Time to Kill All Your Darlings…

David Mamet had it when discussing various uses of the knife…. Cut, cut, cut and kill all your darlings….

It’s not a phrase known amongst the And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues team, so I had to explain I wasn’t about to commit bloody murder, but start sharpening the editing pencil and serving the script….

And Suddenly I Disappear is a collection of fictional monologues informed by the lives of disabled and d/Deaf people in Singapore and the UK. My colleague Peter Sau with Lee Lee Lim led the interviews in Singapore, collecting experiences and perspectives never previously recorded here. I led the UK interviews and questionnaires, starting almost a decade ago. This material has inspired the monologues I’ve created, but as I believe we are our stories, I haven’t used anyone’s words or experiences, for that would feel too close to theft for my comfort.

Lee Lee Lim making adjustments to her braille script

We are now in the second week of rehearsals in Singapore, and I’m only now in the position to be able to start testing the material, cutting the surplus and sensing the flow as the performers become more familiar with the text. I tend to over-write, something I would always encourage other writers to do, for it is far easier to nip and tuck in rehearsals than suddenly be faced with the daunting task of filling a yawning hole in the script. The stage management team and I are trying to keep on top of the changes – and I was impressed by the speed and dexterity of Lee Lee Lim, making adjustments to her braille script in rehearsal.

The production is a series of discrete monologues presented in different ways and form, some character-based, others choral and collective, some individual stories intercut to create a mosaic of experience, and yet more are without spoken words. Ramesh Meyyappan has created a sequence in visual language which now requires audio description, so today we started exploring possibilities, trying to ensure the spoken word did not dominate.

Grace Khoo and Ramesh Meyyappan – in rehearsals for And Suddenly I Disappear,,, The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues

It is an on-going process, using the aesthetics of access, using tools creatively rather than as a simple ‘add on’. Captioning, visual language, and integrated audio description are shaping the aesthetic and the performance style of this Unlimited international collaboration. It is an immensely exciting dialogue, and one that I hope will go on for quite a while…

Meanwhile, it’s back to the now heavily marked and crossed-out script in search of further darlings to excise….

 

2 responses to “Time to Kill All Your Darlings…

  1. I saw a wonderful production of Constellations by Nick Payne at Alberta Theatre Projects a few months back and there’s an entire scene in sign language which was fascinating to watch. Also many of the theatre companies here have ASL performances. I asked one of the people involved with the ASL performance for Constellations what they did once they reached the sign language scene and he said they simply let the scene play out. It was an amazing experience for audience members to see a scene where it was all sign language because they don’t see that on stage. It comes down to the fact that we want to see stories about ourselves and the people we know. It validates us and makes us feel part of the conversation. Your project sounds fascinating. Is this a project that will produce a script that can be performed by other theatre companies?

    • The work will be published by Oberon later this year. Meanwhile, please check out my other collected work for disabled and Deaf performers: ‘Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors’ published by Oberon https://www.oberonbooks.com/atypical-plays.html and also available as an e-book via Amazon and other providers in the USA. Thanks for the lovely words and interest – always great to share experiences. Many thanks!

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