Second day of rehearsals on John's Story, working on the comments that have come back from the Teenage Cancer Trust. The main change from our first draft is that it seems unlikely that even if a doctor were unavailable to discuss results that the job wouldn't be delegated to a nurse. We rewrote the scene to bring in a second - but still unfamiliar - doctor. These are the protocols we must get right if we have any chance of convincing the delegates to engage with the play.
There have been some concerns that we paint a negative picture of the health care professions through the initial play, but I've had to hold my ground on this point. We're not presenting an objective documentary, but dramatising the perceptions of young people who've been diagnosed with cancer. Nothing in the play has been invented. It's a pure composite of anecdotes and letters.
It's a thin line to tread. Inevitably we have to stir the conference into action - perhaps by provoking them to examine some of these stories, but equally we have no desire to alienate dedicated professional practitioners, many of whom have dedicated their whole careers to improving cancer care for young people. The charisma and generosity with which we set up the session, encourage participation and, vitally, defer if we do provoke contention will be very important to the success of the work.
Michael, playing John, carries the bulk of the lines and he's struggling a bit to get the rewrites down. Towards the end of the day things had ground to a bit of a halt, which meant we didn't have as much time as I'd have liked to rehearse anticipated interventions. However, overall I'm very happy with it and I know Michael will put in the time between now and next Tuesday. We've agreed to meet earlier in the day to have a final refresher run.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.