The Drum Theatre, Plymouth
The scene: my mother's back garden. The time: some years ago. I was back in Britain on a visit from America and fielding a phonecall from David Prescott at the Drum Theatre in Plymouth.
It was a cheery phonecall, about a play I had submitted ... How fine the play was, he told me. How come a first play was structured so well? After forty five minutes the caveat came in: the decision to produce was not his, and the director of the theatre would never go for it. He liked plays to be 'more dangerous'.
That play became Feeding the Roses, which I posted about last week as the Virtual Theatre Project took it to a staged reading in North Carolina. Curiously just one week on I found myself in Plymouth and went to a performance at the Drum
The theatre specializes in new writing. A rambunctious play was on, Bad Jazz by Robert Farquhar. It was broad comedy about sex and the theatre. A couple fell out at the opening, one of them an actress required to give fellatio on stage. Another scene saw a rent boy buggered while singing Andrew Lloyd Webber. I got a sense of what dangerous means in Plymouth terms.
It was a very good production, acted with real energy and verve. Cast and writer appeared at the close for a talk and chat. Louis Hilyer, playing a stage director of wayward brilliance, spoke about how much resonance he found in the truths about theatre spoken by the his character, voicing the dramatic philosophy of Grotowski. The play was as distant from Grotowski as you can imagine, but I found some resonance in his words. I'd been preaching what I learned from my own experience of a Grotowski workshop on a theatre panel just the previous week.
David Prescott chaired the talk so we spoke for real afterwards. His appreciation was a real step in my play's evolution - it took some time but I went on to add that more dangerous element, the lead couple in the play adding 'serial killing' to their cvs. The Drum Theatre's audience was young, sizeable, and enthusiastic. Simply entering the communal experience of the evening cheered me about being in Plymouth, letting me participate in the city. I look for a lot from theatre, but simply stepping out of myself and sharing a laugh or two makes for a pretty healthy outing in itself.