. I wasn’t one to ask questions or jump into a conversation. I’d sit back; let all the knowledge sink in to my brain. This was different though, because now was my chance to put myself out there, to go up to people from other theatres, and theatre companies and introduce myself and my work, my passion. I was a writer now; this was what I had become in a year, thanks to Graeae. Go up to people I did. I felt confident enough to talk to people, accept it when they congratulated me on my work. It felt pretty awesome but it was also sad to then go round to say goodbye to people I had shared a lot with. People that had given me their help and knowledge. People who saw something in my writing and me when I could not.
Thank you doesn’t seem enough sometimes. It doesn’t cover how I felt when I walked into a rehearsal room in Hull and saw my play on a table, ready to be read by actors. The journey I had been on had been mad – taken me across the North East and even to London. It had opened my eyes, and made me open my soul to create three pieces of work that will always be special to me.
I am not just Rick Poppa from Leeds anymore, I am Rick Poppa the writer, and this isn’t the end for writing and me. I am already penning another play, a lighter piece to show there is another side to me. So watch this space world, because Write To Play has stoked a fire in my belly.
Writing a Monologue, February 8 2016
Writing a monologue… ok… sounds easy… I’d seen Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads”, so I knew the score. But what if…. Did a monologue have to be funny? Or about death and isolation?
I sat down and Googled Alan Bennett’s work as a starting point to this little project that would lead to the birth of my first “Miniature”. The fact I knew of his work helped me; the fact that he came from Leeds, like me, inspired me. “If he can write one, then what’s to bet I can’t,” I thought. Looking through his pieces, I decided there and then I wanted to produce something very different.
I wanted something raw, something to make my audience think… I wanted to make my character real, get the words to fit his situation.
I have to say this first Miniature has been a learning curve for me. It’s the start of my working alongside my mentor for the year. I was pleased when Graeae paired me with someone (Richard Hurford) who has worked in theatre and knows his stuff. I’ve found the notes he sends me have opened up my eyes to what my monologue can do. It’s made it, as a piece, more how I first imagined it. The help and support on writing this monologue has been invaluable to be honest. It’s guided me through the wrongs and rights of writing for stage…
Some would say monologues are boring…”What’s good about one person speaking for fifteen minutes?” Well, I would say that like most things in life monologues don’t have to be the same… there is no set text, no set rule. I’ve tried to make mine different. It has humour yet can be very dark in places….
Richard, my mentor has asked me a lot of questions, one’s that needed to be delved into to make me see WHO I was writing about, who my character was, what’s led him to this moment in his life. I think I have answered that in my monologue. I feel connected to my character; I believe in him a hundred and ten per cent. I just hope my audience get it. I want them to sit and think after his last few words…
Well folks, this is my last blog for now. I’ve loved sharing my experiences of being on Write To Play and what it’s meant to me but I will now hand you over to Sarah. I know her experiences will be different from mine but that’s how writing is… what works for one person may not work for another. If I could give you one bit of advice then I’d say ….IF you get a chance in life to throw yourself at a new challenge, then take that leap! Just do it. Don’t ask yourself “what if?” or “am I good enough?”. Chances are you are. You may have to push yourself but it will all be worth it in the end. Someone wrote to me recently about the future and this chance I had been given and they said: “Shine bright! Write what you see, what you know, be ready to learn and keep on reaching out to those you love and love you back. STAY HUMBLE and you will be fine.” Good words to say goodbye on and thank you for sharing these first few months of my journey with me xx
Discovering this year’s journey, December 3 2015
The trip to Manchester was a strange one; I didn’t know what I would be seeing at the sharings by the Year 2s. It was also very much in my head that this time next year it would be us doing this… us madly running around, us trying to keep true to ourselves and our work!
It was an awesome day to be totally honest with you. Getting on a course like Write to Play has not just given me the chance to create three pieces of new writing but also given me a chance to meet a lot of other creatives; I already knew a few faces in the packed out rehearsal room at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, but there were also faces I didn’t know, but I’m sure through the journey ahead of me I will see around. It’s sooooo useful meeting industry people, learning constantly who does what and where.
So, on to the sharings. I got to watch five pieces, short sections of the five writers’ work… All a bit different, some made me laugh out loud, others made me think a little. Five different, unique plays by five very different voices. Voices that would not, I guess, have been discovered had it not been for Write to Play. Makes you think that does…
If the writers had any nerves during the sharings, they were not at all evident. They seemed calm and collected – almost fearless! I don’t think those words will apply to me next year. In fact, I am sure they won’t.
It was also great to meet a few of the directors of the pieces and to chat to the assorted actors who read the scripts. A great wealth of creative talent indeed! Talking and getting tips from one of the directors after the sharings had finished was awesome. I was picking up tips, learning things that will help me when it’s my turn.
I can’t choose a favourite short section from those we saw, it would be impossible! It set a standard to us Year 3s… setting out on our journeys, journeys the writers (Helen Martin, Helen East, Jackie Hagan, Danni Skerritt and Karen Featherstone) have come to the end of… though some might say their journeys are only just beginning!
The sharing’s brought me to Manchester, to a theatre space I had yet to discover and to meet creatives, writers and actors and watch new work … totally awesome!
The weird thing (or maybe it was just a sign of things to come): at the Royal Exchange there is a production of Into the Woods that got me thinking about the journey I was on…. Would I meet obstacles on my path? Would I listen to witches and wolves? And would I end up happy with the things I have at the end? I wish!