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Rough Mix 2010 - Nicholas Bone's starting point

When I was 10 I spent the year in bed

One day at school, the teacher told us that a new boy would be joining our class. She explained that he was older than the rest of us and that he had been ill and that as a result of this he had spent the last year in bed. This seemed fantastically glamorous to me for two reasons: first, he was being announced in advance by the teacher, rather than just having to turn up at school on the first day like the rest of us; and secondly, he hadn’t had to get up for 12 months. No-one really knew anything about him and even once he started, he had an air of mystery about him: the only thing he ever told me was that he hadn’t had his hair cut for the entire year, which only added to his glamour in my eyes even though he now had rather neatly cut hair. What had actually been the matter with him, I never knew - and I was probably too embarrassed to ask him (the middle class fear of asking personal questions) – but I was fascinated by the idea of what it would be like to just stay in bed. This was long before I’d ever heard of Oblomov.

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Rough Mix 2010 - Shaun Bell

Rough Mix Half Way Point

We have reached the half way point. We are an ensemble. Sheila suggests we should imagine we have been an ensemble for many years, sometimes it feels it. The five piece of work we are creating are very different. For Linda, we began looking to objects for stimulation; now we look at objects as stimulation. Ian began with a very specific true story, which we are adapted to create our Anna and our Cornelia. Ruth wanted to add other voices to her own. We have one voice with many paces and accents. One Odyssey. Nick began with the destruction of a storm, in his last workshop he created a controlled fall.

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Walden 2010 - Cameron's Tour Diary

Cameron's Tour Diary- Week 1

So the tour’s begun. This first week has been brilliant! We started at Dancebase in a lovely studio at the very top of the building. This is the studio which Walden was first tried out in a workshop before it was finally developed into the play it is today. The first preview was excellent, having a lot of supportive faces around, some of which were members of the Open Source. It’s always a bit of a nervous start with any preview of a show, but I really enjoyed sharing the story for the first time.

We’ve had a couple of closed performances at St Katherines and Howden Hall in Edinburgh for teens that go to school there and we also had two sell out shows at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. I have never performed at the Tron before but have seen plenty of great plays there. We were in the Changing House which is a studio space perfectly sized for our show and the wooden beams supporting the roof above, merged aesthetically with our set.

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Walden in rehearsal 2010

We're now well into Walden rehearsals - well, three days in actually - and it feels like getting to know an old friend all over again. This is now the fourth time I've rehearsed the play, but each time I discover new things. It's also interesting working with a new actor as this inevitably brings out new aspects of both the character and the text. Cameron (the new actor) has new questions, and this leads me to finding new things as well, and one of the great things about doing a one person show is that you can afford to spend more time talking - Walden is so much about ideas that you really need to thrash about a bit to get to the grist of it, and to find the charactersitics of this stage version of Thoreau. You have more time because you don't have to worry so much about the actual staging - a lot of which is, crudely speaking, avoiding actors standing in front of each other. It's more complex than that, of course, but you're usually trying to create focus on particular parts of the stage - with only one actor you don't need to worry because the audience don't have anyone else to look at instead. Having said that, as Walden is peformed in the round, the audience can look at each other, and this also presents a challenge for rehearsing with a new actor. The style of the production means that the audience are a very active part of the performance - another character in a way - which means that until you actually perform it with an audience, the actor has little ideas of how this other character is going to behave and react to him. Cameron is having to do a lot of imagining other people looking at him, making eye contact (or not), reacting to his quips with them etc, and I imagine this is probably quite hard.

It's great having the set back up again - it still has that wonderful cedar aroma after a year in storage and I love walking through the rehearsal room door in the morning and meeting the smell.

Nicholas Bone

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Wild Life - An introduction to the project

I first came across the story of Victor, the so-called Wolf Boy of Aveyron, when I saw Francois Truffaut's film L'enfant sauvage (The Wild Child) as a sixth former. The story stayed with me and a few years ago I came across a copy of Lucien Malson’s book Wolf Children in a bookshop, with a still from the film on the front. In the book, Malson documents the various cases of feral children that have been documented and discusses the Victor case in some detail. The second half of the book consists of translations of Jean Itard’s two reports on Victor. Itard was the doctor who took on the task of tying to “civilise” Victor, and the two reports follow his ultimately fruitless attempts to teach Victor to speak.

Reading the book, and in particular Itard’s reports, brought the story back to me and the idea formed to make a theatre piece based around the story. As usual with these ideas, it was necessary for me to find a team with whom to develop the idea. I had known and admired Pamela Carter’s work for some time and something made me approach her about the idea of working on the play – subconsciously, it was probably her two plays for Stewart Laing that gave me the idea: both had French sources (Slope was about the relationship between Rimbaud and Verlaine and An Argument about Sex was based on Marivaux’s La dispute). At the time we first spoke, An Argument… had yet to be produced, but I knew the original play and the strange connection between La Dispute and the case of Victor (La dispute imagines the results of the “forbidden experiment” long dreamed of by philosophers where a child is deprived of human contact).

It seemed natural to then ask Sans facon and Simon Wilkinson to work on the project – I had had a particularly happy experience working with Tristan and Charles (otherwise known as Sans facon) on Walden, and now doing a full-on theatre production seemed a logical extention of that relationship. I liked the work Simon had done on After Mary Rose and had just invited him to become as associate artist of the company and I felt he would work well with Tristan and Charles (who are also associate artists).

What will follow on from this posting is some of the correspondence that has flowed between us over the past few months as the project has developed.

Nicholas Bone

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J. Sharp Taking A Walk
07 September 2014
Very much enjoyed your show at the Brunton Theatre last night and the silent walk to start was an excellent addition, creating the perfect atmosphere....