A Report from the Rehearsal Room: Playwright Adam Foster talks cutting, confuddlement and collaboration...

With just under a week to go until Clay opens at The Pleasance Theatre, our uber-talented writer Adam Foster brings us the latest from the rehearsal room... 

Have you been a victim of confuddlement by our conveniently rhyming new play Clay produced by PLAY? Allow me to clear up any confusion. 

Clay began life as PLAY 8. It was originally performed at the Old Red Lion Theatre in September last year alongside three other short pieces as part of PLAY 5-8. The Pleasance then programmed a full-length version of the play for their Spring Season and over the last six months or so it has become Clay. Clay, the play, hurray. Get it?

Somehow, six months have disappeared and we now are into the final week of rehearsals. So how are we getting on?

Anyone who’s been involved in a PLAY process will know the extent to which it thrives on collaboration. We’ve very much retained that spirit, both in the last six months and during this more intensive period of rehearsals.  

Our imperious director, Hannah Hauer-King, has taken the brunt of this intensity. I was in rehearsals on the first day but since then have been away teaching customer service to the good people of Plymouth (don’t ask). I’m gutted because rehearsals are my absolute favourite part of being a playwright. As any playwright knows, when a new play gets on its feet, you start learning things you couldn’t imagine when it only lived on the page. 

Like PLAY 8, Clay emerged through a process of research and development in which we used improvisation to generate much of the content in the finished version of the play you’ll see at the Pleasance next week. We’ve been lucky enough to secure the original cast for the transfer – the extraordinarily talented Katherine Drury and Alex Hope – and I’m gutted to have missed out on a week of watching them both at work. They are both brilliantly detailed and intuitive actors and I can’t overemphasise their contribution to the play and process.  

As much as it’s pained me to be out of the rehearsal room, it’s meant that when I stepped back into the room yesterday morning, things I’d become blind to – both positive and negative – became much clearer. I was struck by how bloody funny they both are. By how bloody clever Hannah is. And by how bloody baggy my writing can be. 

Luckily, I love cutting. I can’t count the number of times I’ve cut great hefty chunks of words that flowed perfectly on the page but became unwieldy once actors were saying it and moving in the space. It’s incredibly satisfying spotting bad writing at this stage – and seeing entire beats flutter to the cutting room floor because they were utterly unnecessary.

We did our first full run through today. Having done lots of quite bitty, individual work on scenes over the last two days – it was good to get a sense of the arc of the play as a whole. There’s still lots of work to do, more detail to find, more shit writing to cut. But we’re getting there.    

One week to go…

Clay runs at The Pleasance Theatre from the 12th - 24th April 7.45pm (5.30pm Sundays)
Tickets £10/12. Book Now!