I joined the gals for a read-through on Monday after a weekend of script changes. Lara and I worked so much on structure in recent months but I hadn’t given enough attention to how those changes affected the meaning nor had I given the whole play a big fresh think-through. The actresses had some questions and issues that had come up during pre-rehearsal readings and these were – I could now see – glaringly unresolved. I’d spent the weekend writing and rewriting and fixating over a little section of seven lines in particular. I arrived with their new scripts on Monday rather filled with trepidation. But it was a lovely read-through. The play is all the better for their digging around lovingly in their characters. Plus all that work on structure felt like it really paid off – it has developed a very pleasing emotional shape now.
I was chatting to Lara about how writing a play is quite similar to a software project (software being my other rewarding passion). The script is the code. There are always bugs. Often in fixing one bug you inadvertently break something else. In software, simulations and tests can help you prevent and find bug but ultimately the proof is in the running. This process requires unflinching honesty and facing up to errors and omissions. Rejoice in finding the problem, and solve it, do not pretend it isn’t there, I say. Often in software, one finds a bug so obvious and so severe, that you wonder how the thing ever ran at all. This happens with plays too!