"If you ask any young (or not-so-young director), and you’ve got a couple hours to spare, they will happily talk your ear off about what they would do with a play by Chekhov, Ibsen, or Shakespeare, especially if given carte blanche. These ideas tumble around our brains in an endless cycle – and no wonder: There’s a grand tradition of adaptations and interpretations of classic plays being the route via which a director makes their mark on the art form.
But the relationship between directors and brand-new plays is a much more mysterious one. The play will never have been seen or heard before, so there are no traditions to thwart, or socio-political juxtapositions to point out, or preconceptions to turn on their heads. There is only the play, the writer, you (the director) and the company you’ve assembled, searching together for the truth in this play – and the best way to bring that truth to an audience for the first time.
And so it was a rare gift of an experience that Morna Pearson and the Traverse challenged five of us with for Director’s Cut: Artistic carte blanche on a brand new play - only restricted by time and money (though I am beginning to understand that these are always the restrictions, whether you’ve got hours and pennies or months and millions).
And so we each tumbled our ideas around on our own for a while, with the excellent support of Emma and Hamish, over-preparing diligently before launching ourselves into the weekend. Or more specifically, into a single session of attempting to convey an entire vision for the world of the play, a style or artistic philosophy, a beginning middle and end of a rehearsal process, and hopefully a kind-of-a-nice-time, to an adventurous and brilliantly capable company of actors and technicians. Then the audience came in and these five well-tumbled, astonishingly different interpretations of Morna’s play existed side-by-side for one-night-only.
And with all that rolled into a few short hours, it felt like all the things you feel when rehearsing and opening a brand new play were also compacted down into one roller coaster ride of an afternoon: it was thrilling, terrifying, exciting, gratifying, frustrating, joyful and, sadly, over far too quickly.”