On Wednesday last week, with two and a half weeks to opening, we did a ‘sharing’ of our new show Little Red and it got me thinking about why these things can be so important.
When I was starting out making theatre, the thought of showing something that was unfinished would’ve been terrifying; no lights, no costumes, only sound to keep everything in shape, I would’ve probably walked out half way through saying sorry to everyone on the way. But after a few years doing shows for young people and families I relish the moment where you can test out your story on a group of unsuspecting guinea pigs (no offence).
If you do it at the right time then it is an invaluable way to see what is hitting home and what is boring, or as some people might say ‘bland’. I find that just having an audience there not only changes the way you watch something, but it allows you to watch them as well. It is a transformative experience. Done well it allows you to see the show afresh and in particular I find that it focuses my mind on the overall theme of the piece. All those eyes watching somehow blast away the fuzzy outer layers of what you’ve done and reveals, in parts, the essential question that you are asking. It shows you what the work is actually about. And that is often not what you expected. And if you do it at the right stage in the process then you have time to reorder, re-rehearse and on occasion entirely remake your piece.
So don’t be afraid to ‘share’ your work. It’s natural to want to hold it close and work on its imperfections alone, but you have to try and break that instinct and see that ultimately you’re making it for an audience, not for yourself. And the sooner you can test it in front of an audience the better.
Robert Alan Evans, Co-creator Little Red