I was caught in a huge downpour during the short walk – well, run – from Wembley Stadium station to the Holiday Inn, so arrived soaked enough for the manager to insist that I have a towel. Apart from that, I had the usual uncertainty: who and now many would turn up? The idea was to continue with the play, for which I had written another four pages. Not knowing whether or not they would be required, I had written dialogue for two more characters. I would just have to see whether they would end up redundant.
Hamed was first to arrive, and then Aisha… and with her a new member! She was a young woman named (I think) Kherira, who came from Botswana. She seemed a little shy at first, but soon grew in confidence. Abdulaziz also appeared again, and Azi, Ali and Sherwan were all there, so we had very nearly the full complement, with only Rabar missing – so there was room for my two new characters!
We warmed up briefly – I always take the micky out of such activities as we do them – and then played Zip Zap Boing, which they all picked up very fast, with a great deal of enjoyment. I then decided upon an improvisation game, in which you take an ordinary object, and then take turns to use it in a variety of imaginative ways. I was uncertain about it, as I had tried it some months before – with a different set of people – and it had failed. I had brought in a frying pan… and they all used it as a frying pan. But this time it was hugely successful. We used a walking stick, and it generated a huge amount of shared laughter.
We then turned to the play, and read through the whole thing so far; with people at different stages, we needed to bring everyone together. They were amused by the whole love triangle, and Kherira, playing Phebe, could read English well, and looks like a natural for her role. When we turned to getting on our feet and acting things out, we started with “the machine” that we had worked on last week. First the four who had been there then showed what they had done, and then we integrated the others into the same idea. I was a little concerned that the extra people would make the scene clumsy, but they did great, and we had some strong theatre.
Altogether, it was most encouraging. If this group can stay together, there is the potential for a great production.