Sherina chatted with Siôn from Russell Actors about the joys and challenges of theatre-creation over the last few months…
Sherina: How did you find the early stages of devising?
Siôn: My experience early on was like collectively trying to wrestle an analogous blob to the ground. The initial concept came quickly (the blob), what needed working out was how to turn the blob into a play. Our group is made up of people who all have great ideas that they feel strongly about which - while being far better than the alternative of few ideas - can lead to some slightly intense discussions! However, I feel very lucky that our group quickly united in our belief in our original concept and our desire to turn it into an entertaining piece of theatre.
Sherina: What have been your influences?
Siôn: Anything with really strong dialogue.
Sherina: And how do you feel at the end of each RA session?
Siôn: The feeling could be anything from elated and giddy to deflated and frustrated. But I’ve never had a session where I haven’t laughed! What is consistent is a feeling of being satisfied and confident that we are to perform an exciting piece of theatre. As hard as devising can be, good work is produced by hard work and I feel like the challenge is making me stronger at my craft, and more rounded as a creative.
Sherina: Any tips on the writing process?
Siôn: The advice I would give myself, and to everyone, would be to start writing early and often! It doesn't matter if what is written initially is absolute rubbish: what writing does, in my opinion, is it brings the group back to reality. Every idea shared in discussions is a paper aeroplane in a windy room. There are definitely some well- designed planes somewhere but they can get lost in the whirlwind and you can waste time trying to find them, or even designing another one that's exactly the same as one you made a few minutes ago. Writing gives you the opportunity to look at something physical and find what's good about it and what's bad about it. Any bit of writing is a bone with which you can start to build a skeleton and life is a lot easier when you have a skeleton.
Sherina: How are you feeling about the Russell Actors Plays Festival on 26th March?
Siôn: Excited! There is no joy greater than performing and I'm excited to finally breathe life into the characters we've been agonising over. I'm also excited to see what other people have been working on. Sometimes I forget that my friends - some of whom are in the other casts - are performers so it is a lovely reminder to see them on the stage in their element. It's inspiring to see fresh and exciting bits of theatre and to see the results of each individual’s approach to character. There is a magic to the inevitability of 'performance day'. No matter what happens in the devising room, eventually we will be on stage and we'll have to do something. That fact forces our creativity to produce. So we can leave any worrying to you and Robbie! All we have to do is trust. Trust ourselves as individuals, and trust ourselves as a group. Bring it on!