Popelei Theatre

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Since my research trip to South America back in May, I have been writing and writing. Sat in front of a computer, surrounded by books, papers, recordings and photos. Scribble, scribble, here and there, little yellow post it notes all over the place. Re-living the life of this brilliant woman through my own words and phrases. I could’ve kept scribbling for months. Possibly even years.

So it was a wonderful spanner in the works to get accepted for the Nuestra CASA Scratch Night – it gave me a goal to work towards and an opportunity to get Manuela out of my head and onto the stage. The 15 minutes allowance was a great way to strip my ramblings down to a concise narrative with a clear focus, something that my Nuestra CASA mentor, Malú Ansaldo, helped me with from our first meeting.

The first day of rehearsals was strange. Lonely. As I am short of a director, it was just me, my props, my script, my flask of tea and a very empty room. Such a difference from my last project, which had me in an enormous warehouse with 13ft high scaffolding and 7 people with whom to warm up and share a cuppa. But the solitariness was productive. I tried out lots of ideas – my chair and me dancing around the room. I had no one to tell me if they were any good, of course, but sometimes that’s not such a bad thing.

Luckily, for the second day of rehearsals I had some company. Jamie Doe, my musician, was there with his trusty guitar and accordion, as well as Malú, my mentor, who was an invaluable outside eye for the day. We played around with what I had come up with, broke it up, chatted about it and re-formed it, this time accompanied with some gorgeous (at times extremely amusing) music improvised by the wonderful Jamie. I felt like Manuela was really starting to take shape. Through our shared thoughts and productive input she was becoming a collective creation. And it felt great.

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