The wonderful Fine Comb Theatre allowed me to observe their R&D for their next project Not Yours, Mine. After working with Fine Comb before, I knew I would be walking into a creative hub with ideas bouncing off the walls! I was not wrong.
From looking back at my notes, my scribbles show that this was a place where everyone in the room was an actor, director and creative. This R&D was an opportunity to see Actors taking on new writing in an open space, where they could collaborate their own ideas, change any phrasing or add in necessary text and also for Rachel to see for herself what worked and didn’t. The story itself is tough and full of battling emotions, but the environment for creating this story was always welcoming, fun (with lots of laughter!) and no added pressure of a finished project.
I observed different techniques that Rachel wanted to play with when looking at certain scenes. Rachel has a fantastic way of getting anything and everything out of the actors in a fast paced, ‘don’t think about it’, kind of way. A phrase I heard lots was ‘try it!’ and it was always exciting and refreshing to see what the actors could come up with by themselves. When faced with a scene that encompasses power struggle amongst two friends, Rachel directed Shaban and Daniel in a quick-thinking movement piece. Creating 3 movements each, they crafted a short stylised dance. Followed afterwards by adding the text, they had themselves a scene that showed the battle. Perhaps it wasn’t the finished scene they wanted, but it was definitely a start of something gritty and raw for the actors to come back to.
Fine Comb are fantastic at keeping the journey of scenes exciting, and full of different energies. But there were times when they these set changes weren’t seamless enough, or movements in a scene became repetitive or props weren’t working. Another technique Rachel used to overcome these types of blocks was underlying music. Playing a randomly selected piece of music helped the actors see a new blank page to colour on. Ideas began again and the impossible became possible.
It has been a pleasure to come and watch what this wonderful company can achieve with some fantastic writing and hard working performers. Rachel and Cat have come together to create another brilliant piece of theatre, and I can't wait to see the final staging of Not Yours, Mine.