Disability Slapstick Plan at Darlinghurst Theatre, Sydney for the National Play Festival 2018

Eva Sifis

We gathered for the second day in preparation for our showings on Thursday and Saturday evening at the National Play Festival. Of the topics covered today Verbatim acting was explored with the merits of traditional script usage as opposed to head phone live. This last example sees actors mic-ed on stage with the lines being fed to them that they repeat out loud. This method is a fallible form however that can see swathes of material being missed or wrongly repeated.
The professional terms – ‘went up’ and ‘corpsing’ were next, describing the suffering experienced when an actor lost it on stage. Lost it, as in lost their character through either forgetting the lines or laughing honestly whilst in character. It was roundly affirmed that the best way to deal with this unfortunate set of circumstances was through being frank with the audience and openly requesting a prompt.
Then we spoke about characters such as Borat and the people who were hired back in the before-net days to spruce up scripts. I heard of some hard to believe lengths gone to in order to achieve the work
Our first session started late as we chatted to fill the space in wait for the an arrival of one of our cast members. What must be acknowledged here are the dastardly obstacles those disabled amongst us must deal with. There are so many other levels of existence to be aware of than you, personally, may have to contend with.
Our tech rehearsal was today. We were mic-ed up and the personalised levels of volume adjusted. The point was made for us to throw our voices regardless of the presence of magnification.
At our later gathering we were made aware that our priority whilst on stage is to remember to raise our heads. As this is a reading, we have not really considered the fact we will be watched by hundreds of people. I can imagine their idea of a titillating performance would not involve the tops of head craned over scripts! We are to imagine we are grabbing the audiences gaze and take it to focus on the cast member speaking. We need to scan the audience, even if we can not see them.
A little note given by Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia, Tim Roseman, is that at our number’s completion, the tradition of the festival was instead of bowing, to hold the script aloft to direct accolades there. After all, as the focus of this festival, the authors of the pieces are to be celebrated. This feels a little strange to us however as our spoken words are the content of the script.
Perhaps we should hold David Woods and Jon Hayes aloft as our tireless collaborators and compilers? Ho!

The piccies are an atmospheric nighttime shot of the fair city of Sydney, my mate from the Australia Council and Unlimited UK Sync Program in Adelaide 2015, the wonderful and skilled Sofya Gollan and a pic from our tech run today.