Actor Laura Danielle Sharp, star of 7 Veils, blogs about what it’s been like to work on a brand new solo show with writer Abi Hynes.
On New Year’s Eve last year, writer Abi Hynes and I decided that in 2014 we would create a new one-woman theatre show. Before the year is out our ambition will have been realised.
This is the third production I’ve done that Abi has written. I love her words (most of the time), and she loves how I say them (most of the time).
Not everyone loves having the writer in the rehearsal room. I think that this is because – very often – they are not in the room; they are in another place, in their own mind, imagining how they thought their words would sound. Abi is different. She is most certainly in the room, if not in the scene with you. She goes through what the characters are thinking and feeling as if it is her own experience and that is where she forms the words, in that very moment just before they need to be said.
My job has been to do what I usually do as an actor and find that moment, find a reason to say the words and the best way to say them.
Creating this show has been very different to any other piece I have been in. There has been no first day of ‘getting to know each other’, no end of week drinks and no frustrations at other actors not knowing their lines. My relationships have been with the text, my voice, my body and the frustrations have been purely with myself. It has taught me self-discipline like nothing else and required me to focus even when there is no one there to see what I’m doing.
This process has been simple and 7 Veils: An evening with Mata Hari has come about primarily through Abi and I being up front with each other about what we like, what we don’t like, what we enjoy, what makes us feel uncomfortable and putting the work first. We have played by our own rules. We’ve had some great rehearsals where we felt excited and the ideas just keep coming, and we’ve had rehearsals where it felt like we were wading through mud. Both have been invaluable and have brought us to the place of having a play that we both own. Abi calls it her show, I call it my show. In fact, it’s sort of like a two hander, just that the other member of the company isn’t on stage.
When we finally open on 20th November, we will meet our newest member of the company, the audience, and ultimately it will belong to you.
Sometimes in a play it can feel like you’re just trying the words on for size, trying to make them fit you so you feel as comfortable as possible. Sometimes it’s like your first day of school again, and you’re being made to wear a uniform that’s too big but ultimately you will grow into. And, at other times, you feel completely overdressed, as though you’re wearing the words like a ball gown in a room where everyone else has turned up in jeans.
This show has been like a having a very fine, tailored suit made especially for you, designed from scratch in fabric that moves with you and holds you in all the right places. I feel very lucky to now own such a suit and I can’t wait to show it off.
Find out more
Take a look at our rehearsal photos so far