Words & Pictures has been through several versions now - two different work-in-progress formats at Forest Fringe and Fix, and then the "finished" presentations in Sheffield and Leeds last October and November.
In the work-in-progress versions we were just trying out different sections, and not worrying too much about the format, or frame, of the show. When we presented the work as part of Off The Shelf in Sheffield, the format borrowed from the idea of a short-story collection, bringing together new material with elements that had been previously "published" elsewhere (as discussed in this earlier post). In the context of a Festival of Writing and Reading, this quite disparate evening of readings worked quite nicely, with the different modes and voices giving the evening variety.
But once we moved this version into a touring theatre context as part of the Leeds Met Studio Theatre programme, we found this eclecticism to be more problematic. The show felt a little ramshackle - we no longer understood what the frame of it was. Despite our introduction explaining that there was no connection between the different sections, audience members told us that they couldn't help but look for connections and themes.
Presenting the work at Prema last month, coupled with an improvised writing workshop, allowed us to rework the piece in a new context. The new version - revised and updated, if you will - now borrows more from the form of an (unfinished) autobiography rather than a short story collection. It goes back to the solo version of the work presented at Forest Fringe last summer, but also draws much more conspicuously on the installation Chapters From The Unfinished Book Of My Life Story.
This structure, which allows for some new material, also feels leaner and more cohesive, and makes more sense to us. This is the version we'll be showing at the National Review of Live Art this week. I'm looking forward to it.