Off to Oval House this evening to see Arinze Kene's lyrical new play Estate Walls which Stef has produced. It was strong work - a pseudo Romeo and Juliet set in a Hackney endz tightly directed by Che Walker with some memorable performances throughout. The Oval was packed, young and lively. I liked the mix. Many in the audience talked and commented throughout which both gave the event a secondary text and the actors immediate feedback. Instead of spoiling things this engagement gave a fresh edge to the work bringing a territorial opposition forcing it to stand up for itself. In the end the play won - but a weaker or less immediate production might have been buried.
Afterwards in the bar Stef and I chatted a bit about the Bosnia play, now on its second draft and heading towards a first reading. I'm having some really good discussions about its future development and am now in a position of justifying the work as it stands, rather than inventing new material. Some of it I'm very happy with, but there are still problems with the dramatic content and some of the structuring. I think hearing it spoken might reveal the unacceptable clunks.
Stef's currently working with Sean Holmes - who was also in tonight - on the Lyric's production of Blasted, which opens the week after next. She got the job partly as a result of the trip to Sarajevo. The play is really Sarah Kane's provocation at our apathetic response to the Balkan war.
It's clear she's enjoying the process, learning lots, but struggling with the sedentary nature of assisting. As a director Stef is never still and only ever uses a chair to perch on before launching back into the space to encourage her actors but for some small frustration at the intellectualism of approach she seems impressed with Sean's attention to detail and his layering of the text - amazed by what can be mined. Great to watch her push on.