When I first got in touch with Origins Theatre after seeing their abridged version of Hamlet at the Ventnor Fringe in August last year, the last thing I expected was to be asked if I felt brave enough to take a shot at directing! In an impressive display of confidence and faith from Origins Theatre’s founder/puppet master Kevin Wilson, I was trusted with his own play, The Truth Untold.
The title of the play refers to a line borrowed from the 1918 poem Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen. The poem, which tells the story of a meeting between the spirits of two soldiers, strips back the conflict and animosity that has passed between them and portrays their humanity- the truth untold. Whilst The Truth Untold is not a story about soldiers or a war, it is this theme of stripping back the confusion and conflict and getting back to who somebody is at their core which anchors the play and our two protagonists, Mark (Pete Stockman) and Colin (Reuben Loake).
I feel that in any performance a collaborative approach is essential to getting as much out of the play as possible, and this is especially true with The Truth Untold. With so much going on in such a short play, and with so much resting on the subtleties which make the play so compelling, I’ve been keen to keep free discussion and debate at the centre of our rehearsals, and it’s this which (I hope!) has given our production an honest, ensemble feel to it. It’s been so important that everyone involved has had some input into how this production has progressed. From the set lay out to character development, everything has been open to discussion and suggestion. To be honest, it actually feels like a bit of a cheat to call me the director at all!
In my opinion, a good production is one that draws you in with natural performances and simplicity, rather than keep you at arm’s length with OTT dramatics and pantomime body language, and this has been something myself and the cast have worked very hard to keep out of our rehearsal room! You can feel, when everyone gets going, just how much of themselves goes into their performances and it is this which makes all the difference.
To sum up my experience so far as a first-time director I’d have to say it’s been challenging, it’s been nerve wracking, it’s been educational and it’s been so much fun. As opening night gets closer, I’m more and more glad I said yes to taking this on and I’m so grateful that we’ve managed to scrabble together such a game bunch of people to tackle this with me! Brave or stupid? Best buy some tickets and find out!
Oh, and a big thank you to the yoga class next door for being such good sports during rehearsals, we have NOT been the most soothing neighbours…
See you on the 1st!