My First Richard (sort of…)

From Saturday I am about to undertake a fantastic week long piece of personal development and I’m beyond excited!

I have a stack of plays under various beds in our flat. Boxes full to overflowing with drafts of work that I’ve written over the last 40 years. I was a precocious 4 year old – I wrote plays even then (this may or may not be accurate). I’ve also got hard drives full of music that I’ve composed. Songs that have only been sung by me until now.

Next week a long over due ambition will finally be realised. A musical that I have written will be performed by a professional group of actors to a paying audience in a real life theatre! My writing partner John Myatt and I have been working on the piece, Richard the First, for the last 8 years. Admittedly there was a big period in there where we didn’t do much on it at all. It sat with the other scripts and files gather dust and digits (which is what I imagine virtual computer dust to be like.)

Bringing the show to life has been incredibly rewarding so far, but for a whole week I will now get to see it stand on its feet and do a light jig (or Kids from Fame style full-on dance routine) around the room. Really real people singing our songs and reading our words (well mostly John’s to be fair as he wrote the book and lyrics.) I’ve had my plays and performance pieces produced before, but never a musical.

There is something amazing about working on a show that involves words, music and movement. It requires extreme collaboration and enormous trust. I’ve only ever worked on them as a stage manager or very early on as an actor. Now I’m one of the creators. All powerful, all knowing, all seeing, the voice of… oh wait, no that’s not what I was trying to say. The collaboration, yes. The collaboration has been incredibly rewarding – letting go of how we saw the idea and having others bring fresh perspectives. It’s made what we have so more solid, clearer in its intent as a piece of theatre. It’s something I am incredibly proud to be a part of.

Next week, as the director, choreographer and actors take our words and music and shape them into a performance, I intend to learn. Soak it in and learn. I’ve been a part of great teams in the arts and in business, but never as a composer. This hat, this perspective, is such a gift (cliché but hey…) Theatre is a powerful storytelling medium. It’s there in front of you. It’s about being totally present. I can’t wait to find out how my music impacts on the story when it’s being told by others. To quote John: “I am Christmas, aged seven, about this weekend!”

Richard the First is on at South Hill Park, Bracknell on Thursdsay 30th April and Friday 1st May at 7.30pm