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Writing Together for imitating the dog’s The Train

14th September 2015 by Morven Macbeth

Writing the textual material for an imitating the dog show is never an easy task. Often we start off with a concrete idea and then as we begin to get to grips with the actual scenography everything that we held on to so dearly suddenly slips away and we end up re-working and re-writing at great intensity. Not easy, but exhilarating and working on the script of The Train with Pete is turning out to be quite a ride.

I started off writing a kind of short story about a couple in a hotel room near a railway station on the border of two countries somewhere in Europe. Here a woman dreams of the world as a train (something that we had briefly explored in The Zero Hour) and we find ourselves following her psychological journey of self-discovery, one that is painful but ultimately cathartic and redemptive, where she faces and moves on from the devastating effect of personal loss. Then I turned this into a film script and Pete started to intervene and shape the material – forcing me to re-work and follow slightly different paths, ones that have turned out to be vital to the project and hugely rewarding. I suppose that’s what’s so good about a writing partnership – that you are forced into places that you never thought you’d end up spending some time in. It’s in such places that, as a writer, you discover what really moves and tests you. And with two of you, such a journey is, perhaps, a little easier.

What we are engaged with now is a kind of pairing down, of really thinking about the relationship between the scenography and how the text sits within the scenographic word that we are creating. And it’s some world. The set is exquisite and as the audience track along its carriages and doorways, listening to Jeremy Peyton-Jones’ haunting soundtrack on headphones, I am reminded how important it is to rein in the written word in works such as this. Here the word needs to invoke rather than to explain, to provoke thought rather than describe, as so much is layered through the visuals, the sound and the immersive experience of being situated in a world. In many ways The Train is a dream play and although language has an important role it will be how we delicately situate it within the scenographic world we are making that will be key to its success.

Andrew Quick
Polverigi September 15

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