It’s Saturday morning, and I’m standing in a circle of anticipation on a stripped back and empty WLT stage with Emma Hunt, Daniel O’Kane, Liam O’Kane and Peter Newling.
We’re about to play a game, a warmup game, instigated by Peter. The game is named ‘Yes, Let ‘s’, and involved us flying a plane, digging a garden, parachuting and much more while shouting, ‘Yes, let’s!‘. Pete then had us become a working machine. I loved this exercise. It forced us to connect as Peter asked us to showcase a movement that best-represented fear, grief and forgiveness, the underpinning themes in my new play, ‘BROTHERS’.
Then, Pete, had the four of us play SNAP while pretending to be aged 11, 13 and 15. Surprisingly, for what was just a warmup exercise, we became competitive characters. I’m not sure who won, but I know I cheated a fair bit. Again, Peter was preparing us to get into the headspace of teenagers, which our two brothers become in the play.
We’ve now moved on, and we find ourselves hysterically laughing at actual brothers, Dan and Liam, as Pete asked them to play fight as children. They pulled at each other’s clothing, wrestled each other to the floor, and threw shoes. It was energetic and great fun. Then Pete asks them to fight as young adults and a whole different level of fighting surfaced. It was verbal, angry and hurtful. We became fearful of our brothers during their improvised performance. I was frozen and so overwhelmed I forgot to take any photographs. Their fight came to a natural end, and I had to fight the urge to go and hug them both and make sure they were okay. It was that convincing. It was extraordinary.
Then it was down to business. I’m still developing the play, but we have part of a script. A few days before, Pete and I decided on some key scenes to workshop. We kick-off with ‘Police Chase’ and I wish I could share with you the audio recordings from this. It was side-splittingly funny, further evidenced by Emma’s hysterical laughter as Dan and Liam, as teenagers, raced around the stage from the police. We wiped away giggle tears, but little did we know that this was Pete’s smart way of steering us towards a much more demanding scene for Dan and Liam, both mentally and physically. Named ‘Spilt Milk‘ we knew we needed to tread carefully. Pete worked with Dan and Liam for some time as they went step-by-step until we all felt we’d got to a place of ‘Yep, that works’. Yes, it’s true, I hid behind my script, at times unable to watch, praying for it to work.
After lunch, we prepared for a scene called ‘Doorstep’, which I’ve yet to write, but we knew the underlying story beats. Pete briefed Dan and Liam and left them to run with it. I struggle to write about this here without tears forming. All of Pete’s warmups and running of the scenes before lunch led to this moment of what felt so special, I wonder if we will ever witness it again. Two brothers, both talented actors, improvising and bringing something so magical to the surface, it still keeps me awake. Dan and Liam were stunning and heartbreaking, confirming what we already knew, these guys are good! We then ran through everything we’d developed during the workshop and discussed some of the keywords Dan and Liam had written on a large sheet of paper throughout the day. I won’t share those. They feel private to us for now.
The day is done, and we pack up and hug out our goodbyes, our heads buzzing. Later that night, we message each other about how exhausted we are, but all agreed it had been an amazing day and not one we’ll forget anytime soon.
‘BROTHERS’ is a play about estranged brothers Matt and Jay. Now in their early 30s, circumstances find them back together as Matt fights’ cancer and Jay battles addiction. Fearing death and what’s been left unspoken, the brothers retrace their dysfunctional childhood and the night that turned their world, and once tight relationship upside down.
Thank you to the WLT committee for allowing us the use of the stage for the whole day. Thank you to Cat Jardine and Sandy Green, who read and recorded monologues of Mum and Nana. Shout out to Maxine Palmerson and Mia Boonen for recording a beautiful version of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart‘. To Producer Emma Hunt, my wing-woman on speed dial. Peter Newling, for the reassurance and helping us realise the story and characters. Biggest of thank you to super talented Daniel O’Kane and Liam O’Kane. For putting everything of themselves on stage and attempting all that we asked from them and then some. For being open to sharing and feel as passionately about this story and characters as we do, which I’m thrilled about as I created it with them in mind!
We are indeed the Famous Five. Yes, let’s!
I produce mood boards for every project. Pinterest is a great tool for this. I think it comes from my animation days of always working in sketchbooks. As a visual tool it supports the development of my writing and is a great reference resource that I rely on, especially with being dyslexic.
Give it a go!
My PINTEREST – although a large number of boards are set to secret if in development, or commissioned works for clients.
For enquires relating to BROTHERS you can contact me HERE
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