The Tat Man’s Voice

In writing any play, the voices in which the characters speak, their authenticity and naturalness, are a very important factor in helping to make the world of the play believable, for both audience and actors. In a one-man play, such as the one I’m working on now, the voice, it seems to me, is of paramount importance. The only character the audience have to relate to is this one onstage. And this character is not speaking to other characters, but directly to them. So it’s extremely important that the voice in which the character speaks, the way in which he speaks to them, is a voice they want to listen to.  As the writer, I need to find this voice, hear it speak to me in my head, not as my voice but as his. Getting this right, at this stage, is more important than what stories he tells.  And to get it right, there are questions that need to be addressed:

Who does the Tat Man think the audience are?

Where does the Tat Man think he is?

Why is the Tat Man talking to them, and telling them his stories?

These questions should be in the audience’s mind too, and the play needs to answer those questions.  And one of the ways they’re answered is through the character’s voice.  How he speaks to them is directly related to those questions.  And the need the Tat Man has to speak to the audience, and to tell them his stories – those particular stories and no other – and the risk to him (and to the audience) involved in his telling them – are what creates the drama of the piece. Whatever stories he tells, the drama of the piece is the drama of the Tat Man.  The audience need to be involved in that drama, to care about it.  Because, in a very real sense, the audience are the other characters in the play, and they will be willing to take on that role if they believe in the character who’s talking to them from the stage.  (The stage of course should cease to become a stage, and should become the place in which the character believes himself to be).

All this will work if the voice is right.

Advertisements

Further thoughts about the Tat Man Show

David Calcutt

Yesterday  I had one of those rare moments when something you’re working on suddenly falls into place,  the many disparate elements of thought and experience slotting together to create the whole piece in a single bright flash. It happened with regards to the one-man play I’ve just started working on, but have been thinking about and living with for some time.
Preceding that were one or two co-incidental occurrences that are often the harbingers of such moments. For example, I was re-working the Tat Man’s birth-story, and finding that he wanted to say more about his mother’s people, those “travelling folk”. I was writing that in the pub room in Malvern. The next day on our way back we encountered those very people – coming round a large roundabout outside Worcester, the traffic held up and jammed by an entire company of such travelling folk, progressing at their own slow pace…

View original post 354 more words

Further thoughts about the Tat Man Show

Yesterday  I had one of those rare moments when something you’re working on suddenly falls into place,  the many disparate elements of thought and experience slotting together to create the whole piece in a single bright flash. It happened with regards to the one-man play I’ve just started working on, but have been thinking about and living with for some time.
Preceding that were one or two co-incidental occurrences that are often the harbingers of such moments. For example, I was re-working the Tat Man’s birth-story, and finding that he wanted to say more about his mother’s people, those “travelling folk”. I was writing that in the pub room in Malvern. The next day on our way back we encountered those very people – coming round a large roundabout outside Worcester, the traffic held up and jammed by an entire company of such travelling folk, progressing at their own slow pace along the road with wagons and carts, all pulled by horses, and one or two outriders riding horses themselves. A wonderful sigh – another, slower world and existence dropped down into our own fast-paced blinkered one, and causing consternation and chaos.
In part, that is the world the Tat Man is conjuring up in his stories, tales from that world, one closer and more integrated with the natural, uncivilised world.
And what is the image, the symbol of that wild world, that is particularly apt for the Tat Man?
Horses. It’s obvious.
The play is about horses. Wild horses, war-horses, magical horses. The relationship between us and the horse, which is our animal-spirit, our untamed, uncivilised, integrated selves. Walsall is a horse town, but one that made a name for itself through the taming and subjection of horses, in its making of saddles, harnesses etc. The  Tat Man’s aim, through the telling of the stories, is to free the wild horses, let loose those natural energies that are vital to our existence.
But it’s more personal to him too. He needs to tell these stories because of a crime he has committed – a crime against horses, against the wild, living spirit. In some way he has betrayed a horse, who may also be a woman (the female horses goddess), and so has cut himself off from that natural life, those raw energies. I know a story that, if I can rework it well enough, will fit this perfectly. He needs to tell stories not only to expiate this crime. This is what he says about it, and which I wrote down for him.
“And that’s why I tell these stories. To try and put everything back together, all the broken pieces, the rags and tat of my life. Make something whole of it again. And I’ll keep on telling them till I do. I’ll keep on trying.”
So, he stands for the wandering, restless part of ourselves seeking to re-integrate our broken spirits with the natural world and its energies.
Now it’s a matter of trying to capture all that in the play.