This was a direct development of our devised process Stripped Back Theatre, where the energy and focus is placed on the words and the acting. We wanted to create a process whereby Actors created and devised their characters in workshops, and a Writer used the captured verbatim material and turned it into a piece of Theatre.
After initial introductory workshop sessions using techniques pioneered by Meisner & Rodenburg, we then started with a setting (Pigeon Park), the song from Blur (Parklife), and the idea that we would discover the characters through listening to moments during their day.
Each Actor was asked to choose the work-place of their character (as it turned out, Bank, Coffee shop, Sainsburys, Big Isue, and Birmingham City Council.
We then asked the Actors to describe in words five minutes of their characters' morning e.g. making breakfast, waiting for the bus, getting to work, starting work etc. The Writer listened and captured the words of the Actors.
These 'distillations' were added to and further developed so that by the end of the workshop process each character also told a story arising from a particular incident that happened to each of them that morning at work.
The last stage of the process was for the Writer to collate and edit the devised words created by the Actors in the workshops, and to then create the rehearsal script.
The workshops took place over 7 sessions spread over 3 weeks.
Parklife became essentially a monodrama (although we didn't know that at the outset!); 5 cross-cutting monologues telling the stories of a day-in-the-life of 5 characters who happen to spend a lunchtime in the grounds of St.Philip's Cathedral a.k.a. Pigeon Park.
Each monologue revealed the interior and exterior lives of the characters, and in doing so the particular the crises that they had experienced that morning. By the end of the lunchtime in the park, each character had determined (to varying extents) how they would each deal with their predicamants.
The audience were able to follow each character's story, and in doing so also have a cumulative experience of how we each deal with the challenges of life today.
The play ran for 3 performances in July at the Old Joint Stock Theatre, as part of the inaugural 2013 Birmingham Fest.
The running time was 1hr 10min.
Video Clip Click here to see video clip