My creative process begins with writing. At this earliest stage what emerges is often an impulse driven free-write, void of any discernible dramatic conventions, such as character, setting, etc. Ideas, images, and stories that had been percolating in my mind are given free reign on the empty page.
Bank of Scotland Emerging Artist Amanda Monfrooe describes her writing process.
Quickly after I begin to write, however, I need to fuel the fire. For the most part I do not write stage plays, texts that can be finished by me and sent away to someone else who produces the play however they like. Instead, when I create a performance piece I write two texts, one as a playwright (writing text that is to be spoken) and the other as a director (writing a performance text, the visual and aural events that are to be physically enacted.)
These texts emerge simultaneously and so can only exist in a dialogue. And because the junction where these texts meet is often surreal or absurd the two requires an intuitive understanding of their co-dependent relationship. Therefore, as the author, I am unable to extract myself from the production. So, to fuel the fire is about inspiring what happens in a piece and what it looks, sounds, and feels like.
Fueling the fire, then, is an essential part of my artistic process. And after several years of producing work I now trust that the most profound sources of inspiration are discovered accidentally. I now trust my gut instinct to pursue seemingly inconsequential details, to never discard provocative images, and to embrace the work of dancers, painters, and politicians, though these arenʼt my disciplines by training. And that what is absolutely necessary is time.
As part of my attachment, the National Theatre of Scotland sent me to Cove Park, an artistʼs retreat on the serene Rosneath Peninsula. In the practical, well designed space of my solitary “cube,” I enjoyed this chilly November week without an internet nor mobile phone signal. And though it was a shocking prohibition at first, I found this undistracted and isolated situation afforded me
time to discover inspiration within the only resource it left to me: myself.
During my stay I started two new projects that drew freely from my personal experience, a vein of stories, characters and places I havenʼt connected with in years but that had obviously been stewing. And it was with this clear headed-ness that I was also able to write performance texts that draw on theatrical devices and staging ideas Iʼve seen used effectively (or ineffectively) elsewhere. But it was the opportunity to be both creative and reflective that enriched this new work.
I return to Glasgow and the remaining months of my attachment with a renewed energy, reminded of how key time is to my process. In this industry that could mean getting left behind. But it could also mean that what I do produce is truly worthwhile.