What does Lorna Meehan have to say about 'Playing Life' by Sudden Productions?
A jazz singer, a tortured soul...
Playing Life combines live jazz and compelling original drama. Playing Life...a compelling one-woman show which explores how the character, Louise, has found the courage to move on from her past, making a successful career for herself as a jazz singer.
'Louise, according to the blurb, 'lives for jazz'. An excellent singer, she uses music as an outlet for her problems, and as the play develops we soon realise the wealth of problems she faces.' Three Weeks 4 STARS
'Grabs you and holds you tight. Here’s fringe theatre at its best.' Reviews Gate
So when Kim asked me to direct 'Playing Life' I was very excited and a bit scared as even though I've co-directed with Kim for many years and directed work for the Young Rogues, this will be my first independent professional production.
I've seen the production twice, each with a different actor and it's been satisfying to have the opportunity to act on the impulse you get when you say : 'I like it, but I would have done it this way'. Having said that, I haven't changed much, I feel as if most of the directing has been about bringing more subtleties out of the text and letting the performers get on with it. I guess that's advantage of being a performer as well as a director, you appreciate how less is definitely more.
One aspect I was very interested in was the difference between when the character is just singing for the sheer joy or it, and when what she has been talking about seeps into the music in a cathartic sense. I think this is what inspires people when they listen to people like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, you can hear the tragedies of their lives in their voices but at the same time you can hear their hope, strength of will and their love of the music.
I gave Kim a meditation exercise that I thought would help in terms of tapping into this idea. I asked her to pick a song that made her feel sad and to listen to it once in a detached way, for example, concentrating all your attention on one particular aspect of it, whether it be the voice or a particular instrument, then to listen to it again from an emotional standpoint, letting whatever memories and feelings it conjures up take over. Kim said the first part was quite difficult in terms of trying to remain detached from something that brings up emotion, but that she noticed things about the song that she hadn't before and this made the second part even more emotional. This is something we are bringing into the rehearsal process so there is a sense of the songs telling you something more about the character than what she tells you in the text.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished product and how the audience react to this exploration of the link between the harsh realities of life and the cathartic, transcendent qualities of song. And we even have our very own Israel Costa on piano!
I recommend trying out the meditation exercise yourself with a song that you love and rediscovering it. See you at Old Joint Stock :)