On the 20th of November on a wet Wednesday afternoon I attended Hannah Silva’s workshop as part of Capital Theatre Festival at the mac in Birmingham. Arriving at the mac at 2pm for my workshop I got sucked into the wonderful world of theatre, and from that point on the workshop just wasn’t enough! After my workshop with Hannah Silva I stayed on for a further talk with Fin Kennedy entitled ‘In Battalion’s’ and then Hannah Silva’s play The Disappearance of Sadie Jones.
Hannah Silva is a poet, play write, director and actor, and to have a workshop on play writing led by someone with such a vast understanding of many aspects of the field was incredibly helpful as a newly-emerging writer. The workshop was a very new experience for me, coming from a background solely rooted in writing I got an insight into the world of acting and performance. Throughout the workshop we explored words and how to mould craft and use them creatively. The activity I felt I gained the most from was when Hannah gave each of us four strips of paper, on which were a few lines of text. We then had to talk to each other using only these select words, various rules were then introduced; read them as if you’re a child and you can’t read, or pronounce only the vowels. We repeated the activity a few times, and as we did a story began to emerge – it felt as if we’d begun to write. Characters and meaning began to form through these very basic and abstract interactions.
The workshop was with a rather limited group of people (only three of us in total!), and we had an opportunity to talk in detail about Hannah’s work and how she works creatively. Hannah’s work is not your typical “Aristotelian, three act play”, and through discussions with her, I began to feel inspired about my own submission for playwriting. Hannah spoke about theatre passionately describing it as a form that can be changed and played with. Some would say that her work ‘breaks the rules’ but I think Hannah would present it more that there shouldn’t be any rules in the first place. Theatre is a creative and varied form and so much can be achieved through personal or ‘different’ creative processes that the thought of assigning certain rules to theatre is surely just stifling to a personal creative voice.
Hannah talked a lot about the process that took her play The Disappearance of Sadie Jones from script to production. This wasn’t something I’d ever thought about – after all being a new writer, the thought of my work being on stage is a far-off distant dream. But the process Hannah takes in approach to her work was food for thought and a lot about what she said clicked after I’d watched the play. Hannah said when they approached the play with her actors that they were looking for direction she suggested they approach the script as if it were a piece of music, this when first hearing it seems like an abstract idea, but it really made sense in the context of her work.
My experience of ‘Playing with Words’ was a highly positive and inspiring one, it really helped me channel my elusive creative juices in time for up and coming creative writing submissions.
By Noemi Barranca