I had managed to type out four pages of script, based on the interviews I have had with Hamed, Aisha and Tulsi, and I am quite pleased with it. It is much wordier than most plays I write; one of the aspects of having a small cast is that it leaves less room for the physical theatre that often brings theatre alive. But their stories are compelling, and in adopting a Brechtian, story-telling approach, it means we can cope with huge changes of setting, mood, atmosphere.
Our style of presentation will inevitably be quite stark and simple, with nothing in the way of scenery or costume. But if possible, it would be good to recruit someone with the technical ability to create a rich soundtrack, as this could be a way to give our play edge and vibrancy, as well as being entirely portable.
Nonetheless, the script so far is just a draft. I am quite comfortable creating dialogue for characters to speak, but on this occasion I am putting words into people’s own mouths, so I have to give them the right to challenge or change this. There were also one or two occasions when my interview notes did not provide enough detail, and rather than rely entirely on my own imagination, I wanted to grab some more detailed account of what was said.
But I was pleased on two fronts. First of all, they had no serious disagreement with the words I had chosen for them to say (though Aisha did suggest that he words be simpler, which is something I will look at.) And secondly, it does seem to be holding together, with the three stories weaving in and out of each other. I am used to creating plays, and so trust my ability to create something which carries dramatic weight. However, it is already turning into quite a lengthy script, and that is without adding a fourth voice, for Abdulaziz is also keen to tell his story.
Which is how I spent the last half-hour of the session. Abdulaziz’s English is improving, but is not sufficiently good to manage the retelling of his story, so I had recruited Yasser (who had briefly been a part of the group) as interpreter. And the story which emerged was similarly harrowing. In a way,it is good to have too much material; if one of the participants drops out (there are hopeful signs for Aisha) there should still be sufficient material.
But we have begun, the cast seem excited (as well as a little daunted) by the new play, and we will see where this take us.