The final instalment of Truant actor Claire McCracken’s rehearsal room diary.
Truant: It’s A Dance Drama
Following the sharing at the end of week three, John [Retallack, the director] decided to cut the verbatim speeches altogether, leaving room for scenes and movement. I had had two verbatims – one as a young carer and one as a youth worker, the latter describing a boy she had worked with who had never been affectionately touched.
We were given new scripts, despite being off-book, which presumably suggested the setting in stone of all decisions made. But on Monday afternoon, due to numerous practical complexities, the order completely reshuffled again. My “kangaroo shadow boxing” was trimmed to a snappier, more explosive sixty seconds and was moved to the very top of the show. Over the weekend I had decided to try and build up my stamina and pace out these nightmarish seconds. I downloaded a fairly old skool rave track, put on my trainers and went outside in the dark and the rain. The track was too slow!
Experiments with costume commenced and I was handed a pair of brand new canvas shoes for my Truant Girl character and given license to do whatever I liked to them. This involved scuffing them up, rubbing them down with some burst teabags and – best of all – writing on them in various colours of biro using photos of menshy/tag patterns I’d downloaded.
We also worked on vocals, using the source – the diaphragm – and placing levels of voice. That livened up and improved the scene now called “The Test” and brought it to its latest stage of evolution; my character now had a name: the edgy, punky ‘Marie’.
The set was assembled with its four entrance/exits like mouseholes and the word TRAUMA written on the back of all the flats. I got a pair of very comfortable pair of slightly heeled shoes and a briefcase for the social worker and the raving freak-out was moved to directly after “The Test” which allows me a chance to build momentum and gives the scene somewhere to go. It represents the surge of energy that teenagers have at their disposal, like pressing a panic button.
We did a run and then walked in a spontaneous procession from the green room back to the theatre singing Driftwood by Travis, and gave DJ MJ – who is composer and sound designer on the show – what must have felt like a cerebral Chinese burn by attempting Writing To Reach You.
By the end of the week, three of the verbatim scenes had gone back in and the scene changes were sharper – I could feel the audience sitting up, looking forward to what they were about to see. . .
Truant continues through November at venues across Glasgow.
All tickets £4 or £2.
Full details on our website.