In the run up to our February 2019 productions of #ProforcaFeel and #FeelMore we threw open the doors of the Proforca Blog to our new collaborators, writers and Production Team. Taking over the blog for a look at crafting a “Feel More” monologue is the brilliant Alex Knott!
It was the middle of last summer, at the height of the Edinburgh Fringe, when David first mentions Brenda to me.
(Get me, sounds like I’m writing Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
Me, a little bleary eyed, more than a little exhausted and running on fumes, the manic flyering energy that most Fringe participants generate and the Underbelly gin. David, looking far more composed, with a cup of tea in front of him that I will later discover seems to materialise literally wherever he goes.
David is explaining the idea behind the ‘Feel’ universe. - “It’s like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for theatre”.
This idea of an interconnected world, or maybe, better, one interconnected story, all branching off from James Lewis’ initial play, seems like it provides an almost endless supply of opportunities to the writers involved. The idea of the basis of the project being on a tube platform is immediately intriguing.
This is a project about the way we live now, about our generation, about how Millennials fail to connect with one another. It is, certainly a play for now, and is added more irony and poignancy by the fact that ‘Feel’ is set in the run up to the EU referendum. Now, in the wake of that decision, and with so many of the most crucial decisions teetering on the edge, that play is going to feel like something of a harrowing warning. A warning that, possibly, we’re far too late to heed.
“There’s any number of strands in the play that writers could pick up on. Stories that could be told.”
“There’s a woman at the station. She’s never seen, only mentioned. Brenda from UKIP.”
That’s the only mention of Brenda that day. For now.
Jump forward to a morning in mid-November, on the first day of the projects. Both projects. This is where the teams behind ‘Feel’ and ‘Feel More’ (the series of stories from the world of Feel, all written by new playwrights) will meet and hear the play out loud for the first time. I mention to David that with our names laid out on cards, in front of our allocated chairs, it feels like we’re making Broadchurch.
That’s not a bad shout, to be honest, as there is something televisual in the style, the energy of the play. It wouldn’t make a bad TV series. Or radio play. This is where the possibilities are endless. Stories could continue to populate this world. A whole world of disconnected Londoners. Born and bred Londoners, or those who simply find themselves in this city for better of worse. The opportunity to tell a thousand lonely stories. There isn’t a clear endpoint for a project like that.
By this point, David has asked me to pick up the story of the woman from UKIP. I didn’t want to write a monologue criticising the Leave campaign, or trying to get cheap laughs at UKIP’s expense. That would be the simplest option. Instead, I want to try and tell a story that makes you feel for Brenda. Maybe for just a handful of minutes, you can see her side.
“The most important thing is that the monologues are relatable, and that these are people we’d like to spend time with.”
David throws me a look.
“Except Brenda from UKIP.”
Challenge accepted, David. I think to myself.
Now a few weeks down the line, and some words have been written. They’ve yet to be edited, but the page isn’t blank any more. I’ve tried to give Brenda a voice that she’d be proud of.
I don’t believe that theatre is a soapbox; it isn’t there to shout politics at an audience through a loudhailer – so you’ll have to buy a ticket to see what a coconut shy and game show prizes might have to do with Brexit or UKIP.
The words are going to be spoken by Demelza O’Sullivan. There’s a date in the diary. The show is going on. From that initial conversation in Edinburgh, the woman at the train station has some words to speak. Soon it’ll be out of my hands, and into Demelza’s, to discover if she has a voice.
Alex Knott is a Director, Actor and Writer who lives in London. When he’s not wondering where all the tea is coming from he is a writer and director with Bag of Beard and Boxless Theatre. You can follow Alex on Twitter @AlexKnott95
Proforca Theatre Company are a fringe theatre company based in London - our productions of “Feel” and “Feel More” head to The Space, London from Feb 5th to 17th 2019. Tickets for all performances are on sale NOW. For more information follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @ProforcaTheatre #TeamFeel.