Thursday, 20 February 2014

A reminder of the past that speaks to the ‘Heart’…

Written by Matthew, Director - New College Swindon

This is my second year working on the Connections Festival.

Last year New College tackled Jonathan Harvey’s ‘Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy’ a tricky subject matter, but myself and the students soon took to the story and its characters and worked hard to realise the play.

Being accepted again for 2014 was very pleasing and I sat down with relish to read the 10 plays. Well, nine as one still hadn’t been sent out. In reading a play, there will always be something that catches you as a director. It might be a certain speech, a ‘moment’ or even a stage direction that fires your imagination and gets you thinking of how the play can be staged. I have to confess, having read the first nine plays nothing sprang to mind, nothing ‘spoke to me’ or fired up anything…I was worried! Now, that’s not to say that the plays weren’t well written but knowing the actors I had at my disposal and what would work for us, I didn’t feel there was a play that we could tackle.

Finally, play ten came through and I hoped! I read the quote on the front of the script:

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death… I can assure you it’s much, much more important than that.”- Bill Shankly

I knew this quote off by heart! From the age of 4 I had fallen in love with the beautiful game and, more specifically, with Bill Shankly’s Red Machine of Liverpool FC. When growing up when anybody asked me what I wanted to be, I always answered ‘Kenny Dalglish’. I didn’t care that that particular job was taken football and Liverpool were my obsession and my passion.

So, I tore into ‘Hearts’ with total enthusiasm and disbelief that a play about football had fallen into my lap!

Upon reading, I discovered not only a brilliantly hilarious play but memories that came flooding back of playing football with mates and the banter involved. I just kept my fingers crossed that the cast would like it as much as I did! After all, this play was for them and not the overweight director dreaming of glories past and what might have been on the football pitch!

Fortunately, they loved it! I think it speaks to them and their life experiences and also gives them the opportunity to get their teeth into great characters. As one actor put it:

“It’s like ‘The Inbetweeners’…only funnier!”

So, as we approach our first preview performance at our home venue, I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed working on all aspects of ‘Hearts’ and relish the challenge of working again with the play at the country’s oldest theatre, the Bristol Old Vic in March.

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