Tuesday, 8 September 2009

It's Not Exactly Shakespeare, but...

...I've written a play, and it was performed to an audience! Well, by 'play' I mean a three minute sketch, and by performed to an audience I mean it was performed by those involved in a small company called 'Behind the Bike Sheds', an artistic collective who were looking for short sketches for their recent production, and I happened to have a few spare minutes in between phone calls at work and gave it a try! But, whatever, it had a script, there was a stage, so, it's a play!

Now, in case this is all sounding a bit random, I shall confuse you even more. The specifications for this sketch were that it had to be around three minutes long, and had to either have a chair as the main focus, or mention a chair at least three times. The performance's title was 'A Room Full of Chairs', and that was what all thirteen featured sketches were about. I had a look on the organisation's website, and in the past their shows have been about the word 'Crunch', 'One Flew Over the Looking Glass' and 'Unidentified Luggage' - all of which invite a lot of thought, imagination and the opportunity to be pretty abstract and 'out there'. The group's aim is to be a platform for artists of various disciplines to showcase their work, be it artists, writers, actors, set designers, dancers etc etc. In the performance I watched, which took place at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen (lovely part of London!), there was certainly a lot of variety in the way people interpreted an item as simple as a chair.

My sketch was on first (which I took as a pretty good sign, maybe?) and had a chair as the sole focus. I only featured two characters - both male - and one starts the conversation with 'Do you remember what we were talking about the other day? Well, I did it in the chair!' and a series of crossed wires and double meanings follow, in which one character and the audience believe he is detailing having sex with his girlfriend in the chair, when in fact it is something much more innocent. Yes, I laughed to myself at work as I wrote it, and even got a couple of laughs from the audience too! (I was expecting awkward silence...!) Some of the other sketches were much more inventive - one in which a rather desperate man had bought a conversation about chairs to use on a date, one where a group of people in a waiting room discuss and argue about 'chair rights' once one person declares that a chair is not taken, and one musing how a chair always seems to be lurking in the background in every case they have seen of spontaneous combustion. I'm sort of quite glad I wasn't able to come up with the last one myself, my mother would be worried.

All in all, the experience lasted for about an hour, in which I laughed, was confused, and at times a little freaked out, but always entertained! The actors that brought the scripts to life were all very talented, as they carried off even the strangest ideas well, and with my script the actors and directors made it just as I had imagined! It cost just £3 to watch and was a really interesting way to spend an afternoon, I will definitely be keeping a lookout for their future performances.

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