It’s been two weeks since I started working with my awesome director Liz Mills on Drive With Me. We haven’t worked every day, or every moment of the days we work; I certainly don’t have the focus or stamina to do such intensive work, just me and her, for too long. But I am totally obsessed and pre-occupied. I say lines of text in the car, in the shower, to the dogs. I stomp around the house doing chunks and Big Friendly keeps thinking there is someone else here or that I am on the phone, fighting with someone. I keep trying on bits of costume and standing in front of the mirror, so I can have a clear picture of myself in my mind while I work on the floor.
Yesterday we managed a stumble through. From beginning to end. I almost know all the words and I am remembering what I should be doing where (even if I’m not actually doing it yet). It is an amazing feeling doing a one-person show again after all these years. And it brings up so many other, related and unrelated feelings. “Threads of past memory surface into the present.” That’s a quote from the play.
Here are some random moments and observations from the rehearsal process.
1.Liz and I gossip and reminisce, a lot. We have a lot of catching up to do; it’s been 30 years since I started drama school, with Liz as my voice teacher.
2. Liz talks about the writer (me) as if she was another person, blaming her for writing a challenging script. So do I.
3. Things in the script keep happening in real life. A small Fiat Uno on the side of the road, orange traffic cones down the middle on the white line. Neil Young on the radio. A ghost in a story. Stephen King on twitter. Everything is connected.
4. I am touched, moved by and sensitive to arbitrary moments. I am ready to cry, but not in or during the work.
5. I am excited about building relationships with an audience; that’s always been my big thing.
6. I watch other performers and compare myself to them all the time. “I do that.” “I don’t do that.” “I should do that.” “I’ve never even thought of doing that.” I imagine how they feel, how what they do makes them feel.
7. I am able to jump right into the performance zone when I improvise. Somehow, the focus of rehearsals and repetition bring my readiness to improvise onto my fingertips and everything is so easy to access. What a bonus.
8. I am able to criticise the writer and enjoy her and know it is me. I am starting to do that with the performer too.
9. I am saying my mantra for Grahamstown even as I type this. I don’t want to jinx it, so I’ll keep it private.
Here’s what I want you all to do. If you are coming to G’town, come and see my show. It’s called Drive With Me and it is on at the NG Kerk Hall from 27 June to 7 July every day, bar one (28 June). If you aren’t coming, please recommend it to friends and family who are. I am almost prepared to guarantee that whoever sees it will be a little bit changed (in a good way) forever.