28 Jul 2015

What Ifs, Doorways & a Spine

Meg and I had a planning meeting today, getting ready for our Grit rehearsal intensive at the end of this week.  The show is now cast and we’re about to dive into the early devising sessions… letting all those ideas bubble and explode.  It’s one of the joys of devising – the moment where everything is possible.  And particularly when you work with a group of young people, this unlimited sense of possibility is really exciting.

For us as artists, its incredibly freeing too.

doorways_grit concept 001 - Copy

In one of our first conversations about the show, the Doorstep team began thinking about the role of doorways in the concept.  Doorstep Arts uses the metaphor of doors, doorsteps, doorways, thresholds, footprints, and such quite a lot.  Maybe too much?  (Perhaps it’s overkill.)

But for some reason, I haven’t gotten tired of it yet… our schools outreach programme is called Open Doors, our young people’s mentorship programme is called Foot in the Door.  Our current Arts Council-funded project is based around themes of Crossing the Threshold.  And of course our very organisational name is founded on the idea that anything incredible can happen on your doorstep – that we all deserve amazing opportunities and that we’re all capable of incredible things.

Maybe one of the reasons we love the door metaphor too so much is that notion that anything is possible. A closed door, or a slightly ajar one, signals something new and exciting – something you will have to face. To be on the cusp of something, to be toes-on-the-threshold in anticipation, that’s a thrilling place to be. It’s a teetering place, a leaning and craning place.  It’s a nervous place.

That’s where we are with this show.


I think about this as a director and a writer – I’m furrowing my eyebrows over the narrative structure and the words… I want juicy, chewy, tasty words throughout this show – words that SAY something.  Words that MEAN something.  I get fixated on the story, on the language.  So when I map out what might be possible with the show it either looks like this (see above) or like this (see below).  Flow writing or narrative spine structures.

Grit show spine 001

But the benefit of working collaboratively is that everyone’s brain works differently.  My friend and artistic-soulmate Meg Searle thinks outside the box.  She thinks visually. She dreams pictures and hears music. She stays quiet in discussions for a long time, watching, deeply, intently.  She listens.  Really well.  And then she comes up with suggestions like this, as she did this morning, over coffee, with a glint in her eye and a chuckle.  ‘Okay, what if the What-If creatures were human heads, after all?  Like, really.’ So I asked her to draw it.

What Ifs_Meg vision - Copy

Yes.  That is a human head, wearing a balaclava, which is dressed as a small alien.  It’s called a ‘What If’ and it may involve knitting a number of arms and legs.  Yes.  This is why you work as part of a team.

Oh, I can’t wait for rehearsals to begin this week, I really can’t.

Post written by: Erin Walcon