We're down to the final twenty five young writers who are going to help create the new play for Richmond Theatre's 110th anniversary celebrations in the summer. Originally we'd thought that it'd be an easy job finding ten talented teenagers to contribute to the project, but as we've been workshopping round local schools in the last couple of months interest in the project has grown, with over two hundred registering to take part. The scale has caught us by happy surprise.
So on Monday we ran a day long audition to finalise our choice beginning with a journey up to the theatre and performing arts galleries at the V & A for a tour and introduction by Gillian, the collection manager, focused on a broad history of the British stage.
For a discipline that's so reliant on energy, momentum and movement I'm always struck by how lifeless the artifacts, posters, tickets, costumes and posters feel trapped in cabinets and behind glass - their magic faded, their stories stifled. The exception was Charles II's royal decree of 1660 allowing - or actually insisting - women appear on stage for the first time. An etched black and white portrait of the king on the top left smiling wryly at us across the centuries, content at the good deed he'd done.
The video clips, dressing up costumes and model boxes provided more interest, but we didn't really have enough time to explore independently, or to get a gauge of how the students might approach research, before heading back to the theatre for an afternoon workshop. In truth all twenty five deserve a place on the project and rather than making the job easier a day of work just made selection that bit more tricky.
Once the teenagers had gone home Eleanor, Carolina and I retired to the pub to try and construct the right team. It took a while, but now it's done I'm really excited to begin work proper.