Ida: Or the difficulty of writing an original play
Witness the story of the town of Proof, a small town somewhere. A place with traditional values inherited and unchanged for generations. A place that believes in “what it can see and what it can prove”. Until one day an accident brings a stranger to the town. Ida sees the world differently and the longer she spends in Proof the greater the affect she has on its townspeople. The consequences are disastrous.
For a fifth year KILN return to Coventry University to create a brand new piece of theatre with the entire ensemble of third year Theatre and Professional Practice. Ida: Or the Difficulty of Writing an Original Play incorporates our making process as part of its story. This production bares all, both telling a theatrical narrative and staging the challenges, tensions and apparatus of making work through a democratic devising process that includes the ideas of 42 individuals.
An interview with the student ensemble
Bobbie-Marie Barnes, Ross Cooper, Stephen Maydom, Katie O’Cleary, Emma Sherwood and Emmeline Wallington are all third year Theatre and Professional Practice students at Coventry University. These 6 performers were part of the 41 strong Company who devised IDA: or the difficulty of writing an original play. We asked them a few questions about the production, here is what they had to say…
Can you tell us what it’s all about?
Emma: Ida is about challenging the way we view tradition and change. Is tradition a suitable method of survival? Or can it be destructive and cause ignorance?
Stephen: When the character Ida enters the town, she makes the townsfolk question their ways, causing a division between the old and the new, science and faith.
Ross: In the show, we’re not just telling the story of Ida and the town of Proof, we’re also telling the story of how this show was created. We don’t try to hide the mechanics of the theatre, there is no illusion, we come in and out of our characters and interject with our personal experiences of the devising and rehearsal process, whether positive or negative.
Katie: What you will see is a mixture of emotions, the struggles in which a theatre company go through in order to create a devised piece of work.
What role do you play?
Bobbie-Marie: I play the character Hyacinth, the town’s florist and gardener… I play a warm, caring, and humble character, I am sceptical about the Outsider- Ida at first… I’m a character who is torn between my community and Ida’s way of seeing the world.
Ross: My character is called Brian and he is an elder, authoritative member of the town. He is a very grumpy man who doesn’t like many people in the town and his only friend is the town leader Bill. His marriage is in ruins; he doesn’t even know his wife’s name. He is an aggressive person who attempts to use fear as a way of forcing the people of the town to follow the ways of Thomas Hobbes.
Katie: My character is called Delia, she is a middle aged, abrupt, vulgar snob. Delia is most concerned about her lipstick and sticking her nose is other people’s affairs for her own personal satisfaction. As such she doesn’t care about the feelings of other people in the town.
Emma: I play a character called Judy, she works as a seamstress and she is responsible for dressing the town. Judy is fairly quiet and quirky; she gets on with everyone in the town and will do what she can to help in times of crisis.
Emmeline: I play one of a double act. The Wise Old Women help to support Ida in the village, but can they even come to her rescue?
What can an audience expect from the production? How will it make them feel?
Bobbie-Marie: Depending on the audience’s tastes, they could feel frustrated with the style of the piece. The narrative style may seem distorted as oppose to flowing, but some members of the audience might love this.
Ross: The audience can expect to witness something very different and unique in terms of theatrical style. I cannot choose one word to describe how I think the audience will feel but I can guarantee you will feel something and I suspect all responses will be different. The show is more than just entertainment; it is a provocative stimulus for discussion and debate about the theme of ‘foreignness’.
Katie: What you will see is mixture of emotions, the struggles that a theatre company go through in order to create a devised piece of work. As we haven’t stuck to the set rules of a traditional ‘theatre production’ I would say the audience are going to feel uncomfortable and are going to be challenged in some scenes. There are some amazing aesthetics, and humorous moments throughout which undoubtedly the audience will love.
Emmeline: You can expect terror, sorrow, love and loyalty being tested.
Why does the show have a subtitle, IDA: Or the Difficulty of Writing an Original Play. Has the process been challenging and if so why do you think this would be interesting for an audience to experience?
Bobbie-Marie: As an actor, being introduced to a new style that you perhaps aren’t always comfortable or familiar with, can always be a tough and challenging process. I felt particularly challenged by the devising process but I hope the audience will have an opportunity to fully appreciate the hard work, love and patience that goes into creating a show.
Stephen: In the show, we’re not just telling the story of Ida and the town of Proof, we’re also telling the story of how this show was created. We don’t try to hide the mechanics of the theatre; we come in and out of our characters and interject with our personal experiences of the devising and rehearsal process, whether positive or negative.
Emma: There are many challenging factors when devising a show and they only increase when you throw a group of 40+ performers in a small room everyday for 4 weeks. In this production there’s always something to watch. We are always there, this time we cannot hide.
Emmeline: The subtitle of “The difficulty of writing an original play” is based on our process of devising the play you’re going to see. In this devising process it has been challenging to create a production from a black canvas. Elements of the play will highlight this and the audience cannot expect a typical style of play. It’s not just the story on stage, but the critic reflection of the ensemble describing some of our opinions and thoughts on the process.