Imagine walking around the Great Hall of the iconic Royal Exchange building while waiting for the fabulous King Lear to begin and stumbling across a storyteller who has a secret or a confession to share. That was the premise for ‘Come Closer: Speak How You Feel’ a series of monologues written by 10 of the most exciting, emerging British writers and performed over a weekend, mid-April 2016.
Imagine then the excitement of one of those chosen writers, her building enthusiasm followed by an anticlimactic, kerslap as she fell on her face, tripping on the discovery that monologues are not that easy to write.
At least not for her.
She... enough of this.
I. I really (my own confession coming up). I tried. I did.
Small and perfectly formed was not my natural style, it seemed. I gave it a few goes. Even gave up at one point(oh, the relief and shame) when I lost the ability to self-critique my own work. Was it good? Or was I holding on to it out of ego? I didn’t know. All I knew at that point, was there was a form I wanted to hold on to(quietly, confidently), a character whom I could vividly see and feel (she deserved to be heard) and the lovely Jane Fallowfield, willing me on with her belief that I could take my big, expansive storytelling style and tuck into a smaller space and time. Would I step out of my comfort zone and grow or hide and shrink?
I’m happy to report, I stuck with it, in fact, I changed the heart of the story- instead of re-working the same old idea, I remembered that creativity had no limits- somewhere in me was another core of story to focus on, one as yet assigned to my ego. It then poured out of me unhindered by ‘I’ and the result was a piece that audience members said was powerful and moving.
New boundaries squeeze creativity out of us. Come Closer as a whole was a great example of that - what happens when theatre is unexpected, unreviewed and in an unusual location? 10 great stories told to a captivated audience, that’s what.