Following a workshop day at the Yard Manchester in October, PlayBox playwright Mitesh Soni reflects on the first stages of developing his play, ‘Brit Bred’…
As the saying goes: “If you’re gonna workshop ’em, feed ’em”.
That’s my first thought as I start for the workshop day. The Box of Tricks company have very kindly assembled a team of fab actors to spend the day reading my script, feeding back, discussing and helping do whatever needs doing, to help me. To help me write better, hear if what I wrote made any sense, and, well, see if it’s actually any good!
I’ve done this before, from an actors POV. Workshopped other writers’ scripts, so I know exactly what it’s like on that side.
But as a writer? This is a whole new squid game.
The fear and anxiety of what other people will do with your work is very real. This is my paper baby. For the past 6 months it’s only been me, and the Box of Tricks team, that have had any insight into my pages. Now, it’s time to let other people in, and let them voice their opinion. Be prepared.
I’m at the checkout with six different type of biscuits. The security guard gives me a look that says “watch your diabetes…”
Intro’s done, we settle for the read. Adam is leading as director, I’m next to him, and around us a cohort of six actors. Some I know, some I don’t. The ice breaker involves asking everyone what their favourite biscuit is.
I swear I had no idea, it seems serendipitous, but I’m actually sat there thinking “feck, why didn’t I bring any gluten free ones”.
In. We. Go.
I’m watching, I’m reading, I’m sweating, I’m jotting notes, I’m recording- all at the same time. For 2 hours. And then it’s done. Like a GCSE exam. Except it’s not business studies, you know this subject. And you don’t have to wait for a result, some answers are about to come…
The team have read, acted and reacted my words. Rather brilliantly. So then rest of the afternoon is spent discussing the play. The themes, the content, the characters.
Brit Bred centres a lot around race and politics. Which for someone who doesn’t have much of a political bone in his body, I’m surprised this came out of me.
But the chats are fascinating. To hear people talking about their experiences, the understanding of it, the character ideas. My brain’s like “bam, this is what I wanted” and also “why, again, didn’t you buy gluten free jaffa cakes and digestives?”
End of the day we re-read the first and last scenes. I’m left mentally exhausted, yet sugared up. A notepad full of adjustments to make, and a script with marks over it, which I can barely read, so who knows what the hell they are.
It’s a baptism of fire. To realise you can be a source of a creation. Only do-able with Box of Tricks’ wonderful help and support.
But now i’m prepped for the next level. Armed with some new changes and a bit more sense of belief in myself. Feck, I’m a writer.
Next step: draft 3, and the big public reading early next year.
Perhaps I’ll buy biscuits for the audience too.
Gluten free as well.
Cant wait to see what the security guard thinks of that shop.
~ Mitesh Soni